In this month's Busted to Blissful, Soapdom's Lesleyann Coker has a bone to pick with the Passions, but couldn't be more pleased with the way some things are going on Days of our Lives and General Hospital. What has busted her bubble, and what's put her in bubblicious bubble bliss? Read on!
Passions Poor Portrayal of Women
It's not a new trend for Passions that its female characters suffer from some of the lowest self esteem on daytime, and that they aren't good role models. Yet what is currently happening to the characters of former heroines Theresa and Jessica is appalling.
Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald has made plenty of mistakes in her life, and isn't always as good as we would like her to be. However, her marriage to Alistair Crane sinks the character to new lows. After everything Alistair has done to Theresa and her family -- destroying their home, taking away their jobs, having a hand in her father abandoning his family, killing two of her brothers, to just name a few -- it's ludicrous to believe that Theresa would want to be in the same room with this man, let alone married to him.
As if all of Alistair's prior evil machinations weren't enough, he has now raped Theresa on more than one occasion. Theresa knew what she was in for when she married him, but for the sake of obtaining his help to retain custody of her son, she has sacrificed not only her body, but her integrity. She continues to have sex with Alistair (though how willingly can be debated) which makes her no better than a prostitute.
Speaking of prostitutes, is there no more misguided girl on all of daytime than Jessica Bennett? The teenager went from selling cosmetics to selling her body in the blink of an eye. Yes, Jessica has had some upheaval in her life with her mother leaving town to reunite with her first husband and son, and virtually abandoning her real family, but that doesn't justify the mess Jessica has made of her life.
If becoming a prostitute wasn't bad enough, Jessica has also developed the habit of cutting herself. Since the sex and the cutting can't numb her pain and her feelings of worthlessness, she uses drugs to cope. To top it all off, Jessica has been raped and has murdered one or more of her johns in self defense! And to think this is the same sweet girl that use to date dorky Reese Durkee and engage in sibling rivalry with her sister Kay.
To their infinite credit, actresses Lindsay Hartley (Theresa) and Danica Stewart (Jessica) have gritted their teeth through the uncomfortable material, and made it work for them. Hartley is an original cast member who has had six years to flesh out her character, and her feisty portrayal of Theresa always rises to the occasion. In contrast, Stewart was an unknown commodity until recently. Her Jessica was always sweet and cute, but never made much of an impact until now. Stewart inhabits Jessica's rawness and vulnerability, letting us see the lost, scared little girl underneath the provocative clothes and tough girl attitude. Stewart makes it painfully clear that in spite of Jessica's rebellious demeanor, she has never been more alone or needed someone to love her more than she does right now.
What Jessica really needs is her mother, and what Theresa really needs is to start acting like a mother. Prostitution is still prostitution whether you do it willingly or as a 'business arrangement.' Passions needs these characters to come to their senses fast, before they're irrevocably damaged.
Martha Madison Performance During Belle's Breakdown on Days
I couldn't decide whether to do a Blissful column on Days of Our Lives or General Hospital this month, so I decided to write about them both.
On Days, I've been fascinated by Martha Madison's performance as her character, Belle, battles postpartum depression. I was partial to the original Belle, Kirsten Storms, and Madison was slow to grow on me. Since the inception of this storyline, I'm left thinking Storms who?
It doesn't hurt that Madison is a classic beauty who resembles Passions' McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan). What's surprising is that underneath her delicate frame, Madison packs a powerful punch as an actress. Her Belle has a newfound maturity and sense of womanhood which the character previously lacked. Maybe it's because Belle is all grown up -- a married lady with a newborn -- which lends the character some gravitas, but Madison's multi-layered portrayal of a woman pushed to the brink has also helped give the character depth.
In addition to suffering from postpartum depression which has caused her not to bond with her baby, Belle doubts her decision to bring her child into the world at all, since she's not fully committed to her marriage. Belle isn't over her first love, Shawn, and is kicking herself for staying married to her husband Phillip out of obligation. Everyone can relate to losing their first love, and what a painful experience that can be, but Belle's situation is all the more poignant because she and Shawn were on the road to reconciliation when she learned she was pregnant and decided to stay with Phillip.
In a less capable actress' hands, Belle's predicament could come across as selfish, but Madison makes Belle's anguish so palpable, it's gut-wrenching to watch. When Belle lamented that she had a wonderful husband, and a beautiful new baby, and why couldn't she just be happy, it was one of the most realistic scenes Days has shown in years.
Elizabeth and Lucky's Wedding on GH
While Belle has lost her first love on Days, GH has just celebrated the reunion of two young lovers with a long overdue lavish wedding. Like Belle and Shawn, Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and Lucky (Greg Vaughan) also fell in love in high school. They too, went through many trials and tribulations before coming back together.
Any time a couple has this much history, it's rewarding to the viewers when the couple triumphs over all the odds to be together, and Elizabeth and Lucky were no exception. Their wedding was filled with nods to their past, from everything from the guests to the vows.
It was wonderful to see the rarely used and much beloved Rachel Ames (Elizabeth's grandmother Audrey), Jackie Zeman (Lucky's aunt Bobbie), and Denise Alexander (Lucky's grandmother Lesley), celebrating with Elizabeth before the wedding. It was also great to see Luke (Tony Geary) in touching scenes with his son Lucky, where they reminisced about Lucky's absent mother Laura. Another interesting dynamic to the wedding were Luke's scenes with his newly SORASed daughter Lulu, which provided a glimpse into the complicated relationship to come.
In another meaningful nod to longtime viewers, Elizabeth and Lucky recalled in their vows how their friendship turned into love when he rescued her after her rape, and how they had exchanged vows once before when they were teenagers, just for themselves.
The only element lacking in all of the festivities were flashbacks. Even though Jonathan Jackson played Lucky when he was a kid, I think GH still could have used them. After all, that was years ago, and Jackson could have morphed into an adult that looks something like Vaughan. It's a soap opera after all, where anything is possible, and stranger things have certainly happened!
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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