Daytime’s true colors aren’t shining through

Yesterday, for the first time in years, we had a black leading man highlighted on daytime: U.S. President Barack Obama, on The View. Yes, folks, in order to have a full hour devoted to a black man in daytime programming, to have a voice and tell a story on the front burner, he has to be the most powerful elected official in our country. “Post-racial,” my ass!

This was the absurd series of thoughts that was running through my head this morning…that soaps are a truly fascinating microcosm of society and yet, the seven shows we have on air do not represent current American society in the least. A genre that helped women realize they had places outside the home and validity outside the traditional two-parent household, that featured integration and AIDS education and cancer awareness…has fallen behind in mirroring what this nation has become. We have one significant leading man of color: Maurice Benard as General Hospital‘s Sonny. One. And his half-Cuban (God forbid he be wholly Cuban!) character is an unrepentant mobster. Um…whoo-hoo? Yay? All My Children‘s Hubbard family, The Young and the Restless‘ Winters and Days of our Lives’ Carvers barely rate airtime unless they’re in scenes with white characters. Latin characters are few and far between as well: Days‘ Hernandez family will soon be losing a member, when Arianna is written off; AMC jettisoned the Santoses, and Y&R‘s Rafe holds the trifecta of being Latin, gay and seldom seen. And Asians…? Please. In the 32 years I’ve been watching soaps, there has been one contract Indian character on soaps…Dr. Saira Batra, and she was on GH: Night Shift. Can you imagine CNN telling Sanjay Gupta he could only have a significant role after 11 PM? GH‘s Kelly Lee is a glorified dayplayer. Y&R‘s Ji Min Kim was killed off. I mean, I could go on and on listing the examples of diversity fail…but listing it does no good. Someone has to change it.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

Is the Daytime Emmy Awards broadcast already upon us Gasp! That means it’s time for my 3rd Annual Mala’s Made-Up Awards. For those just tuning in to my blog, this is where I totally punk out of making Emmy predictions, because I have no ability to pick winners! Making up awards instead is much more up my alley! (Check Aug. 28, 2009, for last year’s, and June 20 for 2008’s!) 

Most Entertaining Show: B&B and DAYS.
Best Surprise Couple: ATWT’s Barbara and Henry, B&B’s Stephen and Pam, and DAYS’ Victor and Maggie.
Best Couple That The Show Reaaaally Wants Us To Like: GH’s Dante and Lulu.
Best New Character: ATWT’s Reid Oliver (like I was going to say anything else?).
Best New Character Played By a Soap Vet: Dahlia Salem as GH’s Claire.
Best Recast:Marcy Rylan as Y&R’s nuAbby.
Guest Appearance I Will Never Get Tired Of: Snoop Dogg being on OLTL.
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: GH’s Ethan. Yes, I actually like him now. Don’t die of shock!
I Think I’m a Clone Now: ATWT’s Gabriel and AMC’s Damon. Seriously, they’re the same character…with the same hair!
Best Love Scene: OLTL’s Kyle and Fish’s New Year’s Eve fireworks!
Most Trauma-inducing Love Scene: B&B’s Oliver and Brooke.
Most Memorable Line of the Year: B&B’s Stephanie and, “Say hello to Beth for me!”
Biggest Jerkface: OLTL’s Ford.
The Miranda Montgomery Cutest Baby Award: DAYS’ Sydney.
Biggest Waste of Potential: OLTL’s Schuyler being made Roxy’s son and then being shipped off canvas!
Best Realization of Potential:Lexi Ainsworth as GH’s Kristina. She has really come into her own.
Most Froth-inducing Storyline: GH’s Sonny shooting an unarmed Dante in the chest, GH’s Michael getting maybe-or-maybe-not-raped in prison.
Best Social Issue Storyline: B&B’s Sandy/Aggie’s rape reveal.
The Paging-Clone-Reva WTH?! Award: ATWT’s Mick Dante.
I Would Watch It On a Loop: OLTL’s Kyle or Fish holding baby Sierra Mist.
Most Missed Veteran: AMC’s David Canary (Adam).
The Chester-the-Molester Skeevy Pairing Award: OLTL’s Langston and Ford.
The Dorian Gray Portrait-in-the-Attic Award: GH’s Jonathan Jackson (Lucky).
The I Want To Give Brody Lovett An Award Award: OLTL’s Brody.
Best Use of History: ATWT’s Bob and Kim’s non-iversary/remarriage, DAYS’ Alice’s death arc and all the family returns during it.
Worst Rewrite of History: ATWT’s Lily, Lucinda and Sierra keeping Craig’s illegitimate son, Gabriel, from him.
Best Death: B&B’s Ann. It was Betty White, dude. Come on.
Worst Death: AS THE WORLD TURNS. Duh.
Best Return: ATWT’s Simon coming back to comfort Katie. (Come baaaaaack, Simon!)
Most Unsurprising Return: Y&R’s Adam.
Worst Return: OLTL’s Mitch Laurence.
Biggest Unsolved Mysteries: Why no one runs into OLTL’s Kyle or Fish at Llanview’s hospital or police station, where ATWT’s Jade has disappeared to and why B&B’s Brooke doesn’t know Ridge’s body intimately after all this time.

