One Life To Live’s Todd and Marty: Way Beyond Merely “Disgusting”

Todd and Marty 

Susan Haskell as Marty, Trevor St. John as Todd — ABC Photo by Heidi Gutman


Thinking Fans Comment Update Nov. 9:  Miajere laments the misogyny in daytime … Christian in Boston is disgusted by Todd’s elevation to “redeemed and tortured anti-hero” status … Steve protests Todd-Marty story exists “for no other reason than shock value” … and more. See Comments below.


By Marlena De Lacroix

It’s disgusting. Which is what I think all the columnists and most fan posters in the soap community are saying after seeing amnesiac Marty Saybrooke sleep with her one-time rapist Todd Manning on One Life to Live Thursday afternoon . But disgusting doesn’t begin to describe this descent into exploitation and audience insult.

If you care about soaps, this story is way, way beyond disgusting.  And if you are still trying to figure exactly out why they are dying, come with me and have a long look at this story in the context of soap history.   

Years ago soaps were about love, family and relationships.  They were ridiculed in the outside world because their storylines sometimes stretched reality.  To combat this, and show how smart and valuable soaps were, Agnes Nixon invented the idea

It’s a nasty punch in the face to women, still the majority audience for soaps … and to make it worse, TPTB don’t even see it!

of exploring educational social issue stories, which in the 60s she introduced on Guiding Light,  when a character, Bert Bauer, had uterine cancer.  Dozens of great issue stories later, a writer new to daytime, Michael Malone, brought the new character of Marty onto OLTL, and one night in 1993 Todd  (then only known as Frat Boy # 2) and two of his college buddies raped her.

At the time I disliked the story.  The characters had no ties to the OLTL canvas (Todd had not been made Viki’s half-brother yet), and the story lacked any kind of love or romance, which at that time was the essence of soaps. I wrote it was about new producers and writers showing off, not trying to produce good soap opera.  Meanwhile Malone, a brilliant man and a genuine writer with deeply religious  values and a past English professorship at Duke University, constructed a story of great depth, showing how ugly the human soul can be, and correspondingly the healing power of great compassion. The story had little  romance, yet it captured the essence of humanity and deservedly won tons of Emmys.

Fast forward 15 years to today, when soaps have been made entirely plot-centric and dumbed down, and intelligence, common sense and heart have been purged. Very few of these shows portray recognizable emotional reality anymore.  As a result, the audience has fled in droves.

In a promo for this current Todd-Marty nonsense (the most phony, stupidly contrived story I have ever seen) Marty, robbed of her mind and memory by amnesia, is shown in black bikini underwear, vamping Todd to make love to her.  As the ABC promo trumpets it, this is “The story you thought you’d never see.”  Not only is this story not about love, relationships and family, it also lacks soul, humanity and even a shred of human emotional truth.  It’s so empty and exploitative, to viewers it may as well be a porn movie.  What I think it really may be about is hatred of women.  What woman would want to watch another woman who has been raped, then because the victim suffers from  a convenient case of amnesia, be lured into the rapist’s lair, encouraged by her rapist to  fall in love with him,  and then  beg him to make love to her?  Yuck!   Misogyny dressed up as a soap opera storyline!

Contrived  to appeal to the prurient interests of the audience, not their minds or souls, this story is just perverse.  Though there are no exposed body parts here, it does nakedly show the desperation of an American television network fighting off the fact that the era of the show itself,  the medium of soaps, and yes, maybe even old school network television is almost over.  It’s a nasty punch in the face to women (still the majority audience for soaps!) by all three and to make it worse, TPTB don’t even see it.  Even two of Marlena’s best male soap friends like the Todd-Marty story — one calls Todd and Marty making love and the five months of captivity and lies that led up to  it an “interesting psychological study” the other is pleased “because I’ve always loved gimmick stories.”

It shocks me that my good friends and OLTL‘s producers and writers and ABC soaps executives have such a blind spot to the sexism and wrong-headedness of this story. Whose soap world is it, anyway? This story defiles the historic core of the soap audience — women, plus any one of either sex who knows right from wrong.  No morality, no heart,  no recognizable  human truth — the 2008 Todd and Marty story illustrates exactly why soaps are dying.


  1. Yep. That about covers it. Thank you so much for writing about this. I protested by not watching yesterday. Time will tell if tune back in today or ever again.

    Having Todd do this is so disgusting to the core, I can barely even speak about it. So Todd has learned nothing over the years that he thinks it’s okay to essentially rape his victim AGAIN?!?!?

    If he isn’t dragged into the courtyard at Angel Square and hung by an angry mob who hrows stones at his head — well anything less just will not do. This story is so repugnant, so reprehensible, that jobs should be lost over it.

    Marlena says: You said it, babe. Fronsie must go for this and for the hateful, misogynistic stuff he lets Guza get away with on General Hospital (shooting a child, Michael, in the head; S&C’s twisted limo “grief” sex). I don’t know Frank Valentini or Emmy winner Ron Carlivati. I’d love to hear their responses to this column! I don’t know if it was Frons’ idea or theirs to do this story. If it was theirs, they should be fired too!

  2. Marlena, don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel! As one of the “two male soap friends” that you referred to, I first want to say that I am glad that you offer this forum for thinking fans to weigh in and debate the many wonderful and not so wonderful things that the soaps have to offer. I am sure there will be many a response to this column. And I also want to tell you that I am pleased that you don’t hold my favourable point of view on this story against me. The thought of an angry Marlena scares me!

    So, let’s get into it, shall we? Yes, OLTL is on a slippery slope with this one. Yes, I have raised my eyebrows as it has unfolded. And yes, I have questioned the misogyny of it. But then, I considered the fact that maybe, just maybe, what we are seeing is more than the sum of its parts. Do you think that Todd is coming off looking good in this? I don’t. Do you think that anyone in the audience is rooting for him and applauding his actions? I don’t. I think that OLTL is deliberately and systematically taking Todd to the point of no return. Todd’s ultimate smackdown has been coming for months, as the writers have stripped Todd of everything he holds dear. First Sam, then Blair and then Starr and Jack. This is not so much about how Todd is currently victimizing Marty, as it is about the ultimate decimation of Todd Manning, a true psychopath in every sense of that word.

    You imply that soaps are a woman’s domain, and that women would find this storyline misogynistic, and I understand that gut reaction. I have cringed at certain elements of this story. As a man, and a feminist, I do not enjoy watching another man victimize a woman. That is surely a part of the story, but I do not believe it is the core of the story. At least it isn’t for me. Todd is surely going to pay big time for this, and it is my hope that we will see this monster come to terms, once and for all, with the demons that drive him to this kind of insanity. I am attracted to the psychological subtext that I see in all of this.

    I think it’s too easy to watch this story play out and simply say that it’s disgusting and an affront to women. It is disgusting and offensive, but sometimes, we have to travel through dark and ugly places before we see the light.

    OK. I am done! Thanks for posting my point of view! I do hope to see our resident soap shrink, Damon weigh in on this.

    Marlena says: Hi dear, and thank you. Your reaction and my friend Chris L’s are exactly what moved me to write this column after two full weeks of mulling it over and not being able to get started. How could friends I adore NOT see what was wrong with this story?

    I didn’t mean to imply that you have to be a woman to hate this story. All you have to do is know right from wrong, and that’s something both genders can figure out.

    I don’t care about Todd. If it was up to me he would have been written out after the date rape story ended in 1994, but audiences loved him for a perverse reason I can never understand. Given a millionaire’s fortune, two wives, and three beautiful children, he is still a psychopath and a rapist. I can never feel sorry for a person or a character like that.

    I’m sure this story is leading up to Todd being murdered. Marty certainly has a legitimate motive when she finds out the truth about Todd keeping her captive and away from her son. I’m sure Starr and Blair will want to kill him too, when they find out that Todd was going to steal Starr’s baby. Don’t forget Marty’s son Cole, the father of Starr’s baby and his guardian, Nora, who Todd pursued criminally in the past. If Todd was murdered I wouldn’t care. Oh, I’d feel sorry for Viki, a good woman who was saddled with being his half-sister all these years. And you know Todd would come back the dead. As long as OLTL is broadcast, we’ll never be free of this “fascinating” character!

