Deep Soap: Sick, Sad World

by | March 16, 2009 at 11:26 AM | Deep Soap

Suffer The Children

Sometimes bad things happen to children.  They get injured.  They get sick.  Children in peril have been the focus of some of soaps’ most memorable storylines, including Maxie’s heart transplant on General Hospital. But One Life To Live’s two-kids-in-jeopardy-at-one-time storylines strike me as gratuitous portrayals of suffering that are depressing, rather than moving.  After Friday’s episode, in which Bo and Nora learned that Matthew was paralyzed at the same time that Rex and Gigi found out that Shane has leukemia, I contemplated asking my doctor for a prescription of Zoloft.

Eddie Alderson (Matthew) and Austin Williams (Shane) are two of the most talented child actors on soaps.  They certainly have the chops to pull off meaty storylines.  I was looking forward to watching Matthew and his Joey Jeremiah hat realize that the smart, sarcastic Destiny (who has just got to be RJ’s long lost daughter) was far more interesting than the bitchy popular girl.  That would be a sweet, fun teen story.  Instead we’re going to be subjected to watching the child we have watched grow up endure Temporary Soap Paralysis.  Since the doctor already referred to the odds of Matthew walking again as “slim” rather than “non-existent”, I highly doubt we’re going to get a realistic Friday Night Lights-style plot.  I look forward to seeing Bo and Nora working together again, but surely there were more upbeat ways to thrust them into each others orbits.  They do live under the same roof.

Shane’s leukemia seems, so far, like nothing more than a plot device.  Some of the blame goes to ABC’s spoiler-happy promo department.  They ruined what would have been a genuinely surprising revelation by running ads that not only gave away the diagnosis but showed a bald post-chemotherapy Shane and Stacy blackmailing Gigi into sleeping with Rex in exchange for her bone marrow.  Thanks for killing all suspense, ABC!

When Roxie visited Rex’s comatose, presumed dead mystery father, I knew he wouldn’t turn out to be the donor.  Although Stacy’s convenient observation of Roxie entering his room makes me think she’s going to  turn out to be an annoying combo of Days of Our Lives Melanie and OLTL’s Jen Rappaport.  The show is setting us up to suspect that Rex is Mitch’s son.  However, given that the Roscoe Born will be doing a ghostly reprise of his role as Terrible Tom on The Young & The Restless , and Ron Carlivati’s penchant for utilizing obscure OLTL history, I’m going out on a tongue-in-cheek limb.  Jamie Sanders is Rex’s father.

I’m sure that juxtaposing these two children-in-peril storylines seemed like brilliant parallelism in the writer’s room.  On the screen, setting up Farrah Fath for a direct comparison with Hillary B. Smith did not do the younger actress any favors.   I longed for one of OLTL’s wacky comedic subplots.  Unfortunately, the show gave me another suffering teen: Starr crying over the revelation that her baby didn’t die of RH disease.  The only moment of happiness was Jessica kissing Brody.  That was tempered by the knowledge that she would probably soon learn that she raising Starr’s baby and her child was dead.  This episode was as dispiriting as the evening news.  GH’s famous storyline mixed the tragedy of BJ’s death with the joy of Maxie’s survival.  OLTL seems to be giving us nothing but pain.   No wonder people are tuning out.

Alvin Is No Longer The Creepiest Chipmunk

Once upon a time I thought giant furry team mascots were cute.  Then I saw that episode of CSI set at a furry convention.  My innocence was shattered.  Thanks to The Young & The Restless, I have gone from associating mascots with unusual sexual behavior to actually fearing them. Kevin’s descent into Stockholm syndrome is creeping me the hell out.  Whoever came up with the bizarre idea of having a brainwashed Kevin rob a bank while wearing a giant chipmunk head… keep on using whatever substances led you that inspiration.  I found it both darkly comic and unsettling.  Greg Rikaart has convinced me that being locked in a closet caused Kevin to regress and view his kidnapper Clint as his father.  He’s doing haunting, Emmy caliber work.  Kevin is more interesting as a sympathetic, tormented villain then a geeky Mama’s boy.  I hope this results in his long term return to the darkside.

I have to admit that when Amber recognized Chipmunk-head Kevin from security camera footage based on his scarf, I stifled a giggle.  How did she know it wasn’t notorious male scarf lover Chuck Bass?  I hope that this Patty Heart inspired storyline is carried out to its logical conclusion, with Kevin starring in several John Waters movies.  In the meantime, I implore CBS not to focus on any of the team mascots during its March Madness coverage.  There are a lot of Y&R viewers who now know that beneath those seemingly cuddly giant fur heads lies insanity and despair.