By Marlena De Lacroix
With spoilers, there are no storyline surprises on soaps anymore. That’s not to say that the ways in which storylines are presented can really come as shockers — especially in the February sweeps that just wrapped up, the sweeps in which we expected little to nothing interesting because of the Writers Strike. So here are four soap stories/sweeps events which really shocked moi this month, either because they were so daring … or so cowardly!
Daring — As the World Turns Introduces an Iraqi character: When Ameera, the hijab-wearing newly arrived ward of Colonel Mayer (Noah’s murderer father) turned up at the Snyder farm to get to know Noah and Luke, I was truly shocked. A Muslim woman on daytime! We’ve never seen that before! I usually like social issue stories and this could either turn out to be wonderfully humanitarian (demonstrating how hard it is for a Muslim woman to blend in to the U.S. in this time of war) or it could merely be a device to further a writer or producer’s liberal political agenda. How long will it be until Bill O’Reilly is on to this?
Attaching Ameera into a story with fellow “societal outcasts” Luke and Noah can either be a meaningful learning experience for the audience, or a big mistake. As I write this, the threesome’s truck has just broken down in a rural area outside Oakdale (looks like Jersey to me!) and some hateful white good ol’ boys are scheduled to beat them all up at the same time. Whatever happens, Ameera is the riskiest soap storyline in years. Remember, hate is a four letter word.
Cowardly — All My Children Brings in Black Prosecutor Samuel Woods to Prosecute Erika Kane for Insider Trading: Insider trading? Who cares? Even Martha Stewart is probably bored with the subject by now. When it was announced that Mario Van Peebles was being brought in to play Woods, the possibility of an interracial affair for Miss Kane tantalized all of us who have spent almost forty years wrapped up in Erica’s love life. Erica loves all men! But would she really get involved with an African-American man? We may not find out this time. Van Peebles has been unexpectedly stiff and awful since he turned up on the show, the only man in (heterosexual) captivity who doesn’t have one ounce of chemistry with La Lucci! So now Woods is sending Erica to prison. Didn’t Erica do that a couple of times already, most recently when she stole Maria’s baby? Erica looks lousy in orange!
Cowardly — General Hospital: Don’t get me started with all that has happened this month. When the Text Message Killer took off his mask to reveal his identity at last, I screamed “Who’s that?” I was away in graduate school during Diego’s tenure and in the last year and more that I have watched daily, the “dead” Diego has not been mentioned. Whether you were familiar with Diego (Ignacio Serricchio) or not, this is the sloppiest, most carelessly written denouement of a soap mystery ever!
But what really got me was the Michael and the gun story. Of course you all know from my column a month ago, Kids and Guns for Sweeps, that I was personally very much against this children and guns storyline. But I received tons of letters from GH viewers who wanted to see a story with Michael or Morgan being shot and maybe killed by Michael’s gun, so that Sonny would finally turn away from the mob out of guilt.
As you know, Michael didn’t technically shoot the bullet which almost killed Kate. In a cowardly cop-out, Michael dropped the gun and the gun went off by itself! There was even a clear camera shot of the gun doing that! This loophole of course will probably prevent Michael from being punished as fully as he might otherwise be. Cop-out! Cop-out!
As of this writing, it’s been almost two weeks since Kate was shot and Michael’s parents still don’t know he was involved in the shooting. Will Sonny learn his lesson? Or will Michael and his gun turn out to be the most cowardly story that GH has ever told?
Daring — The Publicizing of the “New” Guiding Light: Wow! I’m sure you’ve seen articles about the new production style/ outdoor format of Guiding Light in almost every publication in America in the last few weeks. (Here’s a good one by my friend Ed Martin.) Sincere congratulations to P&G publicist Alan Locher and his team for literally carpeting America with the word of the “new” Guiding Light. I don’t think there’s ever been such a thorough and effective soap publicity blitz since ABC megapublicized the Luke and Laura wedding in 1982. P&G even found moi and asked me to do a preview story, but Marlena would rather wait and see the finished goods. I’ll be watching the premiere GL episode and will have a review ready for you here right here on my site as soon as I can.