Celebrating the Glorious Life of Guiding Light: From 1992, Marlena’s Analysis of GL at its Peak

blogtalkradioDon’t miss Marlena’s farewell to Guiding Light on blogtalkradio’s Brandon’s Buzz at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 or later on the network’s archive.

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 By Marlena De Lacroix

In March 1992, Guiding Light reached the apex of soap quality, that perfect blend of excellence in writing, acting and production.   I thought it had everything going for it to  reach #1 in the ratings.  Here’s my column from Soap Opera Weekly, March 2, 1992,   Volume 3, Issue 9, in which I analyzed this blueprint for building a perfect soap.  A framed copy of this column hung over the desk of GL’s then executive producer Jill Farren Phelps for the duration of her stay there.

Intelligence, integrity, heart — GL had all three. It was a soap that not only deserved to rise to the top of the ratings, but should have stayed there forever. What a tragedy we are losing America’s oldest and historically beloved soap on Friday.   Farewell, Guiding Light.  You were glorious!

Here’s my column as it appeared originally. If you can read the tiny type in this reproduction, more power to you. If not, we’ve reprinted the text following the image.

Join me in enjoying the memories.

critical condition

CRITICAL CONDITION

Guiding Light: Blueprint for No. 1

(Originally published in Soap Opera Weekly, March 2, 1992)

By Marlena De Lacroix

I can no longer resist writing another column about the greatness which is Guiding Light. Everyone I know is absolutely cemented to their screens when it’s on. Including moi!

I just read an article in another publication exploring what it takes to become a No. 1 soap. Great idea, but the interviewees in this story included the usual soap-world sycophants, and even writers and producers of basement-ranked soaps! Now what could they know about being No. 1? To really understand what it takes, they should all study GL now, while it’s hot, hot, hot.guiding light logo 1992

In the introduction to this morning’s class, let Maitre Marlena (maitre means teacher, not old maid!) say this: The happenstance of a great soap is akin to the equally rare total eclipse of the sun — all the elements must be present and precisely aligned to converge simultaneously. On soaps, these elements include: acting, writing, production (including lights, sets, costumes), time slot, network supervision, budget, publicity and character history. Here’s how GL hits the exacta:

Complex, not clichéd writing: This is perhaps the most important element of all. GL writers Stephen Demorest, James E. Reilly and Nancy Curlee (recently replaced by All My Children veteran Lorraine Broderick) understand that good soap opera, like all good drama, arises not simply from plot manipulations, but from character. There are no cardboard heroes or villainesses on GL; complex, oft-contradictory personalities rule. Examples: Blustery Billy Lewis comes on like Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  but gives glimpses of a Montgomery Clift, sensitive soul; even perpetual villain Roger Thorpe found his heart recently in his wrenching effort to save Holly from that deviant, Dr. Daniel.

Charismatic couples with chemistry: Usually, one great super couple is enough to carry a soap. Soap producers would gladly kill their mothers in exchange for a pair of actors with natural vibes. GL currently has the luxury of three super couples: Nick and Mindy, AC and Harley, and Eleni and Alan-Michael. (Or is it Eleni and Frank?)

Sex: Soaps so rarely find electric couples that GL is wisely flaunting its own. Remember that historic, choreographed nearly nude first encounter between Nick and Mindy? The same week, Alan-Michael had an equally hot encounter with his ex-wife, the ever-sultry Blake. Oh, baby, this genuine GL steam heat has been stopping the CBS afternoon cold!Michael Maureen

A company of experienced veteran actors all in top form: Michael Zaslow (Roger), Maureen Garrett (Holly), Beverlee McKinsey (Alexandra — Emmy, Emmy, Emmy!) and don’t forget the marvelous Maeve Kinkead (Vanessa). The long-ignored Tina Sloan (Lillian) and Peter Simon (Ed), too, did mighty powerful work in the breast cancer story.

Interwoven, genuinely suspenseful storylines: Of late, separate major GL plots have been sublimely integrated. Examples: Baby policewoman Harley going after murderer Daniel; Alex using Frank to investigate Eric Luvonoczekj and Alan-Michael using the occasion to trick Eleni into marriage. GL is suspenseful and cannily well-paced. Toward the end, the Dr. Daniel story held my interest far more strongly than As the World Turns‘ over-elongated “Who Killed Carolyn Crawford?” story.

