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.
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.
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.”