  3. Hi Marlena dear, Chris here, your “I love gimmicky stories” pal (thanks for the shout-out to me in your column, by the way!) 🙂 OK, this is a tough one, because I don’t intend to get long-winded, but I’d also like to simplistically make my point without offending.
    First off, brava to a wonderful, passionate column. The Marty/Todd story has obviously hit a nerve with you, and you let us know about it!
    That being said, I take offense to your comment that the story is about “hatred of women.” In no way do I believe head writer Ron Carlivati hates women, or he gleefully set out to tell this tale because he hates women. It’s my opinion that he’s a hard-working writer trying to up the ante here, by telling a vile tale to enhance the conclusion of the tale. Marty and Todd are fictional characters; having amnesiac Marty willingly make love to her rapist from back in the day enhances this controversial storyline. The ramifications of the Marty character realizing that she willingly made love to the man that raped her, once she gets her memory back, will hopefully make her revenge on Todd all the more compelling. I’d also like to mention that the rape of Marty occured in the early 90’s. Of course this does not excuse the actions of the Todd character – he’s despicable – but he also didn’t rape Marty yesterday. The Todd character has been interacting on the canvas for years now, and had become quite popular for a time (ah lah GH’s Luke Spencer); at least OLTL writers past and present didn’t allow Todd to become a rootable hero.
    I sincerely hope that current viewers of OLTL will continue to watch, but also realize that this dark, controversial tale is being told the way that it is so that we can all express our shock (disgust?) via the likes of this site, and to also revel in the conclusion of the Marty character getting the ultimate revenge once she learns the horrible truth, while becoming whole again.

    Marlena says: Chrissie, I adore you. But anyone who wrote a story like this and put in on the air dislikes women. Trust me! If there was any true sensitivity for the feelings of the core soap audience, which is female, it would never have passed beyond the proposal stage. Are there any women executives left at ABC Daytime these days?

  4. Marlena,
    I’m really sad about this storyline, as I was one of the many that came to love the character of Todd Manning over the years. The charisma that was exuded from actors like Roger Howarth and now Trevor St. John made him completely vulnerable and yet frightening to behold. That is not the case anymore, seeing that through this story line years of healing have been stripped and he has emerged a just a sick soap version of a cult leader.

    The misogyny that is alive and well and running daytime seems to exist on screen, behind the screens, and occasionally in the audience. I was also upset about the amount of disgust that the many fans of the show expressed towards Dena Higley, who managed to tie her bombs and plane crashes into social stories. I know Ron, has been a great gift to the show, but in the last year there has been probably one social story told and that revolved around paternity issues. (Which I might add is not very female friendly.) While Dena was no Jane Austen, she did give the show many popular story lines that have since been stripped from the canvas, and has since then been called OLTL’s worst writer to date. Non of her contributions are accounted for, nor are her additions to the show given airtime, or even kept on contract.

    I hate that many compare this story to Luke and Laura and call it good soap because it tarnishes the genre and everything it has built since. Many who do, have obviously not invested in one 20 years +.

    I don’t doubt that a show like OLTL dislikes women, considering how few there are over 30 in a front burner story, while completely shallow characters like John McBain are placed as every single woman’s last chance for love. Not only are soaps not fan friendly, they are no longer female friendly.

    Marlena says: Miajere, thanks so much for this, especially the last line, “Not only are soaps not fan friendly, there are no longer female friendly.” Here, here.

    I was no fan of Dena’s, although her highly formulaic, escapist show was my salvation during the busy years I was in graduate school, and only had one hour a day of leisure to watch television. She wrote the kind of soap opera that didn’t make you think! I don’t think the fan dislike for her had anything to do with her gender, however. Her writing was too Days-like (the soap where she had written and subsequently returned to) and it didn’t fit OLTL’s characters, IMO.

    I agree that Carlivati has gone overboard with the paternity stories. Nothing wrong with showing one or two of those at a time. But this summer, the show was saturated with them! One of my colleagues even wrote that the back to the 60s story was really a father-son love story between Rex and Bo. Indeed, these two characters really do have the best relationship on the show!

  5. You and I don’t always agree but this issue — this column — I could not have said it better. And quite frankly, my dear, anyone who doesn’t find this story just 100% perverse, repulsive and unpalatable, worries me. Todd didn’t just initiate a rape. It was a brutal, degrading horrific “gang rape”. Complete wih sweat band stuffed in her mouth. Sorry. I’m not a huge Michael Malone fan. He ripped this story off of The Accused (which won an Academy Award for those involved). Except in the movie, the rapists went to prison. Brian Frons is certainly a big part of the problem but lets face it, behind the scenes in show biz has always been a male dominated world.

    I certainly don’t believe that anyone shoved a gun in Ron C.’s face or twisted Frank Valentini’s arm and forced these men to relinquish any professional or personal integrity they might have and made them write this story. Ron C. has tried to make it OK by saying in interviews that “Remember, Marty has amnesia”. They just really don’t get it and anyone who doesn’t…well, there is no explanation. I am sick and disheartened and if OLTL went off the air tomorrow, I really wouldn’t miss it. This is simply unacceptable. As I said a few weeks ago, this was it for me. The genre that has been dying is dead to me. But of course, I’ll still read your column.

    Marlena says: Right on, Cherry–right on! You get it!!!!

    Both this story and the reaction to may be all about sexual politics. Isn’t it interesting that the exec producer, headwriter and ABC Daytime VP at OLTL are all men? I can’t remember another time an ABC soap was run and overseen at the network level entirely by men. And I go back to 1980 working with ABC as a soap journalist.

    Save for a very brief term by Dennis Swanson in the late 80’s sometime, the VP’s of ABC Daytime were always female. Until Frons arrived. All the years I was reporting daytime, the whole daytime department was comprised of women, save for a few male publicists and my dear friend, A Daytime to Remember producer Gary Warner (wherever you are.)

    Anyway, Cherry, thanks for hanging in there with us, even if you are not watching We need your voice!

  6. At first, I was bothered by this story for a different reason; how would they even redeem Todd after this? Will he rescue babies from a trainwreck? Donate a liver? Cure cancer? Save Christmas? I was exhausted just thinking about it.

    But at that point, I never thought it would reach the point where they actually did it.

    I thought that that was the awful fate that was *threatened*, but that would not come to pass; Marty would put the pieces together just in the nick of time, and play her own cat-&-mouse with Todd! Now *that* would be an “interesting psychological study”!

    Or it might be that McBain busts down the door and saves Marty; that would be romantic!

    Marty would be reunited with Cole just as the baby was born!
    We would all be happily-ever-after in time for Thanksgiving, except for Todd, who would begin paying for his crimes.

    I truly believed this is how it would go down!

    So now I’m sick to my stomach….because there is no happy end in sight, just more pain & hurt.

  7. Hello Marlena,

    Just a real quick note: The Spring Fling gang rape occured in 1993, not 1991.

    Otherwise, I completely agree with the sentiment. Personally, I blame Luke and Laura for setting this snowball in motion. It was the first time that actor chemistry trumped not only plausibility, but also common decency. Since then, we’ve seen so many rape-turned-romance stories that the whole rape angle should be retired period lest some writer get the “brilliant” idea again. (Sami/EJ, Jonathan/Tammy, Paul/Christine, et. al.).

    The only time this was ever done right (and I’m pretty sure you’ll agree) was with GL’s Roger and Holly. I give the credit to Michael Zaslow, who brought out such humanity and complexity in Roger, Maureen Garrett, and the writers for telling an engrossing story of redemption. Perhaps we should send tapes to Carlivati in the hope that the brilliance will wear off on him?

  8. Thanks for posting this, Marlena. I watched these scenes on a break at work and it literally made me sick to my stomach.

    Yes, there have been relationships and storylines borne of “gray areas” between a woman and her rapist (Luke and Laura, Roger and Holly) before.

    But I disagree, respectfully, with Chrissie. When Marty is too ill (amnesia) to truly offer her consent, then indeed what HAS happened is that Todd raped her again.

  9. Well, Dale, since you called !!!!

    I also have to register my horror and disgust. Aside from Todd & Marty, I’m really sickened by the whole “was-it-rape-or-wasn’t-it” theme that seems to have pervaded nearly every soap in recent years.

    FACT: If it’s not consensual, it is rape. And Marty, having been brainwashed by Todd, is not cognitively in a position to have consensual sex. If she knew Todd had raped her in college, if she knew she had a son out there, and then STILL wanted to be with him, then we might have an argument. But the fact he has controlled all data and perception that has entered into her blank mind these last 5 months makes him a rapist in every sense of the word.

    Todd’s behavior is not complex, it is not deep, it is not redemptive. It is simple mental, emotional, and physical violence. It doesn’t matter if you agree to call it “rape” or not—violence by any other name smells just as putrid. It saddens this shrink that a show which once admirably and responsibly portrayed complicated psychological drama would result to this trite gimmick.