GL doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of the audience: Oh, this is so important! Compared to simplistic soaps like Days of Our Lives and General Hospital, GL never treats the viewers like dummies. Although the show’s focus is primarily on experienced adults who have been around the romance block three or four times, the younger characters are exceptionally well drawn and are played with a complexity beyond the predictable flatness of most daytime juveniles.

Luck (or is it kismet?): Every soap needs some order to find the right mix of elements. But I guess the real credit must go to the show’s executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. Cheers for a job superbly done!

So with all this going for it, why isn’t GL No. 1? Well, in the world of TV, high-quality programs don’t always do best in the ratings. The taste and perception level of the general public is seldom on the cutting edge.

What GL needs now is for Procter & Gamble and CBS to call attention to the show with a publicity push equivalent to the super campaign ABC recently waged for One Life to Live. GL is a soap that can live up to the hype. Why keep it a secret?

Comments

  1. David says:

    Ah Marlena … thank you so much for reprinting this for all those that didn’t have a chance to see it when it was published. Memories … wow! What a time that was for Guiding Light. And even though a lot has happened since then … I shall miss this show and its characters like friends that are moving away. Sadly these are friends I will never see again but I shall celebrate how long I was able to watch and enjoy this icon. Three cheers for Guiding Light and all who had anything to do with bringing “Springfield” into our homes!

    David

    Marlena says: Well thank you David for reminding me I had written this last spring, and sending an online version of it to me when I most needed it. (Old SOWs are only available in paper!) What wonderful friends we all had in Springfield over the years! And what wonderful friends — like you — I’ve been able to make over the years because of our mutual love for GL and all the soaps!

  2. Wendy says:

    Wow! I remember reading this when it was originally published! Had I met you then? I don’t think so.

    “GL doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of the audience” So true, once upon a time. *sigh*

    Marlena says: We met just after this column, I think. Here’s a shout-out to my dear Sub-GL pals, a weekly online group of intelligent GL fans from everywhere who became great personal friends in the mid 90s, that includes: Wendy, Diane, Connie, Ray, Marni, Howard, Allen, Paulette, Dale, Joan, Jo-Ann, Judi. Here’s to GL and here’s to us still keeping in touch all these years later!

  3. Daniel R. says:

    When I started watching Guiding Light around 1982, I would cherish what little GL material I’d come across in my small town…news or interviews from TV Guide, the few soap mags I’d find or from newspapers (back when they included soaps in the entertainment sections). It got easier to find neat things over time, of course, as soap magazines attained better distribution (and so did I). At some point I wound up pasting this odd pile of clippings in an old scrapbook someone gave me for what was probably a much more lofty purpose (this was pre-internet, young ‘uns). I did my best to arrange the stuff by years. I kept up with it until about 1997 or so, when life became too busy to even think about it. I never got rid of it, though, as it provided time capsules of what made GL my favorite show…what made it different from all the rest.

    The very column you’ve republished here, Marlena, occupies an entire page in my little book…I found it so spot on target in 1992 I had to keep it! It is still a…ahem…beacon of truth today. Every producer, writer, actor and director on a daytime soap opera should not only read this, but commit it to memory. They may save their shows if they do.

    Thank you for reminding us of a creative time in the history of GL that was as close to perfection as soaps…as TV dramas…can ever hope to be. Bravo!

    Marlena says: Thanks so much Daniel–you really made my day!!!!

  4. Bruce says:

    Marlena,

    I have enjoyed your columns ever since your days at Weekly. You should consider posting your earlier articles on your site!

    Guiding Light was one of my late grandmother’s favorite soap operas. I know she would have loved these last episodes. Tina Sloan, Ron Raines, Robert Newman and Grant Aleksander have been nothing short of fantastic!

    Marlena says: Thanks so much Bruce for your loyality; it means a lot to me!!!!!

