On Soaps, We Believe What We Choose to Believe

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

General Hospital: Soaps or biology — which do you choose to believe?

On General Hospital this week, surrogate mother Maxie had a miscarriage (of the week-old embryo that is Dante and Lulu’s child) and barely noticed it. The same evening, New Year’s Eve, a drunk and apparently rejected Spinelli was waiting on the hospital rooftop for a midnight reunion with his intended Ellie. In an homage to Love Affair, both versions, and An Affair to Remember, Ellie was in a car accident en route and never made it. But Maxie showed up instead, straight from the hospital, and she and Spinelli had sex.  It’s a soap, so it’s obvious Maxie will again be pregnant, and will try, through many months of whining and dithering, to pass off her and Spinelli’s child as Dante and Lulu’s.

Kristen Storms as Maxie
Headed for the roof and a big case of ick

This is the first time in 23 years Marlena wishes she had an ob/gyn in the old rolodex.  Is it really possible for a woman to have a miscarriage without blood or cramps and barely even know it? Is getting pregnant again so soon after a miscarriage barely even possible?  What woman would want to have sex the same night she had a miscarriage?

Well, as a person with female parts, I biologically don’t believe the whole scenario.  But as an experienced soap watcher I know a big important plot twist when I see it coming.  That’s the problem with being a soap watcher — you’ve got to believe what headwriters want you to believe, whether you know it’s illogical or not. It’s basically your choice.

After much thinking, however, I must ultimately chose to go along with the Maxi/Spinelli “reconception”  because otherwise, GH has been a pretty spectacular soap to watch and I want to continue watching, lest I miss the latest turns in the fascinating Duke/Anna  plot. But I don’t like being asked to accept this unlikely medical hi-jinx. It makes me feel like a fool.   Headwriters shouldn’t make viewers feel that way to continue watching.  I’m sure no matter what you feel about this plot twist, you’d agree that Maxie and Spinelli having sex the same night as her miscarriage was certainly a big case of ick.

All My Children and One Life to Live: Agnes Nixon has just given her confirmation and  blessing to the new cable/on-line versions of the shows she founded. The producers are said to be Prospect Park (remember them?), back from the dead to take another run at bringing soaps to the internet. But will PP really make a go of it this time?

Back from the dead?

Well, actors are being contacted to rejoin the show, so goes the buzz. So let’s play a game. Which key actors from each soap do you think Prospect Park must absolutely choose to make the transition to these new shows believable?  Send me your lists.  For me, a bare minimum at All My Children would be Susan Lucci and Michael Knight. On One Life to Live, you can’t go without Erika Slezak and Robin Strasser and Bob Woods. Kassie DePaiva and Jerry ver Dorn would be nice, too. Then there’s the problem of the key OLTL actors who have already transferred to GH: Roger Howarth and Michael Easton.  Do you think they should they leave GH and return to their old show?

So think carefully, Thinking Fans, and start compiling your essential casting lists for the new AMC and OLTL.  We are, after all, soap opera fans. We want to believe!

The Kardashians: A Soap

By Connie Passalacqua Hayman

aka Marlena De Lacroix

Soap starved, I have become obsessed with the Kardashians.  Every day, I can’t wait to see what’s happening with the three sisters whose IQs combined don’t top mine.  But never mind that. Their lives are filled with romance, glamour, strum and drang, not to mention heavy make-up:  things soaps once brought me on a daily basis.  Some days I’m convinced their mother Kris is going to peel off her face, revealing the woman who plays her — Linda Dano!

The Kardashians (E! Television Network, repeated endlessly throughout the week as Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Kim and Kourtney Take New York) have close family ties — a staple of soaps, with [Read more...]

What’s to Watch Now?

By Marlena De Lacroix

As the World Turns was over on Friday and at least two dozen of my old soap pals all called or wrote. But what to watch now? If you are still around to watch afternoons, it’s slim pickings.ATWT Days is way too juvenile even to contemplate. Young and Restless is very competent soap opera. But someone help! We’re left with the ABC Daytime line up. Admiring my dog Nigel sleeping on the couch seems to look like better entertainment after a while.

