As you're reading this column, Lorraine Broderick's original storyline material is preparing to hit the airwaves. The episodes with Broderick as the official head writer begin airing the week, and you can already feel the difference. I don't mean to endlessly sing the praises of one particular person, but I will offer kudos when deserved. Lorraine Broderick may be second only to Agnes Nixon in terms of giving a damn about All My Children.
A few weeks ago, it was revealed that Lorraine Broderick had wanted to take over the role of head writer of All My Children after Charles Pratt, Jr., was fired. Do you remember me saying in a past Two Scoops column that Broderick only wanted to stick around for a short time because she didn't want the job on a full-time basis? Well, it appears that was not the case -- and quite possibly network spin.
That's right around the time -- or just before -- ABC started moving full-steam ahead with plans to develop talk shows and other reality nonsense to replace One Life to Live. It wasn't until All My Children's ratings dipped below One Life to Live's that ABC decided that it would have to yank both of them from the dial. I'm sure you can see where I'm going, but I'll ask it anyway: If ABC had allowed Lorraine Broderick a chance to write for AMC for the past year or so, would the show still have been canceled? If the decision was a done deal, Broderick would have had twelve months longer to wrap everything up. If the decision hadn't yet been made, Broderick could have been given a year to get things together -- and if the ratings were still down, we'd be in no different position than we are now.
It's said that the replacement programs ABC has lined up can make more money for the network. It's never been said that AMC, One Life to Live, or General Hospital are losing money. You know all of those giveaways that they do on talk shows? That's all paid for by advertisers paying for the "promotional consideration" of their products. Check out the credits scroll at the end of any of the programs. Apparently, it's easier to do that sort of integration into talk shows than it is the soaps -- but I'm not buying that.
The Young and the Restless has gotten mainstream media attention for the launch of its new line of Jabot cosmetics. It seems the CBS soap has had a cosmetics company in its storylines for years -- and they've licensed the name to a real world company that will manufacture and distribute a line of affordable luxury cosmetics that soap fans (and non-soap fans) can buy. What a novel idea! Imagine that... a soap opera making money by selling real world versions of its fictitious products. Are you ready for the kicker? The company that is producing the cosmetics is called... wait for it... Fusion.
All My Children has sold various perfumes in stores like Sears and Walmart over the years. Did it garner any attention from the media? Not that I'm aware of. The Y&R launch was featured on the cover of an advertising trade publication -- and the PR department spun the blurring of soap and reality as something that has never been done before. There's a reason Y&R has been the top-rated soap for more than two decades.
Industry experts expect the Jabot line to generate in excess of 10 million dollars in sales in its first year. It's a far cry from the 1.3 billion dollars of sales that Revlon had in 2010, but it's something. An extra million dollars here and there can keep a soap on the air.
With all the talk of Fusion's -- the AMC version, not the real one -- organic line, did anyone think to market some All My Children lipstick or blush? I'm sure Disney has a stake in a cosmetics company somewhere.
So back to my point about Lorraine Broderick. You can already tell that someone who knows All My Children is in charge of drafting story. There have been a lot of subtle -- and not-so-subtle -- references to history.
I know that there are not a lot of viewers out there that are interested in Maya. Some of you may not even know the name. Maya is the new Chandler maid. Oh yeah, she's also the birthmother of Angie and Jesse's baby. After that initial baby-swapping bit, it seemed like Maya's purpose in Pine Valley was gone. I think we all probably sat around, waiting for her to cross paths with the Hubbards and scream, "That's my baby!" It didn't happen. I suspect that the storyline was tweaked, but I don't know that for certain. It's just my Two Scoop-tuition.
Now we have a tale starting to unravel that might have Maya being involved in an abusive relationship. That's the type of summer story that All My Children is known for. Sure, you may call it an Afterschool Special, but it's the stories with messages that are the hallmark of Agnes Nixon's soaps. AMC has shined a spotlight on things like HIV/AIDS, domestic abuse, abortion, homosexuality, and even interracial relationships, and brought them into our dialogue.
It's not just about being preachy. There have been some great standalone scenes, too. Jackson and Greenlee sat down for a father-daughter chat over cotton candy. I can't recall the last time that there was a meaningful discussion between a parent and their child. And no, Bianca telling Miranda to steer clear of the sinister minister does not count. The heart-to-heart between Randi and Madison was also very touching. So often soaps seem to gloss over the fact that a character has lost a child or suffered a medical malady. The shows use those bad time events when contract talks aren't going well or when they need a Sweeps storyline. After that, it's usually swept under the rug.
AMC has also done a great job of weaving humor into its plots. That was evidenced with Tad's smurftastic hair coloring. Sure, it was a little goofy -- but it worked. Tad has genuine feelings for Cara, so it makes complete sense that he'd want to look a little more youthful for his fake wife. Toss in a little unexpected twist, and you've got some comic material for Michael E. Knight to work his magic on.
Another area in which All My Children excels historically is the crafting of storylines with incredible fallout. Whether or not you like the Jane storyline or not, there's been some great side story. The fake Erica has helped David get his job back at the hospital. And Ryan is now picking up on the fact that something's not right with Erica. Ryan doesn't always strike me as the most observant person in Pine Valley, so you know there have got to be bells, whistles, and warning sirens when he picks up on something.
You know, between us, I think the Jane storyline has also been tweaked from the way it was originally envisioned. I don't know that for the truth, but that's another vibe that I am getting.
There was a great exchange between Erica and Jane last week or so that really caught my attention. Jane was commenting on how she was suddenly getting attention and living a fabulous life, when Erica replied, "That's my life." There was a sense of urgency in Susan Lucci's performance that day that grabbed me and made me watch every single moment. I am certainly not saying that this is the most original storyline ever devised -- or even the best -- but there have been moments that have been truly spectacular.
The word "spectacular" conjures up all these great images for me. The word "spectacle," though? Not really. But a spectacle is exactly what I would call that head-shaking, drive-by sex romp between JR and Amanda. I will give them some credit: at least no one died. Usually in Pine Valley, someone has to die before you can have the drive-by sex. The Las Vegas must not be out of my system yet because I am now taking bets on whether or not Amanda will end up pregnant and need Maury Povich's help to help determine the father of her child.
Through all of that, though, there was a shining moment. I was really taken by Amanda's explanation of true love. She sobbed as she stated that Jake was the true love of her life -- but that she feared that she was not Jake's true love. In that moment, my heart went out to Amanda. It was a moment of true reality in an hour of fictional material.
I don't always need reality in my soaps. That's why I am so looking forward to the end of July when Annie, Janet, and Marian break out of Oak Haven. I haven't been excited about three women causing trouble since Erica, Janet, and Skye buried Jonathan Kinder. And you're telling me that Dixie will also somehow figure into the mix? Oooh, I can't wait! The only drawback is that once July rolls around, we'll only have two more months of All My Children.
So now that I've depressed myself (and possibly you, too), I need a distraction. I'd love to hear from you regarding whether or not you've noticed any uptick in All My Children's stories of late. Are there any storylines that you think have been changed in light of AMC's cancellation? You should know the routine by now, but there may be some new readers checking in... so here goes. Click the Feedback option at the top of the page, the email link at the close of the column, or just click here to send your thoughts to me. I read all of your messages, even if I don't have a chance to reply personally to every one -- and you never know, your thoughts could pop up in a future Two Scoops column!
Thank you for reading, and I'll meet you back here next week!