  5. DS0816 says:

    Dear Marlena,

    Thanks for this. I remember that period very well—and, since my soap-opera viewing began in the mid-1980s, it was “Guiding Light’s” 1991-92 season that was its best. Its key Emmy was in supporting actress for Maeve Kinkead [Vanessa], but I thought—back then…and even now—it should have nailed the prizes for series, directing, writing, and for leads Michael Zaslow [Roger] and Beverlee McKinsey (who, as Alexandra, delivered the greatest performance for a given season that I have ever seen on any the dramas!).

    My personal favorite storyline was the Harley-and-Mallet love story. They had an electic and very intimate (and I’m not just talking sexual) relationship. Smartly written and naturally acted [by Beth Ehlers and Mark Derwin], this particular pair touched me like no other.

    Marlena says: Hi dear DSO! I agree, Beverlee was breathtaking that year! Vulnerable, witchy, tender, motherly, acting with/against superthorny Zaslow–wow! And Harley and Mallett was so wonderfully natural and something you don’t see on plot-driven soaps today–three dimensional characters, real people! Those were the days my friend, those were the days.

  6. Levi says:

    Well, I think towards the end GL has gotten back to the what it does best: character driven storylines. I am so glad to have read your articles around when I first started watching the show which was 13 years ago. I have kept a lot of SOW covers through the last 13 years. You have always been fair in how you analyzed the show. In fact, I have been enjoying Mimi Torchin’s articles as well. Both of your devotion to this show stood out. It seems like most soap analysts gave it the rag. Well, in these final hours of the light I will remember all the wondeful family relationships GL provided me and my family to watch every day. GL was a death and I have went through the process of grief of losing it. But I have come to accept its conclusion. I don’t see this as an ending but I see it as a show that will shine its light through TV history. In fact, I dont see another soap in time that will ever spread six generations of family members.

    Marlena says: Here! Here!

  7. antmunoz says:

    Marlena, I remember this column well, as I do most of your columns. LOL I saved every issue of SPW I could, and I still reread them (usually your column and Mimi’s) every so often on sick days. I loved GUIDING LIGHT: THE FALLOUT AND THE VISION, your two-parter from around 1999. I always loved how everything you loved, I loved, and what you hated, I hated…at least, at the time! LOL It saddens me to think that any future columns done by any soap critic on GL will be in the vein of “Where are they now?” or “Where GL went wrong.”

    BTW, Marlena, what did you think of the mags’ coverage of the end of GL? I still have all my mags from when AW was cancelled, and it received a MUCH bigger send off than GL. I think SPW interviewed AW actors from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s OVER THREE WEEKS. And the AW cover of both mags was much classier, with actual posed studio shots of the cast, not just a “montage.” Not only will I miss GL, I miss the good old days of CLASSY soap mags who used more than publicity pictures for covers. I think GL got the short end of the stick. They could have run GL articles for WEEKS…and I would’ve bought them. I no longer subscribe or buy weekly; I only buy when there’s something I want to read and SAVE. Seems like a bad financial decision not to put out more GL product for collectors like me.

    Marlena says: First of all I am tremendously complimented by your devotion to my columns at SOW, Ant! I ran the 1992 column because I wanted my readers to be reminded of GL when it was sublime. It’s been 17 years, but if it was good enough to go to top of the ratings then, why did it go in the wrong direction and why is it being cancelled NOW? I never read SOD and the current Weekly and SID did okay jobs at memorializing GL last week I thougt. You have to understand that when AW was cancelled in 1999. soaps had bigger audiences and magazines more circulation and budget. That’s why there was so much more AW articles at its cancellation . My friend Jeff Pearlstein,a freelancer did all those interviews in Weekly and worked on them forever. Magazines can’t afford freelancers anymore. Very few people who write about soaps are even paid now!

  8. John says:

    Thanks, Marlena. This is a gem. I so wish I’d been reading what you had to say about soaps back when material like early ’90s GL was airing on a regular basis. But it has been great hearing your take on things in the frustrating years since then, both toward the end of your Critical Condition stint when the decline of these shows was really starting to hasten, and of course now that we’ve really reached the 11th hour.

    Marlena says: John, I got a chill when I read that phrase “the 11th hour.” Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls….

  9. Dale says:

    Hi, Marlena. That 1992 critique sure brought back memories of what probably was GL’s last Golden Age. 1991-1992 were just about perfect in every way! It is a testament to all involved that I have so many vivid memories of that era. Where to begin?