All My Children is boring. Who ever heard of a soap opera without a villain? What happened to Vincent Irizarry (David, who is now really, truly dead). Did he want too

Goodbye, As the Word Turns. But … One Life to Live is boring … General Hospital is boring … All My Children is boring … So what’s to watch now?

much money? No Adam, no David, and JR does not cut it as a first class villain. I could care less about Rebecca Budig. What puzzles me is that a network that is obsessed with shirtless boys (like the indistinguishable Ford boys on One Life to Live) should foist such a middle age frump as Caleb Cooney (the I’m-so-bored-please-pay-me Michael Nouri) on me. Why, Lord, why? By the time Susan Lucci arrives back in town as [Read more...]

All My Children: Daytime’s Brigadoon, But What Happens Next? Part 2

AMC logoBy Marlena De Lacroix

In Part 1 of this column, I used that great 1947 Broadway musical in which a mythical ancient town full of joy and real human goodness reappears and vanishes once a decade as a metaphor for the brief return of Lorraine Broderick as headwriter of All My Children.

Ms. Broderick’s self-chosen short-lived return represented a short sojourn back into a soap opera world that now exists only in memory:   What we’ve seen again in the past three months is the real All My Children – the intelligent, warm, character

My kudos go to ALL the actors of the AMC company who again got to showcase their real skills because they were given great writing.

rich soap we loved since Agnes Nixon created it in 1970 and which existed in that glorious form until 1996.  Sadly, Broderick’s new stint as writer has already ended, but she leaves AMC in [Read more...]

All My Children: Daytime’s Brigadoon (But What Happens Next?) Part 1

AMC1 

By Marlena De Lacroix

When I was a young girl my mother took me to City Center in Manhattan to see a revival of the 1947 Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon.  In it, two American men on a trip to Scotland stumble upon a strange town, the Brigadoon of the title, from a

Can Agnes Nixon, who brought us this revival of Pine Valley as Brigadoon, continue to ward off Fronsie and the callow macho-ness of ABC Daytime’s boys club? What can be done so that THIS Pine Valley lives on every day — not just once every ten years?

past century, which disappears into the mist and reappears only one day every ten years.  It’s a mythical throwback community full of  [Read more...]

The Daytime Emmys: Happy At Last

newFor another view of the Daytime Emmys, read the post following this one by Marlena’s longtime friend and colleague Ed Martin.  A veteran TV industry journalist and analyst, Ed is a columnist for JackMyers.com.

By Marlena De Lacroix

From out of a dying soap industry, from out of a cable network I never watch, last night arrived the most unexpected shock of my decades-long soap watching/journalism life: a Daytime Emmys that was pretty good.  Who know that after most of us gave up the fight and moved on to other lives that daytime would finally get what we (the actors, the press, and hopefully the fans) had fought for forever: a Daytime Emmys that wasn’t condescending to daytime soaps!

Hooray!  No soaps-are-stupid jokes!  It’s taken the always awkward Daytime Emmys since 1974 — the year they were first broadcast by themselves – not to make fun of what they’re celebrating.  Even though this year’s ceremony was on 

Best of all, without the traditional sneering and disrespect for soaps, many moments of actual warmth emerged.  It’s called professional showmanship with heart, and the producers of the Emmys this year have it! Yes, yes — emotion — that’s what daytime soaps are all about.  And used to be about. 

such a small scale, it grew large because it finally treated soaps with dignity. They are not, as most people in the world think, and we soap fans know in our hearts – a punch line!

Unlike in past years, the host wasn’t sleazy or smarmy (like Bob Barker) or totally miscast (as Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott unintentionally were [Read more...]

Depressions and Soaps Don’t Mix

Thinking Fans Comment Update: renee argues, “Soaps have tackled so many great social issues and done them well, but those in charge of soaps today are suspect and will not handle the topic (of  joblessness) with respect” … DSO816 hopefully suggests, “I believe the dramas currently on air can craft timely stories of some characters’ layoffs, but it would have to be balanced, and believable” … while Steve charges, “If they really cared about focusing on the economy, they would try to go back to the escapism that viewers really want to see” … and more. See Comments below.

