Kiboshing Kish: Betrayal and Malfeasance

KishBy Marlena De Lacroix

I’ve had a lot of problems with One Life to Live over the last two years, but Kish (Kyle and Fish) was never one of them. The shocking write-off of these characters is wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels.  Of all the ways this failing soap could be improved, dumping Kish NOW isn’t one of them.

Goodbye Kish: Scott Evans as Fish, Brett Claywell as Kyle

The first rule of soaps is to respect the fans.  Kiboshing Kish shows no respect for any of the fans, and especially Kish’s gay fan base.  This story was meaningful and

Besides betraying the trust of loyal fans, did the network ever even contemplate what a huge public relations disaster getting rid of Kish is?

easy to relate to for so many gay viewers.  Beneath the fury of betrayal expressed all over the net this week at their story’s abrupt ending must be many broken hearts.

Since when does a show cut a couple with such an avid fan constituency?  Especially, the lowest rated soap? OLTL doesn’t have any ratings to spare!  This makes absolutely no business sense.  More executive malfeasance?  Well, what else can we expect from ABC Daytime  — remember the complete botch of the Bianca and Reese storyline on All My Children last year?

Okay, Kish wasn’t daytime’s greatest moment in its checkered history of portraying gay life and romance.  It was no Otalia, which added so much heart to the late Guiding Light. No Nuke, on As the World Turns, whose characters have been fully woven into the canvas of the show in a story that has run for two years now.

But Kish recognized a large segment of OLTL‘s  audience.  And it did strongly make a specific point: that gay and straight love storylines are equal on soaps.  Notice how the Kish story mirrored all the twists of standard soap love stories  The two met, fell in love, and then were threaten by and overcame outside blocks to happiness (like the brief triangle with Nick.)  Their romance culminated with an  (almost) wedding and graphically romantic New Year’s Eve  sex.  It seems like that Kyle and Fish might be able to raise Fish’s  biological daughter and become a family.

Unfortunately, there were big problems with the construction of the Kish storyline  (not the characters!) which have already been expressed by others.  That Kyle and Fish were not related by blood to the families on the show.  Dorian gay weddingThat their romance and wedding were both way too rushed.  And the accompanying story in which Dorian married a lesbian to get herself elected mayor in order to

Robin Strasser and Tia Dionne Hodge 

help legitimize  gay marriage in Llanview was condescendingly silly and insulting to the intelligence of all viewers, gay and straight. The writing was totally incomprehensible.  As I screamed nearly every afternoon it ran its course, who the hell would put scripts this downright amateurish on a major network?  Total professional malfeasance!

Besides betraying the trust of loyal fans, did the network ever even contemplate what a huge public relations disaster getting rid of Kish is?  The loud protests, which will be all over the net and I’m sure will hit the mainstream press very soon, are the VERY last things daytime soaps need right now.   Hey folks, hasn’t every newspaper and magazine in the world declared daytime soaps dead before this?

And one last thing:  Rumors have been flying that Kish was kiboshed so OLTL can recapture its old, mainstream audience.  Well, you can’t get more mainstream that Marlena, moi a woman, someone who has watched OLTL for more than forty years.  I like and have always fully accepted Kish.  Love is love, and that is what soap operas are supposed to be about.

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ABC Photos

Comments

  1. horselover says:

    I’m sad for OLTL fans. But I’m not surprised. I really don’t think Brian Frons gets the daytime audience. I think he thinks they are all 12 year old heterosexual boys.

  2. RENEE says:

    This seems to be the time for everyone from politicians to banks to insurance companies to corporate employers to television network executives to basically tell the Everyman and the Everywoman who essentially give them what power they have to kiss their behinds. Time and time again we are being told that the opinion, needs, desires of the general public, for all intents and purposes, don’t amount to a hill of beans. Every day it becomes more and more disheartening to see decisions being made with little or no respect for what we like or want.

