The Daring and the Cowardly: Four Sweeps Surprises

By Marlena De Lacroix

With spoilers, there are no storyline surprises on soaps anymore.  That’s not to say that the ways in which storylines are presented can really come as shockers — especially in the February sweeps that just wrapped up, the sweeps in which we expected little to nothing interesting because of the Writers Strike.  So here are four soap stories/sweeps events which really shocked moi this month, either because they were so daring … or so cowardly!Ameera

Daring — As the World Turns Introduces an Iraqi character:  When Ameera, the hijab-wearing newly arrived ward of Colonel Mayer (Noah’s murderer father) turned up at the Snyder farm to get to know Noah and Luke, I was truly shocked.  A Muslim woman on daytime! We’ve never seen that before!  I usually like social issue stories and this could either turn out to be wonderfully humanitarian (demonstrating how hard it is for a Muslim woman to blend in to the U.S. in this time of war) or it could merely be a device to further a writer or producer’s liberal political agenda.  How long will it be until Bill O’Reilly is on to this?

Attaching Ameera into a story with fellow “societal outcasts” Luke and Noah can either be a meaningful learning experience for the audience, or a big mistake.  As I write this, the threesome’s truck has just broken down in a rural area outside Oakdale (looks like Jersey to me!) and some hateful white good ol’ boys are scheduled to beat them all up at the same time.   Whatever happens, Ameera is the riskiest soap storyline in years.  Remember, hate is a four letter word.Mario Van Peebles

Cowardly — All My Children Brings in Black Prosecutor Samuel Woods to Prosecute Erika Kane for Insider Trading:  Insider trading?  Who cares?  Even Martha Stewart is probably bored with the subject by now.  When it was announced that Mario Van Peebles was being brought in to play Woods, the possibility of an interracial affair for Miss Kane tantalized all of us who have spent almost forty years wrapped up in Erica’s love life.  Erica loves all men! But would she really get involved with an African-American man?  We may not find out this time. Van Peebles has been unexpectedly stiff and awful since he turned up on the show, the only man in (heterosexual) captivity who doesn’t have one ounce of chemistry with La Lucci!  So now Woods is sending Erica to prison.  Didn’t Erica do that a couple of times already, most recently when she stole Maria’s baby? Erica looks lousy in orange!Diego

Cowardly — General Hospital:  Don’t get me started with all that has happened this month. When the Text Message Killer took off his mask to reveal his identity at last, I screamed “Who’s that?”  I was away in graduate school during Diego’s tenure and in the last year and more that I have watched daily, the “dead” Diego has not been mentioned.  Whether you were familiar with Diego (Ignacio Serricchio) or not, this is the sloppiest, most carelessly written denouement of a soap mystery ever!

But what really got me was the Michael and the gun story.  Of course you all know from my column a month ago, Kids and Guns for Sweeps, that I was personally very much against this children and guns storyline.  But I received tons of letters from GH viewers who wanted to see a story with Michael or Morgan being shot and maybe killed by Michael’s gun, so that Sonny would finally turn away from the mob out of guilt.

As you know, Michael didn’t technically shoot the bullet which almost killed Kate.  In a cowardly cop-out, Michael dropped the gun and the gun went off by itself!  There was even a clear camera shot of the gun doing that!  This loophole of course will probably prevent Michael from being punished as fully as he might otherwise be.  Cop-out!  Cop-out!

As of this writing, it’s been almost two weeks since Kate was shot and Michael’s parents still don’t know he was involved in the shooting.  Will Sonny learn his lesson?  Or will Michael and his gun turn out to be the most cowardly story that GH has ever told?

Daring — The Publicizing of the “New” Guiding Light:  Wow!  I’m sure you’ve seen articles about the new production style/ outdoor format of Guiding Light in almost every publication in America in the last few weeks. (Here’s a good one by my friend Ed Martin.)  Sincere congratulations to P&G publicist Alan Locher and his team for literally carpeting America with the word of the “new” Guiding Light.  I don’t think there’s ever been such a thorough and effective soap publicity blitz since ABC megapublicized the Luke and Laura wedding in 1982.  P&G even found moi and asked me to do a preview story, but Marlena would rather wait and see the finished goods. I’ll be watching the premiere GL episode and will have a review ready for you here right here on my site as soon as I can.     