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Baby I love your way

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that I love soap opera babies. And while I’ve definitely been more vocal about it in the past year, I’ve always enjoyed watching cute kids steal scenes. So, in mostly chronological order, here are ten of my favorite daytime darlings. This is by no means a definitive list, because I could go on and on…

GH’s Lucas. Check him out in 1990, with Tony and Sean, starting around the 4:40 mark. That little face! This story was 20 years ago now, and I still remember this kid. I think he went on to guest star on several sitcoms after his stint on GH.

AMC’s Miranda. Little boys played Bianca’s daughter for as long as the show could justify her not having much hair. They’re definitely on my top five “cutest of all time,” list and I was bereft when AMC recast!

GH’s Cameron. A few babies played Elizabeth’s tyke, including one many viewers fondly referred to as “Bighead Baby Cam,” but Ashwyn Bagga’s “Desi Cam” was my favorite. (I could build a whole post around how half-Asian babies are the most representation we get on daytime, LOL.) Love his little eyebrows!

ATWT’s Johnny. I only seem to be able to find clips of this kid sleeping, but I swear he did more than that! This footie pajama-clad cutie made a heartbreaking baby switch storyline a little easier to bear.
GL’s Sarah. Not only was she full of personality, but Sarah absolutely looked like Tom Pelphrey (Jonathan) could be her father, and they had a beautiful rapport.

GH’s Emma, with bonus Cameron and Jake. The hair clip! The total chillin’ on Patrick’s lap! The girls who play Emma are just beautiful. I mean, there’s just a whole lotta cute in this scene.

Days’ Sydney. There’s a reason they built an entire story arc around the Sinnema twins. They are total stars. LOL. I also think Sydney has the best suspicious expression in all of daytime. Just look at how she gives new big bro Johnny the stink-eye.

Y&R’s Delia. Genoa City’s littlest fashionista can wrap playboy daddy Billy —and everyone else — around her finger. And, oh my gosh, someone has actually done Delia fan vids. Here is a birthday tribute to the triplets who play her.

Y&R’s Faith. Faith has these big ol’ expressive eyes, and she’s such a talker. Here, she plays with Nick’s tie and his cuffs, while babbling away. I choose to believe she was telling him and Sharon she’d rather watch soaps than baseball.

OLTL’s Sierra Rose. Soda Pop, Sierra Mist, the Guppy…she’s got all kinds of names, and Oliver’s daughter is a total scene stealer, even when she’s sleepy.I love her playing with Fish’s fingers in this clip and how obviously comfortable she is with both guys.

Feel free to share some of your own favorite babies in the comments!

Following the Light

Since Guiding Light wrapped up on Sept. 18, I’ve been following the official Telenext Media Twitter account for Mindy Lewis ( or @melindasuelewis), and it has gone a long way in soothing the sting of the show being canceled. Not just because it picks up where the show left off, but because whoever is writing it  is doing such a fantastic job. (I should really find that out, shouldn’t I? My guess would be Alina Adams, who co-wrote Jonathan’s Story and authored the As the World Turns‘ tie-in novels Oakdale Confidential and The Man From Oakdale. If I’m right, I’ll buy myself a cookie.)

