B&B/Y&R Bad Choices
I am disgusted with The Bold and The Beautiful and The Young and the Restless. Both shows have recently squandered amazing storyline opportunities.
On B&B, my problem is the story of Stephanie’s childhood abuse. The audience has loved/hated Stephanie for almost 20 years, and never once has her abusive childhood at the hands of her father been mentioned. While Stephanie’s new found past may explain her domineering personality to a certain degree, it also rewrites the history of the character in a way that doesn’t make sense to long time viewers.
Not only was a mistake made in springing Stephanie’s abuse on the audience out of the blue, but also by the introduction of a never mentioned mother and sister. B&B cast veteran actress Betty White, most recently of Golden Girls fame, to play Stephanie’s mother, which is an insult to White. She doesn’t look old enough to be Susan Flannery’s (Stephanie) mother, but more like a sister. White is an outstanding and accomplished actress, and I’m sure Brad Bell couldn’t resist the pull of two powerhouse women like White and Flannery burning up the small screen together, but as a mother/daughter duo they just don’t work. Every time Flannery calls White “Mom” it’s laughable and takes away from their intense scene work. If Bell wanted to hire White, I’m sure he could have created a more original and less insulting role for her to play.
On Y&R, my complaint is with the show’s publicity department. The writers have obviously spent a lot of time thinking up a creative way to reintroduce the character of Shelia Carter after a year’s absence, without having to bring back her portrayer, Kimberlin Brown. When we last saw Shelia, she was requesting plastic surgery to look like an unknown person. Recently it was revealed Shelia now looks like Phyllis, but we were told the Shelia/Phyllis look alike had died in a car accident - complete with DNA proof.
Imagine our surprise to find out at the end of an episode (a Thursday no less) that Paul is holding the very much alive Shelia/Phyllis prisoner. Only it wasn’t a surprise to anyone who subscribes to Soap Opera Digest or who goes through the grocery store checkout line. There, from the cover, a picture of Phyllis and her doppelganger with the words “Shelia’s alive” had been staring at us for more than a week before the actual episode aired! And the powers-that-be wonder why the ratings are down? Could it be because there just aren’t any surprises left on soaps any more? I don’t understand why Y&R and Digest couldn’t have run their cover the following week and kept the surprise under wraps until it was revealed to fans when they watched the show live. There’s something to be said for a show that’s going to keep you on your toes and throw surprises at you, and if you already know what’s coming, why bother to watch at all?
It’s boneheaded decisions like relegating White to a thankless role, and ruining what could have been a classic soap moment by touting it to the media ahead of time, that’s keeping soap’s ratings in the basement.
GL’s Young Triangle
Guiding Light knows a thing or two about doing things in the grand soap opera tradition, which is why they’re celebrating their 70th anniversary in 2007.
Take for example, the triangle between Lizzie, Jonathan and Tammy. In triangles, it helps to have everyone’s point of view firmly established, so the audience knows whom to root for. While I personally have never been a fan of Jonathan and Tammy as a couple, at least it’s always been clear Jonathan has always loved Tammy in spite of his marrying Lizzie, and vice-versa. Their love for each other has never been in doubt, even when they were with other people.
Jonathan got Lizzie pregnant during a drunken one night stand during a time when he and Tammy were not together. After much agonizing upon discovering Lizzie’s pregnancy, Tammy decided it was in the baby’s best interest if Jonathan married Lizzie. Anyone who has ever watched five minutes of a soap opera knew this was a recipe for disaster.
However, what I didn’t anticipate was the impact Jonathan has had on Lizzie. The former bad girl is trying so hard to be good and make her marriage work. She has become a sympathetic figure, especially considering her husband has just reunited with Tammy for some rolls in the hay (literally), and is biding his time until he feels she is strong enough for him to leave her.
This is a traditional soap triangle in the best sense of the word because there aren’t any bad guys. Tammy and Jonathan have always loved each other, but made sacrifices for the well being of his daughter. Lizzie has matured and grown into a caring and sensitive girl who is about to get her heart broken in a big way.
Tom Pelphrey (Jonathan) has been riveting as always, as he alternates between the passion he feels for Stephanie Gatschet’s Tammy, and the growing bond he feels with Marcy Rylan’s Lizzie. All three of these young actors have risen to the challenge of the material they’ve been given, and have never been better. Their “Inside the Light” episode which focused strictly on their characters, was one of the best the show has ever done.
With Pelphrey and Gatschet on their way out to greener acting pastures, the writing is on the wall for a happy ending for Jammy fans. Rylan is sure to shine in their wake as a devastated Lizzie picks up the pieces of her shattered life by resuming her manipulative and selfish ways. This time around, she just might have a few more fans cheering for her to get her own happy ending.
About the author:
Lesleyann Coker is the co-author of Boob Tube,
a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes
of the soap opera industry. She was previously
a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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