Our Guest Writers

Character Growth
By Sandi Showalter

Character growth. It’s something that most soap viewers wish for. Contrary to popular belief, by those that think soap viewers are nothing more than brainless twits that don’t know the difference between reality and fiction (hello TPTB!!!), we soap fans do indeed want our soap characters to show growth. We want them to act like real human beings and learn from their mistakes. We want them to get over petty hurts and jealousies and move on with their lives, like people do in real life. Character growth does not equal boring. It can actually lead to more exciting stories and a deeper affection for the character.

Case in point. Greenlee gets on my nerves. She always has. I never enjoyed her spoiled brat ways or entitled attitude. The only time I could tolerate Greens was when she was with Leo. He brought out her human side and didn’t put up with her crap. I absolutely loathed every second of Ryan and Greenlee. I happily waved goodbye when she left the show. Then they brought her back. Apparently on her two year journey she didn’t grow up. She was still the same, selfish, spoiled brat as when she left, but with a new face. She didn’t show any real character growth until after she “kidnapped” Spike and got in the accident. Finally the writers allowed her to show remorse and take on responsibility for her actions. Not right away, of course, but gradually. She entered a real, adult relationship with Aidan based on love and mutual respect. (And I don’t care what all of the Ryan and Greenlee fans out there say, there was not a lot of mutual respect going on in that relationship.) She got another growth spurt when she fell down the hole with Zach. When she reemerged, she was a different person (and on a side note, Sabine’s acting improved and I was sad to see the “Real” Greenlee come back.)

 Speaking of the Rebecca Buddig coming back, it seems that the writers then decided that Greenlee should regress some: the thwarted engagement with Aidan, the secret kiss with Ryan, the petty jealousy over amnesiac Ryan loving Kendall instead of her and her irrational, in my opinion,  rage at the one minute stand. But for some reason, the writers again let her grow, starting with the cue card scene and forgiving Aidan. I must say, I was amazed and pleased with how she handled the whole situation when Kendall, once again, butted in and told Greenlee how Ryan felt about her. She pointed out to Kendall, again and again, that Ryan broke her and Aidan healed her. She spoke eloquently and maturely about how she loved Ryan AS A FRIEND and always would, but that she had moved on and now loved Aidan. Then she confronted Ryan in an adult manner and made it clear to him where her heart was: with Aidan. Ryan actually acted mature too, which impressed me, but it was Greenlee that truly showed character growth. To top it all off, she was honest with Aidan and didn’t hide anything and let him in on her new found Ryan knowledge. I can only hope that this new, improved Greenlee sticks around. But since it is a soap, she may fall back into her old ways.

In the same way that the writers had Greenlee grow, they have totally regressed Kendall’s character. I never liked Sarah Michelle Gellar, so my opinion of Kendall the first time around was not favorable due to my bias. Then AM took over the role and I was willing to give her a chance. Although Kendall came up with stupid schemes and half-baked ideas (pretending to marry Michael Cambias and have a fake baby?????) I did see growth. A lot of growth happened after she met and married Zach. But then the “kidnapping” happened and she slept with Aidan and it seems every ounce of growth she ever experienced left her body. This became abundantly clear with her obsession about getting Annie out of Ryan’s life and reuniting “the love for all time” Ryan and Greenlee. She is so obsessed that she is jeopardizing her marriage to the oh-so-yummy Zach. The only thing I can think is WTF???? Zach whisks her away to a beach cottage, kisses her to shut her up, makes love to her and suggest they get away for 48 hours by themselves. Yet she can’t keep her nose out of Ryan’s business long enough to see that she’s going to lose Zach, and at this point, I say good.  Zach wants her to stay out of Ryan’s business. Ryan wants her to stay out of his business. Greenlee wants her to stay out of Ryan’s business. And God knows Annie wants to kill her and I don’t blame her one bit. Kendall only see’s and hears what Kendall wants to see and hear. If it doesn’t fit into her perceived reality, she rejects it and puts her fingers in her fears and repeats “la la la la la, la.” Numerous times throughout the past year, I just wanted to reach inside my TV and bitch slap the crap out of her. It is getting to the point that Kendall is unwatchable.

Unfortunately for all of us soap viewers, for every Greenlee like growth, we get three or four characters that regress. And all too often, a character that showed tremendous growth (calling Todd Manning) gets regressed to the point where all they are is a caricature of their former selves. The only other time I liked Greenlee was when she was with Leo, but I didn’t like her away from him. Now for the first time ever, I like Greenlee for Greenlee. Here’s hoping that Pratt will keep on track with Greenlee’s growth and maybe he’ll learn from it too, and let Kendall experience some much needed growth of her own. 

If you want to you can write me at sandals30@gmail.com. 

Past Guest Columns