Mindy’s Twitter is the Bauer-centric GL that many wish we’d had in recent years. We’re “seeing” more of Mindy, Rick and Mel, of Leah, than we have in a long time. And their closest friends and family play a major part, too. Phillip and Beth, Bill, Jonathan and Lizzie’s co-parenting conflicts with Sarah and Lizzie’s new baby, Alana…it’s all just gorgeous stuff. And more than once I’ve found myself tearing up. Mindy’s recounting of her wedding to Rick was beautiful and, then, this week, Mindy tweeted about Leah’s issues at school. With a high IQ and a lot to live up to in terms of a Bauer legacy and a mom who is both a doctor and a lawyer, Leah lashed out at Rick for trying to force her into a gifted program. “I’m already a minority, Dad. You force me into the gifted program, and I’ll be a minority within a minority. No way. I’m not doing it,” she said on October 16, whirling on Mindy to add, “I hear you’re planning on having a baby. Maybe IT can be your trophy show pony of a genius…. At least he or she won’t have to go through their whole life in Springfield hearing: ‘But how can YOU be one of THOSE Bauers, you’re…’ ”

Ouch. Ouch. And BRILLIANT. That seriously punched me in the gut and made me ache to see Rick, Mindy and Leah have this out onscreen. How amazing would that have been, instead of seeing Leah languish on the backburner after they went to the trouble of SORAS-ing her? They de-aged Daisy to put her in the teen set again, spent ages investing in her love life — Grady, need I say more?– and yet we had to wait for a Twitter account to explore Leah growing up biracial?

But you know what…? I’m glad to have it, and to have it as GL canon.

So, to whoever is tweeting for Mindy, thank you. Thank you for giving us Lizzie in labor, Leah in conflict, and blue skies and Palomino ponies. Thank you for telling such beautiful stories and for keeping the Light on.

Calgon take me away…to daytime.

Today was a great day of soap. Of quintessential soap. Beginning with the end of Guiding Light, moving on to The Bold and the Beautiful, and then capping off with great stuff on One Life to Live.

I started the day sobbing, saying farewell to a show that I’ve watched for twenty years. Some people had problems with this final week, and I have nitpicks myself (no mentions of SEVERAL key Coopers and Spauldings who are off canvas?!), but overall, it was the kind of goodbye that most longtime soap fans dream of. Happy endings all around, family and children and romance. All the losers at love finally winning. Any sour notes were from what they left out, not what they included. Everybody got closure and yet there was enough left open that you know life in Springfield will never be boring. And fantastic performances were threaded throughout the whole week. Grant Aleksander (Phillip), Ron Raines (Alan), Tina Sloan (Lillian), and Marj Dusay (Alexandra) are just a few of the stand outs. And Robert Newman (Josh) is the one who kicked off my waterworks.

I was so sad that I couldn’t even conceive of turning on another soap today, but then I remembered how invested I am in B&B and OLTL lately. B&B continues to build the romance of Bill and Katie, and their love scene today was equal parts hot and tactful. I’m prudish, and too much skin often freaks me out. I watch many of B&B’s love scenes turning crimson with embarrassment. That wasn’t the case today. It was sweet, romantic, and yet sexy. And how good were Donna and Justin dancing around the subject of Marcus’ paternity and finally stopping the footwork to just put it out there? Jennifer Gareis and Aaron D. Spears are great together.

Also great are OLTL’s twenty-somethings. I cannot say enough about how the Fish/Layla/Kyle/Cris/Nick story is playing out. Oh, hell, I’m just going to call them the Fishbowl for short, okay? So, yes, the Fishbowl today was fab. I had feared that the scenes with Oliver and his parents would be, well, a lot like the jaunty orange How To Tell Your Parents You’re Gay book: glaring, a little tacky, and an obvious prop. But they weren’t, and Fish’s father didn’t come off nearly as much of a caricature as, say, ATWT‘s Col. Mayer. The surprise hit of the ep was David Fumero, as Cristian staunchly stood up for Fish and went toe-to-toe with George as if he was the gay one and not his pal. Best. Friend. Ever. And, of course, that leading into Fish’s confession was achingly painful. Much like Layla, my instinct was to go to Fish and wrap him in a hug. Oh, Scott Evans. You rock. 

OLTL also featured a little more intimacy than hugging, when Kyle and Nick made out. I don’t want to turn it into a political statement every time a same sex couple kisses, and honestly it shouldn’t be, but go, OLTL! Good. Bravo. Treat them like anybody else…complete with a believable roadblock to them hitting the sheets: Kyle’s feelings for Oliver. I’m not one of those people who thinks a couple has to be chaste on a soap and cleave only unto each other. To me, the fact that Nick and Kyle are together only makes the anticipation for Kish all the more sweet. That’s how you tell a story.  