    Marlena says: Damon, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Bringing you on as Soap Shrink (and as Damon, passionate soap fan) is one of the smartest things we have ever done. And you are always graciously there for all the Thinking Fans, even though there’s no retainer involved. LOL!

  10. Christian in Boston says:

    WOW Marlena. What a well written review of this controversial storyline..

    Another male longtime OLTL fan here- (I watch Y&R and OLTL)

    Okay- I am going to be honest. The only reason I have been watching OLTL again at all was due:

    1) To the return of Andrea Evans (There is 50% of my OLTL watching impetus gone as of November)

    2)The other reason- Marty and Todd.

    I was slowly reeled in this summer by the chemistry between the two great actors and the kind of gothic and extremely high stakes storyline. I also thought it was an interesting character study that I assumed would conclude by blowing up in Todd’s face (and it probably will)….. As a longtime fan I also enjoyed the Janet Zarish element as she was unceremoniously killed off during the writers strike in 1988.

    As far as the rest of the show- UNWATCHABLE.- And I have never seen so many weak actors and performances from OLTL’s cast. The under 34 crowd on this show need some on set coaching- pronto. I cringe while watching. But I digress-

    My big question/thought:

    Didn’t the show make the most offensive and repulsive mistake of all in 1995 by making Todd- a rapist and murderer (Marty’s fiancee no less- Suede Pruitt) the show’s redeemed and tortured antihero? When it comes down to it, the character of Todd should have been sent to prison. But the character and Roger Howarth proved so popular that the show (Michael Malone, ABC, Gottlieb, et al) went out of its way to redeem him- again, a rapist and murderer. At one point he saved CJ and Sarah- maybe Jessica as well- after a car wreck- and there were numerous other instances where the show used plot driven contrivances to make us see the “good” side of Todd- again- a rapist and murderer. Remember when he stalked a blind Nora at the beachhouse? It was pretty clear that he was going to rape her as well…

    One of most popular characters in the history of daytime television- Luke from GH -arguably- raped his future bride Laura… and they became a national sensation..

    I thought that the gang rape storyline was one of OLTL’s finest storylines ever. It was brilliantly written, acted and produced…Rape is a vile and unforgiveable crime.

    That being said, I found the present storyline to be classic soap opera. Plot driven? Yes. Gimmicky? A little. It was the performances and the chemistry between these two characters/actors. And I love Susan Haskell. Terrible, repulsive, shocking, and offensive things happen to real people every day. My simple mind figures- Todd will get his comeuppance. This is fiction. This is a story. And OLTL (and it sadly appears, all the shows) have left behind the social issue storylines that were once really well done. The exploitive nature of this storyline did not even register with me initially. But again, I am a guy. And I am seeing a pattern developing in regards to the male/female opinions of this storyline..

    I wonder if I have gotten used to, and desensitized, by the absolute exploitive nature of television in general.. I wonder if being a guy makes this storyline somehow more easy for me to digest? Part of me says- Marty has NO IDEA that Todd raped her. The other part of me says the simple fact that the show/network would let these two characters have sex is simply WRONG. Luke and Laura are NO different. Laura KNEW that Luke raped her and still married him!

    With the exception of Y&R, which is astoundingly good, I find all the shows plot driven and gimmick driven (i.e. The Pine Valley Tornado, and by the way, AMC is back down in the ratings where they were before)

    After reading Marlena’s review and others at various sites- I truly now see, especially from a woman’s point of view, how this storyline could be viewed as sick, misogynistic, and exploitive.

    And don’t get me started on ABC daytime and Brian Frons.. That man has done more to destroy ALL of his shows than anyone in the history of daytime. That is a fact. Remember, this is the guy who said publically that he got Heather Tom “cheap” and called Kathy Brier unattractive.

    As far as Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini?
    Frank is a Frons puppet. I don’t care that he has been with the show for over 20 years, the days of the headwriter and producer having a vision for their shows is long gone.

    Carlivati’s writing is mixed at best. I admire his dedication to the history of the show and that is about it. I keep hearing rumors that he will be getting a co-head writer soon. Perhaps a female co-head writer would be beneficial..

    Since most women are deeply offended by this storyline, I wonder how his fellow breakdown and scriptwriters feel. I wonder how Carolyn Culliton feels….

    I would really like to know who was responsible for this storyline. Someone put this on the screen. The thought began somewhere. I would love to know what they thought, from a character driven prospective, where this would lead.. how this would evolve the characters of Marty and Todd.

    And the PSA at the end of Friday’s show was jarring… It was tacky and out place…

    I would love to hear Carlivati’s explanation of this storyline….

    I am on the fence.

    Marlena says: Thanks, Christian. You’ve brought up many interesting elements here. First of all, the PSA at the end of the show in which the two had sex just added to the bizarre nature of this whole ugly episode in OLTL’s history. I’ve always thought that bringing back such actors as Janet Zarish and Christopher Cousins was equally bizarre. Both were good long ago on the show, but their characters were far from titanically important and popularity wise neither character merits reviving. Neither actor is a giant or an Emmy winner like a Thom Christopher for example. There are dozens and dozens of other past OLTL actors I’d rather see return. I have long suspected personal favoritism plays too strong a factor with the current production/writing team at OLTL.

    Someday I hope Ron Carlivati writes a tell-all book about his years at OLTL. With many chapters about the strange trip he’s taken in the last year. From over-hyped genre ‘savior’ to Fronsie’s water boy!

  11. I don’t understand how a show that was so fabulous in March could turn into such a trainwreck. Even as a man, I am totally offended and shocked by the downright cruelty of the story. It reeks of Brian Frons. rape is nothing new to soaps but I remember a time with that and other social issues were handled with class and character and it is a shame that OLTL has become so sewery!

  12. Marlena

    As a man, a feminist, and a thinking soap fan, I just have one thing to say to you:


    In a word or so, I do believe that this is the result – a very nasty result – of the sexism introduced to ABC Daytime by Brian Frons. Granted, from what I can tell in soap history (I’m a rather young viewer, having come to soaps only 5 years ago), misogyny has been a mainstay. But it seems that Frons loves to hate women – and to objectify them. From small things (the Fusion pole dancing scene earlier this year on AMC) to big things (the current Marty/Todd storyline on OLTL), ABC Daytime seems hellbent on objectifying its female characters any way they can (and in turn, their female actors).

    Thanks for this post. If I’m ever an accomplished writer – which I secretly hope to someday be – I hope I’m capable of crafting much better stories than this. And if not, please feel free to smack the heck out of me.

    Marlena says: Skylar, thank you for being a male feminist! I lived through and was greatly affected by the original women’s liberation movement, and I’m so glad that decades later it still has an effect on smart and caring men!

  13. JONNYSBRO says:

    Well Marlena I want to see the fallout of the storyline. I think Trevor/Susan have great chemistry but I do not see want to see them romantically involved. Some compare Marty/Todd to Luke/Laura. Luke/Laura was a seduction with the lights going down. Marty was gang raped by three men with very graphic brutal scenes. In fact while Malone should be credited for the success, the big success of the gang rape was due to Linda Gottlieb. Malone has even stated recently that Homophobia and gang rape never would have made it on the air if it was not for Linda Gottlieb.She pushed the gang rape and man was it the most disturbing, graphic, brutal rape I have seen on TV. Marlena what did you think of those scenes? Remembering that in your mind there could never be Marty/Todd. I think Carlivati/Frons are trying to cause great controversy/debate on boards. No matter how sick, disgusting, revolting it is, people are talking about it majorly. It all goes back to the JFP quote during her time on OLTL when she broke up Bo/Nora she called an angry viewer an invested viewer. They are going for that. I think they rather have all this debate versus complete apathy.The problem with Dena’s stories is you were apathetic to them. Did not care one way or another which way they went.

    Marlena says: I wrote many articles about the Gottlieb/Malone era and got to know them both. Gottlieb was all Hollywood ambition and pushiness and in the long run, did not stay very long in or take over the daytime medium. (Where is she now?) Malone was both brilliant and kind. He had a truly loving soul and an ever-inquisitive mind and was one of the most profound and interesting people I’ve ever met in my life. Although I haven’t spoken to him in a few years, he inspires me always as a teacher and a writer.

  14. I thought the rape storyline started in 1993.

    Many parts of this storyline disgust me — chief is that we’re supposed to pity Todd, not the woman he is violating — but what really disgusts me is this story seems to exist for no other reason but shock value. In some very perverse way, I would almost respect OLTL more if they had some purpose for this mess. Instead it just seems to be desperation, the idea that a rape victim losing all control of her life and being “seduced” by her rapist is a ratings grabber.

