Sunday Reflections 22: Bad Plots on Young and Restless and General Hospital Draw Marlena’s Ire!

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

The Young and the Restless:  There’s a lot of squawking on the net that, compared to General Hospital, Y&R  is slow, not that entertaining and a bit hard to watch.  I agree somewhat, but counsel patience: the new writing and production regime has been in place less than two months. They have a lot to repair. They’ve barely had enough time to review the entire show. Even so, I do have a few comments on two new storylines.

Hunter King as Summer

I really don’t like the cyber-bullying story in which extra mean kids Summer and Fen are torturing Jamie, a kid who is so fragile he  looks like he’s having a nervous breakdown.  I know it’s a well-intentioned story, but it’s kind of the issue du jour and has been done many times elsewhere in practically all media, most recently on daytime on One Life to Live with that miserable Jack Manning as the bully. The story has a dimension of realism inasmuch as Y&R’s kids come from parents with checkered pasts themselves, such as Summer’s psycho slut mother Phyllis and Fen’s father, former bad boy Michael.  For years we watched these elder characters mess up their lives as their younger selves. Now they’re grown up and trying to project authority as parents when they haven’t yet healed themselves. The result for the viewer is a succession of messy scenes of intergenerational yelling and rancor, so far not leading anywhere. Classic soap opera it’s not.

Max Erich as Fen

I don’t watch soap operas to see endless scenes of parents fighting with kids. Blech!  I had enough of that as a teenager myself, plus there’s no romance there (at least not yet!).  It’s obvious that the writers have some experience with real teenagers — Summer and Fen are realistic terrors.  When Fen sulks and stalks away from the dinner table and his frustrated  parents Michael and  Lauren — well, honey, Marlena played that same role herself a million times as a less than adorable teen.  However authentic, again, this kind of misery is not what I watch soap operas for.  Whatever happened to the days when kids (like Beth and Phillip on Guiding Light) spent their teenage years discovering the joy and mysteries of love? I’m sorry, but there’s no reason to sit through agonizing shouting matches with rotten kids like these — unless they are your own.

I’m also very disappointed in the excuse they’ve suddenly given to Sharon for all her dastardly acts against the Newmans in a former writing regime.  She’s been diagnosed as a manic-depressive, which is balderdash.  A bipolar disease is one that is life-long and very serious, not some handy alternative for writers who are in desperate need of a device to redeem a character. She can’t come down with the disease overnight!  Burning down a house (as Sharon did the Newman ranch) is psychotic, not manic.  Y&R is doing the audience a real disservice by using this widespread and harrowing disease as a handy plot device, even if being bipolar seems to be the illness du jour in drama and real life these days.

General Hospital: What a surprise to see a bomb of a story take place at the end of GH’s successful sweeps.  This is the one in which Sky, Carly and Todd rushed to Llanview to stop Blair’s wedding to Tomas, who they contend is really Alcazar. (Both roles were coincidentally played by the same actor, Ted King:  Tomas on One Life to Live and Alcazar on GH.)  But soon after the threesome arrived and before the hyped up confrontation, Tomas skipped town, meaning King didn’t appear at all.  So the whole effort — and story — was futile.  Why bother to do the story at all when you are not even going to include Alacazar/Tomas/King in the scenes? Was King unavailable?  I did not laugh when the CIA agent who arrived at Blair’s house to deliver the news that Tomas suddenly had to leave on assignment identified himself as “Theodore King.”

Comments

  1. Brandon says:

    Chere Marlena —

    Right there with you on the Y/R bullying plot and on the state of the show as a whole. I am puzzled by a great many of Josh Griffith’s writing choices (Jack becomes an addle-minded drug addict in the span of an episode and a half? Nick and his former sister-in-law fall in love for no reason whatsoever? Entire segments of the Genoa City population — Paul, Tucker, Neil, Kay — disappear for days if not weeks on end?), but none more so than this Summer/Fen/Jamie mess.

    I know I’m not the only Y/R viewer who remembers what a bullying bitch on wheels Lauren Fenmore was back in the day! Tracey Bregman was so heinously and deliciously evil that she drove poor Traci Abbott to get hooked on diet pills (and later to attempt suicide), and now that her charming son is pulling those same tricks on someone he similarly views as a rival, all those chickens are coming home to roost for Lauren. Too bad for us longtime fans that the writing doesn’t reflect that AT ALL. Much as with a similar issue I had with the “new” Jack Abbott, it could be that the new writing team simply doesn’t have that firm a grasp on the history of the show. But I know damn well that Tracey remembers what a vicious, cunning bitch Lauren used to be in another life, and I am quite frankly stunned that those running the show have yet to throw in even a couple of small scenes of Lauren fretting over what has become of her own son, and how his current choices so closely mirror her past ones. Scenes like this would give, I firmly believe, a sorely-needed resonance to what has been a very flat, poorly acted B-storyline, and would go a long way toward assuaging the fears of longtime fans of this show who are afraid that the entire rich history of Y/R is being systematically chipped away at in the name of raising ratings.