This was the kind of soap opera Friday that would send me rushing home from school as a kid. Must-see, skip-last-period, character-driven drama.

Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

Have you ever known me to be at a loss for words? Weird concept, right? But as GUIDING LIGHT winds down with only two episodes to go after today, I find myself scrambling to articulate how I feel about the phenomenon.

I used to rush home from school to watch GL and GH at the same time. I was a habitual channel flipper, and refused to choose one show over the other. (Yes, youngsters, this was before the advent of the DVR.) I loved Harley, and laughed and grew with that character. I watched her babysit little Marah and Shayne after Reva drove off the bridge; I saw her hook up with Josh, and then eventually go on to join the police academy and fall for her gruff instructor, A.C. Mallet. I loved bad girl Blake, first in Sherry Stringfield‘s skin and then Liz Keifer‘s. Blake and Ross’ affair was electric. There are just so many characters, so many stories, that have impacted me over the years and will stay with me forever. I can’t even list them all right now because it’s too vast, it’s too much.

Saying goodbye to Springfield is like saying goodbye to someplace I’ve lived, to my neighbors and friends. Much like Natalia clutching Rafe before he boarded the bus for boot camp today, I want to grab GL and whimper, “I don’t want you to go!”

But it’s going; the Light is going out on Friday. And even though I can’t bid adieu to Harley or Alan-Michael or Lucy or a dozen other characters who couldn’t come back for this farewell week, I cherish being able to spend this week seeking closure with the existing residents of Springfield. Bye, everyone. It’s been wonderful spending 20 years with you!


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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

I’m going to talk a little OLTL and GL today. First, can you believe there’s only five episodes of GL left? I’m in denial. DE-NI-AL. Thursday’s episode began the rapid wrap-up process, with Phillip and Alan coming out of surgery with flying colors, Jonathan returning Sarah to Lizzie (Oh my God! So much cute!) and Olivia and Emma moving back to the farm with Natalia. Oh, and babies. I remember Josh and a lot of babies. 

As much as I love seeing my Springfielders happy, it all feels so rushed and it goes back to an earlier concern I had about the last few months being bogged down by stories that didn’t need the airtime. We watched Olivia angst the entire time Nat was offscreen for Jessica Leccia‘s maternity leave. Now they’ve reunited without even kissing, and everything’s hunky-dory? At least viewers got a throwaway line about a box of Olivia’s stuff being moved into Natalia’s bedroom. And I enjoyed Josh, Reva and a room full of munchkins, as well as Jonathan reuniting Lizzie with Sarah, but after all this time, couldn’t have viewers have gotten a longer scene than Lizzie taking Sarah off for a walk while Jonathan told Bill he was willing to work something out? This is stuff that people want fleshed out, something that you’d want to savor

As I said, five episodes left. Less than five full hours. And that’s not nearly long enough to say a proper goodbye. 

On to OLTL. This week’s drug-dealing storyline ended with a much tenser note than it began on, and I loved it: Brody being a SEAL and sneaking around all stealthy and knocking out thugs…John trying to draw out Sergei. I even loved John and Bo rolling under the warehouse door, as cheesetastic as that was. It’s a bunch of good guys doing good things! It’s great when competent police officers are showcased as the heroes. And I especially appreciated that Fish is a part of the team. His role in Llanview is not simply to be The Gay Guy. He’s a cop, too, and obviously very capable of doing his job. 

I really feel like OLTL, with this character and Kyle, is realizing the potential set forth by GL and ATWT. GL had two fleshed out, fully realized characters who discovered their lesbian feelings…but couldn’t take that story the whole way to the physical realm. ATWT got Noah and Luke kissing, but hasn’t really given them stories that work or much characterization beyond their orientation. As for AMC’s Bianca, she’s had a much longer arc about her sexuality than Olivia or Luke or Fish and there’s just a whole lot of other stuff going on there. I’d be here all day, and nobody wants to read a blog entry that’s 2000 words long. LOL. 

Obviously there’s going to be some “after school special” moments when Fish comes out to his parents, but I think with the tethering of him to the Llanview PD and even to the Stacy pregnancy storyline, it bodes well for the future of organic, character-based stories about LGBT folks. 

And P.S…am I the only one who hoped that Kyle would find out Fish was involved in this tense stand-off with evildoers and rush to his side? ;-).


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