Is One Life to Live Daytime’s Lifeboat? And a Word About Addie …

By Marlena De Lacroix

Have you boarded the One Life to Live lifeboat yet?  Judging from the letters I’ve received in the last three weeks from readers like Esther, Cherry, Marilyn and DSO, even the most discerning and stubborn of Marlena’s Thinking Fans seem to be boarding.  They’re in hope it’s the one show that can keep their long-term love of soaps afloat in a sea of rapidly sinking – and stinking — shows.   So we’ll have lots to say here on the experience of watching OLTL, which Marlena herself has watched faithfully since 1970.  Our own Patrick Erwin, a first time viewer, will weigh in with his observations later this week. He’ll compare other soaps he’s watched with OLTL.

And BTW, there’s an inside joke here.  Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 movie classic Lifeboat stars Tallulah  Bankhead, Hume Cronyn, William Bendix and a wonderful character named [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: Days of Our Lives’ Samantha Gene Brady (Reed Walker Roberts DiMera)

By Damon L. Jacobs

Days of Our Lives‘ Sami and her twin brother were born into a loving intact family.  Her father was on the police force, her mother was a psychiatrist, her doting older half-sister loved her. What could possibly go wrong?

More like what DIDN’T go wrong!  In her childhood alone, Sami (played by Alison Sweeney) dealt with the death of her father, the death of her mother, the return of her father, countless father’s girlfriends, only to learn he wasn’t her father at all, and both her real parents were being kept alive on an island but separated and then returned home.  Confused?  Imagine going [Read more...]

Say What? The 2008 Emmys Had No Class

By Marlena De Lacroix

The star of the 2008 Emmys was a body part your mother blushingly called your “backside.”  Stars couldn’t stop talking about derrieres, and wound up acting a lot like them.

“Oh, oh, I love your butt,  what a cute little butt, I’d take that cute little butt,” All My Children’s Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) squealed as she checked out Bryan Datillo’s on the SoapNet Emmy PreShow, which Budig was co-hosting with Ricky Paull Goldin (Jake, AMC).Tyra Banks

And then there was Tyra Banks’ acceptance speech for Best Talk Show:  “When you have a dream, there are going to be many people that tell you that you cannot do it, that you are not good enough. And I want you to tell them to kiss your dimply, fat, juicy, booty-licious, skinny, jiggly, saggy, fat ass.”

Marlena isn’t ordinarily a prude about language.  But these are the Daytime Emmys, the once a year gathering that is supposed to salute excellence and reward the very hard work talented people do in daytime drama every day.   Generations of producers, performers and journalists have fought to make sure the Daytime Emmys remain respectful both to the soap world, and intelligently inviting to the outside world, where soaps are  [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: Guiding Light’s Joshua Lewis

By Damon L. Jacobs

Look into his eyes.  Those deep blue eyes.  There you may see a man who has great capacity for warmth, generosity and concern for his family and community.

Look a little deeper, however, and you will also see anger, bitterness and an intense fear of being inferior to others.

But let’s back up a bit. Guiding Light’s Joshua Lewis, played by Robert Newman, is the son of Martha and HB Lewis.  Little seems to be known about Martha and her relationship to her children.  But HB was a rigid task master, an old fashioned cowboy who didn’t appreciate sass from his children.  Unfortunately for him, he received a lot of sass from his rebellious, hot-headed rock-&-roll-loving son Josh.  There was much resentment and competition between these two, and at one point HB even married the woman Josh loved (Reva, natch).  Josh clearly was an outsider, and did not [Read more...]

Marlena’s Emmy Picks in 2008′s Humpty Dumpty Soap World

emmy

By Marlena De Lacroix

I’m not overly excited about this week’s Daytime Emmys. I could be fluffy and say it’s because they moved the ceremony  to L.A. several years ago and I don’t get to go and to buy a dress, and to me (I attended here in New York 23 years in a row) the Daytime Emmys was always about The Dress.  But the truth is, daytime drama, which I’ve spent most of  life my loving,  is a collapsing industry, and I just don’t feel very celebratory.  Glitz and glam be damned, wouldn’t the time and money spent on the Emmys be better spent gathering everyone in the industry together to meet and intelligently discuss  finding a way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

Oh well ,brighten up,  Marlena! Friday night is the Emmys broadcast (8 p.m. EDT on ABC) and you must make award picks.   As Irving Berlin wrote [Read more...]

Introducing Our New Column: Soap Shrink by Damon L. Jacobs

How many times have you seen a soap villainess or villain — or even a soap hero or heroine — do something that is so wrong and so bizarre that you’ve jumped up from your armchair and screamed:  “WHAT IS WRONG with her/him?”

In the vast, messy world of today’s soap opera — where cheap thrills usually trump character development, history is all but forgotten and [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: General Hospital’s Carly Corinthos Jacks

By Damon L. Jacobs

Hello and welcome to my cyber office.  These sessions will be an opportunity for us to examine the psychological profiles of some of our favorite soap characters, explore their symptoms, and get a better grasp of why they do the things they do.  My hope is that we will have a dialogue about each person, and this will lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of our shows.  I welcome your feedback in the comments section below.  

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch this week:  Carly Corinthos Jacks (played by Laura Wright).

What’s the problem?  

Carly’s behaviors have ranged from cruel (seducing Tony) to dangerously violent (shooting Tony, leaving A.J. drunk and abandoned in an alley), to outright psychotic (Emily and a sickle … need I say more?).  

At the root of her actions is an intense need to avoid abandonment.  She came to Port Charles initially to seek vengeance on the person she considered to be the source of her pain:  Bobbie Spencer. Bobbie gave Carly up for adoption at birth because she was a poor unwed prostitute at the time, and even Bobbie knew that brothel wasn’t the ideal place to bring up a young daughter.  