    It’s like someone spent way too much time watching that scene in Straw Dogs. There is an audience out there who enjoy seeing rape made into something ambiguous. There is an audience out there who want affirmation that a woman secretly wants to be raped, and that it does the woman a favor. I think that’s the message this story is sending out and it really tells you how meaningless the soaps have become in the public eye that no one outside of soap fans and critics have seriously objected to this story that I know of.

    I also have to say that the Tess storyline has really made a mockery of MPD … I was laughing for a good long while when I saw Jessica’s new alter, Bess, complete with a bad knockoff of the Jean Randolph glasses. What’s next? Les? Fess? Inez? Guess?

    Marlena says: Thanks for the Straw Dogs reference. I never heard that before! I totally agree with you about the mess they’ve made of the MPD stories right now with Viki and Jessica. In one interview I did with Malone around 1994 or so, he cited medical research that MPC (or as it is more clinically termed DID), is NOT inheritable from generation to generation! I also LOL’ed when I saw Jessica put on glasses yesterday to turn herself into Bess, which looks to be her new alter version, with the exact same personality of Viki’s Jean Randolph. OLTL is outta control, I’m telling you!

  15. Chere Marlena,

    Excellent column here and fantastic analysis. I think everyone has every right to be angry about this storyline. It’s as disrespectful to the show’s history as Erica Kane’s unabortion was to AMC.

    Now, I will admit that at first, I was actually enjoying the storyline. Althought uncomfortable with Todd essentially holding Marty prisoner and withholding information about her past, I did like seeing this tender side of Todd (a character I have never understood the appeal of) and a vulnerable side of Marty. Was hoping this storyline might ultimately turn out to be about forgiveness.

    But as it became increasingly clear this was headed toward sex, I began disliking it more and more. And during Thursday’s show when Todd kept seeing Marty dressed up like she was the night of the frat party, I kept hoping he wouldn’t be able to go through with it (but I gotta give Ron C. credit for including that little bit in there). And then when they actually did go to bed, I kept hoping that maybe the act of sexual intercourse would break Marty’s amnesia (which would have made for great soap opera). Alas, neither happened.

    So, I’m left feeling slimey and gross for having participated in this.

    And I honestly can’t believe Ron C. went through with this. I so admired his work a year ago. He seemed to understand the heart of the show, respect its history and reamined true to the characters. For Ron C. to tell this story just doesn’t compute unless someone was twisting his arm. Consequently, I’m left wondering how much Brian Frons, who’s well known for his interference, had his hand it this one.

    Two other notes:
    * As wonderful as it is to see Susan Haskell back in the role of Marty, she’s not good at playing stupid. That would be Christina Chambers who specializes in that.
    Why bring the original Marty (or as the ABC publicity department would phrase it “the real Marty”) back but write a storyline playing to the strength of her replacement? Haskell is excellent at playing a strong, intelligent woman, but this storyline incorporated none of her strengths.

    *The original frat house gang rape storyline happened in May 1993 , not 1991. It played throughout that summer with the excellent rape trial that resulted in Todd, Powell and Zach’s conviction. Susan Haskell, Roger Howarth and Hillary B. Smith all won Emmys for that storyline at 1994 Daytime Emmys.

    Marlena says: James dear, and all my other friends: My 1991 was a typo. I meant 1993!

  16. I’ve been a fan of this story because of the internal psychological drama that Todd’s playing out. If he had gone all the way up to the precipice and drawn back — as he almost did this week — it would’ve been great. Todd has become a more complex, more clearly villainous character under Ron Carlivati, and I’m a believer in the idea that every soap opera desperately needs a great layered villain.

    These days, soaps just give us a bunch of villains they pretend are heroes, like the astonishingly dull Sonny Corinthos.

    One thing I disagree with, in your post, is the idea that the good ol’ days show how wrong this storyline is. When I discovered soaps in the ’70s, they were still heavily invested in the use of rape as a plot device that often led — nauseatingly — to relationships. This story is more like the bad ol’ days of rape plots than current soaps, which get a lot of things wrong but not rape.

    I’m disturbed by what happened this week, but it was a classic exploitation of a character’s tragic flaw. The payback now has to be ferocious for Carlivati and his writing team to pull this off. I can see why people hate this, but I’m still willing to give them a chance to redeem it.

    Marlena says: All so many of my readers seem to care about is Todd. Who is speaking up for Marty, either here or on the show?

  17. I personaly think there’s more to the story. You stated how you hated the original story, but then later you liked what Malone had done. Maybe you should watch the whole story play out before making a judgement call. I think one of the problem with soaps is the fans are not willing to wait until the complete story play out.

    Marlena says: Marty, who was raped by Todd, begged Todd to sleep with her. And they did. I think I’ve seen enough! P.S. Yes, I know she had “amnesia.”

  18. As always, Marlena, your column echos my sentiments exactly! I just could not believe OLTL was actually “going there” with this Todd/Marty storyline. I found it repulsive from the get-go.

    I think I could’ve stomached it a tad bit if Todd was helping her regain her memory and reunite her with her son and the people who truly love her. But in Todd fashion, it’s all about his need to vindicate himself from sins past.

    I do indeed believe hedid take advantage of her and rape her again. I hope she pays him back in spades in the months to come.

    I was really hoping that Todd’s guilty conscience would get the better of him and he wouldn’t be able to “perform”, but sadly, that was not the case. My biggest fear out of all this mess is that Marty is going to end up pregnant with her rapist’s baby…and that will be the mother of all mistakes!!

    I love your colums, keep on writing, you’re the best!!

    Marlena says: Thank you, Cheryl, for getting what I have been writing. And for your sweet compliment.

  19. Marlena:

    You did a fabulous job tackling this almost “vomit inducing” storyline. I could barely write about this myself. I will toss up a link for you. Thanks for taking this on!

    Mary M.

    Marlena says: Thank YOU Mary for your graciousness. All the time I’ve been on the internet I can barely count on one hand how many compliments I’ve collected from fellow soap bloggers.

  20. First off, my inner nitpicker (who is very pushy) wants to clarify that Marty’s gang-rape happened in May 1993 (not 1991) and played out into 1994.

    Allow me to voice my agreement with everyone who called this story a sick, twisted mess. You have all voiced my thoughts better than I.

    Patrick commented that “Yes, there have been relationships and storylines borne of “gray areas” between a woman and her rapist (Luke and Laura, Roger and Holly) before.” Too true, Patrick, which is why I always appreciated Marty’s original rape story. It was really the first rape story I’d seen on soaps to portray rape for what it really is: a horrible crime of violence, powerplay and hatred. Not a building block to love, not foreplay, not “seductions,” or anything else TPTB want to call it.

    This awful current story seriously damages OLTL’s integrity – it’s going to take a MAJOR retcon (a.k.a. rewrite of history) to win back this viewer.

    Marlena says: Kade, my dear friend, all the “retconing” in the world cannot erase my memory of the atrocity ABC has committed by doing this story.

  21. As a male viewer who first got hooked on One Life during Michael Malone’s fabled first time around, the Todd/Marty rape story was one of many riveting ones that kept me glued to the set. Let me give a different perspective about Marty/Todd redux: This “lovemaking” event has been foreshadowed almost from the outset of the story. We’ve seen this coming for a long time and in that respect, it’s the first act climax of the story.
    It is the beginning scenes of act two that will tell us if Brian Frons has insisted Carlivati and Valentini have completed caved into neanderthal views of women by leaving Marty and Todd in love as the next part of the story. The ONLY way this story can be redeemed is if Marty somehow recalls the rape and Todd’s true monstrous side and punishes him for it.
    The ONLY WAY.
    That’s the part of the story-the hoped-for second act resolution, that has kept me glued to the set this time around. But I want to give kudos to Carlivati for constructing this story as so integral to the other front burner stories: Todd has a hand in the Marty story which links to John’s which is connected to Jess/Tess and therefore to Natalie and Jerod and then Star and Marcy etc..,etc…etc…
    That’s the linchpin to compelling soap opera writing and has been so lacking on most of the shows for the better part of the decade.
    We can argue if Carlivati is worthy of great praise only when this second act of the story plays itself out. In the end, Ron Carlivati has either saved One Life or has become a heinous woman-hating misoginist who has degraded every rape victim known. As they say in the soap biz, stay tuned.