  1. The actress playing Ameera is very green. The writing for her sucks. Every line that begins with “in Iraq” makes me cringe. I detest the storyline already because it’s so obvious one of the boys will marry her to help her get a green card.

  2. Ameera should have been named Anomaly. How did Noah wind up being related to a Muslim from the Middle East who doesn’t freak out about the idea of 2 guys in love? Family loyalty isn’t likely to get her past that even if she’s an outsider too.

    I think I’d see the publicity for GL as a boost for the show if there were more ads on CBS. Everything I’ve seen about the revamp has been online, if not for TV spots aired during the daily soap lineup. ABC’s promotion of Jessie, Angie and Greenlee seems much more expansive in comparison.

    Marlena says: Actually I’ve been waiting for the topic of Muslims not accepting homosexuality to come up during this story. The writers of ATWT don’t seem as careless with the obvious as those on an ABC show like GH. Let’s see what happens with this.

  3. Very minor correction- there was actually a story of a muslim woman on daytime at least once before. I don’t remember her name, but it was Port Charles, and she was fleeing her family for some stereotypical reason or other (genital mutilation? Forced into marriage?). She ended up having a thing for Ian. Clearly, I’m a little fuzzy on the details myself.

    Marlena says: All of my Thinking Fans have such good memories. Does anyone else remember this PC story? She really had a thing for Ian?

  4. As for General Hospital, nothing says it like the ratings. Of course,, you need to be LITERATE to be able to read the ratings. Which leaves Guza out!

    Now – mind you – these are all from back issues of Soap Opera Weekly – and S.O.Weekly is only up to Feb. 4 to 8, 2008 for their current sweeps ratings report.

    AND – I am ONLY dealing with February sweeps here – but I have the numbers for 2006, 2007 and 2008 to compare.

    ROBERT, HOLLY AND ANNA RETURN – 2006 February Sweeps

    JAN 30 TO FEB. 3, 2007
    #3 – GH – 2.9/9

    FEB. 6-10, 2006
    #3 – GH — 3.0/9

    FEB. 13-17, 2006
    #3 — GH — 2.9/9

    FEB,. 20-24, 2006
    #3 — GH — 2.9/9

    FEB. 27 to MARCH 3, 2006
    #3 — GH — 2.9/9

    So – a pretty solid 2.9/9+ rating during February sweeps, 2006

    METRO COURT HOSTAGE CRISIS – February Sweeps 2007

    JAN. 29 to FEB. 2, 2007
    #3 — GH — 2.9/8

    FEB. 5-9, 2007
    #3 — GH — 3.0/9

    FEB. 12-16, 2007
    #3 — GH — 3.1/9

    FEB. 19=23, 2007
    #3 — GH — 2.9/9

    FEB. 26 to MARCH 2, 2007
    #3 — GH — 2.8/9

    Again – about a 2.9+ rating as the average February sweeps rating in 2007

    SO FAR – in 2008 — Michael accidentally shoots Kate and goes on the lam — Sarah Brown returns as yet-another-mobster-Claudia Zacchara – AND The TEXT MESSAGE KILLER is revealed to be presumed-dead-Diego Alcazar.

    JANUARY 28 – FEB. 1, 2008
    #4 — GH — 2.2/7

    FEB. 4 – 8, 2008
    TIED with ATWT for #3 — 2.2/7

    So far – the average rating for February Sweeps, with Sarah Brown returning as yet another mobster is 2.2.

    From 2.9 as the Sweeps Average for 2006 and 2007, GH has fallen down to 2.2 – a loss of .7

    Looks like this week makes it about a 2.3 – still not upping the average by much.

    During all three years, ONE ratings point represents 1,128,000 households.

    So far, it looks like GH has lost about 78,960,000 viewers since GH pulled their bait and switch back in 2006 . That was the year that TPTB went around promising that Robert, Holly and Anna were returning – but neglected to inform the viewers that Robert, Holly and Anna were returning to virtually NO story – and the story which they DID have – didn’t make much sense!

    You and I may be smart enough to be able to figure out that months and months of ABC-Disney-General Hospital and Soap Net airing promos which are urging viewers to tuuuuuuuune in to seeeeee whooooo willlll diiiiiiiie todaaaaaaaay is NOT the ratings winner which TPTb apparently believed that it would be! But there appears to be NO ONE in charge at ABC, etc., who is capable of grasping that rather obvious fact.

