Is There Love in the Afternoon?
They used to call it “love in the afternoon”. One huge reason people watch soaps is for the romance. We eagerly anticipate well-written character driven stories that follow one very simple formula:
Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy wins girl back.
It was so refreshing to hear Corbin Bernsen recite that at Nancy Lee Grahn’s event last July in LA. A veteran of television raised by a daytime vet, he GETS it. But does ABC? Sometimes I wonder.
Shows like General Hospital have (in my opinion) unsuccessfully diverted from the classic soap formula in recent years. GH’s stories have been more like this:
Boy meets girl. Boy kidnaps girl. Boy drugs, rapes, shoots girl (or any combination thereof). Boy toasts himself then smashes barware.
Makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?
I have to give the writers some credit. It seems as though the tide is changing in Port Charles. Husbands and wives are actually hanging together for the most part. Now it’s the women who are undermining one another calling each other bitches. Shades of Alexis and Krystal on Dynasty? Maybe, but not nearly as entertaining.
I digress. Let’s take a look at ABC’s shows as they are today and see how they rate!
This past week Pine Valley residents were bitten by the LUV bug. We saw tender moments with Jonathan and Lily (By far the most unique love story on the show!), JR and Babe, Ryan and Kendall and Adam and Krystal. Getting lucky were Erin and Aidan and Tad and Di. Erica was getting even, Dixie was getting melancholy and Brook wasn’t getting any at all.
Overall, AMC is pretty good with love stories. You can tune in and expect a smile or a sigh just about any day of the week. Some couples that I’ve particularly enjoyed over the years include Ryan and Gillian, Anna and David, Greenlee and Leo, Cliff and Nina, Erica and Jack (Well, Erica and just about anyone!) and Bianca and Maggie.
I was beginning to wonder when the Carey women would finally melt the Chandler ice. This was the week of the double whammy. I was happy to see the puzzle pieces fall into place but after all we’ve been through the resolution was almost too contrived. It was as if the writers ran out of steam and decided to toss in the towel.
I used to love Ryan Lavery and I still like Cameron Matheson. Still, no amount of bulging biceps and protruding pecs can deliver a good story. We can all see the Ryan/Kendall reunion coming a mile a way. I liked what he started with Julia. It’s a shame they couldn’t have stayed the course and made that work.
AMC struck gold when they paired Jonathan with Lily. What’s so fun to watch with these two is their dual evolution. Both are characters with special needs but in being together, they are bringing out the best in each other and learning some profound lessons about love and life along the way. We see Jonathan healing and becoming more confident every day and Lily making the transition from a girl to a young woman in the process. The beauty of this story is that it’s simple. I’ve become so invested that the pay off for me will be the day Lily feels comfortable letting Jonathan touch her hand. Sigh.
Erica should just go to bed with Greg Madden and get it over with. Jack’s laid up in the hospital so he’ll never know. Instead, we get to see her play black widow and plot and scheme. I suppose when you’ve been on a show as long as she has and gone through all the stories she has you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
This show has the uncanny ability to successfully combine romance with adventure. That’s partially because they have great writing and because they’ve made some outstanding casting choices. I have to admit I am torn with the whole quadrangle of Evangeline, John, Natalie and Cristian. I like them all together! They can swap partners every other day and I’d be cool with that. That kind of interchangeable chemistry is rare and makes for great soap opera.
I’m really warming to Rex and Adrianna. He is sizzling hot and I loved him with mother/daughter duo Lindsay and Jen. (See Sonny? THIS is how it’s done!) If he and Natalie weren’t pseudo brother and sister they’d make a great couple too. Still the good girl/bad boy bit is working for me with Rex and Adrianna because it does follow the formula. He’s met the girl and got the girl, so we’re half way there. One important twist is that losing the girl can happen in many, many ways. In this case, enter Dorian. Sure as the sun rises, they’ll break up and he’ll be forced to pull out all the stops to get her back so I’ll keep watching!
Not so interesting to me is Bo and Page, Kelly and Joey (or Duke for that matter) and Blair and Todd who are in their six or seventh round of this dance (YAWN). Jessica, Tess, or whoever she is on a given day is driving me nuts. I used to like Jessica and although I think the actress who plays her is okay; I just can’t stand the whining, bratty character she’s become. They’re toying with a trans-personality swap by suggesting that Jessica is starting to fall for Tess’s man Nash. Interesting. Now that’s a possibility!