    Marlena says: Seriously, this is a fascinating letter. You are right — the sex was foreshadowed from the beginning of the story. But as to the future … either Marty will kill Todd … or all the disgusted viewers of this truly trashy story (like me and several other writers of the letters on this page) will join together and hire a hitman. Or better … a hit woman!

  22. Well I’ve watched soaps for decades and nothing has turned me off more than the gang rape of Marty who I didn’t particular like anyway back in the day…

    I don’t know if the scriber likes women or not it doesn’t matter. I know he doesn’t respect his audience of women to revisit something like this in this horrid way and that’s all I really need to know. Its more than clear to me what a danger Brian Frons really is because he sanctioned this. This man has no business controlling anything that people see on the airwaves.

    Disney gave him the sanction to do this so I look at them too. I stiooed doing Disney years ago when it dawned on me what they think about my heritage. Isn’t Fons’ boss a woman? I can only wonder what Sweeney’s story is.

    Anyone who would write a story for whatever reason like this is a sick individual imo. Todd and his buddies pulled a train on Marty she was tied up and I saw it for the first time a little over a year ago because I refused to watch it when it aired.

    My first reaction was “how in the sam hill did they get this aired on TV. It was a tragic thing for me as a woman to watch and I didn’t get through the nine segment ( clips) they had posted on Howarths website the “Spring Fling” brought daytime to a new low for me.

    I’ve tuned out OLTL permanently. I was near the exit door but just went through..I am a TSJ fan and I am ticked because they refused my interracial love story Todd with Evangeline and I will always believe it was a racial issue. They didn’t want their White leading man with a Black woman.

    But they give me this for my Todd? So this is acceptable? He can re-rape his rape victim and the suits think this is ok? Somebody needs to be fired merely for being stupid. It’s a pity.

    Marlena says: Bravo, bravo, Cyber! You are Marlena’s gal! Especially tonight as I try and answer so many letters that clearly stupify me, especially since they are from the TFs dearly love!

    I’m so glad another woman besides me had difficulty in even watching the gang rape the first time around! Fast forward to today: you are right, besides Frons, Disney should be held culpable for this atrociously anti-family, anti-female, anti-human story.

    I was, and am, a big Renee Elise Goldsberry fan and I never understood 1) why the Todd and Evangeline romance wasn’t really pursued and 2) why REG left the show. (It was terrific to see her as a guest star on Life On Mars this week in a totally different role than Evangeline. You are right, Cyber, the current Todd and Marty mess is a sad, sad replacement for what could have been for Todd and Evangeline.

  23. This has to be a product of ABC Daytime/SoapNet executive Brian Fronz. The stench is definetly that of Fronz!

    No daytime writer would write this crap.


  24. Great column! Although I believe the Spring Fling rape occurred in 1993, not 1991. 1991 was when Marty was bought on the show to fill the “young , rebellious female” void that was about to be created as a result of Megan Gordon’s death.

    The Marty/Todd romance is nothing new. It was only a year or so after the rape story ended when the show started toying with the idea of Marty and Todd as a romantic couple! I met Susan Haskell around 1994 or so, and asked her point blank (and in a way only the surly teenagerI was at the time would!) what she thought of the fact that people wanted Marty and Todd together, and that the show seemed to be going that way. She replied with the EXACT same words that you started off this column with… “it’s disgusting”.

    Marlena says: Always great to hear from you, Liz! If Ms. Haskell was saying “disgusting” then you can imagine the words she’s using for Marty and Todd’s current … what ever it is!

  25. This storyline is not only disgusting and sickening, it is downright offensive. How many times does Marty have to be raped? Their was the gang rape, then testifying about it, Todd attempted to rape her behind Rodi’s and Luna stopped him. And now this. Whatever TPTB think could turn into some great story with this, they are sadly mistaken. The line was crossed. Thank you, ABC for slapping every sexual assault survivor (because we are not victims) in the face.

    Marlena says: Tishy, I cannot tell you how much I value this letter. You say it all!!!!! Thank you, always and always.

  26. I think that this story is about Todd’s psychosis.

    Todd pulled his life together, more or less, after raping Marty and terrorizing Nora. He learned how to be a member of a family (two, really: Viki’s family, and his family with Blair). He still had emotional problems and some horrifying behavior patterns (manipulation of the people around him), but he was strong enough to face up to the ghost of Victor Lord and to ‘integrate’ his own violent tendencies into a stronger Todd.

    However, the past few years have left Todd shellshocked. He was kidnapped and raped by Margaret; he was sentenced to death, and ‘died’; he learned he had a son and had to take on half of the people he knew to be able to raise the child, and then immediately lost custody of the boy because of a driving accident.

    He feels, rightly, that he has been a victim of horrible circumstance in recent years, and the people he cares about have not stood by him in ways that make him feel safe. As a result, his sense of himself has slipped backwards, to a time where there were no rules that he had to follow. He has regressed to his younger, more brutal self, and he is re-enacting his most notorious act.

    This story is about how damaged Todd is: how a man can go through hell and find himself no longer able to trust the people around him, or the life he’s created. In a way, his story parallels Brody’s: a found son, taken away, resulting in a reversion to a previous history of violence. These are not admirable men, but I am guardedly interested in what this story tells us about Todd, about redemption, about whether an adult can truly escape the monstrous child within.

    I suspect/assume that with an actress as strong as Susan Haskell, we will be exploring Marty’s point of view down the road. How that will work, I don’t know. I don’t think it will end with Todd being killed: I am again guardedly optimistic that OLTL has a plan for having these stories (Todd’s and Marty’s) unfold in ways that could be gripping.

    Marlena says: Since this letter claims an advanced knowledge of psychology, I’ve asked our Soap Shrink, Damon Jacobs, to respond. Damon is a professional therapist and longtime OLTL viewer.

    Damon says: Thank you for your reply Hedda, but with all due respect I must disagree with your analysis.

    First — Todd suffers from neurosis, not psychosis, ie, he is not actively hallucinating or experiencing bizarre delusions.

    Second – What exactly constitutes “pulling his life together?” After terrorizing Nora, he still tried to rape Marty again (resulting in Luna hitting him with the lead pipe that caused the scar on his cheek when RH played him). He still emotionally abused Blair and Tea, he still held 14 people hostage at the Buchanan cabin by tying explosives to himself (1998). And, what I find to be the most horrific crime, he sold off baby Jack for adoption and told Blair that her newborn son had died (2001). This isn’t even mentioning all the fights, attempted kidnappings of his children, the time he hit Tea (1998), and killing Guy Armitage by blowing up his yacht AND framing Patrick Thornhart for the crime (1997).

    Third – When was this time that Todd followed any sort of rules? When did he ever trust others? In order to “regress” one must first grow up! From my perspective, there has been no growth, there has been no change, there has been no evolving of scruples or conscience. He has ONLY apologized for his actions when it somehow served as a means to an ends. And to compare Todd’s cold-hearted violence to Brody’s war-induced PTSD does a huge disservice to vets.

    In short, Todd is no victim. This is not a story of being pushed to the brink by circumstance. This is an illustration of how a sociopath justifies his criminal behaviors. I encourage you and Thinking Fans not to buy into it.

  27. The rape PSA after Thursday’s episode seemed particularly out of place, given what the show depicted that day. But I’m wondering now if the writers were giving us a clue about how the event will be characterized in the future — as Todd’s second rape of Marty.

    If so, they’re writing themselves into a pretty small corner with Todd.

    As for the lack of concern here for Marty, I think Susan Haskell created one of the greatest characters on the show the first time around. But we haven’t gotten that Marty back, because she’s not herself.

    Marty was a rich kid with a giant hole in her heart due to familial neglect and a desperate need to be loved. (Did Aunt Kiki ever come back from summering in Europe?) The new Marty’s a blank slate, an entirely passive and uninformed character. It’s hard to be invested in that, beyond a desire that she learn the truth and become herself again.

    Marlena says: Rogers, when I wrote in my answer to your last letter, “Who is watching out for Marty?” I was referring to the people/letter writers who could respond to the letter writers here who like this story and/or to defend Todd. These defenders are (coincidentally?) all male who seem to care about Todd and his psyche more than the fact that Marty has been raped, and is now being victimized again by the very same criminal. I’m convinced none of the men at the network or the show could care less about the wrongness of in effect raping a woman who has already been raped. And it’s incredulous to me my male readers whom I love CAN”T GRASP that this is in effect a hate crime against a woman, and it should never have been broadcast on a soap opera. We need strong voices to speak out about Marty’s victimization, the harm to her psyche — again and again and again.