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monopolyBy Marlena De Lacroix

After I got out of grad school three years ago, I spent the most miserable year of my life looking for a job. Through fifteen interviews (the teaching job I was looking for was very specific), endlessly rewritten resumes and countless rejections, there was only one thing that kept me sane: soap operas.

When I was aching and depressed about my job search, at least I knew I could sit down every day and escape into my favorite shows.  Even though at the time they were not so great (Higley was writing One Life To Live, B&E All My Children and LML The Young and the Restless), the soaps were gthere every day to make me feel safe, to give me something concrete to look forward to.

The last thing I want to see on a soap is moi!   And certainly not me looking for a job or me even knowing there’s a cold cruel depression outside of my warm, warm afternoon TV set.

The far away antics of my fave characters — Dorian, Viki, Big Steph, Ric Lansing, snappy Jack and crazy Gloria — kept me occupied, and, for a while, kept my mind off my troubles. The LAST thing I wanted to see on these shows was anyone who was emulating my life looking for a job.

Now a website called Media Channel quotes Craig Tomashoff, TV Guide’s executive editor, reporting that soaps will be the first [Read more...]

Dee-A-Palooza Day Three: Searching for the Real Deidre

Deidre Hall 3

Thinking Fans Comment Update: John says “Deidre’s Marlena is imo the greatest soap heroine ever” … though Alan Ryan prefers the Dr. Marlena Evans of the 70s and 80s … and more.  See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

In 1986 I was given an assignment by a major women’s magazine to interview Deidre Hall, the star of Days of Our Lives, who had just premiered in a primetime show called Our House.

I had been a Days fan for a long time, and had always been fascinated by how perfect, even-tempered  and all-American Deidre seemed, both on and off the screen. (There was certainly no one who looked or acted like Dr. Marlena in ethnic Queens where I grew up!)  The angle of the story I proposed was to find the “real” Deidre Hall. So I went to [Read more...]

All My Children’s Eileen Herlie Dies; Her Myrtle Was a Beloved “Mom” to Us All

Eileen Herlie

Thinking Fans mourn the passing of Ms. Herlie:  Pat loved her cosmpolitan gypsy flair … Tess relished her confrontations with Langley … Dale says she stole our hearts … while Joey wishes for Myrtle’s blueberry muffins and lemonade … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix 

I just heard that Eileen Herlie passed away today at age 90 from pneumonia, and as an old All My Children fan, I’m pretty choked up.  As Myrtle Fargate, the carnie turned Pine Valley character confidante and advisor since 1976, Herlie was universally loved.

Myrtle was all hearty humor and blithe spirit, yet she was also warm and wise, and she was one of the best mother figures ever. She was not the biological mother of the twin character Kitty and Kelly, played by Francesca James, but through some plot twists became just as close to each of them as an adopted mother.(Myrtle came on to AMC initially as a drunk hired by snobby Phoebe Wallingford to fake being the mother of Kitty, in order to harm Kitty’s romance with Phoebe’s son Linc.)  And she was surrogate mother to characters such as [Read more...]

Marlena Says: Take Me Home to Pine Valley

All My Children

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 16:  James recalls shopping and dining in old Pine Valley … Kel agrees it’s too soon to judge the new headwriter … Brandon opines even bad Pine Valley circa 1997 beats today’s incarnation …and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

All My Children was always my favorite soap, from its premiere (1970) until the time Meggie McTavish made her disastrous, gimmick-filled  return (1996-97) and later when Ryan and the Fusion girls took over the show. Bimbos! I hated them — Kendall, Greenlee, etc., etc. — girls who were obsessed with make-up and wearing sundresses year-round, who giggled about men and acted like cats while they were pretending to work. 

Intelligent women with real hearts and authentic female wisdom had been what AMC specialized in until then (best example: Brooke). Like so many Thinking Fans, I used to love AMC for its humor, heart and real intelligence (three qualities which actually belong to its creator and longtime headwriter, Agnes Nixon.)  For the last decade, however, I’ve watched the dumbed [Read more...]