Every now and again, something happens on All My Children that catches me a little by surprise. Since I posted my last column, there's been one of those surprises playing out on our television screens. So what is it? It's the scope of the fallout from Tad and Cara's wedding.
As I mentioned before, we've seen "married for a green card" plots before. Usually it involves one or two people having their feelings hurt because they're not allowed to be with the person that they really want to be with. This time around, though, it seems like nearly everyone in Pine Valley is miserable as a result of this sham marriage.
Obviously it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Cara and Jake are unhappy. Besides, the rocket scientist is busy helping Ryan figure out that he's the father of Madison's baby -- but more on that later. From the moment Jake learned that Cara's "other man" was actually her brother, you could see that Jake's entire perception of Cara changed. Cara wore her wedding ring around her neck for years, so you know she wasn't "over" Jake.
At the risk of sounding like a mean, heartless columnist, I have to say that I don't want to see Jake and Cara together. Of course my saying that probably means that it will be only a matter of a few months before they do end up together. I understand that Jake and Cara were in love and had to part for reasons beyond their control, but life marches on. Jake has a wife and child now, and if he were to toss that all away for a past love... I'd lose any respect that I have for him. (And I'm already a bit irked that he had the gall to ask Tad how far he was "willing to go" to make his marriage to Cara look real.) I also think it is a little tacky for Cara to even think that Jake should, would, or could walk away from his family life to reunite with her.
Caught in the crossfire of all of the not-so-wedded bliss is Amanda. I was putting sheets on my bed the other day and, for whatever reason, it made me think back to the first time we all saw Amanda as a grown-up. She was wearing some skimpy little lingerie and sleeping in JR's bed, I believe. For what seemed like an eternity, Amanda was painted as a bimbo. I was so happy when the writers gave Amanda some additional layers -- it's kept the character interesting. Let's face it: the ditzy sexpot routine has a very short shelf life.
What I really like about Amanda's current predicament is the irony of it all. Here's a woman who was so threatened and unhappy by Cara's return to Pine Valley that she became paranoid, started making phone calls to people, and now -- poof! -- her actions have actually prevented the woman she resents from leaving town. Now Amanda is drowning her sorrows with martinis, and she seems to be on the verge of a total breakdown. I don't know if AMC will take Amanda down Cuckoo Lane, especially since we just watched Annie spiral (back) out of on control. However, I really do like the idea of crafting a storyline where Amanda questions her sanity. Her mother, of course, suffers from mental illness, and it could be a riveting story to watch play out.
I never expected Krystal to be so distraught over Tad's pretend marriage. It's been years since we were led to believe that Tad and Krystal were anything more than housemates. Even though the two of them were living together without the, ahem, "benefits" of being a couple, I'd have to imagine that Krystal had become used to the arrangement. The routine... the constant companionship... it really does make sense that she'd be put out by having to be, well, put out of the house.
I am a little confused about why Krystal feels the need to take Tad's children with her when she goes. One reader noted in an email to me that she doesn't believe Krystal regained custody of the children following her divorce from Tad. I can't say that I remember any chatter about custody, but it was odd that Tad didn't even seem to fight to keep his kids in the house. I guess that we have to believe that the goons that are after Cara pose a threat to the kids if they remain in the house.
Was anyone else surprised by Joe's reaction to the faux nuptials? I didn't expect him to be jumping for joy that Tad was essentially breaking the law, but I was surprised by how vocal he was in his opposition. Meanwhile, Ruth was a sobbing mess during the ceremony. I laughed when Joe flashed her a "Woman, pull yourself together!" glare. Most importantly, though, it was so nice to see Ray MacDonnell and Lee Meriwether back in Pine Valley where they belong.
I don't see any happy resolution to the Tad/Cara wedding. I mean, I suppose Tad and Cara could fall in love with each other (for real) and that would allow everyone to be happily married, but happy doesn't often happen in Pine Valley. Speaking of things that don't often happen, I have to say that I was amazed that no one decided to speak up at the wedding to offer a reason why the couple should not be married.
I need for Erica to get herself together. She went to Betty Ford a bunch of years back for addiction to painkillers. She may want to check back in to find out why she keeps screwing up her love life. Is she addicted to heartbreak? I sort of shook my head when Jack was lingering around the house to wait until Erica returned home to break the news that he was moving out. It shouldn't have come to that. Then I was torn when Erica popped up at the Yacht Club with a surprise candlelight dinner. It was nice that she admitted that she'd messed up, but on the flip side of that, it was almost too little, too late.
Meanwhile, Michael Nouri seems to have no storyline without being part of Erica's romantic life. It seems Caleb and Asher have gotten past their issues and life is great. I'm not sure what else can be done with Caleb at this point. Pete Cortlandt could return to fight for Cortlandt Electronics, but we just wrapped up a battle for the company.
I'm also surprised by how much I like NuOldScott and Madison as a couple. They are being painted as two young adults struggling to find their way in the world. We've known for some time that Madison apparently doesn't have any money. I guess the issues with her father prevented her from having access to any of her family's money. Then there's Scott, who had a modest lifestyle growing up and then was a corporate bigwig, but now he has no money because he was locked up. As a couple, they seem to be the only ones that are being shown as having to actually count their pennies.
Remember the scenes where Madison was resting on her bed a week or so back and Scott came out of the shower, wearing only a towel? According to Stephanie Gatschet (Madison), Daniel Cosgrove (Scott) really was only wearing a towel. Cosgrove was completely naked, which Gatschet said came as a total surprise to her.
One last surprise: Ryan can do math! He didn't even blink when he overheard Madison's doctor say "19 weeks." No "Four goes into 19 how many times?" Now if only we could get him Hooked on Phonics. Oh, I kid!
I came up with an idea the other day about how All My Children could inject some new energy into the show. The storylines needs stories within their stories. The writers needs to continue to craft the typical soap storylines that we know and love, but I think that there are plenty of characters that could have "stand-alone" plots. What do I mean? Why not have some storylines that take place at the hospital that are not part of the show as a whole. The doctors surely have patients with medical conditions or other medical mysteries. Tad and Cara could work together as private investigators and take on various cases -- some funny, some dramatic. The Miranda Center is always talked about, but we never actually see the place. What if Bianca were to get involved with women and children that need help? Caleb, as I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, doesn't seem to have much to do. The show could craft up a couple of court cases involving regular Pine Valley residents and have Caleb take them on.
I don't know how these mini-storylines would play out with viewers, but it would add some newness to the material that we see on our TV sets. In the middle of dealing with their professional lives, the characters would all still have to deal with the DNA mix-ups, the marital problems, and the all that other soapy goodness.
What do you think of the idea? Well here's your chance to speak now... or forever hold your peace.