Soap January: Bombs Away!

Deidre and Drake

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Steve‘s take on AMC’s “January stunts” is “I don’t know if I can think of a more blatant example of the type of heartless sickness that has wounded soaps” … and S. Woods adds: “The crud on offer from these soaps is giving tastelessness a bad name” … while Twb6y optimistically doesn’t believe John and Marlena are really gone for good … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Each year, I have January off from school and I snooze, do some quiet reading and graze the minimally eventful pre-sweeps soaps.  Not this year.  Too often I’d see something on a soap that would surprise me, shock me or even out and out disgust me. I’d scream! I’d yell!  Every other day!

What is going on in this soap January?  I have a feeling the approaching end of the genre may have to do with the frantic state of all the soap activity on and off screen this month.  Every soap wants to save itself. Every soap is desperately doing whatever it can to hold on to viewers.  Hence, many soaps may be acting more out of panic and fright than thinking calmly and rationally.  For, how else can you explain the following January soap bombs?

Deidre Hall  and Drake Hogestyn get fired and leave Days of Our Lives for good. Does anyone remember the soap parody film Soapdish from 1992?  In it a soap headwriter played by Whoopi Goldberg is asked to bring back a dead character she

No, no,  not even the freezing winds of January could  render my longtime beloved soap operas … so disgustingly crass!  

had previously decapitated.  “How can I bring him back?” she says, “He doesn’t have a head! How can I give lines to a body running around without a head?” Kinda sums up the absurdity of Ken Corday getting rid of his historically most popular pair of actors, Deidre and Drake. Days without their two megapopular characters loved by millions for decades.  A soap without a head!

Now I know there are many other popular actors on Days.  But my sympathies goes out to the fans of this couple, fans I personally know to be a fanatically devoted bunch, going back decades. Let that all-time jackass Ken Corday eat cake, I say! 

Dorian fellates David on One Life to Live.  I promised an old soap journalist friend of mine I wouldn’t write about this because Marlena is too much of a lady and Robin Strasserdoesn’t foster pornography.  But this little piece of daytime ”erotica” illustrates exactly how unprofessional and sexist the distasteful writing is that’s going on at Fronsie’s backstage fraternity party, a.k.a., ABC Daytime.  How dare they humiliate Strasser this way! Forty years of soap experience, still a front-drawer star and a beauty to boot at 63! Ms. Sweeney, don’t you think now is the time to reign in funky Brian and the male production team at OLTL? I bet they’d never try this on Slezak.  Why oh why is our beloved Robin always belittled by executive producers on OLTL?           

All this time, I haven’t found “monk”  David Vicaroshi on OLTL with Dorian as a “follower” funny at all!  Was all this a plot just to put Robin in a turban?   And how do you real life Buddhists enjoy  this storyline?

OLTL‘s new high school/drug storyline. It’s too early to really judge this story. I’ve taught enough high school to know that drugs don’t come out of nowhere one day when ratings are needed.  And the real Bo would have whupped Matthew big-time, the day Nora caught him with pot, and Matthew mouthed off to his parents as flippantly as if he were …Todd.  This was the day they needed another Asa return!

General Hospital‘s new Toxin storyline. Why for two weeks was it only shone atGH toxin the beginning of episodes?  I couldn’t follow it at all!  Does Guza really expect to lure me to watch the rest of GH after his sins of the last year?  As I write this, the first of the toxic gases are about to be released from the stomach of the patient on the operating table.   Is this Guza … making a comment on us, his audience?

No, no,  not even the freezing winds of January could  render my longtime beloved soap operas … so disgustingly crass!  

Comments

  1. Blake says:

    Are you serious about Dorian doing that to David!?!?!?! I haven’t been able to watch OLTL in at least a month. I’m disgusted that they did that, especially to a beloved veteran like Strasser! I’m curious how they did that and how they got away with it being on daytime.
    But then again Guiding Light’s Lizzie and Remy had sex on the bathroom floor in the men’s room, and right in front of a urinal!!!! And a woman produces that show!!!!
    And I’ll never understand why Days fired D&D, pay cuts are one thing, but the biggest couple on the show? Plus, I heard they were given a lame wedding and a quickie story wrap up. Nice to know GL is pulling out the stops to help their ratings by bringing back Phillip and Edmund and possibly others. But too bad they waiting until the very last minute.

