I never imagined that I'd find a parallel between Facebook and the soaps. Bear with me here as I try to explain this idea that's bouncing around in my head. For those who aren't familiar with the social networking site [click here to become a fan of Soap Central on Facebook and here to add me as a friend], you can link up to people who are called your "friends." As your list of friends grows and grows, you can classify the relationship that you have with each of your "friends." Maybe they were high school pals, or they're relatives, or they're neighbors... All My Children seems to have forgotten that people in Pine Valley have relationships other than the kind that land you in the bedroom.
We rarely see people just hanging out, catching up on what's been going on in each other's lives and shooting the breeze. That may not be the most entertaining thing in terms of forwarding story, but it's something real. I'm sure a lot of you reading this column have regular events when you try to get together with a group of your closest friends -- girls' night at the movies or card night with the fellas. AMC has become segmented where the only relationships shown are familial or loveorial. Yes, I know that's not a word -- but it sounded much better than all the other words I came up with.
Not sure what I mean? Well, let's swoop in and check it out.
I've talked about Ryan and Erica before, but since they seem to be on a collision course with drama, I feel that I need to revisit their relationship. I have to say that I like the idea -- at least in theory -- of Erica dating a younger man. That said, I think it's a bit perverse that she's dating the man who is father to her grandson (and her daughter's former lover). Just for argument's sake, let's just completely forget that the last statement is true, and pretend that Ryan is a stranger to Pine Valley. The writers have never really given us a reason to want to root for Ryan and Erica. I like that their pairing had a slow build -- and they were not rolling around in bed within five minutes of deciding to date each other. That's definitely a plus. It seems like forever ago that we were all wondering if putting a wet cell phone in a pile of rice really worked.
Now, all of a sudden, Erica and Ryan are racing to take their relationship to the next step. After about a year of hardly ever thinking about her, Ryan is suddenly flooded with images of Greenlee no matter where he is -- sleeping, drinking coffee, you name it. Has he ever visited Greenlee's gravesite? Does she even have a grave? Of course, we know that Greenlee is alive and well and that it's only a matter of time before she pops back up in Pine Valley. Think: February Sweeps. If it were not for the anticipation of seeing Rebecca Budig and Susan Lucci slug it out on-screen, I probably wouldn't care one bit about Erica and Ryan. They have too many other relationships to be interesting to me as lovers. Friends? Sure.
Speaking of Greenlee, I find her relationship with David to be absolutely fascinating. It is possibly the most layered of any relationship on AMC. These two are not lovers. Technically, they're not even really related anymore. They've become each other's confidant. Greenlee may be David's only friend. David saved Greenlee's life and now she's obligated to listen to him talk about all his dirty deeds without passing judgment. Okay, so maybe she hasn't exactly withheld commentary. In return, David sort of forced Greenlee to want to get better faster. How many times have we seen a supposedly paralyzed character stand up from his or her wheelchair because someone was making them angry? Here, Greenlee tried unsuccessfully to walk on her own, but David wasn't about to let her give up. I stick firm to my statement that I don't want to see Greenlee and David hooked up romantically, but I really would like to see them continue this... unorthodox friendship that they have.
Strangely, Tad and Liza's relationship works much better with Jamie Luner as Liza. As you may recall, I've been critical of the way that Liza has been written since Luner joined the show last year. I just found it hard to swallow that Liza was doing the things that she was doing. While I liked the love triangle between Tad, Liza, and Marian from back in the 1980s, I wasn't really that thrilled with the Tad, Liza, Dixie triangle from about a decade ago. I think some of that might have had to do with not liking the sneaky ways that Liza tried to break up Tad and Dixie. Marcy Walker's Liza was a bit more cutthroat and worked better as a romantic interest for Adam. Their pairing made sense. I don't think Marcy's Liza would ever have done a funny little striptease dance for Tad. That Liza was far too serious. Until recently, Luner's Liza wasn't really comical either -- she was all about sex. Now, we get to see another side of Liza -- and I like it. I don't know where this relationship is going, but, at least for now, it's entertaining.
What isn't entertaining, though, is Bailey's constant running to Liza. She needs to decide if she wants to be a mother to little Stuart or not. The very idea that she'd run to the woman whose baby she effectively took away is revolting to me. Find someone else to pester when the baby's crying or the cops are next door. Bailey and Damon's relationship bothers me even more. Can someone remind me again: Why is Damon still around?
Mentioning Adam two paragraphs ago got my gears a-whirring. The relationships he has with his family members are all screwed up. The decision to kill off Stuart... it also killed off one of the most powerful relationships on AMC. No longer will we have Stuart scolding Adam for being a big meanie. There will be no more of those hilarious swapping places stories. Scott no longer has a mother or a father -- which really leaves him with little purpose. Hayley and Skye are no longer on the show, meaning Adam has two less lives to interfere in. JR and Adam's relationship is so fractured that I'm not sure it will ever be able to be repaired. I don't know what Adam's relationship is with Colby or even if he recognizes her. Is it just me, or does Colby just look different for some reason every year or so? Hmm. I do like that Colby has decided that it is her mission to watch over Annie. It gives the character purpose since she really doesn't have much else to do.
Madison and Randi have another unusual relationship. They were the bitterest of enemies, but now they have been forced together as co-workers. Is this an attempt to reinvent the Fusion girls? There's nothing better than friction to entertain fans. Erica and Brooke, for example. I am not trying to imply that Madison and Randi are anywhere close to being akin to Erica and Brooke, but that dynamic has been sorely missing from the show. Madison is obviously going to need some sort of romantic link in the near future, but I'm not sure who that will be. The obvious choice had been Frankie, but I don't know if the writers will go in that direction now. Frankie's knight-in-shining-armor complex has been quiet of late. Why not put Madison with David. Both are outcasts and they might make for a devious duo.
It will be interesting to see how the show handles all of the kid recasts that are coming. In case you missed the news article, click here to read it now. Will any of the kids be rapidly aged? If they are, will that change the dynamic of the show? Will Emma suddenly be a teenager chasing after all the boys? Aging characters works in certain situations, but it will be interesting to see how many of these roles end up being altered. Anyone wanna make any guesses?
More than anything, the most important relationship in Pine Valley is the one that viewers have with the actors they get to see on-screen every day. Sadly, we lost one of our friends recently. James Mitchell, who for just about 30 years played Palmer Cortlandt, passed away on January 22. He was 89. I'd like to think that Mitchell's return for AMC's 40th anniversary extravaganza was his way of letting us see him one last time so that he could sort of give us one final shout-out for our years of support and friendship. I don't think there was a single AMC viewer who wasn't excited by the news that the feisty Pete Cooney would be back on-screen where he belonged. Now, he belongs to our memories... of which we have so many fondly tucked away.