On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: Newly Bereaved Father Buzz Cooper on Guiding Light

By Damon L. Jacobs

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest experiences you will ever have to go through.  If you have ever cared about someone who has died, then you know the palpable heartache that brings pain throughout your entire body.  But if you have ever lost a child, then you will understand the overwhelming anguish and paralyzing rage that has overtaken Buzz Cooper these days on Guiding Light.  

Sadly enough, Buzz (played by Justin Deas) is no stranger to death’s cruel grip.  As a Vietnam Veteran he survived countless acts of gore and violence.  Upon returning home, he married his high school sweetheart Nadine who was brutally murdered by Brent Lawrence.  Only three years later, his second wife Jenna died [Read more...]

Our Soap Shrink Wonders: Why So Many Bloody Brides?

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Jason laments, “I think the problem with soaps these days is they try to distance themselves from what they should be centered upon, which is love and romance, and turn to violence” … while Deep Dish,  favoring balance, suggests, “I think there’s room enough on soaps for both the traditional romantic weddings as well as the bloody bride interruptus ones” … and more.  See Comments below. 

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BrideBy Damon L. Jacobs

Savvy daytime fans know the value and vindication of the classic soap wedding.  But more and more this great tradition is being replaced with a trend that promotes gore and carnage:  The iconic bloody white wedding dress.

I, for one, fail to see the benefit or payoff for covering our heroines in blood.  It certainly can’t.t be for shock value, since anyone old enough to remember Sissy Spacek in Carrie is no longer surprised by the contrast of innocence and red liquids.  In my opinion, this trend is one of many ways the current shows are sending a message of defiance into the faces of long-term viewers, as this once sacred and uplifting wedding episode is now frequently mired in violence and bloodshed.

And yet I can’t help but wonder how others perceive it.  It used to be that viewers would get to witness a couple spending several years coming together, making up, breaking up, then [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Todd Manning

Thinking Fans on Todd: Marilyn Henry says, “I do not understand how some fans see him as sexy or hot. He is cruel. Sick. Unfeeling for others. As such, he is dangerous” … while Dale agrues, “Just because I and others find something of worth in watching Todd does not make our opinions any less valid than yours, or Marlena’s, or Joe Blow’s” … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

What do you call someone who is capable of committing abhorrent crimes against others? What do you call a man who can rape another person, attack a blind woman, lie to his own wife that their newborn is dead, kidnap a woman who is presumed dead by her friends and family, and then plot to fake his own grand child’s death?  If you live in One Life to Live‘s Llanview, you call that man Todd Manning . 

If you’re in the therapist’s chair, you call that person “Antisocial.”  When most of us hear the word “Antisocial” we think of someone who doesn’t like to socialize at parties.  But in clinical terms, the term refers to an individual who is capable of

Todd doesn’t truly want to atone for his crimes, he doesn’t authentically want to stand up and do the right thing. He just wants his “pizza,” i.e., Marty’s love.

committing horrendous violent crimes against others without any sense of guilt or remorse.  They can lie, cheat, rape, even kill, without batting an eyelash.  The only type of regret they express is when [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...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: General Hospital’s Spinelli

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Karen likes Spinelli just as he is, thank you very much … antmunoz thinks “different” characters reflect the real viewing audience more than the “ultra-gorgeous” do … while S. Woods feels Spinelli “is one of the few redeeming characters on bloody bullet-riddled General Hospital” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Damon L. Jacobs 

When the Journalistic One approached the Soap Shrink to offer supposition about the Jackal, he wondered if his recitation may present too capricious or deprecatory.  After all, the Soap Shrink is trained in the intricate branch of diagnosis, and our dear Spinelli appears to disavow and impugn such declarations.  

But then I thought, why the heck not?  

Because behind Damien Spinelli’s strange speech and puppy dog eyes there is a young man coping with classic symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder.  Individuals who carry this diagnosis typically present with impaired ability to socially interact with

In a soap universe filled with perfect looking people,  it is refreshing to see someone stand on the outside and reflect the goings-on around him.  This used to be a staple on soaps …

others, and with restricted and repetitive behaviors (ideal for a computer hacker).  They frequently have a hard time connecting with peers, can’t make small talk, have limited ability to follow social conventions, make minimal eye contact, and may be seen by others as “eccentric” or “strange.” Because of these [Read more...]

A Review of Our Soap Shrink’s New Book, Absolutely Shouldless: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve

Shoudless logo

By Marlena and Moose

Midway through January, any New Year’s resolutions you made are more than two weeks old by now.  How’s that going for you?

Has that ceremonially consumed Final Cinnabon of 2008 and Forever More turned out to be the Next to Final Cinnabon, or the Next to Next to Final Cinnabon?  Is your new health club membership still somewhere in the stack of unopened mail?  Is that pile of trendy books in the corner, still unread,  calling out, “We’re still here, dummy!”Damon

Well, there’s someone in your corner who will hasten to tell you you’re not a dummy if you’ve simply failed to meet external obligations you’ve placed on yourself at the behest of the world you live in.  He’ll demonstrate to you that you’re besieged by “Shoulds” — the things we think we should do, the beliefs we think we should hold, the self image we think we should cultivate in order to impress the people we think we should impress.