  28. Ex OLTL fan says:

    I have stopped watching OLTL because of this storyline. It is the most disgusting storyline One life to Life has ever done and it has completely turned me off. I’m done with soap operas.

  29. As a nearly 30-year viewer of OL, this is the story that made me turn it off for good. When I saw how the wind was blowing this summer, I deprogrammed the Tivo. This story has a definite male tint to it – evidenced by the heavily male defending comments here and on other forums on the web. Written, produced and sanctioned by males, I must wonder if there was a single female voice in all this who stood up and asked why any WOMAN would be attracted to this story? What is its purpose? IMO it’s just pure exploitation of the most vile kind.

    Even more vile is the ‘explanation’ from both SH and RC that it’s perfectly legit because she has amnesia. HE doesn’t! And unfortunately for them, neither do I. I had been teetering with this show for a while, but this sent me over the edge. I’m gone and I’m not coming back. ABC Daytime seems to have lost its ability (desire?) to write stories that attract an educated female audience.

    I also wonder at those who say the ‘second act’ of payback will make it all worthwhile. Really? Even if Todd were killed because of this – which we all know isn’t happening – it would hardly erase the memory of this nonsense. I would also point out that OL does not have a good history of playing out ‘payback’ stories. Stories are dropped midstream or just ignored as a routine course with these people. Wasn’t Todd supposed to have ‘learned’ from his near death experience with the execution? Yeah, that went well…

    Marlena says: Bravo, bravo, bravo. I wish I could send this letter directly to Frons, Valentini and Ron! And that all my readers who like the story would read this letter over a couple of times because it VERY clearly mirrors all my arguments and feelings against this atrocious piece of soap opera.

  30. Hi Marlena,

    Longtime fan and admirer.

    While the “legit” press is goose stepping to Fronie’s turn referring to the re-rape of Marty as sex or worse making love, I’m happy to see the internet soap press is keeping it real. I have nothing more to add, your post clearly states my anger and gall at what is happening. I can’t help but be upset with Susan Haskell, it is unfair but I thought she once said this would never happen. Now I wonder what will happen next if they would let this happen? What next? Marty saves Todd with her undying wuv, Marty gets pregnant? Would Fronsie find a way to put this couple together regardless of fan rage and will the actors let it happen? At this point my 20 years of watching OLTL and soaps are at an end.

  31. Hello, I’ve always enjoyed your columns although this is the first time I’m being brave enough to comment. Well, I will be the lone dissenter and say that I am surprised by the current outrage given all the other mysoginistic awful things Todd has done. This is the type of character that should never have survived his original story. And yet, the same fans that have excused the original rape, the dead baby lies, the murders/attempted murders are horrified by the current story and I’m somewhat baffled.

    I have seen fans fight over Todd/Blair, Todd/Tea, Todd/Evangeline and so on and so forth. Anytime one dared to bring up Todd the rapist, you were told to leave it in the past and how the love of woman A, B, C had redeemed him. The story was told by Dena Higley that a character like Cristian could barely compete with Todd on the basis of how much money was in their wallets, NOT on the essence of the characters. I never understood the argument that other women could be with him as long as it was not Marty. Would anyone really be OK if their mother or sister fell for a gang rapist as long as she was not on the receiving end of his malice? And I bet that even after what happened, fans will be driven back to Todd/Blair, Todd/Tea or Todd/Evangeline if the writers decide to revive any of those couples. Sad, but true.

    Todd as a viable romantic character has always been disgusting and an insult to women. Supposedly strong women fighting over his affections and defending him has always been degrading. The current story did not make him worse, it just reinforced what we already knew about him. In a strange way, I feel that RC just kept it real.

    The only way it could have been a little different and a little better would have been for someone like Caitlin to have been in that penthouse. A complete stranger with no idea of the monster he is. I think I could have accepted that, if only to see John squirm. LOL!

  32. It’s all for shock value. Ron C is probably as happy as everyone. He knew what he was doing, IMO. He set the story in motion.

  33. The only person in the original rape story that the audience had known and cared about a long time was Kevin, who was falsely accused of being one of the rapists. Marty has been on OLTL for a couple of years, but she wasn’t exactly loved by the audience. Her lies about Andrew Carpenter didn’t make her the most sympathetic resident of Llanview.

    I feel they went too far in this plot with the sex and the fall out most likely won’t be worth it. Having Marty being abused again isn’t my idea of entertainment. At least they didn’t go as far as Todd marrying Marty, but that’s about the only positive I can come up with from the top of my head. Then again if Marty had married Todd, she may have been able to take away his fortune, but even that, wouldn’t be a bad enough punishment.

    Marlena says: Thanks for the history lesson, Blossy! I love your comment that at least they didn’t have Todd and Marty get married. I think after all those marriages and divorces from Blair, she’d definitely have wrested most of his money away from him anyway.

  34. I may be in the minority; but, I am loving the storyline between Todd and Marty. I know right from wrong, and I am loving every part of this storyline that has happened so far.

    I am hoping that Todd and Marty come to an understanding, and I would definitely stop watching One Life to Live if they wrote it that Marty had Todd killed.

    Marlena says: I respect your opinion. But tell Marlena, are you male or female?

  35. You mentioned what I most fear and that is that TPTB in charge of this story have somehow convinced themselves that this isn’t rape. During the original storyline, I at least knew that the writers understood that what they portrayed was rape. This time I think that it isn’t just Todd who has convinced himself that what’s on screen is consensual. It’s not. This is rape. It may be prettied up for consumption but rape is about power and control, and what Todd has is a rapist’s wet dream. He has his victim under his complete and total control. He he has all of the knowledge and all of the power. He can twist his victim into thinking all sorts of things, and then in the most gagworthy bit through all of this misdirection he has his victim praise and beg him to do this to her. But — cluebus ABC — this is not informed consent! Marty has brain damage. She has amnesia and being held prisoner being brainwashed and with Stockholm syndrome by her rapist. She is in a state of diminished capacity and Todd is taking advantage of it, just as he manipulated and abused a drunk Marty more than a decade ago. Todd has learned NOTHING. He has changed in no way. He’s still getting off on manipulating women, on having total control (which is the same thing feuling his desire to steal his daughter’s child). He KNOWS Marty would not consent if she was NOT in a diminished capacity and he DOES. IT. ANYWAY.

    It’s rape. And if the show does not have characters acknowledge this, if they try to make this anything but what it is, and if they do not punish Todd severely for this (at the very least he needs to be in the psyche ward as a danger to society. Although, at this point, they could kill him and I wouldn’t care). But if the show doesn’t expose this as what it is — a raping Marty AGAIN. I’m done. There’s simply no excuse for this. Non. You’re right. It’s beyond disgusting.

  36. I stopped watching OLTL several years ago, but I keep up with some of what is going on since I have a Livejournal community dedicated to a past couple, and I was totally and completely disgusted when I read about this.

    I don’t care if you’re male of female, if you like this story, there is something intrinsically wrong with your moral meter.

    Todd DID rape Marty. While she may have amnesia, he DOESN’T have amnesia. He REMEMBERS what he did to her. Rape is about power and control. Todd has ALL the power and ALL the control because HE has the memories. HE controls everyting Marty knows about her life.

    The fact that Toad, err Todd, was given a name and became such a fan hit speaks to the obvious problem with our society’s ideals of what’s morally right. It saddens me that so many woman, young and old, find rape to be something that’s okay as long as the woman forgives her rapist and falls in love with him. It’s okay for the soaps to do this with characters becase the actors have such ‘amazing’ chemistry. Please pass me the barf bag. That reason has been used ad nauseam.

    The actor being a great actor, the chemistry between the portrayers, should have nothing to do with it in a case such as a rape story.

    I believe OLTL just might have committed a ‘turkey baster’ mistake.

    Thank you for telling it like it is. Too bad the print media is too busy falling at ABC/Frons et al’s feet to print the truth about this storyline.

    It IS disgusting.

    By the way, I’m a female.

  37. The male vs. female turn of this discussion is unfortunate. Male fans aren’t the ones who yelled “rape me, Todd!” to Roger Howarth and posted the most obsessive/creepy stuff about Todd in soap forums and fan fiction sites the past decade.

    As a male, I’ve hated the romanticization of rape on soaps since Luke and Laura. I’m still waiting for Scotty to give Luke his well-deserved due. I didn’t want the Todd/Marty story to go this far. It’s gross.

