An Excruciating Episode of The Young and the Restless

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

Is it right or wrong for a daytime soap opera to kill off a baby or a child?  After all, a large part of the viewing audience is young mothers, and they could find such a sequence unbearable to watch.  After watching little Delia Abbott get hit by a car on Friday’s episode of The Young and the  Restless, I’d likely vote it’s wrong to do such a storyline.

Sophie Pollono as Delia Abbott

Killing off a child provides harrowing drama. But the problem with Friday’s episode was that it was so harrowing, it was thoroughly overwrought and over played. Everything was calculated to make the viewer feel pain.

Billy Abbott (Billy Miller) did what a parent should not do: he left his daughter Delia in the car when he went into a store to buy ice cream.  She opened the door and chased her dog down the road when he hopped out.  Then Adam (or perhaps it was Nikki, who was also out driving that night) came barreling down the road and hit her.

It took almost an entire episode for the ambulance to arrive, during which Billy, alone with his comatose daughter, ruminated over his mistake.  These scenes were unbearable.  Even worse were scenes in which we saw what Billy will likely miss — fantasy scenes of his daughter’s forthcoming (if she is still alive) graduation, wedding, childbirth and grown years in which Billy and daughter operated his restaurant as “Delia and Dad.”

In these treacly scenes (in which Dad kept saying “I love you” over and over) Delia was played by a series of older actresses . Miller soldiered on as an older and older Billy, although the actor was minimally aged.  Each scene was engineered to evoke a tear. I’m sure many viewers couldn’t take the extreme melodrama of a tragically missed future and tuned out.

Meanwhile, Delia’s mother Chloe was shown at the movies, innocently making out with her ex-husband Kevin. On Monday, presumably Delia will die from her injuries.

This is not the first time a baby or a child was killed on a soap opera, but it’s certainly the most extreme. In the 1950s Lisa’s son Chucky was killed on As the World Turns when he was hit by a car.

In the most famous example of a child being killed, little Laura, daughter of Brooke and Tom, was hit by a drunken driver on All My Children.  This storyline at least was done with the cooperation of the real Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and was a critical hit.  It said something powerful about drunk drivers.

But Delia’s accident and impending death so far has been pointless.  All it did was create some excitement on a show that for so long has lacked much.  That is if you could bear watching Friday’s episode.  I breathed a huge sigh of real relief as soon as it was over. 

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...]