One Life to Live: 2010 in Review
I feel it only to fair to warn you that I'm finding reflection on One Life to Live's 2010 to be incredibly depressing. I started by taking a look at my 2009 review, and was legitimately surprised to see what a glowing review I gave the show for the year. I'd honestly forgotten. Then it got worse when I started looking into what was happening on the show as we rang in 2010. You'll understand my sorrow when I show you that this is what was going on:
That's right. We began the year basking in the afterglow of Kyle and Fish consummating their relationship for the first time. Must we re-visit them and go through the heartbreak of losing them once again? Dammit. DAMMIT.
Oh, and shall we now add insult to injury? Here's something else that was up as the year began:
Blair and Eli being all sexy and fun and happy. Why again was it necessary to torch this completely?
So why don't we just get the hard part (and the bulk of the whole thing) out of the way first.
THINGS THAT WE LOST OR WERE RUINED IN 2010
- Blair and Eli. A hot, fun couple -- something unfortunately incredibly refreshing on soaps, so we knew it couldn't last. A man just really was nuts about Blair and totally appreciated her? Impossible! Naturally he had to turn into the evilest kind of evil who'd just been using her all along while planning to kill her and take her fortune (while murdering a bunch of other people for shaky reasons while inexplicably letting a bunch of other people much more damaging to his "cause" get away just fine, naturally). Oh how we miss you, pre-evil Eli! Someone explain to me slowly how the folks in charge saw a suave, attractive character played by an appealing and gifted actor and thought, "Huh! We have a real goldmine here... why don't we make him the most implausible villain ever and have him commit so many abominable crimes that we can't possibly keep him on the show!"
- Rachel Gannon. They barely even gave her a chance. This is Nora Buchanan's freaking daughter, Matthew's sister. A woman with plenty of history with the characters on screen and chemistry with just about every man they put her in a scene with (who else was always rooting for Rachel and Schuyler?). What the hell was the problem? What's worse is that she left casually one day (after getting dumped by Greg for not abandoning Schuyler, which is pretty hysterical considering what we ultimately learned about Greg's sense of morality) to help out a friend in Chicago and then was simply never heard from again. Her family's been through hell and back, but no phone call, nothing. She didn't even show up for her mother's wedding. Why such a non-departure for what should be such an important character?
- Clint's decency. While Jerry ver Dorn's portrayal of Clint's total embracing of his dark side has been a pleasure to watch, one has to call foul, right? Sure, Clint's often been shady and made some questionable choices either for business or on behalf of his family. But essentially risking lives and plotting brutally against his own relatives, with no pangs of conscience about it at any point? There are rumors of a possible brain tumor and that might not be so bad -- I wouldn't want to Clint lose his edge, but the show's primary villain? That's not our cowboy. And in related news...
- Clint and Kim. They were an unexpectedly hot pairing with a great deal of potential. She was looking for her sugar daddy and a recently heartbroken Clint was completely onto her and, quite frankly, happy to oblige. They ended up being able to match their scheming wits and be a little naughty together -- couples who can accept each other's darkest tendencies while still having one another's backs are always compelling to watch. Sure, Amanda Setton left the show of her own free will, but if only!
- Any last shred of Todd's repentance for having raped Marty... twice. Yeah, so long haunted anti-hero! So long, Mr. Tortured By His Guilt. This year gave us Todd deliberately scheming against Marty as well as the now-infamous air-quotes of his most recent rape of her.
- Ford as a kind of fun bastard. No, hear me out. Last year he was the dude with the bucket and the abs. This year he successfully seduced Langston and carried on a tawdry affair with her for a few months, but he basically just did it because he could. This didn't make him a good guy, but frankly Langston knew just what she was doing and was hurting the hell out of someone she allegedly cared about, so that's on her. It was a little refreshing to have a male character in his early 20s on a soap who actually just really liked having casual sex with girls and didn't randomly fall in love with every baggage-laden calamity-prone single mother in town. But then he had sex with a confused and amnesiac Jessica, and then it turned out he knew about Eli's dastardliness and was blackmailing him, essentially allowing Eli to run around doing all the murdering he was doing (and oddly Ford has never really been called out for his complicity in those crimes). Okay, great, got it. He's not just a cad or a douche, he's a seriously bad bad guy. Oh wait! No, he's not. He feels really super-bad all of a sudden. In fact, not only does he feel super-bad, he's got a big old family and they're going to take over the town! And it turns out he totally really does love Langston after all (since she's so awesome?) and isn't really out for sex at all! Now we know that he truly always was just a super guy who loves nothing more than to sit around talking about his feelings. Spare me. And with all due respect, David Gregory is not doing much to bring the slightest bit of nuance or complexity to this new, tedious version of Robert Ford.
- Ross. And really, all versions. Or the 2009-2010 versions, that is (is anyone really chomping at the bit for the 2002 incarnation to return?). Sadly, he is really most sincerely dead. Back in January we got some actually really touching scenes in which (Mike Lowry's) not-dead-Ross confessed to Dani that he's not her biological father, and it almost seemed as though they were trying to make up for having thrown him under the bus completely by showing us a remorseful Ross who really was putting what was good for Dani ahead of his own needs.
But alas, the redemption never fully happened and we never saw this Ross again. Instead, in what had to be the most bizarre recast in the last several years, Ross returned several months later in the form of Billy Warlock, who showed up briefly to file for custody of Dani after Tea's "death," only to quickly be awarded custody ad promptly be murdered by his brother. So again I ask, why? The character was too dynamic and charming and likable? Better get rid of him!
- Schuyler. Yet another interesting character played by an appealing actor... let's make him a gun-wielding lunatic! Oh, and let's also make him the son of a regular character on the show a few days before we send him packing for good! Makes all the freaking sense in the world.