    Sincerely, Lois

  5. EricMontreal22 says:

    Was the Mario Van Peebles thing even a Sweeps Story? We saw him what–6 times? I do agree with your assessment of the story though–it feels really odd to me. Like they want it to be a front burner story but can’t make it interesting enough so have relegated it to C-levet status.

    Surely the Jesse/Angie reunion was more what they would hope would bring people in… (anything beats the pole dancing stunt)

    Marlena says: Eric, I couldn’t even bring myself to write about the pole dancing stunt! I recently saw Bette Midler, whom I first saw on the stage in 1972, on the news publicizing her new show in Las Vegas. She was looking at the 20-somethings she had hired to be her new dancing Harlettes and she said, “Honey, women are not the same now.” And they ain’t!

  6. “or it could merely be a device to further a writer or producer’s liberal political agenda. How long will it be until Bill O’Reilly is on to this?”

    What?!?!? You are worried about a ‘liberal’ political agenda because there’s a Muslim on ATWT? Have you ever thought that perhaps the writer or producer is a radical right-wing conservative and Ameera will profess the wonders of a free society because of the war? I think the story possibilities could go either way and for you to line up on the BILL O’REILLY side (of all people) is surprising to me. Me thinks you have been watching too much “fair and UN-balanced” FOX news, Marlena.

    However, I agree with the above post. You can see this plot device from a mile away – Ameera will need a green card, so one of the gay boys will marry her. Then she will genuinely fall in love with him…blah blah blah. Let’s not give JP too much credit here – she’s not the most creative writer in the world.

    And I agree that GL’s new look has been getting a lot of press, but until they kick DK out of the head writer’s office, I don’t see how this will benefit the show all that much. For years, us viewers have been complaining to TPTB at GL that the writing is horrid, yet I read one interview with Ellen Wheeler wherein she states the viewers are complaining about fake grass! WTF?!?! Believe me, fake grass is the least of GL’s problems at the moment. I still don’t understand how DK has outlasted the regimes of writers at other shows (OLTL, AMC, Y&R) and there doesn’t appear to be a movement to get him out of there anytime soon. It boggles my mind.

    Marlena says: LOL! I do have a Fox watcher in my household, but I am free-thinking alumna of the hippie 60s and I come from three generations of staunch Democrats! As far as GL goes, I am still for giving its new production techniques a chance. I’m not a fan of Kreizman, though, and I have wondered how he has lasted so long. I find watching GL a chore, not something I really enjoy.

  7. Just for the record – I happen to remember the really weird story about Adrianna, the supposedly Muslim woman who was fleeing from family retribution on Port Charles. And, probably, everyone should be prepared for something strangely similar eventually cropping up on AMC – because the SAME writers are currently toiling at AMC these days.

    Drs. Eve and IAN were kidnapped by an old enemy of IAN. During their captivity, they realized that they were in love. After they escaped, Eve and IAN went dashing to Eve’s home to tell Eve’s then-husband, Kevin, that Eve had fallen instantly in love with IAN. However, when Eve went to the door of her home and knocked, Eve’s then husband, Kevin, was GRIEVING for his supposedly dead wife by hopping into bed with long-time girlfriend Lucy. So Kevin did NOT answer the door. As Eve left the house and headed back toward IAN, waiting in the car across the street, Eve was hit by a hit and run driver. Super IAN raced to assist Eve and Eve was rushed to the hospital. When Eve regained consciousness, Eve had lost her memory about being kidnapped and awoke, all eager to renew her wedding vows with hubby, Kevin.