Marcie and Michael. OLTL is probably kicking themselves in the ass from here to kingdom come for killing Al. How can the same actor playing different roles have such lukewarm chemistry with the same leading lady? Don’t get me wrong, I Iike young doctor McBain but the magic just isn’t there. It’s noticeable in the screen time. Marcie and Al were front and center and Fans pulled for them whereas Marcie and Michael have been reduced to background players. Now they’re going to spend months bickering about their wedding. I’d have personally paid for Marcie and Al’s nuptials. But these guys? Take my advice and just call the whole thing off.
If OLTL really wants to cash in on more romance, they should reunite Nora and Bo. Let prince charming wake her up from this ridiculously long coma and get back to making ice cream sundaes on her stomach. For those who remember that and their wedding officiated by Little Richard, you know what I mean. :)
I know I opened by taking a pot shot at GH but hell, they deserved it! Guza and Pratt’s Soprano dreams put the show into a downward spiral that even had Tony Geary thinking of jumping ship. Happily, things are looking up. An infusion of oldies but goodies (Yummy Rick Springfield and the still dashing Robert Scorpio) combined with some promising newbies and necessary housecleaning has given GH a much-needed shot in the arm. Pun intended.
This past year we were rewarded with a lavish, romantic wedding for Elizabeth and Lucky (I love Greg Vaughn but it would have been SWEET to see Jonathan Jackson saying ”I do”.) Que sera, sera! Robin and Patrick have promise IF they ever let her lighten up. I get it that she’s supposed to be smart but how did a chic with the hip pierced nose get so stuffy? Are we sure she’s not really Alexis’s daughter? Still, we’re this close to boy getting girl (or, in this case, girl getting boy?) Keep at her Dr. Drake!
The teens are looking up! The whole Dillon/Georgie/Diego triangle could be really good. I’ve always thought that Diego got screwed with the whole “roofie” stalker story so let’s hope his return to town pays off for him. Then there’s Guy and Lucas. Ten points for GH tackling a gay teen story! Although boy has only met boy, I’m pulling for them!
GH has also got some very successful, unconventional couples over 40, which I dearly appreciate. Luke and Tracy are hilarious and I actually believe that they are in love. Luke may have been pining for Skye for ages but there’s a certain twinkle in his eyes when he looks at his “Spanky Buns”. Then there’s Lorenzo and Skye who are expecting a baby. Awe! Another little mob offspring to play with the Corinthos and Lansing kids. Can’t wait until they’re all old enough to play cops and robbers together. Lorenzo’s unabashed joy when he learned that Skye could carry their baby to term was priceless.
I’ve got to confess I am diggin’ Carly with Jax. I liked Ingo’s chemistry with Tamara so what a pleasant surprise it was to see that he has it with Laura Wright too! This is on the fast track as far as romance on GH goes so be sure to tune in and watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, Carly’s ex isn’t fairing as well. The “brilliant” idea to pair Sonny with Emily has pretty much tanked. Maybe fans are still seeing the young girl who loved pixie sticks and lobbed snowballs at Zander as Sonny and Alexis looked on laughing. Maybe it’s because she’s Jason’s sainted little sister. Maybe it’s because they are about as exciting as watching paint dry. No matter what, I don’t see this disaster lasting.
I saved my personal favorite for last. After an excruciating “boy loses girl” or, in this case, man and woman lose each other, Ric and Alexis are finally together, in love and (gasp!) allowed to show it. We first saw them falling for each other in the hospital when Kristina was sick and watched skeptically as they took quickie wedding vows to gain leverage in family court. Let’s face it, when the bride says, “this could be a huge mistake” during her vows, it doesn’t exactly scream happily ever after. Then the writers put us through the paces with bickering, betrayal and infidelity. FINALLY they got their act together and Ric got the girl - three to be exact. Way to go, dude!
So you still can find love in the afternoon on ABC but it’s rather like shopping in a bargain basement; you have to know exactly what you want and where to dig in order to find it.
One final thought. This is totally unrelated to romance but it had me howling. Sonny learns that Alexis is Sam’s mother and NOW he’s grossed out by his behavior? The Teflon don has finally seen his true reflection in the mirror and it was priceless. “My life is looks like an episode of Jerry Springer!” he moaned tossing back another drink. “There’s not enough scotch in the world.” Poor baby.
By Trish Fodor
To email Trish about this column, click here