  2. Twb6y says:

    My Dearest Marlena:

    I love the reference to Soap Dish especially since you also mention Dorian and the turban. In that same movie Sally Field threw a tantrum over being made to wear a turban.

    I guess I haven’t gotten all upset over Days of our Lives losing these two core characters because, right now, I don’t believe it is true. Maybe it is but too many times we, the viewer, have been told a character is off the canvas or dead only to have them reappear back a few months later.

    How many times have we lost John and Marlena already? As viewers we’ve been asked to buy into an entire murder mystery storyline on Days with Marlena as a serial murderer and none of the “victims” died.

    I know back from the dead is a storyline staple but as viewers we’ve been insulted by and desensitized enough by writers going back to this plot device over and over with diminishing returns. The last time James from ATWT or Dixie from AMC were brought back what was the point? It was for something plot driven as opposed to character driven and those potentially big impacts were negated.

    If writers want us to watch, they have to stop insulting us. You don’t unabort Erica’s baby 30 years later. You don’t bring Victor Lord back from the dead after 30 years on OLTL. You don’t change Brad Snyder from Jack’s older brother to his younger brother on ATWT, and you don’t change Harley’s daughter from being older than Lizzie to being younger on GL.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is why should we, the viewer, buy into anything as being permanent on these shows such as the departure of these two characters, when the only time it seems they are truly gone is when the actor dies?

    Marlena says: The soap gimmick in which no character who dies is ever permanently dead dates back to the beginning of soaps, but really started to be overused in the 80s. It works when it is used as a story accent, not a story mainstay, such as today’s GH which has tons of back from the dead characters (Luke, Laura, etc.) and startling lookalikes like Emily’s new clone. Marlena has been begging soap writers not to insult the intelligence of readers since the original Marlena column launched in SOW in 1989. Obviously, the shows still haven’t gotten the message. Tons of my very smart friends quit soaps years ago because of this!

  3. antmunoz says:

    Marlena,

    The departure of Deidre Hall from DAYS leaves you as daytime’s reigning MARLENA. (As if there was ever any doubt, but still…) Hail to the Queen!

    That said, these “high-profile” dismissals hurt, even though I’m not a DAYS fan. It does remind me of the Valentine’s Day Massacre on DAYS over 25 years, and also reminds me that NO ONE on daytime is safe. I think I got lulled into a false sense of security a few years ago when Kim Zimmer took on GUIDING LIGHT and apparently won…even after the show had prospered in the years she was absent! At this point, Susan Lucci should be shaking in her stilettos…and I would’ve never thought that possible.

    Still, in the past year we’ve lost Beth Ehlers from GL…Martha Byrne from ATWT…Don Diamont from Y&R. Genie Francis can’t get GH to put her on contract! Grant Aleksander is returning to GL despite his shoddy treatment a few years ago, and he’ll probably go down with the ship. These actions and events hurt, too.

    You mentioned Robin Strasser. She and Erika Slezak sure put up with alot of b.s. on OLTL. Used, unused, misused, forced to watch their best co-stars and leading men killed off and written out. And yet, unlike Slezak, Strasser has left, what, twice? And continues to come back for more! I feel bad for her too, but, hey, burn me once, shame on you…burn me THRICE, shame on ME. Strasser has had some limited success during her stints away from OLTL; in primetime and on PASSIONS (I didn’t watch, but apparently her Hecuba was a reason to, from what I read). I’m not sure where she could go from here, but at least she’s walked away from this mess before. De-Dorianize her, take away the affectations, and she could really give Victor on Y&R or Alan on GL a run for their romantic money. I can’t see her on any other shows…and there aren’t many left, are there?

    ONE LIFE TO LIVE used to do drug storylines–”relevance”–so well. **sigh** From Cathy Craig to Matthew Buchanan… Your comment about drugs coming out of nowhere except when ratings are needed cracked me up. I still cringe at Jennifer Munson’s insta-addiction to crystal meth on ATWT (she HAD been a model; she couldn’t have been druggin’ up offscreen, at least?).