    Because the doctors (NATURALLY) told IAN that he should NOT fill in the missing memories for Eve, Ian ended up getting acquainted with the woman who had hit Eve. (Her name was ARIANNA or ADRIANNA – can’t remember which) At any rate, ARIANNA eventually admitted to IAN that she WAS the one who hit Eve – but the reason that she did NOT stop was because she was being pursued by her vengeful family. I think the poor girl was even from IRAN or AFGHANISTAN. (This would have been December 2000 through February 2001). According to Arianna’s recollection, her family planned to murder her because she had been raped and had, therefore, disgraced her family. She had been raped because she had been meeting alone with a man who WAS not a relative – because she was in love with him – and he attacked her. Believing that true-love Eve was gone forever because Eve couldn’t remember being in love with him, IAN tried at first to protect Arianna from her vengeful family – who were pursuing Arianna to perform an ‘honor killing.’ Because Arianna had disgraced her family by first meeting SECRETLY with a man who was NOT a relative – and then because she had been raped by him. When Arianna’s vengeful brother, Ben, caught up with them, Ben and Arianna had an argument and Ben knocked Arianna down before running out of IAN’s place. When IAN returned, he rushed Arianna to the hospital and learned that she was p.g. with her rapist’s child. However, Arianna soon lost her baby. As Arianna’s brother continued hassling her and Eve moved forward with her plans to renew her vows with Kevin, IAN decided that the ONLY way to protect Arianna from deportation as well as from her vengeful family – was to marry Arianna. So IAN whisked Arianna away for a quickie wedding. As Ian was marrying Arianna, Eve regained her memory, recalled that she was actually in love with IAN, and ran out of her ‘renewal of vows’ ceremony with Kevin. (Kevin, naturally, sought immediate consolation with Lucy again.) Eve was devastated when she learned that IAN had just married Arianna to protect Arianna from deportation – as well as from Arianna’s vengeful family! (Never mind that Immigration laws have changed considerably since the LAST time that they used that story line). Naturally, Ian and Eve continued meeting secretly. In the meantime, Ian made arrangements to get Arianna into a sort of Witness Protection Program with the help of former spy- Victor Collins. Arianna was at first reluctant to leave, because she had (of course,of course) fallen in love with IAN. However, Arianna finally agreed and Ian rushed away to hop into bed with Eve in order to celebrate. Unfortunately for IAN — Arianna’s brother, Ben, slipped back into town, headed for Ian’s place, and stabbed Arianna. Naturally, Arianna’s liver was damaged and IAN refused to leave Arianna’s side until she was all better. Arianna needed a donor who could provide a transplant in order to survive. It was learned that KAREN was a match.

    However, in the meantime, Karen’s new boyfriend, FRANK – had been fooling around with a 30-year-old computer and had made contact with Karen’s teen-aged mother (RHONDA – COOKIE). Frank convinced Cookie NOT to go to the teen-aged party which resulted in RHONDA-COOKIE becoming p.g. with Karen. Hence, Karen had never been born and Karen just disappeared. So Frank had to go time-traveling to convince Cookie that she SHOULD attend the teen-aged bash so that Karen COULD be born and become a doctor. In the meantime, of course, IAN would NOT leave Arianna’s side – and Eve discovered that she was p.g. from all of that celebrating that Arianna would soon be out of their hair. So while Frank was traveling in time and Ian was sitting beside Arianna’s bedside, Eve went off into the woods to ‘think’ about the prospect that things would NEVER change. In the woods, Eve made contact with Caleb the Vampire – who was masquerading as benevolent Fr. Michael at the same time. Of course, Frank finally succeeded in bringing Karen back from the past and Ian eventually found Eve hiding out in the woods, etc.

    Sincerely, Deborah

  8. I thought the storyline with Michael accidentally shooting Kate by dropping the gun was a cop-out. I’m one of those fans who were hoping that Michael or Morgan would end up shot and it would bring it home to Sonny how much his career choices are affecting his family. The whole “do as I say, not as I do” line that both he and Jason had been throwing Michael clearly didn’t have an effect. I still think that either both one or both of them need to go to jail for awhile to pay for their crimes.

    Marlena says: Kerri, if Jason and Sonny went to jail then GH would be a prison soap. I loved HBO’s prison soap, Oz, but I don’t think Guza is good enough to write anything even remotely like that.

  9. Marlena says: LOL! I do have a Fox watcher in my household, but I am free-thinking alumus of the hippie 60’s and I come from three generations of staunch Democrats!

    . You had me worried there for a minute, Marlena! : )
    IA watching GL can be a chore at times. It becomes less of a chore for me when Reva is about town (I absolutely adore KZ), but overall I’d agree with you. I’m dreaming of the days of Nancy Curlee thanks to a thread over on SON….