Carly perceived this as the ultimate rejection, and thought that making Bobbie pay would alleviate her pain.  But guess what?  Hurting others does NOT heal emotional suffering.  Once Carly “succeeded” in hurting Bobbie, she embarked on an endless quest for men to fill the emptiness inside her.  Jason, Tony, A.J., Sonny, Zander, Lorenzo, and now Jax, have all became part of her desperate attempts to feel whole and cared for.  When she perceives herself as not getting a satisfying amount of validation, watch out!  She may simply yell at the “other woman” she perceives to be getting in her way.  But, if truly scorned she may do something more drastic, like faking her death for a week just so she could attend her own funeral and see who came to mourn her.  

On a few occasions, Carly has even been known to lapse in a psychotic state.  When this happens, watch out again!  She hallucinates, she thinks  people are out to get her, she stabs innocent pillows.  

What about her strengths?    

This girl has resilience like nobody’s business.  If you’re ever on the wrong side of a bullet during child labor, this is the person you want by your side.  She can go toe-to-toe with cops, judges and mob bosses and usually come out ahead.  She is fiercely loyal to those she loves, and has been increasingly able to accept unconditional love from healthier sources, namely her husband Jax.  

Most recently she has had to cope with the crippling trauma of her firstborn son Michael getting shot, and being left permanently comatose. Yes, I know there is no such thing as “permanently comatose” on a soap, but stay with me here.  This violent act against her son has shattered the entire illusionary world she has built for herself of never-ending attention from mobsters.  For the first time she is being forced to grow up and take inventory of the priorities and choices she has made in her adult life.

Okay, she’s been taking her rage out on others. Sure, she’s irrational.  And yes, doing the nasty with Sonny in the back of the limo right after dropping their comatose son off at an institution was using very poor judgment.  But hello, this woman’s entire life is crumbling around her. When our entire foundations are thrown off, we tend to do things that can be reckless, impulsive or downright tacky.  Carly has always used her sexuality to make herself feel important, real, and alive.  It makes sense that she would use it again when she sees her world falling apart.  At least she’s not attacking any girls in the park with sickles!  

Analysis:

Carly is a classic example of someone suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, a disorder that describes a series of chronic and impairing personality traits.  It is typified by someone who is terrified of being abandoned, is desperately attention-seeking, has a history of unstable relationships and tends to see others as “all good” or “all bad.”  It’s referred to as “Borderline” because it can straddle the border between psychotic and neurotic traits.  It often results in one going to great lengths in order to get attention and validation, or to draw someone back in when they are stepping away.  Example:  the week when Carly found Sonny and Alexis in bed together, and then was rejected by Zander, she went so far as to fake her death  in order to get attention and caring from everyone.  In real life, we see reactions more on the order of wrist cutting, drug relapses, superficial suicide attempts, or provocative statements like, “I’m just going to go kill myself,” when someone doesn’t get their way.  

Carly seems to be holding it together for now, but she is walking a thin line.  Based on her history, I’d say she’d better get herself to a therapist STAT, or reserve the next available room at Rose Lawn.

Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve, to be published in September by Morgan James Publishing.  For more book news, contact him at shouldless@gmail.com.

Brian Kerwin: Marlena Interviews One Life To Live’s Sole Daytime Emmy Nominee and Broadway Star

By Marlena De Lacroix

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Kerwin (Charlie Banks, One Life to Live) for the Broadway theater site, Theater Mania.  I talked to him both about his Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor (OLTL‘s only acting nomination this year) and his very contrasting, on-going role as a pervert who tries to seduce a 15-year-old girl in the Broadway hit August: Osage County.  Osage, already a Pulitzer Prize winner, is nominated for ten Tony Awards (the awards broadcast is Sunday, June 15, at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS).

Despite his hectic schedule — I met with Kerwin on a Wednesday matinee day between shows — I found him to be relaxed, soft-spoken, funny, a total pro. What a doll!   It’s easy to see why Erika Slezak (and everyone backstage at OLTL) likes to work with him.  Complete with remarks from Erika herself, a discussion of his 30-year career in stage, movies and TV (his first role was Greg Foster on Young and the Restless in the 70s), and a bit about his family life, my interview (under the name of my alter ego, Connie Passalacqua Hayman) with Kerwin appears here.

All Hail La Strasser: She’s the “Alexis of Daytime” — Again!

Robin Strasser 

By Marlena De Lacroix

About 1984 or so, when the primetime world was at the height of Dynasty-mania, all the daytime soaps were hustling to introduce characters, all costumed in big-brimmed hats,  who were supposed to be the “Alexis of Daytime.”  Elizabeth Hubbard, new as Lucinda on As the World Turns, was supposed to be the Alexis of Daytime.  Marj Dusay, who played Myrna Clegg on Capitol, was supposed to be the Alexis of Daytime.  Louise Sorel, Augusta Lockridge on Santa Barbara, was supposed to be the Alexis of Daytime.

Baloney, I wrote in an early column headlined “Outrageous” in Michael Logan’s old magazine, Soap Opera People.  We already had the definitive Alexis of Daytime.  Her name was [Read more...]

I’ll Take Manhattan(ites)

By Marlena De Lacroix

My friend Roger Newcomb, who is the editor of  We Love Soaps, invited Moose and me to attend a Tribeca screening of Manhattanites, the film he co-produced with Lyle Kaminer. We really enjoyed  it, and I think you’ll like it too, especially if you are a soap fan.

Manhattanites tells the story of a group of young people whose busy lives intersect toward the end of the film in a fiery coincidence.   The hub of all this activity is a downtown coffee shop where everyone, sooner or later, seems to end up.

Gretchen (Caroline Hay), an ambitious waitress at the coffee shop, longs to leave her job to become a television news reporter, a dream [Read more...]