    I’ve been seeing numerous rumors about why ABC had decided to pull Kish, but I can’t believe that the bottom line was that there were enough people with enough pull who didn’t like this storyline who were able to get this storyline killed. Never mind that they were in the minority. They made enough threats to get them out. Not a peep did they likely make about ridiculously stupid and insulting storylines such as the one with return-from-the-dead-again Mitch. Not a word about the tired Jessica storyline. Not a protest about the dreadful, insidious character of Todd or the total dumbing down of women on the show. Not a cry of protest against the embarrassing waste of Viki.

    But give them a couple who, as far as I was concerned, was the most fun and romantic couple OLTL currently has on the show and the only reason worth tuning in, and they go crazy. Was it the physical affection? The sex? I’m a heterosexual woman and personally I found their love scenes to be totally beautiful and actually more loving and warm than a lot of so-called love scenes on soaps today.

    Given the state of soaps today, TPTB should be falling to their knees in gratitude when they manage to get a large segment of the soap viewing audience behind a couple, gay or otherwise! After all, the days when a Luke and Laura create huge buzz are virtually over. (But isn’t it interesting that it’s actually the gay couples like Kish, Nuke, Otalia, and Bianca and Reese that are drawing the most passionate responses from soap viewers — most of it positive, from what I can tell.

    I really hope this decision to end the Kish storyline comes back to bite TPTB at ABC in the butt, and where it hurts (the ratings!)

    Marlena says: Oh Renee, I always appreciate your very intelligent analyses of soaps. Pointing out that kicking Everyman in the butt has become the American way these days and applying that to Kish is something no one else has probably thought of. Ending Kish will come back to bite ABC no matter how they spin it. You know spin is a p.r. person’s job –they CAN’T agree personally about axing Kish, though, I’m sure. Ditto on how absolutely awful Mitch was and how shameful it was to mistreat Viki.

  3. Gwynne says:

    I will really miss Kish. One smallish point: Kish did not get married in the big joyous wedding you’re talking about, so one can’t say their wedding was rushed!

    Marlena says: See my answer to Coggie’s letter below.

  4. C.L.B says:

    Thank you for posting this article, Marlena! I was shocked and saddened myself when they fired both Scott Evans and Brett Claywell from OLTL last week after seeing the devastating news on the internet!!!!

    I thought that both Brett and Scott did a wonderful job of playing a gay couple in a realistically believable way without being played in an over-the-top effeminate manner like most gay people on tv and movies you see all the time today!

    The fact that they are going to be written off the canvas after the conclusion of their storyline when Oliver Fish finds out that he is the real father of Sierra Rose (thanks to a drunken one night stand with the baby’s birth mother Stacy “The Fiasco” Morasco no less!!!) is a slap in the face to all the viewers who grew to love this gay supercouple for the past year.

    What’s even a more painful slap in the face is that TPTB never gave recurring cast member Scott Evans a contract to the show, and we will never see his face grace the opening credits to the show every afternoon!!! How come he was never given a contract to the show, anyway? Didn’t Scott and contract player Brett both recently got well-deserved daytime emmy pre-nominations for their hard work on the show? I know that in other interviews did on other websites, he always stated that he was satisfied working in either capacity on the show, but he’s been on a recurring basis for two years now, and they never gave him a contract on the show!!!!!!!

    Unfortunatly, Scott’s contractual or recurring future on this show won’t matter anymore since he and Brett are leaving the show next month. I will miss seeing them on the show, and I hope that if Scott and/or Brett finally get daytime emmy nods for this show, or if one (or both!) win a emmy for their work on the show, it will change the TPTB’s minds about firing both fine actors off this show (though they probably won’t ever change their minds at all. Sigh). VIVA LA KISH!!!!!!

  5. Coggie says:

    I don’t recall them marrying, Marlena. Otherwise, on point. That they weren’t deeply woven in with the rest of the mainstream characters, only a smattering in the periphery, probably sealed their fate before the decision came down.

    Marlena says: I guess I was so wrapped up in how angry I was that they had a very, very ugly woman leading the anti-gay marriage protest at the wedding that I didn’t realize Kish never went through with it. You know, attractive people are hateful too!

