In this month's Busted to Blissful, Soapdom's Lesleyann Coker is fed up with All My Children, but she couldn't be more delighted with the Young and the Restless. What is it about the goings on in Pine Valley that busted her bubble and what's so wonderful in Genoa City that has put her in bubblicious bubble bliss? Read on!
All of AMC
In the past, All My Children was one of my favorite soaps, and I never wanted to miss an episode. Right now though, AMC is a complete mess. From couples who shouldn't be couples, to characters acting out of character, to a total disregard by the writers for the show's history, the current AMC is a shadow of its former self.
First and foremost, there's the dreadful and borderline offensive rewrite of one of the show's most important moments. In 1973 when Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) underwent daytime's first abortion (or termination as the show insists on calling it) it made television history, and was all the more remarkable because in the 33 years since, only four other soap characters have followed suit.
Even though AMC's head writer, Megan McTavish, claims turning Erica's supposedly aborted fetus into a cocky twenty-something TV Producer/Medical Intern is true to show creator Agnes Nixon's original vision, I don't see the connection. The medical impossibility of Dr. Greg Madden (Ian Buchanan) removing Erica's developing embryo and implanting it into his own wife not-withstanding, the storyline reeks of desperation as a cheap February sweeps ratings ploy.
The sooner the show either sends miracle fetus Josh Madden (the smarmy Colin Egglesfield) out of town, or does yet another rewrite to correct the egregious mistake of creating the abortion that never was, the better for all involved. Not only do talented soap vets Lucci and Buchanan deserve better, but so do viewers.
Viewers also deserve more than the pale imitation of super-couples we're now force fed on a daily basis. Aside from the delightful Krystal and Adam (the hilarious Bobbie Eakes and David Canary who can make lemonade out of the most insufferable storyline lemons), there aren't any couples with real rooting value.
Sure, there's Babe and JR, portrayed by the talented Alexa Havins and Jacob Young, but their characters have caused each other so much pain, and lied and manipulated the other too many times to make a plausible couple. Babe and JR make better adversaries than lovers.
That leaves the bland Di and Tad, the boring Aidan and Erin, and the creepy Jonathan and Lily. While Di's portrayer Kelli Giddish is a good actress, and has decent chemistry with Michael E. Knight's Tad, this duo was always doomed to fail in the shadow of comparison to Tad and his former love Dixie (Cady McClain). With the ethereal McClain back on the show as Dixie, AMC capitalized on their vault of Tad and Dixie clips going back 20 years. No actress could compete with that kind of history, and Giddish try as she might, is no exception.
Aidan and Erin (Aiden Turner and Connie Fletcher) became such an insta-couple, that their characters had no time to develop the shared history that is the life blood of every successful soap couple. While Turner and Fletcher have chemistry, their romance was too forced from the beginning. They took an instant soap clich' dislike to each other, which lasted about a week before they began flirting. Erin's reveal that she was a 26-year-old virgin was laughable instead of poignant, and did nothing to help establish these two pretty faces as a viable pair.
The most atrocious and least viable pair on the show is Jonathan and Lily. Leven Rambin, Lily's talented teenage portrayer, has innate charm and tremendous skills as an actress, but even she can't rescue this DOA romance. Jonathan (Jeff Branson) is a mid to late 20-something murderer and woman abuser. The show claims Jonathan is reformed thanks to having had a brain tumor removed (which caused him to do the bad things), and now has the mentality of a young boy. Lily is a 17-year-old autistic who was held captive and threatened by Jonathan before he became 'reformed.'
While Lily has enormous compassion, it's unrealistic to think after one or two discussions with Jonathan about his tumor, she would not only feel safe around him, but fall in love and want him to kiss her. Lily doesn't want to be touched by her family; it took her months before she was comfortable kissing her ex-age-appropriate boyfriend Sam; so it's completely out of character to now have her begging Jonathan to kiss her. And for her to consider a marriage proposal from him at her age, with her intelligence, and with their troubled history, defies logic.
Another example of defied logic is the Zach/Kendall/Ryan fiasco. It was recently revealed that Zach caused the town blackout which resulted in Kendall becoming pregnant with her own egg instead of Greenlee's. The Kendall Hart that we know and love would be hell bent on revenge, not moping around and begging Ryan to make love to her to help her forget her feelings for Zach. Who knows what has caused this change of Hart? It looks like a case of the writers not being true to the essence of a beloved character.
