Watching Sadism For Thrills: Soaps Are Not Snuff Films!

drowning

By Marlena De Lacroix

Recently I was asked by a fan why I am not posting much anymore. Here’s why: Today on One Life to Live I watched a woman who had just delivered a baby graphically fall through ice and drown.  Not three months ago I had watched a

Does any TPTB on soaps, so desperate for ratings, actually have any moral sense at all, or even THINK anymore?   Do viewers suddenly crave ”the thrill” of watching women die miserably?

woman on General Hospital get her head bashed in with an axe by a teenager, die and be secretly buried in the woods. Soaps are a lot of things, but [Read more...]

Ten Happy Halloween Questions

By Marlena De Lacroix

1.  Isn’t it most curious that two of the most intelligent women characters in daytime — Dr. Marty Saybrooke on One Life to Live and fashion mogul Jackie M on The Bold and the Beautiful – have gone from brunette to blonde in the last few months?  Fashion, or just another attempt by the networks/shows to “dumb down” smart female characters?  Regardless, Susan Haskell and Lesley Ann-Downe continue to look gorgeous and act with integrity!

2.  The great, the one and only Eric Braeden; my revered and beloved Robin Strasser — am I the only one l who feels used and tired out by … Continued below

Halloween Marlena

MARLENA AND NIGEL’S HALLOWEEN POOCH PARADE

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Continued from above … being drawn into their public contract negotiations?  Sure, they don’t deserve pay cuts!  But can’t they keep the drama and tragedy private?  The press gets [Read more...]

The Downward Soap Spiral Accelerates

By Marlena De Lacroix

Bonjour, everyone.  This November will mark 20th anniversary of my becoming Marlena De Lacroix, soap critic. Marlena’s mission has always been to write the truth as I see it, no matter how impolitic.   

But now, for me — I repeat, for me — it’s clear that we’ve reached the end stage of network daytime soap opera, a medium we have watched forever and loved so much.   Perhaps that’s why I find watching soaps and writing criticism so difficult

For years, we’ve watched and believed plots that would be unlikely or even ridiculous if they actually happened. But the secret of great soap opera is that the best and brightest writers knew how to craft and pace storylines so that they were EMOTIONALLY believable.  Not any more.  Not now!

right now.  Fans, posters and columnists are angry and hurt.  A critic can beat soaps with a baseball bat every single week, but what’s the point?  I used to write about soaps because they were fun to write about, sheer joy!  Now, [Read more...]

ABC’s Misguided “Sweeps” Tries to Feed Off of Guiding Light’s Death

By Marlena De Lacroix

I usually don’t read a lot of previews or spoilers.  But what I’ve seen this week and what I’ve read for the rest of the month of September alarms me.  The ABC soaps seem to think its sweeps month, staging stunts and attention-getting storylines that are de rigueur in crucial ratings-measuring months.  September isn’t one of them.   Dance marathons (All My Children),  a carnival that concludes with a bloody accident (General Hospital), a Russian drug dealer holding citizens hostage (One Life to Live) — these scream, “Look at me, pay attention to me, love me-me-me!”  Kind of like the stunts my little puppy Nigel stages at least three times a day!Guiding Light cast

Now why would ABC Daytime be making all this extra effort now?  Can it be because Guiding Light on CBS plays its last episode next Friday, and  ABC wants to attract their soon-to-be soapless fans.  The mainstream press, such as this Sunday’s 60 Minutes‘ report on the end of GL, is also shining a light on the whole soap world.  Why not take advantage of that spotlight to attract new viewers?

Now, I ask you Guiding Light fans:  what will you be doing in the next week, beside crying? You’ll be remembering 73-year-old show that was mostly [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with All My Children’s Melissa Claire Egan

By Damon L. Jacobs

When I interviewed Melissa Claire Egan (Annie Novak Lavery on All My Children) on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” all I kept thinking was, “courage.”  This young woman has the courage to reach inside herself and expose the deepest parts of her soul every dayMelissa Claire Egan in front of her audience and in front of her peers.  She was even brave enough to stand up to the Soap Shrink and my issues with the portrayal of the psychiatric profession on her show!  Please read on to learn how she brings curiosity, depth, and humor to the role we’ve all come to love.