  6. David says:

    Well said Connie! I cannot begin to express my disappointment with shocking exit of Kish on OLTL. I have watched since 1975 and there have been many stories I have loved and many not so much. As a gay man I have very much enjoyed watching this love story develop. Yes, a little rushed but at least we didn’t wait a year for a kiss and little else as we did on GL, It’s funny. It seems Otalia moved so slow and Kish has moved so fast. I loved both stories for different reasons. I wonder if OLTL hadn’t pushed the envelope with Kish making love if “mainstream” soap views might not have drifted away. That is if they drifted away from OLTL for the gay story alone??

    I will continue to watch OLTL because many of the characters are “family”. With GL now gone 6 months and ATWT with only 6 months to go…. OLTL is all that is left of the soap world for me. I hope that it isn’t canceled….. Hard to lose another classic!

    Cheers!

    David

    Marlena says: Kish’s graphic love scene was OK by me. But Nora and Bo’s first sex scene since they reunited –which we had anticipated for for a decade — was in the same episode and was not given nearly as much play. As an old OLTL fan — I did the Woods and Bailey Smith’s first interview when the characters fell in love in the early 90s — I was very peeved.

    If OLTL is canceled I will cry like a baby. These characters are all family to me, too.

  7. Beth says:

    While I rarely understand the decisions that lead to popular actors being let go of roles I have been around daytime long enough to realize it’s a business and this kind of stuff happens all the time. Given time and an appropriate exit storyline most daytime fans will still be upset about a departure but willing to forgive the show on a whole. However what saddens me and distresses me more is how ABC Daytime in particular chooses to handle these decisions they most likely know ahead of time will cause some flack from fans. The network releases a somewhat insulting spin, and when the fans don’t go quiet they move up to quickly blaming the actors themselves.

    This network is becoming more known for how they handle their firings than their actual shows. This is the network of “The Real Greenlee” fiasco. The insulting mishandling of the Greg Vaughan-Jonathan Jackson switcharoo, complete with its own “Real Lucky” campaign. And now an “ABC insider” has gone to TV Guide Canada to insinuate that the real reason for kiboshing Kish wasn’t about the mainstream approval of the storyline but because the two actors were unprepared and unprofessional (days after pre-nominating them for Emmys for their work which seems to contradict the very accusation of unprofessionalism. Although granted the Emmys are largely poltical these days and about who the networks want to honor)

    Not only does daytime need to respect it’s fans…but it seems to me that some particular daytime executives need to learn to respect their actors as well.

    Marlena says: I agree totally with all you have said. And I ABSOLUTELY never believe gossip since I have been around in this business so long.

  8. Robb says:

    That “very, very ugly woman” in the group wedding was portrayed by the wonderful actress Jackie Hoffman. And her appearance at the wedding made for a most memorable moment when Roxie approached her and gave her a big old kiss that left the homophobe with a smile on her face. It was priceless!

    Marlena says: I know. Jackie Hoffman is a popular underground theater actress in New York.

  9. anonymous says:

    “And one last thing: Rumors have been flying that Kish was kiboshed so OLTL can recapture its old, mainstream audience.”

    Thats no rumor. Brett confirmed that was the reason they have for the firing is that they did not think they tested well with “mainstream” viewers.

  10. Marilyn Henry says:

    I am really worried that OLTL won’t be around long because they are getting desperate and erratic and that’s what happens when exec people panic.

    Apparently it is a bloodbath over there–first we hear they let go the actress who plays Rachel. There can’t be the old excuse about her not having ties to the families–she’s Nora’s daughter, though they seldom had a scene together. She’s beautiful and perfectly competent. Maybe it was the pairing with Greg that missed, but that’s easily rectified.

    Next it seems they are letting go Scott Clifton, who plays Schuyler, a most likable character played by a talented and likable actor who almost got me to like Gigi for a little while. I will really miss him.

    Now it is Oliver and Kyle, two more very likable characters who are easy to root for. And who will Roxy have now to bounce her fractured conversations off? Robs her of a confidante, takes away a good cop in Fish, and finishes off an interesting love affair that had promise.

