It’s New Year’s Eve, a day filled with drinking, football and soap repeats. It’s also the day when everyone writes down their New Year’s resolutions. Though daytime is very good about remembering to go the gym and sticking to a budget, it needs to make some changes. Here are my suggestions for how soaps, and a few characters, could improve in 2011.
John McBain: Stop Moping
“One Life To Live”s‘ John McBain (Michael Easton) has everything a man could want. He’s about to marry the woman he loves — unless Marty (Susan Haskell) succeeds at stopping the wedding. He has a child on the way. He has a great job that he enjoys. Yet he wanders around Llanview like the gloomy lovechild of Morissey and Eeyore. He recently moped his way through Lamaze class while, next to him Brody (Mark Lawson) smiled like he had just won the lottery. I know which man I would rather see father a child. John also brooded about whether he wanted to marry Natalie (Melissa Archer) before finally making one of the least romantic proposals in daytime history. Maybe in time Natalie will come to see that having a child with Brody is a blessing in disguise. John is supposed to be the show’s big heroic leading man. Yet few women over the age of nineteen find the whole emo thing attractive. John is supposed to be dark and tormented because of the bad things that happened to him (dead first love, murdered father.) Yet he has the least traumatic upbringing of any character on the show. I don’t know how Natalie — who was raised by a drunk before finding out she was the long lost Buchanan heiress among countless other psychologically damaging experiences — puts up with it. In 2011, John should count his blessings, practice smiling, and learn to think about people other than himself.
Sharon Newman: A Vow of Celibacy
“The Young & the Restless”s‘ Sharon (Sharon Case) is just a girl who can’t say no. All a man has to do is tell her she’s beautiful, and she’ll hit the sheets with him. She was happily engaged to Nick (Joshua Morrow), but a conversation with Adam (Michael Muhney) convinced her that she belonged with him. If there are three men who could possibly be the father of your baby, it’s a sign that you need to make some changes. In her many years on the show, Sharon has defined herself solely by her relationships. She allows herself to be a damsel in distress so that her man of the moment can ride to her rescue. As a result, she has lost custody of her youngest child and convinced herself she is in love with the man who stole said youngest child from her moments after she gave birth. Sharon needs to make like Kelly Taylor and choose herself. A year without any romantic relationships would help her figure out who she is and what she actually wants. Also, Sharon needs to stay far, far away from cliffs. Both Dru and Skye fell to their presumed deaths in her presence.
Spinelli: Speak Proper English
“General Hospital”s‘ Spinelli’s (Bradford Anderson) unique take on the English language was charming when he first appeared on the show. But the nicknames for every single character, and the exaggerated geek-speak are as grating as nails on a chalkboard. His worshipful treatment of women as goddesses rather than equals is objectifying, not sweet. He did not seem to learn or grow from having a serious relationship with Maxie (Kristen Storms). It is hard to believe that anyone would willingly spend more than five minutes with someone so annoying. Yet on those rare occasions when he drops his facade and talks like a competent adult — usually because he is upset about something — Spinelli is smart and interesting. In 2011, he should use his considerable intelligence to address people by their proper names and aim to use language to communicate effectively with others, instead of using it to force everyone around him to indulge his whims. If he manages to act like a grown up, I bet he will find that women actually want to spend time with him.
ABC Daytime: Stop Giving Detailed Spoilers Away in the Promos
I am going to keep complaining about this until it changes. “General Hospital” is the worst offender, but the problem plagues all three ABC soaps. The loose lipped network cannot stop itself from revealing not only exactly what is about to happen but exactly when it will happen. I know that there will be multiple deaths in the GH bus crash disaster that began December 29th, including the little piece of Leonard Cohen’s Hallejulah that managed to survive repeated “American Idol” butcherings. I did not learn this from reading spoilers. I learned it from unavoidable advertisements. (My money is on the not-seen in months Alli biting the dust.) It shows a real lack of confidence in the shows themselves. The network seems to be acknowledging that there is no reason to watch their soaps between big events. Next year, ABC should ease up on the spoilers and trust that if they make their shows entertaining every day, people will watch.
All of Daytime: Get Some Self-Esteem
Soap fans who keep the TV on after GH have undoubtedly seen Oprah preach the virtues of loving yourself. After years of budget cuts, cancellation threats, declining ratings and the disrespect of the rest of the entertainment industry, nearly everyone in daytime could use a little self-esteem. Soaps seem ashamed of being, well, soaps. That is, in my opinion, at the root of so many bad decisions. It’s why soaps jump at the chance to cast primetime and film actors who often are unprepared for the workload and mean nothing to the daytime audience. It’s why daytime dramas write storylines that are inferior versions of hit primetime shows, be it “One Life To Live”s’ teen musical, or GH’s insistence on attempting to be “The Sopranos” instead of playing to their unique strengths. It’s why the shows often seem to have contempt for the audience. It’s the television equivalent of not wanting to belong to a club that will have you. In 2011, I wish every soap writer, producer and actor would begin the day by looking into the mirror and saying, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And I’m proud to work in daytime.”