    How about with the incomparable Beverlee McKinsey who began the 1991 season as Alexandra by roasting Roger Thorpe at the country club, moving on to terrorizing Mindy Lewis, and then obsessing over her son, Nick McHenry? Naturally, during all this, she had time to manipulate Alan-Michael, thwart Blake, and destroy her relationship with Fletcher! Hee hee!

    How about the compelling Frank-Eleni-Alan Michael triangle, with a side order of Blake thrown in for fun? Sorry Ms. Keifer, but Sherry Stringfield owned that role!

    And speaking of Blake, how inventive were the writers to have Holy be the one to blow the whistle on Blake to Eleni and AM about all of Blake’s machinations, thus setting up Blake’s revenge on Holly by sleeping with Ross, which was integrated into the story about Ross’ political aspirations, which then lead to the shooting of Roger? What a domino effect! What cast integration! Perfect perfect perfect! This show was on FIRE!

    Sadly, the show could not sustain flying at this dizzying height. What show could? That we got what we did for as long as we did is something who watched that era will always be grateful for and I’ll just leave it at that. There’s no need to reflect now on what followed. The 1991-1992 era is the GL that I will always remember with awe and esteem.

    Marlena says, Bonjour darling Dale! This letter really evokes the excitement and the glory of that era of GL! The show was on fire!! It should have stayed at that height! Today is such a awful day. It helps that all the good friends I made through being Marlena are ‘here’ with me. The last episode is just starting as I write this….

  10. Jo-Ann says:

    I also remember reading this article when it was first published – and I know it was before my sub-GL days. What a genuine pleasure to read again, though sad it is those days of sublime soap watching are long gone. Cheers GL & Connie — thanks for the memories.

    Marlena says: Thanks for writing Jo!!!

  11. Great that you revisited this, Marlena – it reminded me of many things.

    I remember Soap Opera Weekly being my weekly crack – trying to find the newest issue in my small college town and always looking for Critical Condition!

    I remember this one so well and so many of the other CC articles (including, as I’ve told you many times before, the one about Douglas Marland’s ATWT being like fine repertory theater).

    That I would myself be writing about soaps many years later? Still blows my mind.

    It makes me sad that it was so long ago that GL really had full support from CBS, a full range of resources and a full, healthy creative life.

    I’d still like to know what happened between 1992 – when you wrote this, and when GL was given a primetime special – and late 1993, when CBS first thought about cancelling GL (and first moved it at all the CBS owned and operated stations to morning time slots).

    I still think if the remaining shows got the hell out of their own way and took one of the hints mentioned (respecting viewer intelligence) that they’d keep an audience. Soaps will never have double-digit ratings or 20 or 30 shares ever again….but they should be working overtime to keep the audience they have!

    Marlena says: Patrick, your coverage of GL here on my site and later on your own has been incomparable! I agree that the real story is what happened between 1992 and now to bring this show down. As I’ve said, I think it was death by 1,000 cuts, and you’ve certainly singled out some of the sharpest ones in this letter.

  12. sactownfan says:

    I’m sorry, Marlena. Great article from the past… but the show has had many great moment’s since. The 70th anniversary episode? Bookended by Jonathan grieving Tammy’s death… then the rest of the show a recreation of GL’s history.

    Perfection!!!

    And also, I think you are copping out on the soap mag’s coverage of GL’s final week. 60 Minutes did a story – and gave it the final slot, no less. ABC news, BBC news and countless newspapers did stories. Yet the biggest soap mag in the country can’t put GL on the cover as it goes out?

    There’s only one word to describe SOD’s behavior.

    SHAMEFUL.

  13. antmunoz says:

    Marlena, thanks for the insight about why AW’s send-off ten years was a bigger deal, magazine-wise, than GL’s. I never thought about budget, freelancers, etc. Those AW articles I treasure. I wish one of the mags had had the budget to interview GL stars from the past several decades; I would’ve loved to have heard from them again. Most coverage was limited to current stars, many of whom have been on the show for decades…but to see photos in one of the mags of Krista Tesreau’s “GL party” and know that John Wesley Shipp, Marsha Clark, Lenore Kasdorf, etc., were all together again…too bad someone wasn’t there to get interviews and soundbites.

