Deep Soap: Are ABC Soaps Deceiving Fans About Characters’ Deaths?

Vincent Irizarry (ABC)

Vincent Irizarry (ABC)

A Tale of Two “Deaths”

Two prominent ABC Daytime characters met their maker last week… or did they?  ‘One Life To Live’s‘  Tea allegedly died off camera in the care of hospice.  She was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor months ago.  She has played out a terminal illness storyline, remarrying Todd and saying goodbye to her daughter Dani.  The show never officially announced that Florencia Lozano was leaving the show, though there were certainly interviews and statements that implied Tea was being written off.  The revelation that Tea’s doctor was working with sudden supervillain Eli (Matt Walton), who had rewritten her will to make himself the beneficiary made the whole situation suspicious.

It seems clear that Tea is alive and quite possibly perfectly well.   Eventually she will turn up somewhere and eventually make her way back to Llanview.  Given that the entire Eli storyline seems like a hastily thrown together rewrite, it’s possible that this was not the plan all along and that Tea was originally slated to die.

All My Children‘ shocked everyone when, with absolutely no spoilers or hints in the soap press, longtime villain David Hayward  (Vincent Irizarry) appeared to be killed in the September 2 episode.

Headwriter David Kreizman released a statement to Soap Opera Digest: “We really felt that this had been building for some time, that even before we started, David had made a lot of choices and done a lot of things to a lot of people, and that it all sort of builds to this moment.  He needed to pay for his crimes one way or another.”

David has long been one of the show’s most popular villains.  With the show’s other prominent antagonist Adam Chandler no longer on the canvas thanks to David Canary’s retirement, his character is even more important to the show.  David and Greenlee’s (Rebecca Budig) relationship has proved more popular with many fans then the couple that the show wants viewers to root for, Greenlee and Ryan (Cameron Mathison).   David’s death made no sense from a storytelling standpoint, and resulted in numerous on-line comments calling for the ouster of the show’s headwriters.

Saturday, a posting on Irizarry’s Facebook page told a different story: “Hello everyone — We can now confirm and tell you that Vincent is still in negotiations, as the end of his contract is up shortly. The show has added this plot twist, but as I expressed below, please continue to tune in and make your thoughts, wishes, and voices known.”

In other, words, rumors of David’s death may be greatly exaggerated, depending on whether he and the show can make a deal.  The contractual hardball is unappealing.  It’s depressing that negotiations have now become a public spectacle with shows demonstrating their willingness to write off popular actors while the actors in turn ask fans to take up their cause.  This has happened multiple times in the past year, but this is the first time that a show has gone as far as to kill a character off and dangle the possibility of resurrecting him.

Arguably, these two shows are using the soap press to deliberately mislead the fans.   While I dislike that contract negotiations have become so public and so mean spirited, I am not upset with soaps choosing to be less than forthcoming about future plot twists.  Soap fans are savvy enough to know that if a show refuses to comment on whether a character is dying, then he or she is not dead.

So many plot twists are spoiled weeks in advance, often by the network’s own promos.  If a show wants to keep anything under wraps, it usually has to go to the lengths of cutting the live feed during taping, not distributing script pages to people who are not directly involved with the scene and hiding information from the soap press.  The lack of surprise does, in my opinion, hurt the genre.  There is little reason to tune in every day when spending five minutes perusing a spoiler board can reveal everything that will happen in the next month.

When ‘The Bold & The Beautiful‘ managed to surprise everyone by keeping Oliver (Zack Conroy) and Brooke’s (Katherine Kelly Lang) accidental tryst a secret, viewers loved it.  These plot twists are not as appealing, but the same principle applies.   The soaps do not owe fans spoilers.  As much as I want to get the scoop on upcoming stories, and do not want anyone from a show to deliberately lie to me, I think shows are within their rights to do a little misleading to preserve suspense.

‘General Hospital’ Gets Its Irish Up

General Hospital’s‘ publicity department has released details about the new character Siobhan that will be played by Erin Chambers. “Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) will head to Ireland to go undercover and assume the identity of terrorist Ronan O’Reilly. Later, Lucky will meet up with Siobhan, the ex-girlfriend of one of Ronan’s victims.”  Chambers will first appear in the September 15th episode.

Apparently Ronan is the trendy new name for soap opera characters.  First a Ronan pops up as an FBI agent on ‘The Young & The Restless,’ now one is a terrorist on GH.  Irish terrorist Ronan will join the Balkan who wants to maim Brenda and mobsters The Lopez Brothers in GH’ss bid to present the most diverse array of criminals on television.

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

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