For complete character assassination, look no further than town psycho Janet Dillon (the wonderfully manic Kate Collins). When we last saw Janet, she had worked hard to overcome her mental illness, and was off to start a new life with her beloved husband and daughter. Unfortunately, Janet has returned to wreak her special brand of havoc on Pine Valley. Her recent machinations include locking the show's most respected characters in a truck and pushing it into quicksand, as well as blowing up Erica's Mardi Gras Ball! While every soap needs a villain, Janet is too campy to be taken seriously, and the writers need to stop writing her as such.
AMC is in need of a major writing shake up. The show should take a page from the classic soap Dallas, and have Kendall or Erica wake up to find the entire last year a bad dream. Stranger things have certainly happened in Pine Valley, as witnessed by the current appalling state of the once proud franchise.
Nick and Phyllis Rock Y&R
When Nick (Joshua Morrow) first began cheating on his lovely wife Sharon (Sharon Case) with sex pot Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) on The Young and the Restless, I didn't see the point.. I hated Nick for betraying Sharon, especially right when the couple was starting to get their marriage back on track after the death of their teenage daughter Cassie. I also hated Phyllis for being such a skank and sleeping with a married man, while at the same time continuing to lead her ex-husband Jack (Peter Bergman) to believe they had a chance for a reconciliation.
However, my opinion of the storyline has changed, thanks to the power house performances of all the actors involved. Morrow has always played Nick as an uptight and controlled guy, whether in his personal or professional life. Through his interaction with Phyllis a different side of Nick has emerged, one in which he smiles and lets down his guard. He is also taking foolish risks in continuing his more and more blatant trysts with Phyllis, which is another sign he has lost his carefully preserved control. Morrow has mastered the conflicting emotions brewing inside Nick, and they often dart across his face at the same time.
Even though Nick cheated on Sharon several years ago, it was never a full blown affair, which is what sets this story apart. The most surprising and fascinating development to emerge for both Nick and the viewers, is Nick appearing to fall in love with Phyllis, and vice-versa. What started out as slam-up-against-the-wall raw sex, has blossomed into much more for this unlikely pair. Never was that more apparent when Nick could barely hide his jealously over Phyllis receiving flowers from Jack on Valentine's Day, and then telling her just sex might not be enough.
As a result of his unexpected feelings, Nick decided to come clean to an unsuspecting Sharon, on their ten-year-wedding-anniversary no less. In true soap style, the phone interrupted Nick's confession with the news that Nick and Sharon's young son was in the hospital with a concussion. Afterward, Nick had a change of heart. He realized his place was with his family and broke it off with Phyllis right there in the hospital.
Stafford has always played Phyllis as a fiercely independent woman who doesn't need anyone, but as the camera closed in on her face during the hospital break-up, Stafford's eyes welled with tears and her lips quivered. Suddenly Phyllis was no longer invincible. Without saying a word, Stafford was able to convey Phyllis' pain at the acknowledgement this relationship had been doomed from the start.
While Morrow and Stafford are mired in the drama of their characters' affair, Case has been her usual luminous self. Sharon is blissfully unaware that her life almost crashed down on her, and could again at any moment. Case was especially touching when a glowing Sharon confided to Phyllis her husband was finally back and more in love with her than ever.
Fast forward a few weeks, and Nick and Phyllis found themselves alone in her apartment, and went at it one more time. Afterwards, as they basked in the afterglow, they promised each other it was their last hurrah. Alas, their words were only too prescient, as Phyllis' teenage son Daniel barged in. In their haste and passion, Nick and Phyllis didn't make it to the bedroom where they could have shut the door, so Daniel discovered his mother and her married lover on the couch in all of their glory.
Now the stakes are even higher in this illicit love affair, as Daniel ponders what his next move will be. Will he tell Sharon? Will he use this information to blackmail his mother into letting his girlfriend move in? While I don't condone Nick and Phyllis' actions, it has certainly made for riveting soap opera, and I can't wait to watch what happens next.
Lesleyann Coker is a contributing columnist for Soapdom.com, and co-author of Boob Tube, a satiric novel currently being shopped to publishers that examines what really goes on behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. She is a former reporter for Soap Opera Weekly magazine, and has interviewed over 200 daytime and primetime actors during her career
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