Deep Soap: One Night Stands, The Soap Cliche That Works

'General Hospital' (ABC)

'General Hospital' (ABC)

The Instantly Remorseful Cheater has returned to daytime. The set up of a man (or occasionally a woman) who, despite being in a happy, committed relationship, succumbs to the advances of a woman who has been throwing herself at him for months then realizes he made a huge mistake has been the foundation of a lot of classic soap stories, including the Sharon/Nick/Grace triangle on ‘The Young & The Restless.’

They’re sexist, in that they tend to let the men off the hook, presenting them as being powerless to control their hormones, while placing all of the blame on the evil temptress who seduced him.  This story is currently playing out on both ‘General Hospital‘ and ‘The Young & The Restless.’

Y&R’s resident boy scout, Chance (John Driscoll) cheated on his fiancee Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) with Heather (Eden Riegel) while he was guarding her.  GH’s Patrick (Jason Thompson) had a drunken hook up with his ex, Lisa (Brianna Brown) while his wife Robin (Kimberly McKullough) was in Africa. Though both men were enthusiastic participants in the encounters, the moment they finished, they decided that they wanted to be with their significant others after all.

This is one soap cliche, that, in both cases, worked.  I am now more interested in these storylines than I was before.

Lisa and Patrick’s affair has been telegraphed from the moment the character showed up in town.  Lisa has been a source of irritation to viewers, with her obvious attempts to woo Patrick by reminiscing about their college days and her transparent tomboy act.   For some reason, having an alcohol fueled one night stand with Patrick turned Lisa into a psycho.  Oddly, this makes her more likable.  The endless scenes of her reminding Patrick of the night that they had two beers and made out in public just made her look incredibly lame.  Now that she wants to drink coffee out of Patrick’s cup and is luring him into hospital rooms to flash him, she’s entertaining in a love to hate her sort of way.  I say if you’re going to be an unrepentant  homewrecker,go all out.  I would rather hate Lisa then be annoyed by her, but  I am disappointed  that the show is now presenting Patrick as the victim. The guy used his wife’s decision to spend a few weeks helping people with AIDS as an excuse to cheat. But now there is an actual story, with major consequences for everybody involved.  I could do without Robin’s heavyhanded comments about how happy she is in her marriage and how much she loves Patrick, but at least she has something to do now.  GH obviously has no clue how to write happy couples (see: the increasingly smug and unbearable Lante.)  So bring on the Robin versus crazy Lisa show down. I hope no bunnies are boiled.

Chance is one of the dullest characters on soaps.  I am all for more true good guys.  But comparing Chance to Brody (Mark Lawson) on ‘One Life To Live‘, another soldier turned cop, is a great illustration of how a few inner demons and the choices an actor makes can be the difference between a bore and a swoonworthy hero.

I was starting to think that Chance was going to break ground as daytime’s first asexual character.  His initial opposition to pre-marital sex was bizarre since he does not seem to be particularly religious.  When he got down with Heather, he actually seemed like he was capable of feeling lust.

This storyline has the potential for some sophisticated moral ambiguity.  Chance confessed his sin right away.  Chloe was understandably not ready to forgive him. Given her numerous sexual misdeeds, Chloe does not entirely have the moral high ground.  Her response is to get revenge on Chance by making sure he sees her with the far sexier Ronen (Jeff Branson), not exactly the behavior of a committed girlfriend.  She and Heather are two schemers duking it out, not a battle of good versus evil.

Chance and Chloe never had much chemistry.  She was attracted to him because she thought he was a safe, dependable guy who would not cheat on her.  He was the anti-Billy.  He liked her because, well, she’s hot, and he needed a pushy woman to counteract his wimpiness.  I am not sure if he is really in love with her since he lacks the relationship experience to distinguish between attraction and true love.  Since Ronen and Chance are brothers, Chloe will be continuing her trend of dating men who are related to each other.  This plot may be a Y&R chestnut, but it has breathed new life into Chance’s character and helped define Eden Riegel’s Heather.

Daytime Digest

‘General Hospital’s’ countdown to Brendapalooza AKA the August 11th return of Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo continues with the release of this promo:

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If ABC really wants to raise the ratings, they should announce that one lucky blogger viewer who tunes in will win a pair of Brenda’s fierce boots.   Brenda always had one of daytime’s best wardrobes.  No matter what her storyline turns out to be, it looks like her signature style will be intact.

All My Children’sSusan Lucci is writing her memoirs.  I cannot wait to read about what it has been like to play Erica Kane for forty years.  I hope that the diplomatic Lucci does not skimp on the behind-the-scenes dirt.

I will be joining several other soap journalists for the Soap Summit, a special episode of Soap Central Live discussing the future of daytime soap operas, today at 6PM EST/3PM PST.  Check it out.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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