When Cliché Stories Go Startlingly … Right!

By Patrick Erwin

Soap fans and critics alike complain loudly when we encounter the overused soap plotline. We can see most of them coming from a mile away!

We know, for example, that one woman, plus two men, multiplied by a short period of time = ”Who’s the daddy” story. It seems like a good third of all soap characters have discovered heretofore unknown children, and some lucky lottery winners (Guiding Light‘s Reva, One Life To Live‘s Viki, All My Children‘s Erica and As the World Turns‘  John Dixon) have found more than one along the way!

And yet, every once in a while, even the oldest cliché in the book really works as a story. Recently a  few shows have put a new shine on old chestnuts, with entertaining results.

Back from the Dead: Jesse, AMC. Characters coming back from the dead is one of the oldest soap clichés, and one that often doesn’t work. AMC tried to revive the formerly-dead Maria, then Dixie, with far less success. And I couldn’t imagine a character less likely to be revived than Jesse, who had been “dead” for more than 20 years.  We saw die on screen!  And yet, despite all those potential negatives, this story just worked beautifully  for several reasons. One, of course, was the great performances by Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan. The writing was also beautiful and historically accurate (and as Marlena has theorized, was perhaps guided by [Read more...]