  10. We can’t have GH’s Michael be seen actually using a loaded weapon, shooting to maim or kill, even accidentally, because horror of horrors, that would mean TPTB would have to admit that a mobster and his enforcer are bad influences on a child. And, we can’t have anything negative shown on the mob who are GH’s heroes. Are you and I the only ones who called this from the get-go?

    Marlena says: You bet we were, my friend. I keep thinking Carly became pregnant just in time to outshine/cover up the Michael and gun story. It can only get worse…

  11. Thank you so much for calling the TMK SL a cop out because that is exactly what it was. I can’t believe GH actually had to audacity to pull what AMC did with the Satin Slayer mess to make the murderer not only someone who hadn’t recently been on screen for awhile but someone who actually died onscreen. That’s right Diego died onscreen, the great oh so knowing oh so wonderful Jason Morgan was the first on to declare him dead now he’s alive, huh? I have to wonder where GH was orginally wanting to go with this because no one is going to convince me that this is where they were heading because the SL look like it took a complete 180, not only would Diego never kill Georige, she was his only real freind, but George actually confronted the murderer and didn’t look the least bit shocked to see someone who was supposedly dead standing before her, she acted like this was someone she expected to see, so it certainly doesn’t add up.

    Yes, not the first time a soap did this, but this was without a doubt a total cop out, especially since we were told that we could play along to guess who the murderer was, who was going to guess a dead guy who laid dead on our screen, very few if any. Sorry, this was a total cop out, just like it was on AMC, think they changed their SL midway through as well, but someone really should of gave GH the memo that when AMC did this, it cost them viewers and ratings, bringing back a dead guy as the murderer isn’t a good thing during a murder mystery. Guess Fron’s didn’ learn the last time, seriously the next serial killer SL ABC does I’m notlooking at the characters onscreen as suspects but thinking about who died in the last two years that would have motive, not a good thing when an network makes you analize things in that way.

  12. With the exception of “One Life to Live,” I don’t believe there is any one daytime soap on ABC, CBS, and NBC — in addition to the canceled Passions (on DirecTV) — that is worth tuning in. In fact, I’m personally tuning out.

    Marlena says: I respect your decision to tune out almost all soaps. I’ve done that a few dozen times myself. But you’ll still read Marlena, won’t you?

  13. Daring – DAYS on a Plane killing Shawn (though with DAYS who knows if he’s actually dead).

    Cowardly – Panning away from Nuke on the verge of a smooch. C’mon now people, it’s 2008!

  14. I am a long time GH fan and actually appreciated that the Text message killer actually had motive to go after each victim. It is a great use of GH history and even explained the bank transactions that were used falsely to exonerate Jason. Diego had begun his descent with the photos and when he heard of his father’s death, his unhinged sanity was forever broken. I know Soap writers love to plant red herrings but if it turned out to be Logan, Cooper or the creepy guy from Kelly’s I would have been very disappointed.
    I agree with you about the cop out of Kate’s “shooting.” Now since Michael ran away, Carly and Sonny will be so happy when he returns that I hope the reprecussions are not forgotten. Maybe they will send him to boarding school to be SORAS’d. Johnny needs an age appropriate rival and it would be interesting to see Claudia go after Sonny’s son (BUT only if he is at least aged to 22!!)

    Marlena says: Your suggestion of SORASing Michael so he could go against the Zaccharas is very interesting. But I’ve always thought that Dylan Cash (Michael) is a wonderful actor and I’d hate to see him replaced by someone older.

  15. Dear Marlena,

    I will clarify my position: Right now. For the forseeable future.…

    I am tuning out the daytime soaps from ABC, CBS, and NBC because they’re in such a sorry state.

    I have watched the suds since the mid-1980s, with “Ryan’s Hope” my first exposure to daytime drama. (I was born in 1971, am from the Detroit market, and have viewed, with little understanding but with some appreciation, “RH” during my lunch period in my elementary school years. I loved the multi-Emmy-winning Claire Labine/Paul Avila Mayer classic—which ran on ABC from July 1975 thru January 1989—because it was emotionally relatable, respectful, soulful, and high quality. And Helen Gallagher and the late Bernard Barrow were resplendent as the resilient spouses Maeve and Johnny Ryan.)

    Of today’s nine soaps, I’m very glad “One Life to Live” is such a critical success, lately. For my money it not only deserves this year’s best-drama Emmy—it’s the only one that actually merits the nomination. And that is encouraging. [“OLTL”] must rank closest to the “art” that is daytime drama—and what one should expect in this genre.