    These defenders are (coincidentally?) all male who seem to care about Todd and his psyche more than the fact that Marty has been raped …

    That makes it sound as if you can’t enjoy a story where a terrible crime has taken place without being insensitive to the victim. The first attack on Marty was shockingly brutal. It’s still a story that resonates with viewers all these years later, when so many other plots have come and gone and been completely forgotten.

    I find the outcome this time around disturbing too, but I’m still holding out hope that the writers have a way to redeem it.

  38. Thank you so much for reflecting my thoughts on this unfortunate turn of events. I’ve been in a constant state of anger since this story began and all during it, I was certain, tptb would not cross that final line; but they have, haven’t they? I don’t know where the idea for this story began, but I blame everyone involved including RAINN who apparently have been working with tptb to tell this story instead of out protesting it.

    I used to be a Todd fan, I am a TSJ fan who wish him well somewhere else, because Todd MUST die. In any case it doesn’t matter what happens next, because I am officially done with OLTL. I know people say that all the time, but then resume watching down the road. Myself, I used to watch all three ABC soaps and was down to just one – OLTL.

  39. The most misogynistic aspect of this destructive and noxious storyline is that the current representation of Marty was never developed beyond that of sweet and sympathetic amnesia victim. No attempt was made in this current presentation of Marty to give her any kind of spine or personal drive. She was deliberately re-drawn as a passive recipient of every lie that Todd tossed her way. This was a bout between a monster and an empty shell. Given the situation, there was never any doubt that Todd would have his way with her. What greater victimization of a woman by a writer is there than to present her as incapable of so much as questioning her own situation.

    Todd has been raping her every day from the very moment he knew she was alive and told no one. As written, this was Todd’s story, and his alone. Marty was never an equal in it. At best, she’s been Hitchcock’s McGuffin … the thing that sets the story action in motion but really has nothing to do with it. It was conceived for the obvious and basely exploitive “victim falls for rapist” ratings value. It probably was also conceived in part as a(nother) story about Todd’s redemption.

    But as a story of Todd’s redemption, it utterly fails despite Trevor St John’s fascinating work. If Todd had told the truth from the beginning and fought with a recovering (and strong) Marty over his antagonism to Starr and Cole’s relationship and baby, the viewers might actually see a true and spirited relationship begin to develop between them. It might have actually had somewhere to go. But Todd’s exploiting of a non-equal in the situation we’ve had to squirm our way through makes this road to his redemption bumpy, unsatisfying, and offensively empty.

    The writers can no longer redeem this villain. He’s gone too far, and so has the show. Which is a genuine shame because aspects of the plot are fascinating … albeit in a maddeningly repetitious way. The plot I refer to is the baby switch which is both heart-breaking and has legs. The Marty-Todd plot is effectively over … although TPTB can always prolong it any way they want in their noxious way.

    By the way, has any soap ever so totally acknowledged its own inability to write a fresh story as OLTL with its glorious revelation that Jess-Tess-Bess is just a copycat of Viki-Niki-Jean. Hey, maybe Todd never raped Marty. Before this is over, Marty herself will probably discover that her rapist was really Rodd, whose miscreant acts will have to be made right by Godd, as we viewers say hello to the newly revealed DID condition of Todd. (Maybe Niki told Tess-Bess about the previous Llanview baby switches and she’s just copying them, too.)

    Marlena says: Fascinating observations as always, pjs. And Todd-Rodd-Godd — LOL! As you discussed your story idea suggesting Todd breaking into multiple personalities, with Godd making it all right, I howled, but I also thought — wow — the current show might actually try doing a story like this! How low this show has sunk and how very capable it is of sinking even deeper!

    I’ve also been thinking about Marty as an empty vessel all these weeks — a deliberate one! The gothic way they had her totally innocent, locked away, and wearing white nightgowns, I thought she was Christine in Phantom of the Opera — only the freak known as Phantom hadn’t once raped her and wanted only to protect her. I’ve thought whoever invented the Marty is a captive amnesiac situation was OD’ing on too much Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    I hope the Todd and Marty story is over, as you think it is and I agree Todd is not redeemable either. Neither is anyone at ABC who created this story or approved it. Doesn’t it break your heart, PJS, that the ABC daytime division we have both respected and actually worked with and the ABC soap line-up we have both watched faithfully over (a combined: nine) decades is at such an abysmal low point? PJ, perhaps we can have our last waltz — together — on the deck of the sinking Titanic?

  40. Brava, rcade… loved what you had to say…
    I, too, can also enjoy this story without being insensitive to the Marty character… and I also share the belief (hope?) that Carlivati can turn the story around…

  41. This is NOT a love story between Todd and Marty, nor is it somehow a redemption story for Todd. This is a clear-cut case of rape…a man with a violent and criminal past taking advantage of an amnesiac and former rape victim (his former rape victim).
    I hope fans defect from this show in droves and TPTB at ABC finally see the light and fire Frons, Carlivati and even Guza (GH) for the way they depict women.

    Marlena says: Indy, longtime no see! Good letter and thank you for mentioning the “G” word–Guza. I too have been thinking about GH’s headwriter-misogynist-in-residence throughout this story, plus I mentioned him as a floating, though transparent background influence in my previous column on Pratt’s tornado story on ABC . Although Guza doesn’t write for ABC and OLTL, hatred of women is very much alive and spreading to all the ABC soaps. It’s beyond merely disgusting!

  42. The character of Todd was only redeemed by two things in his life: his love for Blair and his children. Now he has failed at both. This story went too far, and makes me sick to my stomach. Anne Sweeney needs to resign, for allowing this story to play out. They’re ruined Todd for Blair, and Marty for John. Nobody will root for a reunion of either couple. Somebody needs to be fired and I’m not afraid to use the F word. Frankie and Fronsie need to hit the unemployment line.

    Marlena says: I forgot about Anne Sweeney!

    Unfortunately, nobody at OLTL is going to lose their job, unless the ratings go into a nosedive. I have a feeling no one at the networks has any regard for morality or feminist principles anymore.

  43. Thank you for respecting my opinion, it is much appreciated. In answer to your question, I am female. Why do you ask?

    Marlena says: It’s nothing personal. I had just previously noted that all the female posters who wrote were against the story. Now you are the one who is for it. Most men seem to like the story, although we have three or four male posters who are strongly against it. How does overall opinion for this story breaks down along gender lines? I’m still trying to figure this out.

  44. Hmmm, that would be interesting to see how the overall opinion varies among genders, as well as age groups. Thank you for your response. 🙂

  45. I agree completely with pjs. This storyline has been an on-going rape. Disgusting and vile, it has NO possible redemption. The idea of viewing this as entertainment or a “social issue” is laughable. The prurient nature of the vulnerable female who is at the mercy of a ‘misunderstood, troubled’ captor is repulsive. I stopped watching GH when they killed off Georgie. I stopped watching OLTL when it be came apparent that they were going to exploit the ‘chemistry’ of the two actors. AMC is hanging by a thread on my TIVO. I am a woman and salute Marlena’s column on this. You have always been a ‘thinking Critic’!! Stick to it, girl!!

    Marlena says: Thank you so much for your profound compliment. It’s an honor to serve my Thinking Fans!

  46. A former fan says:

    Thank you Marlena for your column. I am appalled at what they’ve done on this show and I wanted to write this note to you to provide the perspective that has not been mentioned. I am a rape survivor and though the first rape of Marty Saybrooke sent a horripilation through my body, I did watch it because it was told from the responsible point of view that rape is a brutally unacceptable violent crime.

    It was always conveyed Todd was a monster and that Marty the rape victim would triumph over the perpetrators so every day I watched, I waited knowing that the evil villain would be punished accordingly. Though the perspective of the instigator was eventually explored to my chagrin, I admit I found myself “learning” about the psychological aspect of the offender through Todd’s character that at least made his presence tolerable onscreen.

    At this point in time, I have to say that this story was borne out of irresponsible storytelling. From the moment Marty Saybrooke’s character returned to Llanview and they explored the dynamics of having Marty’s offspring engage in sexual relations with the offspring of Todd, I knew that we were on a train to nowhere but hell.

    It is all so totally contrived and despicable that nothing here falls within the confines of organic storytelling. They engineered this entire storyline arch to shock and awe the audience. Well, I guess they forgot that some of us can shock and awe them by turning it off. I’ve finally had to say good-bye to Llanview after watching for 20 years due to this horribly irresponsible story. Not one time did they ever think about a woman’s point of view but they never took the time to understand that “many” of the woman in the audience were rape survivors. I hope they are proud of themselves.