    Why is ONE LIFE sublime for half the year, and then just plain unwatchable? There is no consistency. If something “works,” based on ratings or, better yet, thinking viewers’ comments, KEEP IT GOING. If it ain’t working, KILL IT, QUICK. OLTL used to do this. I remember many, many storylines that died mercifully rapid deaths (the Santi family being the most recent). I felt a twinge of hope when Andrea Evans was quickly dispatched as Tina after that ludicrous Mendorra storyline last year. Unfortunately, the saner heads that made that decision should have also prevented said storyline from ever seeing the light of the television screen.

    I remember that you, Marlena, once encouraged us to keep viewing if only for the acting–that years of Liz Hubbard and Larry Bryggmann were the only things that got you through ATWT’s low points. This is the reason I currently watch GUIDING LIGHT. The acting is top-notch, even when I’m completely BORED. I could try to do the same with OLTL. I enjoy the actors. But I’m not so much BORED by the stories as I am APPALLED. No, I’m still not over Todd/Marty, another bad idea that wasted every inch of film or videotaped or whatever that it was recorded on. And the Dorian/David sexcapades…you said it all.

    Finally, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s biotoxin storyline: not my cup of coffee, and I won’t be watching. But GH does this type of story every year, and it seems to work at Emmy time. They also do it pretty WELL, from what I know, unlike daytime’s other recent “disaster” stories (collapsed parking garage on Y&R, anyone? Or Ethan down the well on ATWT?) The PIne Valley Tornado WAS pretty spectacular, but I expected a higher death count, not just reBabe. We already know who’s dying on GH thanks to the soap press, so where’s the impetus to actually WATCH? At least another Quartermaine isn’t being dispatched this time…Leslie Charleson must have bartered her soul or something. Hey, at least it’s a HOSPITAL-related story, although one I think we’ve seen already on ER, GREY’S, and every other primetime medical soap. (But GH DID do brain tumor sex first!)

    Thanks, Marlena. Keep taking daytime to task. February will hopefully be prettier…but, if it’s not…you’re still Queen.

  4. Dana says:

    Nice column. I agree with you Marlena on the OLTL portion of your column. So true, the Buddha story is just too much. Dorian, and all of the sudden changes tp her (life long) personality and no one notices.

    They (the Buchanans, Lords and Cramers) all know each others’ business all of the time, but all of the sudden no one notices this stark difference in her personality, and the goings on at La Bulae. Then all of the sudden Rex is playing superspy for the Buchanans yet there are no scenes with the B’s and Rex discussing a plan, but rex is discussing it all with Mimi, I mean Gigi, who has nothing to do with nothing.

    The explicit scene of Dorian seducing David was just stupid, just a promo to get people to tune in.

    Plus the drug story on OLTL is just silly…. Cole fondling that bag of pills for days, and playing a sneaky, druggie who gets angry and acts all justified ….wait no acting on his part, just a resemblence of a script somewhere.

    As far as GH, i gave up on that two weeks when I lost track of the story.

    Marlena nice to visit, love your site and columns. If you have myspace please become my friend on MySpace, my name on there is soapviewer. I just started to post on my blog about soap opera on there, and am going to have fun with it. The web address is http://www.myspace.com/soapviewer

    Your reader and friend,

    Dana

    Marlena says: Dana, you are writing a soap column? Wow, so proud of you! I will check it out if I can ever get into MySpace. I am on Facebook under my real name so come say hello there, everyone.

  5. S. Woods says:

    Sing it, Sistah, Sing it! The crud on offer from these Soaps is giving tasteless a bad name! I watched the exit episode of DOL to see Marlena and John get their send-off. I think their treatment pretty much sums up ‘the bums rush’. A sad measly offering for umpteen years of contributions to ‘Days’. The PTB better hope that karma doesn’t catch up with them or they will be pink-slipped next week. Bon Voyage and Bon Chance to Doc and John!

    Marlena says: I love that “sing it, sistah” stuff! Means I’m not the only one here screaming my lungs out in disgust in the afternoon. As far as karma goes, I am one of the multitude in the soap world who has been waiting for Mr. Corday to get his for all the rotten things he has done. Unfortunately, millions love Days and for them I feel sorry. The John and Marlena fans who gave the show so much support and love over the years have really been abused here. It comes back!

  6. Bryon says:

    Hi Marlena!

    I tuned in to watch John and Marlena’s farewell week and guess what, nothing else on that show enticed me to tune in Monday. I think that’s the saddest part of all….I saw no heartfelt or compelling stories with familiar characters that made me want to come back.

