By Marlena De Lacroix
Bonjour, everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in many weeks. As you know, my mother passed away. It happened amid the frenzy of the end of spring semester, at the end of a long academic year. I need the summer to recharge, so I’m going on relaxed summer mode until the Daytime Emmys at the end of August.
However, there will be new material here. I will post as often as I can, and there will be posts by other contributors. I am thrilled to introduce a new regular, Matthew Weaver, who will debut soon. Matthew does something rarely done well: soap satire. His work is very sophisticated and entirely original, and it always makes me LOL. You may have read his wonderful creative faux press releases and casting notices on Soap Zone, where he’s known as “Cesar Faison.” His first piece, On the Next Baristas, imagines some of our favorite soap actors in five familiar-seeming primetime shows that actually are purely his invention.
Meanwhile. here are a couple of short takes on plots/shows I’ve watched over the last few weeks:
The Chris Engen (ex-Adam, The Young and the Restless) affair. In addition to everything that’s already been said, here’s one aspect I think has been overlooked. To me, Engen has been from the start a mediocre actor, as many beginning soap actors are. However, good storylines usually showcase new actors favorably and bring out the best is them. The character of Adam has done some really awful stuff, but one tragic aspect of Engen’s leaving June 24th is that the storyline has gotten superhot. Adam’s gaslighting Ashley into a likely miscarriage is super showy, the kind of story fans tune in especially to see. What an opportunity to show off good acting! And as of June 25th, replacement actor Michael Muhney has been handed this star-making opportunity free.
Even if it personally feels better to Engen to quit now, he’s broken his contract (a Hollywood no-no that will inhibit him in finding future work). Furthermore, he’s been sentenced by the soap press to a career that will burn in perpetuity. Wouldn’t Engen’s story of fear and foolishness juxtaposed with being blacklisted in the new Millennium because of personal choice be fodder for a memorable screenplay? Too bad the great Paddy Chayefsky (Network, Marty and The Catered Affair ) isn’t here to write it!
One Life to Live’s on-going sexism. In May, One Life to Live was very entertaining, real popcorn soap opera that gave me a needed escape from my everyday problems. However, I couldn’t help being irritated by some of the clunky writing, such as the night Starr and Cole went directly from The Prom to the exhumation of their baby’s casket. Hello, isn’t anyone from the Network reading these scripts for continuity and logic? OLTL, don’t treat your audiences so carelessly!
And the rampant sexism, which has stained the show for the last few years, continues to sabotage its overall quality. Only a man could have invented Stacy Morasco, the idiot who asks her ex-stripper boss Stan to punch her in the face and give her a black eye, so that her boyfriend Rex could feel sorry for her. Between that and Tea again sleeping with Todd (“Come on baby, beg for it!”), the man who had punched her in the face when they were married, someone has to impress on the frat house team of Carlivati/Valentini/Frons that runs OLTL that violence against women and sexism on soaps are obscene. Now Todd and Tea, the abuser and the abused, look like they’re falling in “wuv” — again! What a way to keep dishonoring one of the show’s rare intelligent female characters! If I had my way, I’d invite Camille Paglia (a soap fan, albeit The Young and the Restless) to do an intervention. (P.S. I just heard Tea will have a new love interest, Elijah, who is coming to town in August. Hooray! I’m sure Todd is polishing up his brass knuckles now …)
Then I’d hire a new female ABC Daytime Vice President to oversee the shows. Violence toward women and perpetuating front burner characters who are brainless bimbos is nothing less than institutionalized misogyny. It’s not nice to spit time and again on women who watch soaps, especially when soap audiences are still overwhelmingly female!