Why Do ‘One Life to Live’s Teens Keep Killing People?

Austin Williams as Shane on One Life to Live (ABC)

Austin Williams as Shane on One Life to Live (ABC)

Llanview’s Teen Boys All Need to be Locked Up

One Life to Live’s” Bo Buchanan (Robert S. Woods) needs to institute a draconian new crime prevention policy. All boys in Llanview shall be locked up from age 13 to age 19. The male teens of Llanview have a disturbing tendency to kill people. First, there was college freshman Cole (Brandon Buddy) who shot and killed Eli while he was handcuffed and in police custody. Granted, that man was also responsible for the deaths of numerous people, but it was unambiguously murder. Then high school senior Matthew (Eddie Alderson) shot and killed Eddie Ford (John Wesley Shipp). Granted, he thought Eddie had killed his mother. But, again, unambiguously murder. Then, Matthew’s classmate Nate (Lenny Platt) discovered that Matthew killed Eddie, and was willing to let Nate take the rap for the crime. Nate was understandably angry. He punched Matthew. Due to bad luck, Matthew hit his head and lapsed into a coma. Nate honestly did was most people would do in that situation and did not mean to do more than give Matthew a black eye. Still, he could face attempted murder charges. Now Jack (Andrew Trischetta) and his little pal Brad have been arrested after their latest attempt to bully Shane (Austin Williams) by locking him in an abandoned house went awry and resulted in Gigi’s (Farrah Fath) death. That’s one hell of a teenage crime spree. The boys of Llanview are a menace to society.

I am not sure if these evil teens are some sort of deliberate social commentary or just coincidence. Cole’s murder of Eli was his exit storyline. Matthew and Nate’s crimes are components of the outstanding heart transplant storyline, which proved that it is possible to put a fresh spin on the one-character-gets-another-character’s-heart conceit. It is a masterpiece of how to interweave characters and storylines. I understand every character’s point-of-view and motivation. But, at the heart of it (bad pun intended), are three teens who committed acts of violence.

It’s hypocritical, I suppose, that I want Matthew to escape prosecution for his crime while I am rooting for Jack to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Matthew is a basically good person who snapped because Eddie implied that he murdered Matthew’s mother. However, he shot a man at point blank range and was willing to let an innocent person go to prison. While Jack is an unrepentant bully who intended to lock up a boy with asthma who he knew had recently attempted suicide in a dark, enclosed space, he was not trying to kill anyone.

Still, I cannot remember the last time I hated a soap character as much as I hate Jack. He is a legacy character, the child of two of the show’s most popular characters, a member of two of Llanview’s core families. Yet, he has not been given a single redeeming quality. He bullies his classmates. He has no respect for his parents or his siblings. He hasn’t had one moment of genuine remorse either for nearly driving Shane to jump off a roof or killing Gigi. He doesn’t even seem to care about his friend Brad. When he was arrested, he mouthed off to the cops, as did that little weasel Brad. I will say one thing for Jack: he has made me unabashedly cheer on John (Michael Easton). When he attempted to get Jack and Brad — two high school freshmen — to flip on each other by lying to them, I approved of his tactics.

Part of the problem is that I cannot tell who Jack is supposed to be: a sociopath or merely an angry, screwed up boy who is acting out? Is he supposed to be a pint-sized Joran VanDerSloot or Todd Junior? OLTL is usually so good at creating multi-dimensional characters who are sympathetic despite their numerous flaws. Jack remains a cypher, both due to Trischetta’s weak performance and writing that fails to articulate his motivations.

I found myself rooting for Todd to beat the hell out of Jack last week when Jack once again brought up Todd raping Marty. That’s right. Jack momentarily made me pro-child abuse. Instead of being appalled at Todd’s behavior, I was intrigued by how his subsequent talk with Tea about Peter Manning fits in with the ten thousand hints that Roger Howarth’ s Todd is the real deal while TSJ’s is the imposter. That probably was not the only thing I was supposed to take away from those scenes.

Newbie teen Baz (Barrett Helms), Tomas’s (Ted King) long lost son, popped up for no discernible reason last week. (Did anyone want to see another newbie teen played by an inexperienced actor whose only tie is to another new character? Particularly one who is a pretentious music snob? I didn’t think so.) I couldn’t help wondering who he was going to kill.

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

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