Dear Ms. Sweeney:
I am writing to strongly protest the current Todd and Marty storyline on One Life to Live. It’s in effect the long delayed second chapter of a story that began in 1993, when Todd was the leader of three college students who gang raped Marty. The two chapters couldn’t be more shockingly different in intent.
The 1993 chapter, though brutal, was told with intelligence and sensitivity, shedding light on the humanity and compassion gained through this tragic crime. It deservedly won numerous Daytime Emmys. The current chapter — in which an “amnesiac” Marty was kept in captivity again by Todd for five months, fell in “love” with him and begged him to have sex with her (which he did) — lacks any such redeeming insight. Instead, it is simply revolting.
Starting with the hackneyed soap opera device of amnesia, the current writing team seeks to exploit the audience rather than enlighten it. The current story extends ancient rape myths (“I raped her because she wanted it”). The story’s aim is far from social issue education. Rather, it is the tale of a woman who haplessly becomes the victim of her rapist all over again and is being done solely to titillate during a sweeps month. Lacking depth or heart or an iota of believability this cruel exercise is thoroughly off-putting. It’s nothing less than a betrayal of the audience for a once-great soap opera.
I am a woman who grew up watching OLTL, a soap that was founded by the great and progressive Agnes Nixon, whose aim was to spotlight the humanity of all races and ethnic groups peaceably living together. The offensive and exploitative nature of the Todd and Marty story completely betrays the 40 years of trust I have invested into both OLTL and ABC Daytime. The latest Todd- Marty exercise is offensive by any standard, but especially so to women, who have always been and continue to be the core audience for soap operas. Why have OLTL and ABC chosen a story which is abhorrent to women? To vamp a new, young/ and or male audience? The ratings are so low, can you afford to lose most of your audience just to tell a flashy, eventful story which is, at heart, misogynistic?
As a programming executive and a woman, how could you sign off on this story? This is the first time in the history of ABC Daytime that a team of male executives oversees a soap opera — ABC VP/Daytime Brian Frons, executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati. The only female sensibility on the show is your own.
I urge you to end this story, and to remember that your audience is still women at home and in the workplace, not solely young male internet posters who do not see the sexism in this story and think its absurd and hateful plot twists are ”exciting.” Seeing the suffering of a woman raped twice by the same man may work well as a sexually twisted and titillating video game, but it certainly is all wrong and totally offensive, and a real turn-off to the longtime, supportive audience of One Life to Live.
Connie Passalacqua Hayman, a.k.a. Marlena De Lacroix