    Desperation at the top never leads to much good and usually gets thing so far out of whack it is difficult to impossible to repair. I agree Stacy had to go, and the creepy Mitch needs to exit ASAP, and also the obnoxious Ford, but there are wonderful characters on this show who just need a little thoughtful writing to keep the show on keel.

    I’m finding there just isn’t much I am looking forward to with any real interest.

    Marlena says: Me too, Marilyn!

  11. tess says:

    I cannot comment on Kish because I watch ONE LIFE’s timeslot competitor, AS THE WORLD TURNS. But I am sorry that a gay couple was removed from the show.

    I don’t care for gay couples who are there to promote gay issues, which from what I’ve heard, sounds like what Kish was all about, what with the gay wedding and Dorian masquerading as a lesbian.

    Why not simply connect Kish to all the mainstream characters in Llanview. For example, one of them could be Marty’s confidante. Viki could have discussed her travials with one of them. And of course, they could have a storyline that isn’t about their sexuality.

    For example on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, which overall is a marvelous, fresh and witty show, there is a gay couple, Bob and Lee. They’re simply a couple on Wisteria Lane, who is gay. There is no issues with them. No one has beat them up or sent them hate mail or painted pejoratives on their garage door. They are just a gay couple.

  12. Melanie S says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written! Well said!

  13. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Insightful column. Very good points.

    It took me a while to warm up to the Kish pairing. The Oliver Fish character was initially used for comic relief and Scott Evans showed nice comic flair. So, it was jarring to suddenly see him in this heavy coming out storyline. Took a while for me to adjust to Evans doing drama. And it seemed to take him a while to made that adjustment as well, but he did ultimately rise to the challenge.

    However, when they suddenly threw the mass gay wedding complete with Dorian pretending to be a lesbian soley to get votes, well I was turned off. Now I’m a gay man and I’m all for increased visibiitly. But this storyline just came out of nowhere. Didn’t feel like it fit into the context of the Llanview I was watching at all — was no build up to it and I wasn’t invested in the characters enough.

    And as you point out, the writing for that story was lackluster at times. The dialogue was heavy handed and came off as preachy. Felt more like an after school special. Was far from the calibre of writing that I’ve come to expect from OLTL.

    Then the gay bashing storyline that followed, well, I was turned off by that too. Again, not enough build up and I wasn’t invested in the Nick character. Actually, I actively disliked him. Nicholas Rodriguez is certainly nice to look at. And he may be great on stage. But on TV, he just came off as blank — his eyes seemed to be empty; I couldn’t see his soul reflected in them.

    But through it all, Evans and Claywell really won me over. Gave genuine, heartfelt performances, rising above the material given. And their New Year’s Eve consumation of their love was beautiful. Wonderfully shot and executed.

    Now that they’re involved with the Stacy baby storyline, one that is truly good soap material without being preachy, I’m loving Kish even more. Great to see a fresh take on the old Who’s the Daddy storyline. Certainly many a gay man has slept with a woman trying to convince himself he’s straight.

    I’m disappointed OLTL is dropping the characters. Hope they’ll bring them back at some point. But I can also see why conservative viewers are turned off and why they don’t test well .

    Will be watching the fallout of the public relations disaster of their dismissal. Timing is everything and doing it just before the GLAAD awards was very poor.

    But Roger Newcomb’s grass rootts campaign two years ago to get Luke and Noah to kiss on ATWT proved successful. Got mainstream coverage and ultimately ended their kissing ban. Perhaps the same came happen with Kish.

