By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
The Bold and the Beautiful: While the rest of us were distracted by the fireworks of General Hospital’s highly entertaining, twist-filled November sweeps (A.J. back from the dead! Duke is Faison!), perhaps the finest dramatic work of the month or even the year was going on over at The Bold and the Beautiful. Two storylines — Stephanie’s death and Katie’s postpartum depression — are the kind of meaningful stories that win Emmy awards in both acting and writing.
Of course, headwriter Bradley Bell had plenty of advance notice to write and plan the road to Stephanie’s death — actress Susan Flannery had announced she was retiring months before. But the story he constructed both highlighted Flannery’s legendary talents (honed over 43 years in the business) and saluted the unique emotional strength of daytime’s premiere matriarch. Stephanie had no fear of death. Who else would have the courage and composure to plan their own Celebration of Life party? Flannery left the entire B&B company verklempt for real as Stephanie so poignantly said farewell to her guests when she departed for Big Bear, never to see her relatives and friends again. The party episodes were so intense!
But not as intense as Stephanie’s dying scenes, which Bell brilliantly chose to have her share with Brooke, not husband Eric. The two women are the loves of each other’s lives, n’est ce- pas? Bell finally chose the death sequence for Brooke to confirm that the two women loved each other as Stephanie gave Brooke her engagement ring and Brooke declared, “I never knew love until there was you.” It was the fitting conclusion of a twenty- five year cat and mouse game that started with hate and then went to obsession and finally ended with confession of the emotional truth. I always felt all along that through all the years of mutual conflict and bitchery, Steph and Brooke really loved each other intensely. What do you think?
Katherine Kelly Lang, who is unjustly always short-changed at awards time, did the most sensitive and memorable work of her 25 years on the show throughout November. Brooke’s eyes were constantly rimmed with the sincere tears of grief and love. Also doing the kind of work that merits an award was Heather Tom (she won Best Actress last year) as new mother Katie, who totally disappeared into the terrifying disease of post-partum depression. It was so severe she even left her husband and child at home and ran away.
I salute the exploration of this disease on B&B, because it’s hardly ever been done in daytime history. Perhaps because the disease is so protracted and ugly? But it is so common and wide-spread! B&B spared no unpleasant truth as Tom portrayed the deep emotional pain of post-partum most harrowingly. Psychiatrist Taylor ministered to her non-cooperative client against all odds. But when Katie was suddenly “cured” overnight, I was aghast. In real life, it takes months to come out of such a severe emotional crisis. This is my only objection to such a well-meant and otherwise well done story, which performed a wonderful educational service to the audience.
May I add that at this time in daytime history, it was especially refreshing that B&B chose to concentrate on two powerful stories solely about women? Among all the stunts and twists in a ratings-starved medium, we hardly get to see the deep psyches of female characters anymore. Congratulations, Mr. Bell and company!
General Hospital: Wasn’t it scandalizing and just plain stupid when everyone (especially Uncle Mac) was congratulating Maxie on her plan to be the surrogate mother to Lulu and Dante’s baby? Everyone remembers that Maxie had a heart transplant as a child and the pregnancy would endanger her health and her life! I hope Spinelli and Felicia protest this decision to Maxie this week! Of course, some writer at GH must have been watching B&B last year, when Katie, who also had a heart transplant, went through the very harrowing delivery of her baby Will. She barely survived! Please forget this whole surrogate thing with Maxie, GH!