D:  It is such an honor to speak to you!  A few months back, I wrote a column about Annie and what she has been going through over this past year.  As a performer, what is it like for you to portray someone who is severely mentally ill?
M:  It’s been humbling, it’s been exciting, it’s been challenging.  As an actor it’s your ideal.  It’s your dream to be able play something that is difficult or out there.  Luckily the writers did a good job.  They didn’t just suddenly make Annie go crazy.  The way they did it they showed her loss — Ryan leaving her, Ryan falling in love with his ex-wife, Annie miscarrying.  They showed her transition into this craziness, which was helpful for me.  She slowly got worse and worse.  She felt threatened by Greenlee and she felt many things until it

“I’ve learned to believe in myself as an actor.  For any soap it’s such a hard job.  My boyfriend will come home and say, ‘We did six pages today,’ and I’ll say, ‘WE DID FORTY!’ With soaps it’s really easy to be bad, but really hard to be good.”

came into full chaos where she’s stabbing people and showing up delusional and thinking a party is her wedding day.  It’s been great to read a script and say, “How am I going to do this?”  When I read that script with the wedding day dress I said, “Oh no — this can either be ridiculous and laughable or you can watch and say ‘Shoot, she’s messed up, I feel bad for her.’”  A lot of the fan response has been [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with The Young and the Restless’ Elizabeth Hendrickson

By Damon L. Jacobs 

Combine the beauty of Jennifer Garner and the comic timing of Debra Messing and what do you get?  The hysterically entertaining and insightful Elizabeth Hendrickson!  Elizabeth HendricksonDuring SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” we talked about her experiences and life lessons learned from mistakes on All My Children and her current run on The Young and the Restless.

D:  What part of yourself are you bringing to Chloe in Y&R these days?
E:  Humor.  I’d say 98% of her humor comes from me.  When I was on All My Children I got really bored with myself.  I came into this job (as Chloe) as literally a blank canvas.  They had absolutely no idea.  They had seen me in something on stage and brought me in to read and they just created this character for me.  So I knew from being on AMC that  when I started Maggie, I didn’t really take control . I didn’t realize that whatever you bring, they use.  Like if you start to eye roll all the time you’ll see “Maggie eye rolls.”  That’s how I found they would write my character, and I didn’t take advantage of that.  So when I came on as Chloe I said, “The world is my oyster.  I’m going to [Read more...]

Soap Shrink at Sea: On Deck with All My Children’s Bobbie Eakes

Thinking Bobans (Bobbie fans) on Ms. Eakes: Says renee, “I’ve become a Boban because of her insightfulness” … and DSO816, “She’s an unheralded and spirited actress” … and Dana Webb, “She is so down to earth and balanced” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Damon L. Jacobs

Before meeting Bobbie Eakes on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” I knew she had talent, I knew she had beauty, I knew she had an amazing singing voice.  Bobbie EakesWhat I didn’t know was how much humor, intelligence, and self-awareness had contributed to her portrayal of Krystal on All My Children.  In our talk at sea, she she shared life lessons, reflections on a 20-year career in soaps, and why Krystal’s recent behavior makes perfect sense.

D:  So Krystal has had a very hard past year losing her daughter Babe.  How have you approached this as an actress?
B:  Well, at the point she lost Babe I really had not lost anyone that close to me.  But since then I have.  My mother-in-law and father-in-law died within ten days of each other, that was after Babe died.  We were really close to them … I was really close to them.  Loss of a close family member can be so devastating.  I don’t have any children.  So, as an actor you just have to imagine what that would be like to lose a daughter.  People say having a child is the most amazing experience and if you lose a child it’s the worst thing in the world.  So I go on what people tell me.  You put yourself in a state where you imagine what it’s like to go through that.