That someone who’s here for you is none other than our very own Soap Shrink, Damon L. Jacobs, author of the immensely helpful book, Absolutely Shouldless: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve, published by Morgan James Publishing.

Damon has become a mainstay on this site since joining Team Marlena last year. As regular readers know, Damon is [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: The Young and the Restless’ Katherine Chancellor, Daytime’s Greatest (Though Most Self-Destructive) Dame

By Damon L. Jacobs

When you think of The Young and the Restless’ Katherine “Kay” Chancellor, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Is it her fiery take-no-prisoners passion?  Is it her unsinkable resilience?  Could it be her sharp tongue or trademark short blonde locks?  I think we can agree she embraces all of these qualities.  But at the same time this “Duchess” can be incredibly vulnerable, sensitive, and arguably the most self-destructive leading lady in daytime history.  How can all these qualities exist in one person?

When we were first introduced to Genoa’s City premier desperate housewife in 1973 (the celebrated Jeanne Cooper has played her since the beginning), she was increasingly using alcohol [Read more...]

Merry Christmas, Cher Thinking Fans!

This our second Christmas here in our home on the Web. By now, we feel we know most of you by name, and are more pleased than words can express to welcome your regular visits. So many of you Thinking Fans have been frequent correspondents, and have enriched our site with your thoughtful, heartfelt commentary.  Thank you, thank you, for investing so much of your time and sharing your ideas.

Here’s hoping each of you has a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Marlena and Moose

I want to wish all the wonderful Thinking Fans out there a happy and safe holiday season.  Thank you so much for all the support and intelligent comments  you have shared with me this year.  As we begin 2009 with much uncertainty in our soap worlds, it eases my nervousness to know I will be sharing the next year’s highs and lows with such a wonderful community. 

Please take care of each other out there, and come back to visit me, Marlena, and Patrick, as often as possible.

Love,
Damon L. Jacobs  (“Soap Shrink”)

Merry Christmas from crisply cold Chicago, the cradle of soap operas, and the home of Irna Phillips and Bill Bell! May you and yours have a warm Christmas and a prosperous 2009! Here’s hoping for blue skies, a healthy economy … and a story with a happy ending every now and then!

Patrick Erwin

The Soap Shrink Interview, Cont’d: Ilene Kirsten On Her Insightful Creations — Ryan’s Hope’s Delia and One Life to Live’s Roxy

Part 2: One Life to Live‘s Roxy

By Damon L. Jacobs

Yesterday, I interviewed the insightful  Ilene Kristen on the creation of her iconic role of Delia on Ryan’s Hope.  Today she talks about Roxy, her current, vastly entertaining character, who debuted on One Life to Live in 2001.

D: How did the events of 9/11/01 shape your creation of Roxy?

I:  I actually got the job the day before 9/11 happened.  But it affected me big time.  I felt I had to go out and entertain the troops.  They would need me, the audience would need me.  I would infuse the comic part but first I would give them the [Read more...]

The Soap Shrink Interviews Ilene Kirsten On Her Insightful Creations — Ryan’s Hope’s Delia and One Life to Live’s Roxy

Ilene Kristen

By Damon L. Jacobs

Ilene Kristen is an actress famed for a having both enormous acting talent and an idiosyncratic sense of humor which helps her to steal every scene she’s in. But behind the wisecracks is a wise soul with unique understanding of human psychology. She’s used that understanding to create two iconic daytime characters: Delia on Ryan’s Hope and Roxy on One Life to Live. When we spoke at length recently, she described how she reached inside herself to create both Delia and Roxy.

Here Ilene talks about how she made Delia so startlingly real over her many years on Ryan’s Hope, during the show’s 1975-1989 run.  In Part 2 tomorrow, she’ll talk about how she made OLTL’s Roxy so entertaining and compassionate.

Part 1:  Ryan’s Hope‘s Delia 

D: So let’s begin talking about Delia on Ryan’s Hope.  The fans who read “Soap Shrink” regularly know the subject of Borderline Personality Disorder comes up frequently.  It is a personality disorder, typified by someone who makes frantic efforts to avoid abandonment.Delia Afternoon TV

I:  That’s Delia in a nutshell.

D: The only thing is BPD didn’t start getting listed as diagnosis until 1980, well after your first run as Delia from 1975-1978.  How did you know so much about Delia and these symptoms?

I:  Well, second to being an actress I would have been a therapist.  I wanted her to be real, so I observed those who were very needy. (RH‘s co-creator, co-headwriter) Claire Labine also wrote a great character description about her mother selling subway tokens, her father being a drunk, only getting love from her brother.  You then see how that manifests in the decisions she would make.  She had no occupation, she just lived in the shadow of the Ryans.  So she was [Read more...]