I am writing this week's column from Santo Domingo, where I am engaged in a mission trip to help rebuild two schools and churches and help with an arts camp featuring the Moses story. The sites are in El Tamarindo and La Ureña and the children are just MARVELOUS - sweet and so smart. I am at El Tamarindo, where the kids show up every day despite no electricity, little plumbing, and abject poverty all around. Yep, these are my kids now and I plan to make as many mission trips here as I can.
One of the nice surprises (other than the outdoor pool and the nearby beach) is that there is American television here, with all three networks. So I have been able to keep up with your favorite and mine (although sometimes that can get a little squirrely) One Life to Live!! Yay!!
So, this week in my conversation with myself, me and myself decided that what we would change this time around was OLTL's Diversity, Detachment, and Disillusionment. And believe me, this week's programming has provided mucho fodder for the old keyboard here.
Diversity. I'll just say right off that diversity is one of my up-on-the-soapbox rallying points. I believe that as society evolves, it is important that the media be as accurate as possible in their portrayal of the diversities in colors, cultures, and ethnicities that we encounter. It is important to see chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, butternut, and cherry in our main characters and extras because that's what we see when we walk down Main Street USA (and, for that matter - when we're walking down Calle Importante DR, too). That said, where are all the chocolate children in Llanview? According to what I see on the screen, almost everybody is either strawberry or vanilla. Well, anybody rich, anyway, because all the chocolate- and butternut-covered children are gangsters or are otherwise involved in nefarious activities. And rather than giving some sort of redeeming storyline to these characters, they are either severely underused (like R.J. Gannon) or killed off altogether (like Tico Santi). Even newbie-guy Vince is a chocolate child of dubious circumstances.
Now, I will give credit where credit is due. Compared to some soaps, One Life is the United Nations of Soapland. But honestly, I'm getting a little weary of butternuts who don't speak butter and chocolate bars who are more likely to wield guns than read Chaucer. Let's see some Whoopi-looking rich girls and a few guys whose Julio-laced linguistics put a little hoohah in a few of our yingyangs, shall we?
Detachment. Have you ever seen so many detached family members in your life? Bo and Clint seem like they're on opposite sides of the planet, and how related do Kevin, Jess, and poor way-out-in-whereverland Joey seem? Not to mention their new sis Natalie. I'll bet Nat would choose men who treat her more like Cris did if she were a little closer to Viki - or Roxy, even. (Can you imagine Roxy letting Nat put up with John's my-way-or-the-highway crap? Nat would be outta there faster than Speedy on speed!)
I miss the days when you knew that Clint and Bo were Asa's boys, when Nora and Matthew were in many scenes together, and when Jess could turn to Joey or Kevin when mom and dad were at the Banner. Heck, I'd even be happy for some Jess and Todd time, although right about now, I think that Todd would be a little closer to scrappy-fighting Tess than wilty-weepy Jess.
Where is Asa? Why isn't Matthew with Nora more? Why is it that just about the only family connection we see - where manipulation isn't involved, that is - is Kelly babysitting Blair's kids while Blair plays Super Sleuth in the Let's Nail Spencer game? (Although the few scenes when we see with Todd and Starr always take me back to me and my dad before his demise . . . aah . . . )
And why oh why, for Pete's sake, hasn't Todd caught on to what Blair is doing by now? Todd is just not that dense! He has to know what Blair is up to because her behavior is always like this when she's trying to catch a golden spider.
Let's get Blair's focus back on Starr and Jack and leave Spencer to Todd. Let's get Layla and Evangeline on the same side, so that Layla can stop associating with nefarious characters. Let's get Nora home and see some sweet scenes with Matthew helping her recover. Let's see Bo and Clint on the driving range, hangin' out like brothers do. And let's get Asa back on the canvas, period, because he's the Big Dude Who Makes Stuff Happen.