    I want to love One Life so bad, but I can’t help but wonder if Frons is adding “special touches” to scenes.

    And don’t even get me started on my former love, GH. I tuned in briefly for yet another “big event”. The day I happened to watch was the day Nikolas visited the Quartermaine crypt. After being reminded of what Guza had done to my favorite family, i tuned right back out but not before noticing that Port Charles has become a ghost town. How can writers tell stories with four or five characters?

    We soap lovers are in sad times. If this is just January, I cannot even fathom what February sweeps will be like.

  7. Melissa P says:

    Why is everyone so surprised about what Dorian did to David? It’s already been shown on one of the teen night time soaps and people on other message boards (the ones that are pro-ABC soaps) were saying it was no big deal and asking why people were so upset about something that happened in a car…in the school parking lot…during school hours… Are you really all that shocked that ABC would think it’s OK?

    Marlena says: Daytime soap operas are different from other shows because they are primarily shown in the afternoon hours WHEN CHILDREN are home. What if my 8 year old step-daughter was in the room and asked me, “Marlena, what’s that?” Also, dear, re this column, I have been writing about and supporting the ABC soaps for most of my life!

    One of the major reasons soaps have failed their audiences in the last twenty years is that they have forgotten soaps are a unique medium borne of the time of day they are on. Everyone can watch but their primary audience is still women Soaps are about love and family and the heart. Porn is for movies and cable drama shows!!!!!!

  8. Purple Haze says:

    I have a “Back to the Future” fantasy about soaps. When soaps were at their best, they were written by people who had had their start on radio (or their proteges) and network executives, i.e., “suits”, had had their start on radio. Those roots dictated the importance of story — and if soaps today could re-connect with this element we would not have to worry about their trying to attract viewers with the kind of crap we are seeing on our screens today.

    Imagine if writers were instructed to “write for radio”. That would require such discipline (they couldn’t rely on a pretty face, killer pecs or dimples, etc.) and they would have to tell a story with words.

    Well, a girl can dream ….

  9. Steve says:

    I can understand why you were bothered by Dorian on her knees, it was certainly a jarring moment. I think if this had been Charlie, or Clint, I would have been offended, but she’s always had a playful relationship with David. I took this as Dorian being the one in power, and I think that’s how Robin Strasser played it. I do think the moment was not necessary, but compared to all that with Dorian drugging Charlie, the writing could be worse. I think this current silly storyline about David just reinforces how Ron Carlivarti sees the characters as chess pieces to move about in aimless directions. Motivations and reasons are sacrificed for hijinks and forced drama. That’s why Natalie is suddenly raging at Jessica and suffering from PTSD, even though she spent most of the past few months giddy and going everywhere in Llanview with Jessica’s kids. The bad, plot-driven writing is most emphasized in Todd’s story, where they really seem to want viewers to believe Todd is a good guy underneath and deserves no punishment.

    What were your thoughts on AMC’s January stunts? I don’t know if I can think of more blatant examples of the type of heartless sickness which has wounded daytime. Zach guns Josh down in cold blood and practically orders Erica to rip the heart out of Josh’s chest. Zach hugs and comforts Reese over and over as the supposedly groundbreaking lesbian romance with Bianca reveals itself as a sad fantasy about a man who can turn a lesbian straight. And meanwhile Erica’s grief is barely shown, Josh doesn’t get any type of service or goodbye…it’s all about the “Zeese”.

    Marlena says: This is such a brilliant letter, Steve! The part about Carlivati moving the chess pieces around and that motivations are sacrificed for hijinks and forced drama superbly explains and encapsulates everything I’ve been grasping for in thinking about OLTL in the past few months. I don’t think Carlivati the artist and Emmy winner so worshipped by his fanatical fans personally wants to write soap opera this way; as I said in my column, it’s fright and panic over the upcoming end of soaps (and pressure from Brian the we-just-don’t-care-anymore-just-put-it-on-the-air network) that is responsible for making him and his team manufacture this kind of inhuman, sloppy and just illogical writing. (Plus their sexism, but that is another issue.) And some fans who never saw soaps when they were truly literate and full of human dimension love this gimmicky, one-dimensional video-gamey stuff! The era of intelligently written, deeply felt soap drama (think Lemay, Marland and most of all Malone) is not only over, it is in extremis!

