Earlier this week, I was incredibly moved when Adam-Michael James gave me this awesome necklace to wear. I assumed he gave it to me as a way to show his commitment to me. Turns out it was just a pen on a rope indicating that he needed me to fill in for him this week here in Two Scoopsville. Sometimes a pen is just a pen. But whatever, I am up for the challenge.
When folks whose soaps have been canceled ask me if there is a soap that I can recommend, I typically point them in the direction of The Bold and the Beautiful. The cast is small, so there are not a lot of characters to remember, and the show is only 30 minutes (or about 17 or so when you factor in commercials). Since I retired from podcasting and hosting Soap Central Live, I don't often have a regular forum to share my opinions about the four soaps.
Every week you get to hear -- or rather read -- from Chanel and Mike and learn their innermost feelings about everything Bold and Beautiful. I typically constrain (or restrain) myself to the 280-character limit imposed by Twitter when I live tweet the show on the @soapcentral account, so this column is already more words than I typically get to use at one time. That being said, I wanted to do something slightly different from a typical Two Scoops column. I am going to rewind a bit in time to talk about the things that led up to last week's B&B action so that you can get a better understanding of why I feel the way that I do.
I'll start first with Xander, Emma, and Zoe. When the casting call for Xander was originally released back in the spring, I had been hoping that the show was really trying to recast Zende but wanted to keep it on the hush. It isn't that I necessarily have an attachment to Zende; it was more that the character was already a character that existed in the B&B universe... a character with history, a character that viewers knew and presumably cared about.
In my head, Zende was coming back into the fold to possibly explore that awkward moment that took place between him and Maya back in Monaco. Remember when those two goons gave Maya a hard time about being transgender? That would have also allowed for Nicole to have some story. And Rick. You know, characters that people complain on Twitter and the Soap Central message boards about not seeing every day/week/month. Even if the show decided not to make something of the Maya/Zende moment, I assumed that there had to be some untold story for all of those characters. It turns out, Zende is still abroad, Nicole is still MIA, and Rick is... somewhere.
I guess it shouldn't come as a big surprise that B&B is doing a young love story during the summer. Soaps have been doing that since the dawn of time. I would love to know if it still works in recruiting a younger demographic. 20 years ago, for example, there were no streaming services, and a lot of people still did not have Internet access. So, summer soap storylines were a great way to capture the attention of kids who didn't have a summer job. Is that still applicable in 20-almost-19?
Okay, back to the story. I want to like Xander and Emma. It's not that I don't, per se. It's more that I don't know enough about them to care about a crazy cat-stroking ex-lover. On The Young and the Restless last week, the show killed off Hilary Curtis. Her death played out over the course of a week, and she was a character that had existed on the canvas for five years. I cared that she died. I cared about how her death would affect those around her, particularly other characters that I care about.
It's not that an infusion of new faces is a bad thing. It's more that B&B often seems to tire of new characters quickly. Remember when B&B started simulcasting in Spanish, and they brought on a handful of Spanish-speaking characters? I'll wait while you try to conjure up their names. How about Dayzee, Marcus, Oliver, and Ivy. The Spectras came and mostly went within a year, though Sally did eventually return to town. I also feel like the Avants have sort of been forgotten to a certain extent.
Yeah, Xander has ties to the Avants. Every time I see Xander, I can't help but think, "Gee, I miss Vivienne and Julius." Or "I wonder what Nicole and Zende are up to in Europe." That isn't anyone's fault, but it is a look into how my mind operates. I venture to guess that a lot of you reading this column also spend time missing or thinking about characters that are no longer on the canvas.
And sure, Emma has ties to Justin (and I do love Bill and Justin's relationship). I don't yet know how I feel about Zoe. As comical as her James Bond villain cat-petting might be, I actually like the idea that she is slightly unhinged. She hasn't gone as far as to have a "vision board" in her closet yet, but that might still be on deck. Or, since she is a millennial, perhaps she has a digital version stashed away somewhere in a Google Drive folder. She probably also has terabytes of cat photos stored there, as well, but I have just as many photos and videos of my bunny, so who am I to judge?
But where does the Xander/Emma/Zoe story go? When autumn rolls around, will they disappear? Will there be some sort of November Sweeps paternity shocker about Harry the Cat? November is still several months away, and it's entirely possible that by then, I will have spent enough time with the trio to care about whatever their next story might be.
This is a line from Mike's Two Scoops column that was posted five years ago this week: "Brooke's bad week brightened when Hope announced that she and Liam were engaged! Yes, Hope actually accepted Liam's three-millionth proposal."