D:  It seemed like Krystal was trying to numb herself out with pills so she wouldn’t have to go through that.  
B:  Well, that wasn’t her intention, but David Hayward came along and [Read more...]

Soap February: Blame Executive Malfeasance!

Thinking Fans Comment Update: BL avers, “I have to say the line (on AMC) about how lesbians don’t kiss men was perfect, because why would they?” … Carl posits, “GL has been so much about nasty thugs over the past few years, Phillip’s return is a way to bring a more heroic character back into the spotlight” … while Melanie warns that GH “is on Maxie Overload and needs to quit before there’s a serious Maxie backlash (hello Sonny!)”  … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Fans usually blame headwriters when soaps are bad.  But ultimately, the real blame lies with daytime network executives who have the final power of approval over what we see on our screens.  Last month, judging by the very questionable, sometimes downright All My Childrenillogical and nonprofessional quality of the drama I saw on screen, I’d venture to say that these daytime execs (and their publicity and marketing minions) are very sloppy, asleep at the wheel, or just don’t care at all what they put on screen everyday.

She who gets smooched on All My Children

Why present a heavily publicized lesbian wedding if the whole plot leading up to it is going to greatly anger lesbian viewers?  In an earlier column on All My Children‘s headwriter Charles Pratt, I naively got excited over the acting possibilities of a Bianca-Reese-Zack love triangle. I received dozens of letters from female fans who said they didn’t want either gay character to get involved with a man.  D’Oh!  Of course they don’t!

So why did AMC, which knew this already (as proven by having Bianca angrily tell Reese when Bianca broke up the one day marriage that [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: All My Children’s Annie Lavery

Thinking Fans Comment update: antmuoz doubts AMC will “actually tell a reality-based story with Annie. But if they did, it might be a daytime first in that it doesn’t involve cloning or demonic possession” … while Matthew objects to AMC’s “fear-based portrayal of Bedlam with outdated methods and near criminal activity” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

2008 was a rough year for the residents of Pine Valley.  Murderers ran loose, tornadoes crashed through homes, but nothing or no one had an impact quite like hurricane Annie herself.

Annie Lavery (played by Melissa Claire Egan) first blew into Pine Valley in 2006, on the run with her infant daughter, Emma, from her first husband, Terry.  She was a force to be reckoned with, as she mistakenly shot Ryan (thinking he was Terry),proving to everyone she would do anything to hold on to  Emma.  Eventually she and Ryan fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever, because that’s what always happens on soaps, right?  

Only in Annie’s delusional mind it does!

In 2008 alone, Annie killed her brother Richie and her friend Di, almost killed Greenlee, stabbed Erica, faked Emma’s kidnapping, broke out of an insane asylum,

The Soap Shrink is sickened by the way Annie has been treated in The Oak Haven Institute, and is deeply concerned that this portrayal will scare viewers away from seeking mental therapy when they need it.

assaulted Ryan — and this doesn’t even include losing her marriage to Ryan, losing her unborn baby, losing [Read more...]

Marlena’s “Only the Bests” List 2008

New Year'sEve clip art

Thinking Fans’ picks and pans for 2008: Cherry Ames pans Todd/Marty as “the foulest story ever” … DSO816 picks the Angie/Jesse reunion … while Marlene agrees GHNS2 set the bar higher for all soaps … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Last year I decided I will no longer do “Best” and “Worst” lists for soaps.  After all, there have been so many “worsts” this year (real life deaths, superstar firings, General Hospital limosex and other tasteless storylines, wasted returns of some soap veterans), why would I want to re-inflict the pain on you?

 So, darlings, here are my “bests.”

General Hospial Night Shift 2 — As I wrote last fall,”If they could bottle this show, they could save soap opera.”  This 2008 soap dared to remember that soap opera is supposed to be about love, compassion, close friendships and the importance [Read more...]