By Marlena De Lacroix
I thought Kim Zimmer looked absolutely gorgeous in her last scene on Guiding Light set a year after the action, when Reva and Josh pledged their love “always.” Clad in a emerald gown, the top of her blond hair nicely swept back, she looked truly amazing. A goddess, indeed.
Surprised I wrote this? Well, I m going to surprise you even more. I really don’t want to nitpick the details of the last episode of GL. Bitching and moaning about which characters’ stories were poorly concluded and which other characters’ stories
At least if it had to end, GL was still about love when it went down. Not misogyny, not hate. And truly, truly, I really do believe that if the soap world is to survive, only love can save it.
surprisingly didn’t get a windup is way too easy. The ending of a 72-year-old soap needs deeper examining. What does it mean to the long history of the show? What does the end of Guiding Light mean daytime drama’s fast slide into oblivion?
Oh, heavy questions. Like most viewers I was too busy crying to answer them while watching the final scene as Reva and Josh and Reva’s little son rode off into the sunset. I always cry at the end of every soap. Losing our sometime life-long other worlds is heartbreaking!
Plus, I was no fan of the new, cheap, miserable looking outdoor production model. Outside of Otalia and Justin Deas’ performances, I didn’t find anything on the show that I wanted to write about. So I assigned GL to my then contributor Patrick Erwin, who did a superb job both here at my website and later copiously on his own, A Thousand Other Worlds.
As I watched the last week of episodes, I knew I was one the zillions of fans who loved the show in the glory years of its the past (particularly in JFP mid-90s and the Marland early 80s years) – once loyal fans, many of whom gave up on the show long ago and were back for one last, sad look.
At the end, the characters we loved were leading very surprising lives, to say the least. I can’t believe they killed off Alan Spaulding Vanessa was remarrying Billy? (Those poor mid 90s Matessa fans must have freaked out) and Lillian was married to Buzz in a double ceremony filmed at the Lake Mohawk Country Club in Sparta, New Jersey. That’s sweet! The Four Musketeers who took the show by storm in the 80s were back, paired off together at the end. Phillip and Beth and Rick and Mindy. Speaking of Beth, where was Judi Evans? Ancient viewers know that Beth Chamberlin replaced her in that role 22 years ago!
Looking at all the couples who wound up together in the end, such as Otalia (who was stupidly denied a kiss!) and Vanessa and Fletch (Jay Hammer had obviously preserved the hat) and especially, finally ever-arguing Reva and Josh (who strangely I never really liked before) made me feel really happy. Others were given promises for the future, such as a very pregnant Lizzie and her husband Bill.
In all the years and finally again in the last week, GL served up the kind of the world that Irna Phillips had envisioned (well, expect for God as a character) as Springfield life, when last scenes were scenes of romance, friendship, family and brotherhood. There was hope for the future. For a record 72 years, Irna’s sincere beliefs — the tenets of civilized society and faith — guided the show and us.
On GL, there were no recent shock and awe additions such as mob hits to foreheads of preteens, no impalings of angelic policemen, no truly misogynistic murders of young women legacy characters by women psychos. (Young & Restless, how twisted and misunderstanding of you to have crazy Patty spend the same week GL ended stalking Colleen in a forest. This week Colleen dies!) On GL, somewhere off in the woods towards the end of the final week , Jeffrey (or was that Richard?) was shooting at … Edmund? Well, at least it wasn’t shown in the last episode.
I know most fans don’t like executive producer Ellen Wheeler’s sappy choice of theme song, “Only Love Can Save the World.” But I like it. You know those deep questions I asked above? Here’s the beginning of the answer. At least if it had to end, GL was still about love when it went down. Not misogyny, not horror-movie-esque gore, not hate. And truly, truly, I really do believe that if the soap world is to survive, only love can save it.