Six years ago this week, Chanel wrote, "Liam and Steffy were on the Forrester rooftop saying 'goodbye' and 'cha-cha-cha' for the umpteenth time. [...] A baby would be the worst fashion accessory for Steffy. I can see her carrying it on her chest in a tacky fur sling."
Seven years ago -- yes, there's a trend here, but just hang with me on this -- Mike offered this gem: "Does Dollar Bill love Katie? Steffy? Both? Two short years ago, the man was a womanizer extraordinaire. Meanwhile, Steffy paced with her iPhone Krazy Glued to her hand, waiting for Bill's call because she's in love. Now, y'all know I've come down on the girl for chasing after Owen, Bill, Oliver, and Liam. People with abandonment issues do seek out unavailable mates. Marcus was available, so Steffy didn't want him, and I'm sure the whole thing with Rick messed her up but good. So it's not surprising she'd get all goofy about Bill now that he's paying attention to her."
Here we are, all these years later, and not much has changed, except maybe that Liam is now impregnating anyone who he sets his gaze upon. I still have no idea if Bill actually loves anyone other than himself and possibly Sky. Steffy still seems to be making poor choices when it comes to love interests. And then there is Brooke.
For the life of me, I don't understand what Brooke is doing. Rather than supporting Hope, Brooke is making things worse for Hope. Brooke's continual nudging and overreaching is not helping the situation one bit. She was practically drooling when Hope took her pregnancy test a few weeks back. I get being excited that you're going to be a grandparent, but it was the "You're pregnant, now you can get Liam" attitude that just rubbed me in all sorts of unpleasant ways. Brooke, who has herself ping-ponged from ding-dong to ding-dong over the years, seemed overjoyed that Hope had a bargaining chip or leverage in her pursuit of Liam.
I think it's pretty obvious that Brooke and Ridge are going to continue colliding over the Hope/Steffy situation. I am sure it will put a strain on their relationship. Then what? Will Brooke run back to Bill? Well, no, because he's in love with Steffy. But maybe if Brooke became available, he'd ditch Steffy for the other love of his life, Brooke. Or Brooke could chase after Thorne. That, of course, would mean that Katie would get the boot from whatever it is that she and Thorne may or may not have. So then... Katie would reunite with Ridge?
I mean, every dancer would have a partner except for maybe Hope. Or Steffy. It depends on what would happen after Bill and Brooke rekindled their love. I didn't put much thought into that dance card shuffle (perhaps it shows), but it's spooky how easy it is to mix them all up and have it make "sense."
And just so that it doesn't seem like I am singling out the women... Liam's behavior is equally disgusting. He bounces back and forth from woman to woman more often than I go to Target. (Without outing my shopping proclivities, let's just say that's "a lot.") He's not the first person in soap history to father children with two different women in under a year, but that doesn't mean he gets a free pass. A free vasectomy? Maybe.
I guess the thing I have always had trouble with is trying to figure out if it is really possible to be in love with multiple people at the same time. I'm not talking like how you love your BFF, or your pet, or the French fries from Five Guys. I'm talking I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you-and-cannot-live-a-day-without-you love. Maybe it's possible that expectations have gotten so low nowadays that love is more like eh-you'll-do-for-a-couple-of-months.
If you toss in Sally, Liam has had three love interests of varying degrees in the past year. Liam kissed Sally, and Steffy treated him like he was the worst person in the world. Now she walked in on Liam almost getting ready to have sex with Hope, and she's angry. Hope's pregnant, so it's not like Liam and Hope hadn't done the deed before. Recently, even. And then there's Bill swooping in to declare that Steffy is the love of his life. For at least the next ten minutes.
To $Bill's credit, at least he broadcasts his jackassery for all the world to see. He's not a saint in public and then a jerk in private. Nope. Bill is all jerk, all the time. That being said, all of the women in Los Angeles, all -- Quinn, Maya, Katie, Brooke... sorry, I'm counting... -- all nine women that live in Los Angeles should already know what to expect from him. I personally wouldn't want to get involved with someone who threatens to take a child from his mother or forces people to write career-ending reviews or blows up buildings... but that's me. If Steffy willingly chooses to be with Bill, I don't ever want to hear her say anything bad about Bill if their union crumbles like the old Spectra building. She knows what Bill is capable of.