    Interestingly I was away for the few days Zach shot Josh and when I came back it was as it never happened (except for the heart transplant.) The great story I had anticipated for three terrific actors, including those who play Bianca and Zeese, just got lost in … network panic and sloppiness. Plus bad, bad sexual politics. This could have been AMAZING. And now it is trash about Zach’s masculine lesbian fantasies, as you say. This is solid proof that ABC Daytime is absolutely out of order. You can imagine how Thorsten, Eden and Tamara feel having to act this illogical garbage. The end is near, my friend! Soap January was proof!

  10. Levi says:

    Even though I don’t watch Days, I read they didn’t ask Deidre to take a pay cut….so they didn’t give her the option, which is sad. I know it is a slap in the face for her caliber but they might have wanted to stay anyways.

    And Brad Carlton leaving is sad and yes Y&R is not safe at all….I am sure more vets are on the way out. If #1 needs a cutback it is sad. Y&R is #1 but not nothing to write home about in total viewers. However, it has improved since Arena Bell and Rauch took over.

    I hope they don’t botch Grant’s return on GL. They have a chance to bump the viewership up a couple of tenths if they write a good story. And I am glad about Edmund coming back, but this Lara story……….snooze!

    And this Zach and Bianca story is a mess…..and very discriminative to lesbians and women in general. They could have found any donor. It seems like Bianca and or her lover have to have a man in orbit…….then why make her a lesbian or give her a girlfriend then? Have a lesbian triangle or something before you bring Zach in the story.

    B&B—–I am glad we are getting back to fashion but for how long?

    Soaps aren’t stellar now but we are loyal even through the bad months.

    Marlena says: Good evaluations, Levi. I’m glad you are loyal during these bad months dear, but Marlena is kinda scared there won’t be very much she wants to watch soon….and I have been watching soaps forever.

  11. Dana says:

    “Marlena says: Dana, you are writing a soap column? Wow, so proud of you! I will check it out if I can ever get into MySpace. I am on Facebook under my real name so come say hello there, everyone.”

    Thank you! It’s not really an official column, just a blog:) I like to reserve the “Column” term for professionals, like you.

    The PERIOD at the end of my website ruined the link:(. It is
    http://www.myspace.com/soapviewer

    See you on facebook,

    Dana

  12. Cate says:

    Steve, I agree with you on Josh’s death and the Zeese storyline.

    The storyline with Zach and Reese is one of the most appallingly sexist and homophobic storylines I have seen on television. The fact that they promoted this regressive, negative story as groundbreaking makes it even worse.

    Josh’s death was insanely rushed and Zach’s behavior toward him and his famliy was awful. I understand that the unabortion was rightfully despised but many had really warmed to Josh by the time of his death. The whole story felt extremely plot-driven and cold. In fact the entire story surrounding Zach/Bianca/Reese/Kendall has been plot-driven and unbelievable. There is a lack of humanity and heart in these stories.

    Marlena says: Cate, a few weeks ago you predicted that the BIanca and Reese (and Zach!) story would be a disaster and you were right! No humanity, no heart — you hit it right again!

  13. NF says:

    Well, I have an idea that could save soaps. Since it is clear that today’s soap writers do not have the talent to write compelling stories, how about putting Slasar’s EON, Marland’s GL and Lemay’s AW back on the air. Use the original scripts, revamp the sets, hire new actors, get rid of the stories that did not work back then and give us soap viewers daytime TV’s Crème de la Crème. I would love to revisit my old friends. And as much as I loved Sharon Gabet, Lisa Brown and Beverlee McKinsey, how fun would it be to see new actors play favorite storylines … What do you think, Marlena ? Everything is already written! Dorian in a turban or Willis, Angie and Gwen’s love triangle

    Marlena says: Of course you knew I would love this idea! It would be great. But a lot of the greatness of these stories came from the writers molding the stories to the original actors — for example, Raven was so Sharon Gabet and Willis was so Leon Russom (you mean on AW, right?). They’d have to get fantastic young actors to play these roles. In other words, casting would NOT have to depend on model-esque looks. It would, as it used to, hinge on actors with GENUINE talent. The whole idea would be a bit hard to pull off, but I would be right there watching these “new-old” shows with you!