  14. Levi says:

    I was very pleased with the finale. I loved how they moved ahead 1 year in time. I think it made logical sense to do that to make Josh and Reva reunite. And it is fitting Kim Zimmer got the last line “Always.” I wouldn’t have minded who she ended up with and I don’t mind the Jeffery and Edmund ending. I give kudos to the writing team. They did a beyond excellent job. We got to see the new babies and got to see Rafe come home. And I am also glad to see Reva make a good comment about Otalia. This show was all I could hope for.

    However, it was tough for a few days knowing my grandma’s b day was around the corner and to lose the show around this time was hard. I watched it with my mom and she gave me a hug through my tears after the final scene.

    I remember the first day I watched the show. It was simply drawing in front of the tv and then seeing Shayne stuck in the 5th street building with Josh, Reva, and Annie outside. It was good storytelling back then.

    The irrational part of me and stingy me would want this show to go on forever. The rational part of me knows Guiding Light lasted way longer than it was supposed to be. I didn’t know there were cancellation rumors as far back as 15 years ago. But I think it ended in a good place.

    I just hope Soapnet can bring the reruns back so we can see the ear you wrote about Marlena. I know youtube will also provide these moments. But if they can show Ryan’s Hope surely soon Guiding Light can get some reruns on the air.

    I feel had the show ran a few more years then the last of the heavyweights might have left. This way I know the last of the veteran actors got to say goodbye.

    I have read articles on the actors real recent and they say keep watching the remaining shows. I am sure I wil get back in it soon but I might take a break for awhile and just shop around. I guess you dont really know the pain till your show gets canceled. As the pain of losing these great soaps of the past were to many people.

    As I write my final letter in regards to the light, I wanna say this was a show that had the family connection that a show will not provide me again. I want to thank all the great actors and actresses that came onto my tv screen. And of course the crew that helped produce this wonderful show. And of course to people like you Marlena who were huge supporters of the show.

    Thank you Guiding Light———the beacon will always shine bright in my heart!

    And in my heart, I know my grandma was watching from above and happy to see the wonderful ending.

    Marlena says: Levi, I thank from the bottom of my heart for writing me such beautiful letters about GL. You are a wonderful guy!!!

  15. renee says:

    Marlena, with all the short term memory problems I have since I got sick three years ago I wish I could remember such glorious columns as the one you wrote here because I know i read it, as I was a faithful reader of SOD and SOW back in the day when they had something glorious to cover, and I DO remember the mahvelous Marlena de Lacroix. Ain’t that brain damaged. LOL

    And not that brain damaged to not remember snippets of this time period of GL, since I was watching all the soaps then … except Santa Barbara. For some reason I could never stomach that show beyond Lane Davies and A. Martinez. Hmmm LOL

    And I won’t totally disagree that that was a wonderful period in GL history, but there was another capsule of time that stole my heart. A college graduate, Douglas Marland stole my heart with the Nola – Kelly – Quint stories. Pam Long later brought in the Lewises and Reva, who I actually liked in the beginning. LOL. I hated the lack of Bauers but I was one of the few who did like the Amanda Spaulding I’m Alan’s sister storyline. And let’s not forget during Marland’s years GL got two Daytime Outstanding Drama awards. Whoo Hoo. This period introduced characters that became indispensable to GL, and eventually must need Bauers were brought back in.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is your column aptly pointed out what is needed to make a great soap, and GL did it many times, as have other soaps. For those memories we bow in gratefulness to all those who even in any small part made those moments for us.
    Please, to all the soaps remaining, and to all those who write in any genre of visual entertainment, take Marlena’s must creeds for successful tv to heart and to work. Hanging them on a wall don’t do a thang but swang the bell for those it will toll in the end.

    Marlena says: Renee, I absolutely adored Nola-Kelly-Quint and was lucky enough to get to know Douglas during these years. He did bravura work on GL, and he just loved the cast and working on the show (and he won a Best Writing Emmy for it too!) Another longtime soap journalist and I were talking last week and we both agreed that not enough attention had been paid to the Marlend era in all the end-of-GL hoopla and publicity. We all miss this wonderful man so much! And thanks for your thoughts Renee.