    Marlena says: Great letter, Brandon. It does seem like no one at the current show has been watching it in the very longterm. Lauren surely was a terror in her younger days. Since it has so many longterm characters Y&R is very much about its distant past. That past should be mined, not overlooked. Look at the way General Hospital is picking characters and plots out of the 80s now. It’s given them great success and a highly rated November sweeps.

  2. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    If Y&R is improving, its certainly taking its time in doing so. I know there was a lot of damage done under MAB, but I’m not really seeing much improvement so far. I know Josh is capable of great things, so I have hopes that we’ll start seeing a noticeable improvement soon.

    I am enjoying the Nick and Avery pairing a lot. Nice chemistry with those too. Other than that, I can’t really say I’m rooting for much. They things I was looking forward to — Phyllis’ trial, Abbey’s romance with Carmine, Sharon going even further off the deep end — were thrown away. While its nice Jill is back, so far, she really hasn’t had anything to do?!? And I suddenly find Kevin to be a rather boring character.

    As for GH, my understanding is that Prospect Park holds the rights to the OLTL and AMC characters until January. ABC had to pay PP licensing right for the five OLTL characters who have crossed over to GH. But once the PP deal expires, rights will revert to ABC, so maybe we’ll start seeing more characters like Natalie, Tomas, maybe even Viki in Port Charles. Have also heard that some AMC characters will come to Port Charles in a short story arc (I’m still hoping that David Hayward has Alan Quatermaine locked up somewhere is nursing him back to health).

    So, maybe Ted King will be available to pay Tomas/Alcazar sometime early in 2013. I can’t imagine Ron would stir up all that storyline without intending to follow through with it somewhere down the road. Ron’s the type of writer who plans things out far in advance. .

    Yes, I got a big kick out of the CIA agent being named Theodore King.

    Marlena says: That sounds like a reasonable explanation of the missing Ted King. I hope Mr. Carlivati follows through and brings him back. He is a charming actor.

  3. Aviad says:

    Speaking of the younger generation, is it just me or is Kyle & Phyllis are on their way to couger town? Something is cooking and I find it weird for 2 reasons: 1. I thought Kyle was/is awre of the history between his late mother and Phyllis 2. hmmm Eden Baldwin anyone?

    On the other hand, Blake Hood looks so yummy and it’s always summer at the Abbot Pool so perhaps this will be a good combination.

    • Aviad says:

      How stupid of me. Since I watch the episodes in 1 week delay, I just saw the promo for Dec 5th episode where Eden confronts Kyle.

      Oh well. At least my soapy gut was right.

  4. Kevin says:

    I didn’t realize how bad Jill Farren Phelps had destroyed “General Hospital” during her ten year reign until this year when Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati came in and whipped it into shape, turning “GH” into the Best Soap Opera of 2012.

    I’m not a naeive soap opera viewer. Have been watching “Young and the Restless” since I was 9 years old (that is over 32 years!) and have no expectations for the show getting better. If you think “Y&R” is bad now, just give it six months when the main storylines will revolve around three characters and three characters only in the template of Sonny, Jasus and Carly from “GH” when it was unwatchable.

  5. tess says:

    I disagree with viewers who said that Y&R is not entertaining. I concur with them that the show is slow in comparison to GENERAL HOSPITAL, but slow storytelling has always been Y&R’s trademark. I don’t care if storytelling on a soap is done at a glacial pace as long as the stories are plausible and engaging. And that most certainly is the case with Y&R these days.

    Josh Griffith’s, Y&R’s head writer is into characterization and he is effectively recreating the denizens of Genoa City. The characters are becoming rounder and more realistic. Every soap doesn’t have to be identical in terms of its cast of characters and types of stories that it features. Some of what is done on GH just wouldn’t fly on Y&R.

    Many years ago, I recall NBC being overjoyed with DAYS ratings, stories and characters. I found the show to be cartoonish and not enjoyable. I rarely tuned in and couldn’t understand why anybody cared about it. But NBC asked the production team of ANOTHER WORLD to mimic DAYS. And it never worked.

    So to the fans carping, ad infinitum about Y&R and doing a comparison/contrast to GH, the shows are distinct, diverse and there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy your campy, off-the-wall GH and let us revel in our down to earth, “dreary” Y&R..

    Variety is what makes soaps interesting.

    Marlena says: Great letter, Tess. You are right on.

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