Inside AMC with Dan Kroll: Facing the future

March 1999

It's been interesting watching the days that led up to Erica's current state. For several weeks---perhaps months---Erica really didn't have much to do in Pine Valley. She sort of hinted at a relationship with Dimitri, but she usually ended up bickering with Brooke. Then out of nowhere she found herself smack dab in the middle of two major storylines---her own and that of Liza's baby's paternity.

For some reason, I cannot help but think of the fictional character Blair Warner from The Facts of Life. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, The Facts of Life was about four young women who started off as acquaintances in a private boarding school and ended up living together as best friends. Blair was the beauty of the bunch. Her looks were everything to her. One night after studying late for an exam, I believe it was a law exam, Blair fell asleep at the wheel and crashed her sports car. When she awoke in the hospital, her face was swollen, bloodied, and bandaged. She was determined to remove her bandages and sneak a peek at what had happened to her face. Using a silver dinner tray, Blair looked at her reflection in horror: a huge gash scarred the one side of her face. The episode was rather touching as the woman's friends gathered around her and tried to help her through her trauma. By the next episode, Blair had undergone an amazing session under the plastic surgeon's knife and there was no sign of any type of scar on Blair's once again unmarred face.

So why have I taken this trip down the sitcom road of history? Well, the similarities between this 1980s episode and the current AMC storyline are rather overwhelming. In both cases women who relied so much on their looks suddenly had those looks taken from them. I would imagine that for weeks and months, Erica will have to come to terms with the supposed loss of her beauty. (I'll address the shallowness of this a few paragraphs down). I also suspect that overtime, Erica will receive some new plastic surgery technique and be good as new. After all, Julia had a much smaller scar removed from her cheek and Janet got a whole new face!

I am not opposed to the current storyline. I know that in the past I have stated that I believed that certain storylines have been developed with the Emmys in mind. I still believe that---but this is done for all performers, not just Susan Lucci. At the time this article was written, the emotional aspect of Erica's situation had not yet been addressed. I am hoping that it lives up to my expectations.

Now let's get down to business

There are few people who will argue that Erica Kane is not a beautiful woman. It is tragic that her face has been scarred by the accident. One must remember, though, that this same woman created a huge business from the ground up. Enchantment is Erica's baby. She saw the company grow from a single tube of lipstick to a dresser drawer full of cosmetics. Okay, so maybe that analogy isn't the best, but you get the idea. One of the reasons that Erica has been able to remain a staple of AMC is that her character remains interesting. Many of the characters interested in the past five years have come and gone. The writers failed to give these characters any depth and the viewers simply didn't care for them. Erica, however, is a most complex creature. Viewers, for the most part, actually care about what happens to Erica. They want to see her pitch a fit. They want to see someone set her straight. They want to see Erica being Erica.

Maybe that does require that Erica go through a deep depression about the "loss" of her good looks. Perhaps we'll witness a few breakdowns, a few temper tantrums, and lots of tears. Some fans might get tired of what they see as an unending whining session. Others might say, "Sure. You have a scar on your face. Get over it!" But this is Erica. This is the way she reacts. Like it or not, approve or disapprove, we're going to see Erica like we've never seen her before.

When all is said and done---maybe in a year---and Erica's face is restored to its original state, I hope that the character has learned something from her ordeal. There is something more to all of us than the outer shell we show the world. Maybe we'll all learn a little something along with Erica.

Dan J Kroll

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