Guiding Light Walks a Fine Line Tackling Taboo Subjects

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Incest or intrigue; ingenious or illegal?

Tom Pelphrey & Stefanie Gatschet ( Jonathan randall & Tammy Winslow, Guiding Light)

Incest is such a dark, ugly word and idea, except when it is on the soaps. To mention an incestuous relationship between consenting adults; or to remember those that have graced our screens in the past is to make one think fondly of these characters’ love and wait with want for the next chapter in their very screwed up lives that we somehow find our selves envious of.

With the long awaited arrival of Jonathan back in Springfield, not much to our surprise, Stephanie Gashett apprised her role as the ghostly and always sweet and moral, Tammy, the love of Jonathan’s life. The character of Jonathan never lets us forget that the love he has for Tammy is undying, literally. For those of you just joining the Jammy saga or those who just want or need a reminder, Jonathan and Tammy are cousins.

Their mothers, Reva and Cassie, are half sisters. Jonathan was aware of this when he was out to hurt Reva and her beloved sister when he first came to Springfield. Jonathan, knowing full well that the virgin Tammy was his half-cousin, seduced her to spite Cassie, Reva and any good moral judgment. Jonathan also had a point to prove to the holier than thou Tammy.

The joke was on Jonathan. He fell, painfully, head over heels in love with Tammy sending that weird storyline into the vaults of daytime classic loves. Tammy may be dead but GL and the surviving characters that loved her, specifically Jonathan, even in his own absence from the show, has very much kept Tammy alive. Jonathan and Tammy are not the first in daytime to cross the incestuous line.

Jonathan’s half-sister and Tammy’s one-time fiancé tempted the fate of a half-brother and sister romance only a year before Jonathan arrived on the scene reeking chaos. Sandy Foster came to town posing as the long lost son of Reva, Marah became consumed with the controversial radio talk show that Sandy was hosting. Sandy worked his way into the life of Marah and more importantly to him, Reva his believed mother. All the while, Marah was falling in love with Sandy. Sandy reciprocated the feelings but could not act on them because he was trying to make Reva believe he was her son. When the truth came out that he was her half-brother, Marah couldn’t cope, she decided to pursue her career in Italy.

Sandy stuck around and developed feelings for Tammy, his supposed half-cousin. Sandy was a truly good guy even though his status as Reva’s son was a lie. Sandy assumed the identity of “Jonathan” because he longed for a family. He certainly had one true trait of Jonathan down pat, falling in love with Tammy. As we know now, in the end Jonathan won the heart of Tammy.

Sandy, Marah, Jonathan, and Tammy were not Guiding Light’s first storyline related to incest. In the very early years of broadcasting on the radio, an incestuous relationship between Ned and Mary Rutledge turned the tides for drama in the late 1930’s, breaking down social barriers and introducing listeners to high drama like never before, or since. Being the longest running show, not only on daytime television but television of all time; certainly holds a certain amount of responsibility to keep viewers on their toes and address taboo subjects of intrigue.

The ability to do both is what has made Guiding Light a multi award winning show of the past and present. After 70 years of combined radio and television, Guiding Light can still take home the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Daytime Drama, the incestuous and controversial storyline of Jammy, can take a great deal of the credit for locking in that great honor in the last couple of years.

The soaps, are not the soaps without a certain amount of sisters sleeping with sister’s boyfriends or husbands, more popular mothers and daughters swapping husbands and lovers with the ease of renting a movie from Blockbuster. But true incestuous relationships whether they turn out to be a misunderstanding or the writers let the true DNA be what it is, seems to be what true love is made of to some degree. Holden and Lily (As the World Turns), Billy and Mac (Young & the Restless) , Jill and Brock (Young & the Restless) Bridget & Ridge (Bold & the Beautiful), Victoria and Cole (Young & the Restless)

It’s not the sex that makes these relationships fascinate us; it is the depth of these relationships, that surpass sex and lust, they become breathtaking and deeper than the passing one night stands or adulterous affairs that destroy the many marriages of daytime.

Are the writers geniuses for creating stories and characters, super couples, we love or are they teetering on a very dark side we should feel ashamed of for watching. Either way it is great entertainment and certainly more like storylines will follow on the heels of the great super couples we have come to know and love.