  14. David C says:

    Well here’s feedback from another David. I must echo what others have said but I have a very sick gut feeling that there is a simple explanation for this firing:Homophobia is as rampant and unidentified as subtle racism was in days of yore.
    Many people still have visceral and latent distaste for gay men, internally seeing them/us/me as pedophiles, rapists of little boys.
    Also anyone with a religious background-Jewish/Roman Catholic/Protestant/Muslim are taught that the Bible says homosexuality is a sign and is an abomination in God’s sight.
    It’s my understanding,for example, that kids in Roman Catholic schools and catechism are taught those very things. Other denominations preach this hate-filled message in their services, meetings, etc..
    This gives homophobes a way to justify their dislike and hate.The Bible tells me so. .
    And I maintain that it is so internalized for so many people, that they don’t know why they don’t like gay men except, well, they do. And if and when they’re challenged about it, well there’s the Bible as “proof”. This same book of course was used to justify slavery for a few centuries too!
    Sadly the Kish story is ending the way really it was always going to end complete with many unsubstantiated rumors from “high placed” ABC insiders.
    Also, who’s to stay if there is self-hatred among openly and/or closeted gay One Life executives?
    Anyway, this brave and very engaging storyline will disasppear likely with much of a whimper leaving an decimated One Life cast to soldier on until the iceberg appears. Funny, but this time, the minorities were sent to the lifeboats before the rest of the passengers had a chance to jump or be rowed gently away to safety.

  15. Pumpkinoodle says:

    I am not a conservative viewer. I welcome more homosexual characters on television, including my beloved OLTL.

    However, I could care less that these two characters are being written off, and it’s not because they are gay. I just don’t have an emotional connection to either character. OLTL has introduced so many new characters that I don’t recognize my soap. I would rather the show explore homosexuality with a core character that I know well, like Matthew or Natalie, or Jessica for that matter.

    I certainly don’t wish the actors unemployment, and I hate that they must look for other jobs. However, it has been obvious to me for months that OLTL has too many actors on the canvas. I am not surprised they are cleaning house, and it is not surprising that they are eliminating most of the new people.

  16. DS0816 says:

    This is a head scratcher! Really foolish, in terms of creativity. But with the state of daytime soaps being what they are, I don’t see much of anything making sense. Cut cast members who are crucial to current storytelling … hey, it’s to save money. (Supposedly.) I find myself not caring whether there are reasons. My own bottom line, in terms of quality, dismisses any notion that “One Life to Live” cutting Scott Evans and Brett Claywell is reasonable because their story played out; no, they’re continuously developing. And Fish [Evans] and Kyle [Claywell] are a fascinating and pivotal pair on the scene in Llanview.

    I read, at another site, that Ron Carlivati will be leaving his post as head writer. If this is true, it would be yet another example of “stupidity behind the scenes.”

  17. C.L.B says:

    Marlena, in your response to David’s post above, you said that Bo and Nora made love in the same episode as Kyle and Fish. Actually, Bo and Nora didn’t make love in that episode! The only other couple to make love in that episode were Gigi and Schuyler!
    I guess you were too angry about Kish’s firing from the show to notice that Bo and Nora made love in a previous episode a month earlier! I just wanted to clarify that to you!

    Marlena says: I don’t think so. The scene in which you thought they made love the month before ended in a non-sexual hug. I remember because I had thought then two adult people would not act that way in that situation. And I waited for the REAL Bo and Nora sex scene for what seemed like forever.

  18. Margaret says:

    I am absolutely heartbroken that OLTL has decided to end the sweetest and most romantic love story they have and lose their most popular couple…Brett Claywell and Scott Evans have such amazing chemistry that the love between Kyle and Oliver came through so strongly that their gender was irrelevant….they are both very talented actors and their committment to this story was truly an inspiration….ABC is making a monumental mistake and is cheating the fans who have invested in this wonderful story and this adorable couple…they didnt just appeal to the gay community but to countless straight female viewers like myself
    and have been scapegoated as the reason for failing ratings that were already dismal before they ever joined the show…they in fact brought many new viewers to the show and one only has to check out the phenomonal YT hits on their story to see how many loyal fans they have worldwide….OLTL will soon see their
    ratings drop when Kish leaves and their countless fans leave with them and will then realize just how inportant they were to the success of the show…..