If I were Steffy and/or Hope, I'd leave Los Angeles and not look back. Not even for a second. Liam doesn't love either of them. He loves the idea of being in love. Liam dumped Steffy because he thought she was seeing Bill, got engaged to Hope, left Hope at the altar because he found out Steffy didn't really have a thing going with Bill, started to make out with a pregnant Hope while committed to Steffy... Who does this? It makes you wonder what's so special about Liam that every woman becomes a bumbling fool around him. What does Liam have or what does he do that is so wonderful? You know what? That might be TMI.
In spite of me questioning all of these characters' sanity, what I do love is that many of the show's characters are involved in story at the moment. It may not be nearly as much as we would want, but at least the days do not involve just two or three characters at a time. Yes, Brooke is annoying with her incessant attempts to get Liam and Hope together -- but at least she's on-screen. No, I don't want Brooke and Ridge fighting, but at least they are given the chance to be on-screen to fight in the first place.
I would prefer that a lot of these characters have their own stories and be involved in other characters' stories. I wouldn't mind a business-related storyline that also played into the show somehow. Not to go political, but what if tariffs caused a financial burden on Forrester in some way? Or what if one of the not-seen but off-screen characters was kidnapped and held for ransom? What if Forrester was hit by the shift in purchasing habits (i.e., less expensive designers) and had to fold? These are not fully fleshed-out ideas, but these are the things that pop out of my head when I take a few moments to think about things.
A bunch of years ago, The Bold and the Beautiful shifted gears and stopped a lot of storylines that were viewed as campy and instead focused on things like adoption, homelessness, gender identity, cancer, and suicide. The show went from rarely nominated for Daytime Emmys to winning Outstanding Drama Series a bunch of years in a row. I don't need the show to kill off a contract player with an incurable disease, but I also wouldn't mind a temporary detour from love triangles.
At a time when public perception as a whole is shifting, I don't think the torn-between-two-brothers stories have the same allure as they did in, say, the 1980s. The idea back then was kinda sorta taboo. Now, you can turn on Dr. Phil and find someone who has slept with their lover's brothers, sisters, father, mother, Crossfit instructor, and spiritual guru. And that's just the opening act for whatever he has in the second half of the show.
B&B has an incredibly talented roster of actors and actresses. Heather Tom and Scott Clifton have won Emmys in Lead, Supporting, and Younger acting categories. They are the only two performers in the history of daytime to do that. In fact, nearly everyone who has been with the cast for more than a year has at some point in their career been nominated for or won a Daytime Emmy.
I say that to say that I'd like to see the cast unleashed into some meaty story. What if Bill were brought up on sexual harassment charges? What if Ingo Rademacher's Thorne had a storyline of any kind? If I try to think up the moments in the past few years that stick out in my mind, there are things like Stephanie succumbing to cancer and dying in Brooke's arms or the revelation that Maya is a trans woman. I also think of how Aly went berserk and was ultimately killed. I also continue to be blown away by B&B's on-location shoots. And, yes, I do think of things like the boink berries and mask sex.
Before you think that this column is just a long rant. Nope. Not the case. There is still plenty about B&B to love. The final scene on Thursday's show when Steffy said, "Oh, yes, I did" when Liam spotted Steffy's new necklace. Everything about that was awesome. The camera work, the music, the acting. I applauded. Yes, I actually sat in my office, clapping at the television.
As I said earlier in the column, if Zoe were just a few degrees more nutty, she could easily be my favorite soap opera crazy person. I wouldn't mind seeing an animated series about Harry the Cat's adventures.
I also see potential for an Emma-helmed Web series spinoff that has something to do with dance. A couple of B&B performers have appeared on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars. Why not get them hoofing it up?
I get oodles of feedback from fans. There are emails, tweets, Facebook postings, threads on the Soap Central message boards. So, I feel that I get a good understanding of what fans would like to see and, conversely, what they do not want to see. I always get nervous when fans say that they are no longer going to watch a particular soap. Many use that as a fear tactic, but others do tune out. They may drop an episode here and there, and before long, they have three weeks of unwatched episodes on their DVRs.
I don't know that I fully consider myself a steward of the soap opera genre, but I've been toiling away here at Soap Central for a quarter of a century, and I don't want to see any other soaps go the way of so many others that are no longer with us. The great news is that B&B is so well positioned that only a few minor tweaks here and there are needed.
And segueing to something else that is well positioned, I think that this is a pretty all right place to end this week's Two Scoops column. Thanks for letting me hang out with you, and please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the Comments section further down this page or on Twitter (I handle the main @soapcentral account, and my personal account is @danjkroll). Next week, it will be Chanel's turn to be in a relationship with the column. Until next we meet, please continue to be bold and beautiful.
What are your thoughts on The Bold and the Beautiful? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.