  14. BL says:

    With Days, the write-off of John and Marlena was pathetic. The show should have allowed them a happy ending instead of John being paralyzed, though with his memory. There were other ways to send them out of town, like to see Belle, Shawn and Claire.

    With OLTL, the Dorian/David sex was icky because it was based on power and not on love. I wouldn’t have had a problem with the scene if it had been two people in a relationship doing that. So far this return of David has fallen flat for me. The drug story is a joke. There was a brief mention of drug use during Cole’s steroid rage and during the aborted plot due to that real life school shooting.

    With GH, the toxin thing is just strange. It feels like an action adventure show plot instead of a soap opera one. In the sci-fi/action adventure kind of shows, the kind of backward narrative that GH is using is quite common. They show you where it ended, and then start hours earlier when finally you catch up to see how they got to the place of disaster.

    Marlena says: Hi dear Blossy. I always like your calm assessments of soaps and I agree with you on all of the above. The very quick write off of Marlena and John seemed very strange to me. A slap at the actors from their loony executive producer? And I agree with you that the toxin story feels more like sci-fi than soaps. As the late Jim Reilly used to say, “If they like prime time, they should go and write prime time. This is daytime, and they’d better get used to it.” (Interestingly enough though, Reilly and Guza were friends.)

  15. Jay says:

    I think OLTL is THE BEST soap on the air right now. Dorian and David are the bomb! And as far as the fellatio scene, I thought it was hilarious! What? Rich, strong woman don’t do that? Let’s agree to disagree. This is THE best written soap on the air.

    I used to love GH, but the violence, stunts, and utter degradation of woman are a crime. Write about that instead.

    Marlena says: One Life to Live is “my” show; I’ve been watching it continously since 1970. You may want to read some love letters I wrote to the show on its 40th anniversary. Just click “OLTL” on the right.

    It is one of the only really watchable soaps right now and I do watch every day. But being a good writer does not entitle one to write material that demeans women. Women are still the majority of viewers of the soap medium. GH, by the way, is very unwatchable now.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hello Marlena,
    I enjoy your column. I was not disturbed with Dorian’s act because I love Dorian and David. I want them together, even though I know this will not happen. I just hate the reason behind the act — to bed and wed David to get the Buchanan fortune and even the score with Clint? No way, Clint was nothing more than a fling (and one to throw in Vickie’s face) When will these writers learn to write for intelligent women. Dorian is a complex character portrayed by the brilliant Robin Strasser. Give her the material, not gimmicks or have her do things anyone familiar with the character knows she would not do. For,example, I find it appalling that she would throw away her money (to boring day player Moe) to trade it and her jewells etc. for the chance at B.E. It is just dumb.
    Writers, it seems, are afaid to write for fierce women who who have the chutpah to get what they want in clever, intelligent ways. They would rather parade their dead babies, emotionally-challenged women with D.I.D., women chained to panic rooms, raped or dropped in a pit, and killing off or dispatching our vets. A common excuse for the decline of soap viewership is more women in the work-force. No. The decline is because of the writing. Well-crafted stories, heroes to support and villians that make you want them to succed may help the bleeding. Oh and how about real love stories.

    Marlena says: Right on Jen! Go to the head of the class!

  17. NF says:

    Dear Marlena,

    I already told you that I am an ex-soap viewer (EON-AW-TEXAS-AMC-SFT). I haven’t followed a soap since they cancelled AW. That was what ? 10-12 years ago…Since I started to work at home this past January I’m thinking about maybe, just maybe, watching ONE soap again. As I said I have not watched but I’m vaguely familiar with each one. So Marlena, bring me back into the fold. I trust your judgement. Which soap should I watch ? I am tempted by GL or ATWT but I read so many negatives comments about GL that I’m not so sure. Of course it cannot be anything that airs on NBC. I’m still boycotting that **** network !

    Marlena says: If you read the boards, the two hot soaps to watch now are Y&R and OLTL. Y&R is good old-fashioned soap opera with a touch of high gloss, so I think you’d like it. I love the bunches of divine veteran actors (such as Peter Bergman, Jeanne Cooper), but the younger characters can be a bore. OLTL is hot right now and fun to watch (that is if you can deal with blossoming sexism and lots of subtext). ATWT has great acting, but it’s dedicated to short-term storytelling that old soap fans might find a bit startling. GH is trash. AMC has possibilities, and seems to be struggling to become what it used to be — contemporary and charming. As a soap viewer today, you have to enjoy the good stuff wherever you can find it!

