In this month's Busted to Blissful, Soapdom's Lesleyann Coker is fed up with the the Bold and the Beautiful, but she couldn't be more delighted with As the World Turns. She also weighs in on the sad and tragic news of the death of Benjamin Hendrickson. What is it about the goings on in the fashion world that busted her bubble and what's so wonderfully poignant in Oakdale that has put her in bubblicious bubble bliss? Read on!
Do You Agree? Dish Busted to Blissful with Lesleyann Right Here!
B&B Rotating Couples Go Stale
Couples swapping partners on soaps is nothing new, in fact, it’s even expected. However, The Bold and the Beautiful is taking this age old daytime staple to a new low. When a mother and daughter are exchanging men like they’re clothes, and sisters are sharing a fiancé, it’s time to cast some new characters or get rid of some existing ones. When everyone on B&B is either related or has slept together -- or both-- the cast is too small and change is in order.
For example, how many times can mother and daughter Brooke and Bridget pass Nick around like a hot potato? And why can’t Nick make up his mind which woman he wants to marry? He always wants the one he’s not with. It’s too predictable.
Then there’s Dante, who’s more indecisive than Nick. Dante has always been in love with Bridget, yet, a few days after she turned down his marriage proposal, he proposed to her sister Felicia. He even used the same ring! Instead of running toward the Hollywood Hills at such tackiness, Felicia actually said yes. What woman in her right mind would accept her sister’s sloppy seconds?
The men aren’t the only ones who can’t make up their mind. When Felicia called to share her engagement news with Bridget, Bridget was in the process of confessing to Dante that she still loved him. Without a moment’s hesitation to his new fiancée, Dante confessed he loved Bridget too, and admitted his engagement to Felicia was a mistake. So what’s a man to do -- in love with one sister, but engaged to the other? Maybe it’s time to explore a relationship with women who aren’t related.
Of course, this is a soap opera, so Dante couldn’t simply admit the truth to Felicia. Instead, he planned to go ahead with his wedding to her, with Bridget’s blessing. In light of the fact Felicia is recovering from cancer, Bridget decided to put her own happiness aside for the sake of her sister. Obviously, this plan backfired spectacularly when the bride spied the groom kissing the maid-of-honor right before the ceremony. Never a good idea, especially when the bride and maid-of honor are sisters.
Has Bridget not learned anything from her situation as the third wheel in her mother’s marital mayhem? Brooke tried to put Nick out of her heart and move on with her life, so Nick could stay married to her daughter. Brooke’s selfless act didn’t last long, and Bridget was devastated when she realized her mother and her husband were still in love and pining for each other. After going through this painful experience, it’s hypocritical of Bridget to involve Felicia in the exact same scenario, especially after all Felicia’s been through.
Since The Bold and the Beautiful takes place in Los Angeles, you’d think there be enough men to go around, so mothers and daughters and sisters wouldn’t be forced to double dip from the same pool of two or three men. Hunky fireman Hector, and his doctor brother Christian, are both single. If they don’t have chemistry with any of the lovely ladies in the B&B stable, then Brad Bell should cut them loose and find men who do. Enough is enough with the rotating familial beds and relationships.
Jennifer’s Death on ATWT
As I was preparing to submit this column, I learned about the tragic suicide of Benjamin Hendrickson, who has played Hal Munson on As the World Turns for 21 years. Hendrickson was apparently suffering from depression, exacerbated by the death of his mother three years ago. According to press reports, his depression may have further been amplified by the emotional weight of his current storyline, in which his twenty-something daughter died of pneumonia.
Hendrickson’s death is an unfortunate reminder of the unique pressure soap opera actors are under. As many of us know, soaps are often under appreciated by the mainstream media who don’t understand the multi-layered complexities of the medium. What they don’t realize is that soap actors must crank out approximately 270 shows a year. Episodes are never repeated, and soaps don’t go on a summer hiatus like primetime shows. Instead, actors must schedule vacations where they can around their storylines, but the bottom line is, when an actor is featured in a front burner story, the actor is working long hours non-stop for months or years on end.
While many people work long hours on their jobs without vacations, they don’t have to carry the additional burden of crying and tapping into dark and uncomfortable emotions day after day. There’s not a lot of happiness to be found in soap storylines, and when there is, it’s usually short lived. It takes a toll on the actors who must immerse themselves in the heavy and heartbreaking drama every single day. Most learn to deal with the pressures, but sadly some do not. A lot of actors continue to live and experience the feelings of their...
... characters when they go home from the set, long after the cameras stop rolling. Hendrickson’s death puts the two week long scenes of Jennifer’s demise in even more perspective.
Most people don’t get as much time as Jennifer and her family did to say goodbye, as Hendrickson’s real life suicide so aptly illustrates. On the show, Jennifer had the luxury of forgiving the family members she was estranged from, and had a chance to say goodbye individually to each and every one. If only we could all be so lucky with our loved ones.
Jennifer Ferrin has never looked more ethereal as she lay in bed, fittingly clad in Jennifer’s wispy white wedding gown, with her red locks encircling her pale skin. Ferrin underplayed every word, letting others give in to tears and hysterics. Her Jen was steady and calm, radiant to the end.
When Ferrin first announced her plans to exit ATWT, the show issued a statement saying it was going to recast her role. Wisely, they appear to have rethought this decision, hence Jennifer’s unexpected and fatal bout of pneumonia.
Not only has Ferrin been phenomenal in Jen’s deathbed scenes, but Grayson McCouch, Colleen Zenk Pinter, Jesse Soffer, Jennifer Landon, Roger Howarth and of course, the late Hendrickson, have all done some of their best work.
McCouch played every moment of Jennifer’s brand new husband’s grief believably. While the rest of the family dealt with the inevitable, Dusty refused to accept the truth. Dusty’s denial was evident in McCouch’s every movement, from his tense body language to his rapid enunciation.
Zenk Pinter, as Jennifer’s mother Barbara, was brilliant as always, apologizing to Jennifer for not having been the best mother. When Jen replied that she had turned out pretty good, so Barbara must have done something right, the expression of agony on Zenk Pinter’s face said it all.
Soffer and Landon playing Jennifer’s younger brother Will, and his wife Gwen, each relied on their strengths to carry them through the intense material. There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere when Soffer collapsed in Ferrin’s arms sobbing, and later while Will lamented to Gwen that he never told Jen he loved her. Landon opted to portray Gwen as stoic for her husband, yet tender and grateful in her scenes with Jen, when Jen asked Gwen to take care of her son Johnny.
Howarth, who plays Jennifer’s estranged brother Paul, also drew tears when he apologized to Jen for letting her think her baby was dead, and she magnanimously forgave him. Howarth and Ferrin were even able to generate a smile when Paul said her forgiveness was more than he deserved, and Jen replied, “Probably.”
Hendrickson was heartbreaking when Hal and Jen discussed the fact she wasn’t his biological daughter, and Hal bade a final farewell to the daughter he had raised and loved as his own since she was a little girl.
All of these scenes now take on an added poignancy, and will stand as a final tribute to Hendrickson’s immense talent, as well as a testimony to actors who take on their characters pain for the sake of our entertainment.
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