  16. Brandon says:

    Just wanted to weigh in on what Patrick was talking about above, re: what happened after “Blueprint for #1.” Beverlee McKinsey walked out the door in August 1992, which stunned EVERYBODY, including the writers, who had obviously focused much of the show around her character. That threw Irizarry, Zaslow, Hearst, and about ten other actors completely up for grabs. They killed off Maureen Bauer in January 1993, not expecting the wrath of the entire soap world to rain down upon them over that decision, and even though they wrung some excruciatingly fine drama out of that situation in the short term, when you understand that Peter Simon, Rachel Miner, and Melissa Hayden all left the show within a couple of years, you have to think it was ultimately all for naught. (Contrast that with something like Drew’s death on “One Life to Live” circa 1998, the repercussions of which are STILL rippling across that canvas eleven years later.) Then Jim Reilly left the writing team to take over “Days” in the spring of 1993, and, love him or loathe him, he was one of the most imaginative scribes to ever spin yarns in Springfield. (Don’t forget: the 1992 blackout — which pretty much everybody considers to be GL’s creative pinnacle, at least in the modern era — was Jim’s brainchild.) They lucked out in the summer and fall of 1993 by bringing in Monti Sharp and Marj Dusay, whose thrilling, dynamic performances successfully masked the fact that “GL” was slowly sliding into disrepair, and by the time Phelps and co. realized that Robert Newman and Marcy Walker just weren’t going to work as insta-supercouple Josh and Tangie, the show and its writing had fallen into a rut that it ultimately wouldn’t be able to climb out of. Such a shame.

  17. Kool says:

    Thanks so much for reprinting this. I started watching GL as a teenager in 1987 and always thought that the 1991-1992 seasons was it’s best years. The acting was top notch and the stories were riveting.

  18. Preacher'swife says:

    Lorrane Broderick should be brought in to revive GL
    Why did the writers allow Josh Lewis to briefly become a minister and then go back into construction? Josh & Reva should have their own show called Cross Creek (pun intended), which revolves around Josh’s life as a minister. I would love for a great writer like Broderick to devolop my idea. Let me know what y’all think

  19. Kevin says:

    Thanks so much for the “remix,” Marlena.

    I call it a “remix” because you’ve brought one of your best articles ever to a medium (the internet) and have given it a second chance at being read.

    I saved just about every one of your “It’s Only My Opinion” articles from around ’95′-’98. I still have them stored away in a special file in my filing cabinet for easy access. I always thought I was a little bit odd for saving them but now that I see the reaction (positive) you’re getting for simply re-printing this one, I think describing myself as “lucky,” is more apt of a description.

    ~ Kevin in Downtown Tulsa

  20. Blake says:

    I know it’s a year later, but I thought I had commented on this already lol.
    I’m so glad to see so many others agree that 1991-1992 were the best years for Guiding Light. (Though I did like 1993 to mid 1994 and all of 1997).
    GL was the best soap on, had so many amazing stories and missing a day meant missing a lot! You had the outstanding Beverly McKinsey as Alexandra, the wonderful story of Alex/Nick/Mindy/Roger, Blake/Alan-Michael/Eleni/Frank, Blake/Ross/Holly/Roger, Harley/Mallet/Jenna, Maureen/Ed/Lillian, Hamp/Gilly/David/Kat, Vanessa/Billy/Nadine, Bridget/Hart/Julie.
    I watch these scenes on my dvds and on youtube so often. Recently I watched on youtube something I never had taped, when Alexandra told Billy that Mindy was having an affair with Roger! And that was after Alex found Mindy had slept with Nick and she pulled Mindy up by her hair! Because of all of this Billy “disowned” Mindy and almost choked Roger to death! My God, those were truly amazing scenes! If only GL could have stayed that good over the years, we might still have her around!