  18. Giada says:

    I don’t believe practicing fellatio to be demeaning per se. Not at all. But it can be, of course. So, I withhold my judgement because I don’t know the characters enough, nor the context, nor have I seen the scene… Why do you feel it was demeaning? Did you feel the same about Kayla doing it to Patch in the 80s? I know I loved it there. It was very chaste in that case. Not that I wold have minded otherwise. Perhaps I’m in a minority, but I generally like my screen sex quite explicit, to be truthful. Soaps are not even close to explicit, as a rule.

    Marlena says: Oh Giada, not you, too! I have no objection to the act, but I object to showing it at 2:00 PM in the afternoon on television when children are home. The story made it all about money, not love. What especially bothered me is that the actress involved has a history of executive producers on that show being cruel to her — despite the fact that she’s been a soap superstar (and someone I have revered) for more than 40 years.

    Tell me, my dear friend, are soaps and other TV shows this explicit in Italy or the rest of Europe? I can just see Pope Benedict’s face now!

  19. Cherry Ames says:

    Marlena, I will comment only to say that showing the fellatio scene was in very poor taste and someone (a few) people used poor judgement. This is daytime TV for goodness sake-not HBO after dark or whatever. I’m no prude but the crudeness on TV in general is symptomatic of a coarsening of our culture and a decline in manners, for sure. IMO, only of course.

    That said, do not worry about Robin Strasser as she acknowledged that the scene was her idea and she herself suggested it as being very much in character for Dorian. She stated that the scene was :in character, her idea and great fun to perform on her “hotline”. (She did shut her “hotline” down for about two weeks several months ago but reopened it quickly and updates her message about once a week now -on Saturday or Sunday). I listen to her occasionally because I have lots of free minutes and she is entertaining in an odd way. She loves to talk about her beloved doggies and their health problems and their massage therapists and accupuncterists, I believe. At any rate, her weekly chats can be very amusing. Now Pope Benedict has problems of his own-he needs no more. Ciao.

    Marlena says: Always so great to hear from you, Cherry. Now, the fellatio scene was Robin’s idea? Well, at least I agree it was in character for Dorian.

    Whenever I think about Robin, I think about the actress I’ve worshipped on screen since 1969. Then there’s Robin, the person I got to know quite well when I was an active soap reporter. The real Robin is brilliant, complex, a woman of the world, and funny.

    If you’ve listened to her hotline (I have!) you probably know that Robin is soupcon (as we say in French) … exuberant. So if this was all her idea, so be it. As you say, Cherry, the producer, or the directors in the daytime department, or the network vp, should have caught it and said no. There are thinking women (and mothers) out in the audience who wouldn’t like it. Yesterday, I was talking to a fellow soap blogger, a guy who is 22, and he stopped watching OLTL because of the fellatio scene. So, it’s offensive to all sexes and ages.

    So Cherry, thanks for standing with your old pal Marlena in this matter. I have a feeling (from rumors I just heard as I was writing this) that the show is gonna push the envelope even further beyond the Dorian-David incident. The upcoming story REALLY promises to repel women and moms. Relax … it’s not sexual … it’s only …!

  20. Giada says:

    Well, if it was for money, it was not very classy, let me put it this way… But I don’t believe sex should always equal love. I know, soaps are love in the afternoon, but sex has many meanings, not just love and I don’t believe they should restrict it to that. In fact, soaps should grow up and show that more explicitly. One of my all time favorite scenes from “Santa Barbara” had Cruz and Eden have sex in cave. They were sort of rough, and at odds with each other… it was not a sex scene of hearts and flowers. Life is also about that and I think it should be depicted. Ideally I’d want soaps to be life with a pinch of fantasy, not romance novels with a pinch of reality.

    I know, kids… From that point of view you’re absolutely right. Yet it’s hard to be an adult and be the subject of rules for kids. I don’t believe kids should watch soaps in the first place. But I know, they need to be responsible…

    One of the first experiments with soaps in Italy lasted 5 seconds (I can’t even remember the title) and it had a lot of nudity. And it was vulgar. But it was a night-time show. In general I believe in Italy we show much more nudity on TV (not in soaps). As for present soap operas that run here (Italian and German, for the most part), which are very successful, they show very few love scenes in general. I don’t follow them much, but I consider them a different kind of show from American soaps.