- Kyle Lewis and Oliver Fish. Life is cruel. Kyle and Fish and their adorable little girl Sierra Rose allegedly still living in Llanview. Getting rid of this couple really was the biggest travesty of the year and it still makes no sense. If some assholes were so offended by a gay couple on their screens that they stopped watching the show (but had no such moral qualms with a serial rapist as a romantic hero), they certainly didn't turn it back on after they were so unceremoniously shuffled off the canvas. While the three and a half months we did have of them (and Kyle's excellent friendship with Roxy) certainly count as a high point of 2010, it's pretty impossible to to keep that in the "plus" column for the show considering their ultimate dismissal.
Oh, it sickens me.
- Dani's hatred of Todd. It was nice while it lasted.
- Hannah. Back when she was just a little crazy, she was a hell of a lot of fun. Her scenes with Todd were definitely highlights of the year, and Meghann Fahy is awesome. And since she is awesome and this is One Life to Live, it's important that her character is sent off the deep end and eventually off the show completely.
- Adults behaving like adults. That went out the window this year, particularly in the abysmal storyline in which Viki and Charlie acted like idiot children in their scheme to reunite David and Dorian. This was not a becoming way to showcase the vets.
- Dorian's prominence. 2009 was a great year for Dorian, but she disappeared for much of this year and was very much a supporting player for the rest. She rocked some great hats and Robin Strasser ripped my heart out with her performance after the wedding-that-wasn't, but our girl needs to be back front and center, and preferably matched with someone who's actually on the show.
- Diversity. Last year this show had more of it than any other daytime soap. This year? They got rid of Layla, Greg, and Rachel, booted the gay couple, and kept basically any remaining minority characters on the way-back burner. Frankly, it was pretty shameful.
- Being given any credit as an audience for our recall abilities. Seriously. This was the year of the flashback. For a while there we were routinely getting flashbacks to scenes from the very same episode.
THINGS THAT WE GAINED OR WERE AWESOME IN 2010
- Snoop Dogg came back for a visit.
- Blair got a kick-ass new 'do.
- Hot Brody/Natalie sex. Tequila, military dress whites, and the moan heard 'round the world.
- Bo and Nora got married! And that is always a good thing.
- Cole was imprisoned. Well done, show.
- Blair and Tea. I know this friendship is detested by many, in particular because it's so one-sided (as in, what's Tea ever done for Blair?) but I love it. Kassie de Paiva and Florencia Lozano have plenty of chemistry between them and you can tell the actresses love working together, and the rivalry was getting a little tired since it was all about Todd.
- The Marty and Natalie rivalry. This rivalry's been brewing a while as Marty and Natalie always did have John between them, but in the last few months it's really heated up and (thankfully) does not actually hinge upon John McBain entirely. In fact, while John did leave Marty and immediately reunite with Natalie, it was only at Marty's insistence that he do so because that's what he truly wanted. Both women were coolly civil to each other for a while after that, but hearing of Natalie's pregnancy so soon after her own miscarriage started sending Marty down and ugly, ugly spiral. Natalie helped verify fingerprints that implicated Cole's murder of Eli, and Marty learned that Natalie slept with Brody and may be having his baby and lying to John about it, and the claws (and fangs) have been out between the two since then. While clearly it's not a balanced battle (surely no one is expected to be on Marty's "side" -- she's completely psychotic), it's a damn lot of fun, especially because the scenes between Susan Haskell and Melissa Archer are absolutely on FIRE. So sure, it makes me a bad, bad feminist to look forward to these catfights, but these gals have some serious chemistry (and considering all the duds they're up against on that show these days, it is a breath of fresh air). My only worry is that they can't bring Marty's character back from this one and that it might be Susan Haskell's last hurrah, but on the other hand she's clearly having a breakdown and what are breakdowns for on soaps if not to allow someone a stint with nuns or doctors to get them back on their road to redemption! And regardless, bad girl Marty is always more interesting than bland good girl Marty.
- Echo. I don't always adore her scenes, but her return has given us some fantastic eighties flashbacks as well as more material for vets like Viki, Clint, Dorian, and Charlie (though in his case, her presence has erased any backbone he ever had, which wasn't much). On the other hand, her arrival also gave us another crap rewrite of Rex's parentage.
- Matt Walton. Sure, it sucks what they did with Eli, but the man made it fun from beginning to (unfortunate) end.
- Cole yelling at a nun. Admit it, it was a perfect summation of his character.
- One of the more amusing college campuses around. State Park, Rest Area, whatever it was, it got 'em under budget!
- MyFace. Even Clint keeps a presence there. If you need to find it, just type "foam party" into your handy Llannet search engine.
- Ford got the crap beaten out of him both by Brody and, later, Clint's hired thugs. If Ford has to be on this show, I'd thank them to keep going with these assaults.
Well, folks, I'm sure I've forgotten a million things. I cannot bear to give the Fords and their way-too-young mother more time than I already do and, if you read Serial Drama very often, you know I've been pretty thorough in explaining my disgust. Oh and there was the musical, which was as fun as it could be under the circumstances and thankfully only lasted three days. And Matthew, dear Matthew, has gone to the dark side but, like Clint, benefits enormously from his stellar portrayer (Eddie Alderson). And Tea cried a lot and then died but didn't die.
There were some great moments this year, to be sure, but for the most part it was incredibly disappointing. Putting it all it list form like this made it even more depressing. Perhaps in 2011 we can get more of the good (the babydaddy stories, crazy Marty, Bo and Nora, Matthew and Clint, Dorian, and perhaps a new love for Blair?) and less of the bad (Fords and the ladies who love them).
It's been a great year for me, though, because you wonderful people are excellent readers and always make me smile with your comments. And now, tell me what I missed!
Happy 2011. Destiny out.