Disillusionment. This one is about me, not the actors. I am way over Michael and Marcie and baby Tommy. Do I think that Tommy is Todd's kid? Yea, kinda I do. And rather than prostituting herself (let's call a spade a spade, k?) sleeping with Spencer, I'd love to see Blair sinking her teeth into finding Todd's kid because I think that he would add a new dimension to the Manning household. I'd love to see Starr with a boyfriend - or even just a best friend whose hair isn't orange or green and who isn't trying to sneak in drinks at the country club. This kid has been through so much - even before her dad was executed, exonerated, and resurrected, Starr learned some pretty interesting twists and turns sitting on Papa Todd's knee. She seems to be really trying to break away from her tumultuous upbringing, and she seems to be the only one who is actively, acutely trying to give her little brother some sort of stability. Let's let her friendships reflect her attempt to grow up and make good choices.
If Marcie wants a kid, she and Michael need to do a bit more than cuddle. You know, Powers That Be, voluptuous and Rubenesque women can do more than blubber like blathering idiots and look as if they are desperate for their husbands' attention. They can be sensuous and sexy, just like the Dorians and Blairs of Soapland. Being voluptuous and Rubenesque, I can attest to that. As a matter of fact, I'm also a little tired of seeing Viki as some past-the-age-of-sexuality matron, and as much as I like Jerry Van Dorn, he doesn't fit her like Clint Ritchie did. Viki needs another Ben, if for no other reason than to reawaken her Niki-naughtiness for a change.
Okay, it's Love/Hate time!!!
First, I have to say that I LOVE all of the fan letters I received in my first week here at Soap Central! THANK YOU y MUCHAS GRACIAS for making me feel welcome in your midst!!! This is a great place to be and I hope to be here for a long, long time. One of my favorite things was getting so many emails that disagreed with my Vange/Cris and Adriana/Rex pairings that I have promised to give them a second look. It's only been two weeks and I haven't seen enough of either couple to really give an updated take on them. Let's see what happens in another coupla weeks, okay? I will say, though, that I will be happy when Adriana figures out that her mother is behind the stalker crap and when Rex proves (wish Mr. PI would hurry up there) that Dorian's also behind his being drugged. That's getting to be as tiring and the Santo Domingo sun at high noon.
This week, I loved Evangeline telling Vince exactly what she thought of him; loved Todd getting Spencer on the front page of The Sun; and loved David's bantering with Natalie on Friday when he said to her, "Oh no, you're falling in love with me, aren't you?" LOL I love David, and I so hope that we will get to keep him when they finally run Spencer out on the rails like he deserves.
Oh, wait - I also loved the possibility that as Tessica integrates, it might be Nash that she ends up with. YAY! (This, of course, is contingent upon Claudia fessin' up to offing her old man and getting sent back to the asylum where she belongs!:)
This week, I hated Stalker Story, Week 569 (ok, that's an exaggeration, but who on God's planet would not hear some guy walking into their bedroom wielding a knife while they were wide awake???? UGH!!!); hated the sheer and obvious LACK of Nora and Asa on-screen (TPTB suck when it comes to how they are treating these two mucho importante characters); and hated Spencer's drugged-up rampage and next morning gee-did-I-do-that moments. What is he, an Urkel wannabe? Uh, no dipdoodle, I had somebody come in, rip up the apartment, strangle me til I had bruises on my neck, and lop you over the head to erase your memory . . . Any more stupid questions?
Well, lovely readers, that's it for this week's column. Next column, I will be back in the States and finding ways to help my little sweet faces in El Tamarindo. If you've emailed me in the past ten days or so, please know that I will answer you as soon as I'm back at home. I love reading and answering every single fan letter even more than I love dissecting my own belly button lint (but not Tessica's), and I hope, I hope, I hope that you will all continue to write, agree, disagree, debate, discuss and all that good stuff! I enjoy you all and I look forward to Two Scoops in two weeks!!
Take care, Loves!