    As for the Catholic church, they are less opposed to soaps than they used to, or so it seems. I was in a school run by nuns in middle school, and they were very much opposed to Dallas. They told my mom it was better she didn’t let me watch it – so I never did. In high school, where my teachers were for the most part priests, they let us go see “Loving” (which was huge here) during a lunch break at a significant event. I write for a Catholic paper now (I have been doing it for 17 years), and they don’t have problems with soaps. But, you know… I sort of self-censor. I know I could never say a character was right to divorce, for instance. And don’t get me started on gay issues. I am very open about my being very pro-gay rights, but if I even go near it (and the realize it – they don’t always do) they censor me. I tried to mention the existence of Nuke, and it was gone faster than you can say their names: and they don’t even air here! This Pope never mentioned soap operas, so far, and let’s hope he stays mum on at least this topic. He already condemned Harry Potter years ago and… don’t get me started on this. LOL

    Marlena says: Giada, I didn’t you were a journalist. For joie!!! You must, must, must tell me more about how American soaps are written about in Italy. Is Sentieri (Guiding Light) still big there even though it is almost over here? The last time I was in Italy (1992) I bought a whole magazine dedicated to Bold and Beautiful.

  21. Giada says:

    Yes, I am a journalist, even if I don’t do that exclusively. Well, soap journalism has dwindled here — the magazine you mention doesn’t exist anymore — but our beloved genre is covered by mainstream media a lot more than is done in the US, and we have very many TV magazines that talk about them, here and there. Unfortunately there are only 3 American soaps still airing here: The Bold and the Beautiful (just Beautiful to us), The Young and the Restless (Febbre d’amore/Love Fever — which was never popular, so it is known only to die-hard fans) and Guiding Light (Sentieri, as you well said). For the longest time Guiding Light had the misfortune of being mistreated: they cut it to fit the schedule. No part went missing, but you had an episode of an hour and a half one day and an episode of 10 minutes the following one. Now it looks like they are just airing very short episodes, so we are falling behind. Fans try to protest, but with little response. They hold in there.

    Despite this, soaps are going quite strong here. German soaps like “Tempesta d’amore” (Love Storm) are very popular. But some of these follow the telenovela formula more and they come and gone. Last, I believe you should have access to Italian soap from at least the national TV channel (RAI)’s site (American networks block content to people who are not in the US, but I don’t think it’s the other way around). I don’t know how much you know Italian now, but if you can understand it easily and you want a taste of Italian soaps, go to http://www.rai.tv, and look for “Un posto al sole” (A place in the Sun) and “Agrodolce” (Sweet and Sour). “Centovetrine” (100 shop-windows) airs somewhere else: bits and pieces are available at http://www.video.mediaset.it/mplayer-home.shtml.

    Marlena says: Giada, thanks for all the info. I know that many of the Thinking Fans are interested in European soaps. We’ve heard they are more intelligently done and more frank than American soaps (more sex, alternative lifestyles etc.) RAI is indeed here in New York. Unfortunately, I only know a smattering of Italian, and it is all dialect, since my late grandparents came from Sicily. (Castra da Fillipo and Carini respectively.)

    But oh, how I’d love to see Reva jabber on in Italian! Who needs a translation for that? And I know the German soaps are talked about a lot on other soap sites. As you know the telenovela format bombed badly here about two years ago when it was done by an American company. I wish someone would try it again.

  22. rico says:

    Marlena, you are the Goddess of Truth, so I was wondering what it would take, in your opinion, to make Ken Corday open his eyes and see the damage he has done to the once great Days? For some ungodly reason the ratings are actually up from last year! So Corday is probably crowing about what a smart savvy business man he is.

    Marlena says: Rico, you are very sweet, but let me be truthful with you. I haven’t been a Days person in years. I stand by in the same kind of horror as you as Ken fires superstar actor after superstar actor. I have no idea what his strategy is. I’m not a personal fan of Ken’s, by any means. Days of Our Lives was such a glorious soap for so long and the dismantling of it means heartache, not just to its fans but to the whole soap community.

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