    Marlena says: Wow! Thanks for your powerful letter! You are so right and chilling in pointing out we all should have known what was coming when Todd’s daughter slept with Marty’s son: “I knew we were all on a trip to nowhere but hell.”

  47. I am female and not in an uproar about “how dare they do this” or ranting about the misogyny of the soap, etc.

    Yes, it is disgusting. Yes, it is rape. Soaps have been telling rape stories for a long time. Honestly, I find this version of the story sort of like the accident scene you cover your face so as not to see it, but you can’t help peeking through your fingers. I am appalled by it, but I cannot deny that it is interesting, in a horrific way. Sorry.

    Marlena says: Would you watch a female friend or a relative be raped…twice? This is daytime soaps. I’ve never had to cover my eyes in 40 years of watching OLTL and I’m not about to start now!

  48. Marlena, this makes me glad I no longer watch OLTL. It IS disgusting.

    On GL, the character of Olivia Spencer had a rape in her past, which she talked about on the show a few times over the years. Then TPTB got the bright idea to rewrite Olivia’s rape to make Jeffrey her rapist (and also make both of them the parents of Ava).

    I cannot tell you how tiring it was to try to explain, over and over, why sex with a passed-out 16 year old girl was RAPE… to other WOMEN who insisted it was not. Olivia knew what she was doing, I was told, by going to a pary and drinking. She was lying down and kissing Jeffrey, so it wasn’t rape. Never mind Olivia’s own recollection that she passed out and later woke up undressed, raped, and pregnant. See, by kissing Jeffrey as she was lying down, I was told, that was “consent” for sex.

    But because it was Jeffrey, his fans refused to believe he had raped Olivia – even though the event was used to blackmail him by Ditkins.

    I was disgusted when Olivia actually apologized to adult Jeffrey (apparently for putting herself in his orbit as a drunk teen), and was further disgusted when it seemed that Olivia was actually pursuing Jeffrey romantically. That made no sense at all and was not only misogynistic, but insulting to all women (and anyone, really, who believed he had raped Olivia 20+ years before). Please, soap writers, understand this – no real woman gets the hots for the man who raped her, ever!

    The only reason I’m still a GL viewer was because that story was dropped, thank goodness.

    Marlena says: I did see the black and white flashbacks of the Olivia rape on GL, but I missed the rest of the story. Sounds awful. I’ve never been a fan of Jeffrey (or as I always call the actor who plays him, Bradley Cole “that bad Richard Chamberlain imitator”) but I can see how his fervant fans couldn’t believe he was a rapist — because he was “good looking” and “charming” probably. Oh horsefeathers!

    Can I repeat a line from your letter that I loved: “Please, soap writers, understand this — no real woman gets the hots for the man who raped her, ever!” (And please readers don’t try to remind me about GH’s Luke and Laura. Circa 1980, ABC Daytime maintained that the rape was a really “seduction,” remember?)

  49. I totally agree that the story is disgusting and I wondered where in the world could the writers be going with it.

    Okay. Marty has amnesia. When she asked Todd for sex, she didn’t realize that he had raped her. Conversely, Todd knew about his history with Marty, so in essence, he raped her a second time.

    Tea is returning to the show, so will Marty charge Todd with rape and will Tea defend Todd? What Todd did is litigious, but in the real world, would it fly with the courts?

    Marlena says: I wish I knew an attorney to ask. But it’s a soap opera! If the writers wants to try Todd they will whether itl’s legal or not. And only on a soap can someone’s ex-wife prosecute him! Congrats Tess on psyching out the show well enough to predict that lawyer/Todd’s ex-wife Tea will be made a part of this mess. Personally I’m done with OLTL after the Todd and Marty sex. It literally has made me emotionally upset! Too bad I love writing this column and will have to monitor the damn show as a part of that responsibility.

  50. Notice how all TODD is talking about is himself … how HE feels, how HE’S changed, how this has been so good for HIM …

    He still has *no concept* of MARTY’s point of view … or that she even *HAS* a point of view!

    He hasn’t learned a damn thing.

  51. Dear Marlena/Connie,

    I feel a little awkward commenting, but after 25 years of soap-watching—and feeling as though I’ve seen plenty—I might as well fess up.…

    I haven’t watched “One Life to Live” in months (scanning one’s channel lineup, stopping for a moment on my Detroit/ABC affiliate at 2 pm ET—on a given weekday—does not count as “viewing”)! But from what little I’ve seen—and from what I’ve read not only of Marlena’s/Connie’s but others’ reactions—well, I’m glad I’m not regularly following it.

    This is not just an insult—this Todd-and-Marty “thing” is dangerous and unnecessary. Cheap, as well. To “One Life’s” health. But it’s all that—to me—because it’s essentially saying, “Yes, we know we ‘may’ alienate ‘some’ viewers. But we’re risktakers!” And I’m thinking, “No. You’re not ‘risktakers’. You are a**h***s! And you’re coming across as if you’re wanting to kill the soap.” (Perhaps that’s the real motivation. I have questioned that with other soaps in most recent years—like with “All My Children’s” Erica’s unabortion that spawned the usless Josh Madden figure—that do no good and, ultimately, lowballs the audience. Which, in turn, undermines the trust between the soap and its audience. For some this is, apparently, not a problem.)

    This latest Todd-and-Marty story (a force of evil, he orchestrated her 1993 gang-rape) is marginalizing history—for dramatic stunt—and it has me telling myself, “You’re missing nothing! Good thing for one to have moved on.”

    Marlena says: Bless you, darling, as always. What you have written here is EXACTLY what has been going through my head. I fell so insulted, downright betrayed that the show I have been watching for decades has CHOSEN to say “to hell with you (and all women and veteran watchers)– we’re more interested in attracting an audience with no moral sensitivities and a taste (even covert) for female degradation.” Which is similiar to what all soaps started to do about a decade ago: they said “to hell with you intelligent viewers — we’re only going to do shows with stupid characters and titillating plots to attract a younger, dumber audience.” And then the bulk of the soap audience fled!

    Anyway, DSO, you are not missing much by not watching OLTL. The drama is very superficial. Its aim is cheap thrills. When you’ve lost the women and veteran viewer audience, you’ve also lost the real heart of the show!

  52. This was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen on a soap in quite awhile, and that’s saying something. It was so foul. So rank. This wasn’t a “date rape.” This wasn’t a ‘misunderstanding.’


    It was ugly. It was brutal. It was disgusting. It was beyond words.

    I just can’t even understand the ‘higher-ups’ at ABC Daytime who didn’t say, HELL NO to this.

    Is there NOTHING that can offend anymore?

    Why hasn’t someone lost their job over this?

    This was a punch in the gut. There was nothing “romantic” about them. It was so creepy. I just knew that it would stop before they would violate Marty like that, but they didn’t. It was disgusting, and yet, that’s too kind a word.

    Marlena said: Sip! So great to hear from you. I’m so glad you feel the same way as I do about OLTL. Remember all those years ago (ten? twelve?) when you were the first one who tried to convince me of what a woman hater (GH headwriter) Bob Guza was? And I wrote a column about it and lifetime “liberal” (then GH executive producer) Wendy Riche flipped out? Those were the days, my friend. I hope you’ll assist again in my upcoming anti-ABC Daytime campaign against this Todd-Marty atrocity.

  53. Hi,

    I am female and I have very much enjoyed the Todd and Marty storyline. I am not outraged by it at all. They are simply the two best actors in this group right now and know exactly what they are doing. I do not see this as a romance but as gothic tragedy of what might from Todd’s perspective. Now of course this week it all shattered like the writers told you from the beginning it would. Each time Todd crossed a line that he should not have with Marty you new the devastation for both characters would increase. Now we get to watch Haskell and St.John rebuild these characters which I look forward to. While I do understand the distastefulness, I am amazed at most peoples lack of understanding and impatience with this story.

    Marlena says: My late dad, Cosmo, who was Italian, often used an expression which fits here: “Saus-seage his own.”

  54. Ok i am a female and not really a soap watcher. I think the later fact : i am not a soap watcher can explain why i like this story. I am not interested in fairytale, good boy/good girl together, hero who save damsell in distress against the uber i am not very fond of the soap opera genre.
    But i can be interested when there are : challenging, controversial, dark maybe even gothic story with good actors drawn by an undeniable chemistry, who play complex characters with conflicted feelings.
    I think we are not agree about this storyline because simply we doesn’t want the same things.

  55. Holy Crap, I can’t believe how much this post helps! Although, it would be uselful if you could go into a bit more detail. Is there a site I can get further information? Thanks for posting and please continue to share your cool insight with the internet.

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