Getting a "Thank You" Note Through the Airwaves
I wanted to post yesterday after the terrific launch of the mini-storyline of One Life to Live's soap-within-a-soap Fraternity Row, but I was a little too exhausted by life. Luckily today ramped it up, and my giddiness is still intact. Well, my bittersweet giddiness.
I don't even know where to start.
Yesterday's intro? Was a scene from Fraternity Row, complete with opening credits.
Throughout the hour, we learned gradually who in Llanview is a viewer and how they watch it (Starr: DVR, Cutter: later on SoapNet, Viki: every day, live, Noelle: at work, Kim: in prison!), what kind of viewer they are (Clint: closet viewer who's smart and hypercritical of the writing, Roxy: her whole heart in it, always able to make an excuse for it even when it fails, Shaun: the always-complaining viewer who's constantly threatening to quit watching for good who doesn't get why the characters aren't just allowed to be happy for a while!), and who their favorites on the show are. They had great alternating scenes emphasizing the absurdity of soaps -- two lovers on Fraternity Row discussed being siblings while Gigi had a ridiculous conversation about how Dr. Fascinella wouldn't change her face back in the "real" world.
Shaun complained about stupid plot devices and Roxy argued that people look back on them fondly, even the ones they complained about at the time. Viki and Clint complained that it was "criminal" that the show was shut out of awards season last year. Clint reminded Viki of the time she played a nurse, very briefly. (Viki: Oh, that's ridiculous. I was terrible. Oh, my God. If there's one thing I'm not, it's an actress.) This led to a beautiful discussion of Viki's relationship with Megan, which led to more than a few Louise tears. (What? I'm way too cool to weep about a soap, I never said that!)
A waitress at the Bon Jour Café likened Gigi's amnesia situation to a FR character (Gilda!). Then right after Roxy filled Rama in on the storylines (subbing "Eternity" in for Eterna, "since Lorraine came back from the dead the second time," etc.), she learned from Soap Opera Weekly that the show's been canceled.
Oh no! Is that cover not amazing? "Southwest General: Shocker" is as awesome as that photo of Briana and Brandon being all hilariously sultry. The "New Prospects in the Park for Soaps" was a bit sad since, of course, when they made this episode the whole Prospect Park thing was still a go (which it still might be, but my heart can't take looking in on it anymore).
And today was even more generous. Because today, we not only got a big "thank you" from the show, the executives who canceled the show got a big "fuck you."
We started with Nigel's and then Roxy's heartbreak over the cancellation.
Roxy: (sobbing) This can't be happening, Fraternity Row was supposed to be forever; now it's not just gonna be there anymore!
Rama: It's okay, you adjust. I mean, after all, it's just a TV show.
Roxy: It is not just a TV show. It was not just a TV show when Lorraine and Derwood went back in time and they filled in for Paul Revere and it was not just a TV show when Breaux and Maura (tee-hee) water-skiied over a tidal wave to get to their wedding, and now it's not just a TV show. It's family. My mom Stella, she passed it down to me, and I passed it down to Nattie and Rex, and you betcha that Rex is passin' it down to Shane.
Oh man. I mean we viewers talk about discovering the show and what it meant to us in terms of familial relationships and personal milestones through the years, but it's just doubly touching to hear that come out of the mouth of a character we've been through so much of it with, you know? Every day it becomes clearer and clearer that I'm not going to be able to handle this like a grown-up, not in the least. And then...
Roxy: There's no use in crying just because some empty suit thinks Fraternity Row is for the birds!
And then she announced that she's got to save the show. She even turned down a drink! Who knew a soap cancellation would finally be Roxy's motivation to get sober?
Clint was in denial about the cancellation and talked about how the soap business feeds on rumors, and how it's just not possible because the show's in great shape! (Apparently there are no Fords on Fraternity Row!) Nigel asked Clint to host a party celebrating Fraternity Row... hey, that's not a bad idea. Too bad 90% of the people I know just roll their eyes when soaps come up (though I've made it pretty clear since cancellation that they might not be safe doing that around me anymore, and I think some of them are starting to get the not-so-subtle hint).
Roxy ran to Clint to try to get him to save the show, hoping that perhaps Buchanan Enterprises could buy the show, and talked about how all the fans need to put aside their differences and work together, and how the show's been on for 43 years and how are we even supposed to sit through this episode? I mean it's awesome and it's a big thank you to us for watching, of course, and it's great. I'm just not made of steel here, people! Good grief!
Clint turned Roxy down, of course, because there's no money left to be made from Fraternity Row, with she rightfully disagreed. (Clint made the whole "it's an institution whose time has come" argument that Roxy said was as condescending as we've all wanted to call the people saying that to us for the last eight months. An argument I'm sure the creative team -- including those who wrote the lines -- at OLTL has wanted to punch in the mouth for the last eight months every time someone has smugly spouted it.)
Now, sure, there have been other storylines the last couple of days. The scenes between Viki and Clint have been dynamite. I've always been on the fence about Viki with this Clint because I loved their friendship so much, but no longer. I did love Clint and Kim together, but damn! Clint and Viki, they got it. Jerry verDorn and Erika Slezak have terrific chemistry, and I love that they're starting this with conflict rather than just having them magically and comfortably and quietly reunite. Anyone who makes Queen Victoria drop the nobility and look genuinely, honestly vulnerable and injured? Oh, she's done for.
The main focus this week has been on Gigi, Cutter, Rex, Aubrey, and Kim, which... eh. It's fine. It could be a lot worse, and I do enjoy the Gigi/Cutter and Rex/Aubrey dynamic (which we'll likely lose soon once the truth comes out), but honestly most of the scenes have been other people finding out things we've known for a while and I find myself wishing they could have really lifted the story by writing Alex Olanov into it for more than just a couple of days. And as for whatever's going on with Neela and Shane and Jack, well, I won't pretend to care that much (despite being full of good will for the show today, obviously), but I will say I'm glad they didn't just let it go forever that Jack managed to get away with killing someone (and no, it doesn't matter if the person he killed was a nice person or her mean sister).
But at the end of day, what a lovely gift to the viewers. And especially to those of the viewers who didn't take the cancellation sitting down; it's clear that really meant a lot to the folks over at OLTL and this was a really lovely thank-you note.