  19. Jardo says:

    Well, as a lifetime viewer of OLTL, the Kish storyline was probably one of the best the show has ever done. I am appalled that these two young men were so unceremoniously “dumped” by OLTL, especially after bringing us one of the best storylines to come out of daytime in years. This was not a “gay” storyline, but a storyline about love and trust. It just happened to be between two same-sex people. The excuse for dumping the Kish storyline was that “it didn’t resonnate with “mainstream” viewers. Well, I am one of those middle-aged, married females from the Midwest (Illinois) and I am considered a “mainstream “viewer. I absolutely LOVED the Kish storyline, and I don’t appreciate Mr. Valentini using ME as his excuse to fire two of the best actors on the show. If he doesn’t realize how popular Kish was among “mainstream” viewers, all he has to do is check out YouTube to see the thousands (and totaled together millions) of “hits” Kish scenes have had there. So I have to wonder if Mr. Valentini is even “aware” of what is happening outside of his little OLTL world, or if he is really just that plain STUPID!

    And I don’t buy the “Kish wasn’t related to any of the main families” on the show excuse either. They started establishing themselves as members of the community with Roxy being a surrogate mother to Kyle and John being a surrogate father to Fish. Furthermore, BOTH of the backgrounds of these two characters could have given writers volumes of material to work with.

    Case in point. GIGI. She is NOT related to ANYONE on the show whatsoever, yet she is “front and center” every single day on the show. She is one of the most “HATED” characters on the show and viewers have wanted her GONE for months. The Kish baby storyline was written for Kish, however, at the very height of their popularity (immediately after their famous love scene), suddenly the Kish baby storyline became “all about Gigi.” WTF? It is a known fact that FF is in “tight” with TPTB on OLTL and, whatever FF wants, she gets. The same goes for JPL. It is also a known fact that FF had been complaining about not getting enough storyline. (Hence, the reason SHE became the center of what was supposed to be Kish’s baby storyline and is shoved in our faces ever single day). Suddenly, at the very height of their popularity, Kish was backburnered and only seen a handful of times in 2 1/2 months in what was supposed to be THEIR storyline. It was also rumored that FF had another actress fired from the show because she didn’t like her and she was getting more screen time than FF too. Since January, every actor/actress that has been in the same storyline with FF, for whatever reason, has been either fired, quit, or put on the back burner.

    Well, it is very obvious that FF is one of the most hated character on the show and viewers want her GONE! Yet, TPTB keep putting her “front and center” and cramming her down viewers throats every single day. Kish, on the otherhand, was the most popular couple on the show and people want to see them back on the show again and front and center in storylines.

    So if anyone wants to know why OLTL is sinking into oblivion right now, it might be because they are catering to a very unpopular actress and her boyfriend that viewers hate instead of giving viewers what they want to see. KISH! April 16 will be the last airdate for one of the Kish boys (the other one will leave on April 12). After that date, this lifetime viewer of OLTL will be giving OLTL the “Kish Off”. Not only will OLTL get the Kish Off, but I also plan to discontinue any association with the ABC Disney network and will no longer watch any of their daytime or prime time shows. I do NOT want to be associated with a network that treats its employees as badly as Scott Evans and Brett Claywell were treated during this whole mess. It was totally uncalled for and absolutely DISGRACEFUL! After winning several awards for the show, these boys did not deserve to be treated that way. And this is the Disney channel! What a JOKE! Mr. Valentini must have been a little “GOOFY” to have ever let this happen.

  20. md1347 says:

    Looks like Rex may become a son of a main family member, it could have been done for Kyle or Oliver. I find that a tired argument anyway. Frankly, most of the characters on OLTL are old and tired. They’ve done just about anything they can do and some do it very badly. Kish was something new and exciting to watch. It’s not something that was retreaded a 1000 times in the past (DNA changing mysteriously and stolen babies).

    I’ve stopped watching OLTL and will not watch it again unless Kish is back.

  21. Kevin says:

    Brett Claywell said that daytime is a “joke!” when he found out he didn’t receive a daytime Emmy nomination this spring.

    I doubt we’ll see him coming back to any soap opera after insulting the entire industry in one quick Tweet.

    Loser!

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