Something funny happened on All My Children last week -- and it sort of threw me for a loop. For those of you who have been reading this column for a bit of time, you may have noticed that after I post a column about my disappointment with something on the show, the show usually addresses that item within the next week. Before you think that I have some sort of storyline superpower, that's not the case. Each episode of All My Children was taped long before it aired on our television screens -- and even more so when compared to the timing of this column.
However, that didn't stop me from hoping that there'd be some sort of stunning, what-the-heck kinda cliffhanger on Friday of last week. Perhaps I should have crossed my fingers and toes or looked for a four-leaf clover because it didn't happen. Instead, a full seven days after the Greenlee and Ryan kiss, I was given a cliffhanger about the same damned kiss. Grr.
So in the course of being irritated, I think I may have come up with a reason that All My Children bothers me so much right now. And this reason may or may not apply to you. The show has become humdrum because it's a little too much like what I see in my everyday life: folks who don't act their age, former lovers who just can't keep their hands off of each other, youngsters annoyed that they're being judged because of who their parents are, and mopping floors and cleaning toilets.
Erica's flirty testimony on the witness stand was a mixed bag for me. As much as I groan that Erica needs to act her age and appreciate the seriousness of issues, I did smile a bit as she batted her eyelashes at Jackson. I half expected her to unbutton something and get it on with Jack right there under the watchful eye of Y&R's evil Judge Sheila Carter. But she refrained, and for that I am pleased. Even worse: there could have been a fantasy courtroom sex scene. First Erica and Jack, then Greenlee and Ryan... and a bailiff moaning, "Orgy in the court!" But the entire scene reminds me of people who don't get that there's a time and a place for everything -- and that some things really need to be taken seriously.
Sometimes there are things that surprise me. I had to say that I thought Annie's drunken frat party at Confusion would go very differently. When Annie got up on a table, leaving her phone behind at the bar, I honestly feared the worst. I thought that Annie would be sexually assaulted. I am very pleased that things didn't go that route. Still, one of the reasons I seldom go out is because of people like Annie. I don't like to see people so inebriated that they don't know what's going on or they end up looking like a fool because they're drunk. I also have to say that I appreciate that the writers didn't turn JR's requests for Annie to shuck her clothes into some sort of sexual romp. I worried about that, too. Instead, he had Annie take a cold shower to sober her up. I almost wished that there would have been some allusion to JR's past alcohol abuse, but maybe that would have been too preachy.
Another scene that struck me as something that I can relate to was the marriage talk between Brot, Frankie, Natalia, and Randi. Who doesn't know someone who has put off marriage or sacrificed a relationship because of their commitment to their work? I was a bit puzzled by Natalia's random daydream sequence about her wedding day. At first I remember thinking, "Was she married before?!" Then I went to the, "I have no idea what is going on here" phase. Now, I just think it was some sort of figment of Natalia's mind that wasn't really meant to be analyzed.
So Natalia is afraid of dating someone who also works for the Pine Valley Police Department. She must have heard about the issues that Derek Frye and Mimi Reed had back in the day. Yeah, I remember that storyline. It's also interesting that in both situations the characters involved were not White. It makes me wonder if the writers aren't sure what type of storylines to develop for the African American and Latino characters on the show. Still, I'm sure there are a lot of couples that have met as a result of being in the same workplace -- so it's a valid discussion. And, truth be told, I am enjoying the exploration of Brot and Natalia's characters. Both are headstrong and stubborn, yet both have been hurt.
Randi finally talked about her past as a prostitute. There were a few things that struck me as real in her discussion with Frankie about her modeling work. First, the writers didn't allow Randi to suddenly forget about her troubled past just because she became one of the storied Hubbards. Randi admitted that her modeling career was something that made her feel proud. She didn't diminish in any way her love for Frankie -- which could have very easily happened with the wrong dialogue. All of this does, however, make me wonder if we'll ever learn anything about Randi's past. Everyone else's past is brought up to be used against them -- why aren't the writers that invested in this character to stir things up?
One of the most tender moments I've seen in quite some time, though, involved Bianca and Kendall. In a scene that didn't last nearly long enough, the two sisters questioned how their lives would have been different had they grown up together. Believe it or not, I actually paused the show and took some notes right after that scene. Kendall originally showed up in Pine Valley as a scorned, adopted child intent on making Erica pay for putting her up for adoption. Bianca struggled with an eating disorder and her homosexuality.
I wonder how their lives would have been different. This is also something that I think most people can relate to. For folks who have siblings, I'm sure they've wondered what it would have been like to be an only child -- or to maybe be somewhere else in the age-slash-pecking order. For me, I've wondered what it would have been like to have a brother or sister. So this struck me as something very relatable to a lot of people.
Likewise, Colby was miffed during the course of the week that she was a Chandler. "I'm beginning to think the name [Chandler] is a curse," Colby lamented at one point. Colby hasn't always been a saint, but it appears to me that the writers are trying to make her a "moral compass" for the Chandler family. I wonder how long that trajectory will continue, especially since it seems a foregone conclusion that Colby will soon be torn between two men.
Zach's back in Pine Valley and, removing that his reunion with Kendall was done over a bucket of dirty mop water, he seems less than thrilled to be in Pine Valley. I didn't buy his "I just woke up and decided to hop on a plane" explanation for his drop-in. It seemed a little too convenient -- or maybe forced -- to me. Then there was that odd phone call that prompted him to drop having sexy time with Kendall to... do something else less sexy. If you'll allow me to channel my inner Whoopi Goldberg, "Kendall, you in danger, girl." Something smells bad -- and it's not the bedpans and trashcans that Kendall has been cleaning.
And not for nothing, sometimes I think we could all use a little excitement in our lives. Okay, so maybe we don't need a gang of hired goons to storm commando-style into our homes... but you know what I mean. For a lot of viewers, soaps are a chance to escape their lives for 43 minutes each day. The tales of romance and forbidden love, the adventure and danger... it's what we crave. And just like a scorned soap opera lover, if viewers can't get it from AMC, I worry that they'll go find it elsewhere.