Days Takes a Baby Step Out of the Closet
“Days of Our Lives” officially dipped its toe in the gay pool this week. It’s a bold step for what is, despite its numerous bizarre, over-the-top storylines, a show that espouses conservative values. More characters on “Days” consult priests for advice than on every other television show combined. A friend once pointed out to me that, well into the 1990s on “Days”the majority of “meant to be” couples (and clearly there are more of them on “Days” than on any other show) never had sex before they were at least engaged, if not actually married. They usually did not plan to wait, but their sexual encounters were always interrupted by fate or villains until they had made a serious commitment to each other. Even Marlena’s (Deidre Hall) possession by the devil followed Christian theology, albeit in a totally ludicrous way. In that context, I understand why “Days” felt the need to ease viewers who might not be used to watching shows featuring gay characters into the concept of Gaylem. I am sure everyone involved with the storyline is aware that when “One Life to Live” briefly veered into gayer-than-“RuPaul’s Drag Race” territory the ratings plummeted, and is proceeding with caution. But I wish that the show’s method of doing so were a little less reminiscent of a Very Special Episode of an 80s sit-com.
This has all the elements of a good storyline. I like that the new gay in town Sonny (Freddie Smith) is both a legacy character — he’s Justin (Wally Kurth) and Adrienne’s (Judi Evans) son — and out and proud. That’s a realistic portrayal of a lot of college aged gay men. I like that Sonny is confident and has a good relationship with his parents. It would be out of character, not to mention hypocritical for a couple that has divorced and remarried and cheated on each other to judge their son for his sexual orientation. His concern about his grandfather Victor’s (John Aniston) reaction to him being gay also makes sense. Victor is 80 years old, Greek, and seizes on any possible reason to disapprove of his relatives. Unfortunately, “Days” decided that the way to approach this was by writing a Public Service Announcement about tolerance that bore little resemblance to the way people actually talk.
Victor: I assume your parents are aware of this.
Sonny: Yeah. Yeah, I told ’em a few years ago.
Victor: A few years ago? How’d they take it?
Sonny: You know, not bad. It was kind of a shock. But then I told them about pflag.
Victor: What’s that?
Sonny: Parents and friends of lesbians and gays. They do support groups, and it really helped them understand.
PFLAG is a great organization, but why would Sonny feel the need to give them a shout out at that moment? Victor’s not going to attend a support group.
Then there was this chestnut, from Justin. “Rejecting your son for being gay would be like rejecting him for having brown eyes. Right?” I appreciate the sentiment, but I felt like the “The More You Know!” logo should have popped up on the screen.
Adrienne and Justin’s conversation with Maggie (Suzanne Rogers) about Sonny grew unintentionally hilarious when Adrienne said, “He reminded me of these curtains that I got for his room when he was just a little kid. And they had this western theme… But part of the pattern was these two cowboys walking together, and sonny said that, when he was about five or six years old, he would look up at those two cowboys and say, ‘they’re like me.'” I could not help envisioning a “Brokeback Mountain” themed children’s room. That’s a bold and, given the film’s ending, depressing interior design choice.
I feel bad criticizing such well intentioned scenes, but airing in the same week where “All My Children” featured Bianca (Christina Lind) locking lips with the married Marissa (Sarah Glendoning) “Days'” tentative, pedantic approach to introducing a gay storyline seemed about as current as an episode of “Love Sidney.”
Three quarters of the way through Wednesday’s “General Hospital,” I was enraged that the Michael (Chad Duell) works at ELQ storyline has turned out to be all about Michael acting entitled and refusing to do any work. Way to make me hate him, show. Then I was angered anew when Asher the Hot African American Executive, who seemed rightfully annoyed that Michael’s high school diploma and bad attitude trumped his business degree and experience turned out to be working for Anthony (Bruce Weitz). So much for my dreams of a crossover storyline in which Asher flies to Genoa City and compares notes with Neil (Kristoff St. John). “Well, Nick’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I wouldn’t describe him as actually having a brain injury,” Neil would say. “Though he did go to prison, like Michael. But he was really, truly innocent.” Then, fed up with repeatedly hitting a nepotism related glass ceiling, the two men would go visit some venture capitalists, secure funding, and launch a new company, Meritocracy Inc. But no, Asher has to be evil so Michael can be sympathetic by comparison.
Then, suddenly, in the last fifteen minutes of the show, a miracle happened. Monica (Leslie Charleson) appeared. Remember Monica? The Quartermaine matriarch who should rightfully be “General Hospital’s” new Chief of Staff? Tracy (Jane Elliot) finally told her that Jake was Jason’s son. The scenes were an acting master class.
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The dialogue was spot on:
Tracy: Well, sometimes mothers are compelled to lie about their child’s paternity.
Monica: Yeah, well, I certainly can’t say anything about that after what I put Alan through.
Tracy: No, no, no, that’s not what I meant. Oh, God. I’m the wrong person to have told you this.
It was like a completely different show. It’s insane that Monica did not learn this when Jake died, and talk to Jason about it. It’s disappointing that this revelation was given so little airtime. But I have to believed that this is a taste of the “General Hospital” we are going to get when Garin Wolf takes over as headwriter.