Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
By Mallory Harlen
There was a time, not so long ago, when I ended an episode of Y&R feeling seriously disappointed that I’d need to wait a full day before the next episode. Today, I still end each episode with profound disappointment: disappointment over how much this show is missing the mark lately.
On paper, Y&R should be miles ahead of my other soaps in terms of quality and entertainment value. After all, the powers-that-be have not made violent mobsters the moral center of Genoa City, and veteran characters are actually allowed to appear in front of the camera (cue GH viewers shouting, “Is that even possible?!"), the show has a hugely talented cast, and yet sitting through a full episode feels like a chore.
The show finally answered one of wishes and decided what kind of a character Adam really was. Unfortunately, they decided that he’s rotten to the core. Terrible, terrible move, Y&R! For starters, it’s so unfortunate that the show completely wrecked the character of Adam/Victor Jr., who came to the show a blank slate with an appealing backstory (fun fact: Hope and Victor’s relationship in the mid-90s was the last time Victor was tolerable). I wish that they had made him complicated and explored his tense family connections without jumping immediately to mustache-twirling, fake-blind evil. And what a waste of a talented actor! Even as Adam was faking an infant’s death and driving Ashley crazy, I still didn’t fully hate him which, considering how much I hate most things, is saying something.
The writers often create stories with the best of intentions. I can understand them thinking to themselves, “Well, people love Phyllis, so wouldn’t they love her even MORE if she was on every day and part of every story?! This is our best idea yet!” because I do love Phyllis, and Michelle Stafford is one of the most reliably excellent performers in daytime. But there is literally nothing in the world more irritating to me than Phyllis being inserted into every possible story for no reason. I can’t think of a reason why she should have played a huge role in the uncovering of Adam’s lies, and I can’t understand why the normally awesome Stafford decided that Phyllis’s default expression of late should be “unbearable smugness.”
It’s because of these issues that I’m leery about the casting coups that have brought Marcy Rylan and Eden Riegel to Genoa City as Abby and Heather, respectively. Of course, it’s completely awesome that such great actresses are joining the show, but I worry about the quality of writing they will be given. Although I suppose that ANY writing would be better than what the previous actresses in these roles have been given. I just hope that the show takes advantage of their talent and doesn’t introduce them with a big splash and then have them languish in supporting character hell like Tucker and Chance. Surely that’s not too much to ask for!
My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas
I can hold grudges like nobody’s business. This includes those against soap characters, who I realize are fictional and therefore probably not the most deserving targets of my ongoing anger. But many of these fools do things that are basically unforgivable! That is, until they do enough awesome (or at least reasonably good) things to counteract their prior crimes against humanity and/or soapdom, or enough time passes that I forget those crimes ever happened or at least get a little blurry about the specifics. The latest beneficiaries of my about-face on grudge-holding are DAYS’ Daniel Jonas and GH’s Sam.
Dr. Jonas arrived in Salem and proceeded to annoy the bejeezus out of me, to the point where his profession ceased being “physician” and instead became “professional tap-dancer on my thinly stretched last nerve.” The surfer-speak, the age-inappropriate and awkward relationship with Chelsea, the inappropriate-in-every-other way relationship with Kate, the gross exam-room groping of Chloe that led to their ridiculously boring “romance”…it was one grudge-worthy thing after another.
But then Daniel faded into the background for a while (in the midst of his yawn-fest with Chloe), and lately has re-emerged as a caring doctor (to many but most importantly Maggie), and has shown genuine decency in the wake of his reveal as Melanie’s father. Daniel as a father to an early 20s woman instead of as boyfriend to one is by far the better option. This storyline has dissipated my grudge to the point where I actually am looking forward to seeing what happens next. Daniel and Carly’s co-parental interactions are promising, and presumably he and Chloe will break up soon so that he can segue into an interesting romantic pairing. (Perhaps not coincidentally, my anti-Melanie grudge is also fading. She still looks like Phillip’s child bride, but that’s a grudge for a different day.)
GH’s Sam McCall did a lot of sleazy things over the years, which made sense; she was written as one of Port Charles’ resident bad girls. I was willing to give her a lot of leeway because Kelly Monaco seems awesome, plus who doesn’t like a bad girl? But then the writers sent Sam down a bad-behavior spiral that provided her with virtually no redeeming character moments, including – and it seems odd to use this phrase about a serious crime against an infant, but – among other things allowing Jake to be kidnapped. She also had that ridiculous “Everyday Heroes” TV show, was an absolute pill whenever she got within 100 yards of Elizabeth and wore tank tops in winter. It was all too much!
But after a bit of time in the background, Sam has recently come back to the front burner as a fantastic big sister to Molly and especially to Kristina, and is rather endearing in the 17th go-round of Sam and Jason. I even like her enough again that I’d actually welcome a storyline involving her finding out who her biological father is. Or at least asking who he is. Having an extremely high number of bizarrely dropped plot points is among the reasons the GH writers have earned one of my epic grudges, but the “Sam has never bothered to even ask who her dad is” one is almost grudge-worthy on its own.