So long and thanks for all the Kish

In my Weekly blog and my column, I’m always talking about how much I love a slow-building love story and, lately, I’ve been using One Life to Live‘s Kyle and Fish as my example for that trope. In fact, I’ve been giving them a lot of kudos, and even got a little Twitter-happy about actor Brett Claywell‘s performance this week. Yeah, my Kish love is getting out of hand…because yesterday and today’s episodes have only cemented just how deftly head writer Ron Carlivati and his team are handling this story.

The funny thing about Kyle and Fish, though, is that they’re not actually a slow-building love story… they’re a love story that’s already happened, and the audience is picking it up in progress, in medias res. How cool is that? So the slow-as-molasses storytelling that’s making me tune in is actually more about 1)unfolding their past and how it affects their present and 2)acclimating OLTL viewers to a same-sex storyline, as ATWT and AMC have done before them. (The less said about Y&R‘s atrocious Rafe/Adam downlow game of fully-dressed Parcheesi and the non-story of Phillip III’s Big Gay Australian Adventure, the better.)

I’m cautiously optimistic about Kyle and Fish…mostly because I accept that they’re a C-string story on OLTL and am not outraged by the lack of airtime. They’re not part of the core families and as much as I heart them, I wouldn’t have as much fun, as much anticipation, if this story was being beaten like a dead horse five days a week like some others. coughRex/Gigi/Stacycough. I’m also cautiously optimistic because Ron Carlivati knows what he’s doing. He’s one of the few head writers in daytime who actually gets diversity and writes minority characters like people. (Novel thought, isn’t it? That we’re just normal folks?) He knows how to tell a story that’s not just a gay story or a Latin story or a black story…and yet IS all of those things at the same time. That’s a quality that GH: Night Shift season two head writer Sri Rao had as well. (And why that man is not currently writing for a daytime soap, I will never know.) Shady but sincere Kyle, tragically repressed Fish, Layla wanting to find the right man and ignoring that gut instinct that’s already told her the truth about Oliver, well-meaning, doofus-y Cristian. They’re a great group of characters, of people you’d actually want to hang out with if they were real.

That’s the kind of writing I appreciate, that I applaud… and that I wish I saw more of on my favorite shows.

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14 thoughts on “So long and thanks for all the Kish

  1. Thanks Mala for the great article. I appreciate your take on this. Too many writers think they have to write “ethnic” for non-white characters or write “gay” for non-straight characters instead of just writing a story and letting the characters be. It makes such a huge difference when you approach the characters as people instead of “types”. Then the storylines built can be built around the character’s lives and not the plot or point or whatever.

    I’m really enjoying the Kyle and Oliver story and I’m very optimistic. I’ve been a longtime viewer of OLTL and they do a really good job of writing good story.

    Cheers,
    Vern in SF

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    • You’re welcome, Vern, and thank you! I’m a huge believer in stories coming organically from characters. Yes, it’s obviously great to have a story arc in mind, but if your characters aren’t rich and realized and rootworthy, then the story is going to fall apart or ring hollow for viewers. And the fact that OLTL brought these four people together this way was pretty genius and lacking in contrivance.

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  2. Mala,

    Great blog on the Kish storyline, and thanks for the coughing fit when it comes to Rex and Gigi. Stick a fork in it. That storyline is over. The date on that milk carton is expired, and you don’t want to open that carton up without a gas mask.

    The problem with OLTL right now is that it has too many storylines and it takes forever for any of them to build because of that problem, and unfortunately core characters are being thrown under the bus. It’s criminal that Erika Slezak is being used for window dressing these days.

    RC and company need to realize that thanks to sites like Youtube, the average attention span is no more than about 8 minutes for a youtube video to tell a story. They need to move things along (do we really need David Vickers to keep breezing through Llanview and taking up story time every time Tuc wants to show up for while) or they’re going to lose enthusiastic viewers who are new to OLTL.

    That being said, Go, Kish! It’s a storyline way overdue.

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    • It’s really odd for me, because I don’t necessarily think OLTL needs to speed up for the sake of new viewers. I think you lose something if you go too fast, characterization gets sacrificed and so does story.

      B&B and World Turns, both of which I do adore, move way too fast and utilize only a set number of characters at a time. I’m always itching for them to chill out and slow down a bit and take six months to tell a story instead of six days. With OLTL moving at less of a clip, there’s time for stories be unfolded and told well, and everyone in the cast pops up once in a while because there’s not such a rush to get a story over with.

      I do think we need more core characters shown, but in comparison to some of the other soaps, OLTL probably has the best balance of noobs vs. vets. Not to mention the fact that they pay as much attention to their cast over 40 as they do to their 18 year olds. They just need to figure out what they’re doing with their 20-30-somethings, because you’re right, it’s time to clean out the fridge!

      The key is to draw in new viewers, but remember what old viewers want as well.

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    • Thanks! And Kish is definitely great. I wouldn’t call them the best thing on daytime, just because it’s a bit much for ANY couple to be given that designation (not to mention a whole lot of pressure for the show to keep meeting the standard), but they, along with Bo and Nora, are what drew me back to OLTL.

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  3. Great write up Mala. Kish has some much potential. Too bad GL’s Olivia and Natalia’s story ended up on such a mucked up note. So much wasted potential with that storyline.

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  4. Thanks!

    And Olivia and Natalia aren’t over yet! There’s still a month left!

    I know a lot of fans aren’t happy with their story, but I’m still invested in what’s coming up when Jessica Leccia returns.

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  5. Well said, Mala! The fact that these characters are gay is a part of their story, to be sure…but you could remove that aspect and the story would still work. That’s a credit to Carlivati and his team, to be sure.

    And it’s just plain engaging! Kudos to all involved, especially Claywell and Evans.

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  6. Thanks, George! And I totally echo your kudos. It’s all about creating a story about people, not just their sexual orientation, and that’s what Claywell and Evans and Carlivati and his team have accomplished so far. Here’s hoping they can sustain it!

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  7. True Mala. I have to say I never been so happy for a character’s return than JL. The 1st scenes between Natalia and Olivia are going to be fire! I haven’t given up on the storyline yet just a little frustrated with it.

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