    What’s going on, though, with all other soaps is that it appears the behind-the-scenes honchos apparently do not know what the hell they’re doing. In some cases, these are executive producers—and in other cases head writers. Both are applicable with a few of the serials. Those that fail do so because they don’t understand the genre, its appeal, its audience—and why and how they’ve survived for generations. That they are also of historical nature. So it seems to me there are powers behind the scenes who are clearly in the wrong business.

    I don’t want to come across as a drama case, here; I am not saying I’ll never, ever again watch a daytime soap on ABC, CBS, and what’s left of NBC! I’m simply taking a break from them—and, hopefully, these suds will start to shore up their dangerous weaknesses (“dangerous,” because they have turned viewers off—alienated them—and those viewers have reacted by tuning them out, as demonstrated over time in those ratings; yes, it’s been years in the making).

    My feelings are this: When a medium or a genre is producing lousy stuff—and they have been doing so for quite some time—one feels compelled to turn his attention toward other things. And then, maybe, return later to see—out of curiosity—whether there’s been a return in quality. Any improvements!?

    I have a feeling my 2008 viewing of soaps has cut off effective February—and I’m looking forward to the brand-new season of Major League Baseball at the end of March. I’ll tune into a number of those games, be it live viewing and/or VCR and/or DVR—and follow MLB all the way to the Fall Classic in October. Maybe, I’ll check out a soap on an off day in between—like in July with the week of the All-Star Game being played at Yankee Stadium (in its last year).

    I’ll continue to check out commentaries on soaps here at your site, Marlena, plus some others like Snark Weighs In (who provides a link to your site). I’m a regular poster at awards expert Tom O’Neil’s The Envelope/GoldDerby forums Web site (a joint venture since 2005 with “L.A. Times”). I’ll get a sense of the condition in quality of all eight soaps (due to cancellation, I’ve written off “Passions”), and I wish them good luck because I want the genre not to die; in fact, miracle of all miracles, I’d like for soaps to once again thrive!

    Marlena, I am very glad you have your own site. The Internet is even better with it. Congratulations to you! You and your contributors (like Patrick Ewing) provide lucid and thoughtful writings on the current condition of network soaps. (I’ve especially enjoyed reading your most recent “General Hospital” storyline observations.) I believe you look at these suds with an artistic perspective—and with a critical eye on whether any of the given dramas are delivering quality goods.

    My interest in the genre hasn’t died. It is no more dead to me than prime-time comedy and drama series. It’s simply a matter of there being times when I find a current, lowly quality unacceptable. So taking a break is necessary. I’m breaking from the soaps—but not your site. Your site is entertaining while the suds are not.

    Thank you!

    Thanks for writing back, and thanks for that wonderful concluding compliment! I understand your decision to stop watching as I said. But can I say something about the timing of it? What we’ve seen for the last three or four weeks on all the soaps is the dregs of the now finally finished Writer’s Strike. The shows have been awful–even OLTL, which badly needs Mr. Carlivati back full-time. I’m holding on for an improvement of all of the shows when spring finally begins and we’re seeing the real writers’ work.

    But I love baseball too. I grew up a Mets fan, but recently converted to the Yankees, because my husband Moose is their rabid fan. My family in Queens almost ex-communicated me! I don’t mind telling you that one of the reasons I like baseball is the reason many love soaps–I like looking at the boys! Shame on moi! Can’t wait till the real season starts and Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter take the field….

  16. So far, the introduction of Ameera on ATWT has been a dud for me. They’re wasting WAY too much time trying to educate us about things most of us already know. It reminds me of when Brad on Y&R suddenly became Jewish and they took a ton of time educating the audience and then just drop it.

    And Julien, I agree with your comments about cringing each time she starts with “In Iraq . . . ” I now get a chuckle out of it. I think of the movie American Pie and substitute “In Iraq . . . ” with “This one time, in band camp . . . ”

    Marlena says: Actually, I was a fan of the Brad becoming Jewish story on Y&R. The character was fairly interesting to me for the very first time!! As I wrote, I think the Ameera story is a no win for ATWT no matter what they do. But who knows? Maybe someone somewhere will learn something from this. Let’ see.

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