  21. Jason B says:

    Wow, I can remember reading your above posted article when you originally ran it in spring 1992. I had literally become obsessed with Guiding Light overnight. My mother, grandmother, great aunt and great grandmother (and probably ancestors before them whom I never knew) all watched Guiding Light regularly. Because of this, I was never “unfamiliar” with GL, it’s characters, families or storylines. When out of school for summer, winter or spring break, I’d catch up on the show with my great grandmother. While I always had a passing interest in what was happening in “Springfield, USA”, it wasn’t a show I couldn’t stand to miss. That is until around summer of 1992. I can remember as early as November(ish) of ’91 becoming slightly interested in the developing romance between Nick & Mindy, but the very week that Nick & Mindy were supposed to be married in June of 92, I became completely engaged. Its so true what you wrote about the expertly interwoven storylines. If, at the time 14 years old, I can remember thinking: “wow, Guiding Light is really an exciting show. It’s as though everyone’s (the characters) lives are tied up in knots and I can’t see how they’re gonna resolve it. Example: Will Nick make it back in time to marry Mindy? Will Mindy allow her insecure and broken self-image residually lingering from the Roger affair get to her and shake her confidence in Nick? Will Alexandra convince him she’s his mother? Another example of how dead on the mark your article was is in the accurate description of how none of the characters are cookie-cutter heroes/heroines or stereotypical villians/villainesses. The Nick/Mindy/Alexandra storyline was a prime example of two women who were both extremely sensitive and strong, yet their disdain for each other could yield them capable of the most dastardly deeds. I remember thinking after reading your article that the fact that I still rooted for Mindy to keep Nick even after her deception regarding his parentage was a prime example of the characters being multi-dimensional and not just good or bad. In the same token, while I felt sorry for Mindy when Alexandra would berate her, I equally felt Alexandra’s underlying hurt, pain and feeling that Mindy had betrayed her trust, as well as being a constant reminder of her advancing age. A woman as beautiful as Alexandra could certainly relate to Mindy, or couldve 30 years earlier, and certainly wouldve felt a certain bitterness that Mindy, in a sense, represented the seductive, beautiful woman that Alexandra at one time had no doubt been. All of these layers of pain, insecurity, distrust, etc made the story so intriguing. I can’t think of another show (soap or otherwise) in which I’ve been able to care about and feel empathy for both characters in a story like the Mindy/Alexandra feud. Those two and their violent emotions toward each other are a prime example of two equally beloved characters whom the audience rooted for being able to spew such venom toward the other without losing the support of fans. Just as most forgave Alexandra for her trickery in breaking up Nick/Mindy, they just as easily understood why, although wrong, Mindy felt compelled to hide the fact that Alexandra was Nick’s bio mother. God that was great story.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Guiding Light between 1990 and 1994 was the best television show on the air. Bar none. Nothing else on TV has the exceptional acting talent, the rich, complexity of plots and characters, or the stunning writing that this show did. I have never understood how such a quality show could be produced 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for so long, at such high quality, and go all but unnoticed in the ratings. Everyone should have been watching this show during this time. But few of us were. It was as appalling as it was sad.

    BTW: I don’t understand how GL didn’t sweep all the major Daytime Emmys during this time. The only fight should have been between choosing Maureen Garrett or Beverlee Mc for Best Actress at least in 1993 or 1994. Michael Zaslow should have won the leading actor award every single year during this time. Peter Bergman? Come on! He’s a total lightweight, and always was. David Canary played a cardboard villain and a cartoon of a mentally challenged person for all of his years on AMC.

  23. Eq8 says:

    I’d expand the golden years of GL from November 1990 (or whenever the Acapulco story came into play), to mid-summer 1993, when we had the Cliff House and Zaslow’s Emmy-winning (finally!) scene. Right about there is when the show…lost something, and I stopped remembering to videotape it everyday, like I had before that. I’d catch episodes if I had time off during the week, but it just wasn’t the same. By 1995 I wasn’t videotaping it at all anymore.

    When GL foisted simpering, skeevy Lucy and slimy, wishy-washy snakes like Tangie on us, when they broke up Holly and Roger in such a stupid way, rather than showing us how the mistakes and passion and cruelty of youth come mellow into the forgiveness, redemption and wisdom of middle age, I knew it was time to let GL go, even though I’d been watching it since the 60s with my grandmother. After thirty years, it had become annoying to me, not fascinating. GL had become so bad by then that I actually thought the Sonny/Solita or Infinity storylines might not have been so bad, after all–even though I hated them at the time!

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