The price of (California) freedom

by Mike
For the Week of July 20, 2015
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B&B Two Scoops: The price of (California) freedom
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The week of July 20, 2015
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It's Independence Month on B&B, with the Forrester Creations crew carrying the spirit of the Fourth over into their fabulous, history-making transgender fashion show -- which also exemplified equality by including the same drama as the design house's more traditional showings. Maya didn't know her daddy was counting sequins like they were hundred-dollar bills. Ivy didn't know she was about to encounter the business end of a waffle. And no one knew Aly was taking her cues from Floating Evil Darla Bubble! It's freedom of expression right here with Two Scoops' Mike!

Has your week been bold and beautiful? Did you decide you could accept your daughter's transition as long as she made a transition to your wallet? Did being on the losing end of a relationship make you a winner? Did your definition of freedom include life, liberty, and the pursuit of your enemies? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Avant clan this week!

I'm back, Scoopers! First Fairbanks, Alaska, then back to L.A. for a while -- and I should have gotten the straight scoop from our B&B characters when I was still on their playground, because I came home to a DVR full of episodes that I needed to get caught up on so I could Scoop accurately. These folks have rather run amok, haven't they? Waffling, evil ghost mothers -- and a trio of new faces. Let's try to make some sense of it all!

But first, I certainly got a bit of flak for what topped my B&B six-months-in-review column! Perhaps I should clarify: I did say the Myron/Maya twist was the best of 2015's offerings so far, and I maintain my props for the slow build-up to Rick discovering Maya's designation at birth. But by "best," I meant the twist itself. It was boss! No one saw that coming, and that's rare for soaps anymore.

The handling afterwards? Well, yeah, Rick accepted Maya's truth far too easily, and while it's great that everyone in her circle has been loving and accepting, it's not particularly realistic. I mean, it's kind of a glimpse into what the world could be like, a world that should be, but if B&B wants to tackle this very hot-button story, we have to see all sides of it. This is where Julius Avant comes in.

It was only natural, after Maya and Nicole spoke so much of the repression they grew up with at home, that we'd meet their parents eventually. Mama Avant stormed that Fourth of July party like she was a force to be reckoned with. But something happened when Julius showed up -- Vivienne lost her bite. I suppose that happens; Julius seems to be the dominant figure, so Vivienne kowtows to him, at least until she's alone and has a chance to say what she wants to say. I just wish there was more of a balance with Mr. and Mrs. Avant. Too much of him, not enough of her.

The one thing both parents agreed on was that baby sis Nicole needed to come home now, but Miss Avant wasn't about that. I liked that Nicole owned her crappy treatment of Maya, because it addressed and resolved the inconsistency in her character. And, as with the Myron/Maya twist, Reign Edwards got a chance to show us what a young powerhouse she is when Nicole gave her parents a tongue-lashing for how badly they treated her sister. With the right material, that girl just shines.

Julius and Vivienne were worried about Maya being a bad influence on Nicole, but for the wrong reasons. Maya being transgender is hardly a problem -- it's how unscrupulous Maya was while going after a married Rick and how she reveled in getting him after outing Caroline's kisses with Ridge. Maya was a bad girl, and she's only now just barely making restitution for that (example: her two-second apology to Aly). Julius citing Maya's stint in jail as a benchmark for her taste in companions wasn't too far off the mark, either.

At any rate, Julius was so anti-Maya while trying to drag Nicole back to Illinois that even Vivienne wanted him to chill, so wasn't it a surprise among surprises when he met up with Maya at the Forrester manse and suddenly pulled "his girl" into a hug? I would have called baloney on that, as it was another acceptance that happened too fast, but Vivienne's shock tells me there's more going on there. It seems the big J is out of work, plus he blames his social and economic downfall on the humiliation of having a transgender daughter. Is Maya about to be a meal ticket?

Maya empathized with her parents' struggle to reconcile their dreams for their child with that child making a transition they couldn't understand, which was a nice touch. And Maya really wanted to believe it when her Daddy said he would try to accept her and get to know her. But Vivienne wasn't buying it, and Nicole sure as hell wasn't havin' it, which she made plainly clear as she popped off to her parents. Hell, even Rick was dubious!

And no wonder, the way Julius tipped his hand by asking Rick, "What kind of man wants to make a life with a woman like Maya?" Fair question, at least in terms of presenting a well-rounded story, as was Mr. Avant wanting to know if Rick was straight. These are the kinds of things people ask when they don't understand the transgender community; it ain't pretty, but there's no point in being overly PC about things in this story, either.

Julius' other dropped clue was his admission that he and Vivienne want to see "what else [Maya] can bring to our lives." Papa J may think it's wrong that "my son [is] traipsing up and down a runway in a dress," but when he sees how much bank Maya brings home for it, I think that tune will change. Personally, I hope Julius bleeds Maya. Not only would it make it more true-to-life that not everyone can accept her -- not right away, anyway -- but it would deliver Maya a comeuppance she surely deserves. After all, she went after Rick in large part because she liked him livin' large. Karma and a chance to see how Maya became a material girl? I'll take it.

As for the fourth wheel in the Avant family machine, Nicole didn't have time for Wyatt's guilt over extracting the truth about Maya from her; still, I'm glad that conversation was had. Nicole was much more interested in what Zende Forrester Dominguez had to say. Backtracking a bit, I liked seeing a flashback used for something that didn't happen the same week for a change -- I was actually a little amazed that we revisited Kristen and Tony's first meeting with Zende in 2001. And Zende may be the first Forrester-Logan kid to not suffer from SORAS! This is about the age he would be by now!

It was also a neat bit of insight that Zende relayed how he'd tried to be a good kid because Kristen and Tony had saved his life. But then he had to remind Nicole that he wasn't that good -- in fact, he was bad to the bone, referencing George Thorogood's song in the process. Frontin' a little bit there, Z? I did think he and Nicole connected a little too fast, but we're still in the safe zone with that; I think they could be a really cool couple if their chemistry is allowed to simmer for a while first.

The Ivy/Liam/Steffy/Wyatt quandrangle all seems academic now, given this week's turn of events, but I just want to tell you guys how disappointed I am that Liam has reverted to waffling, wussy type. Once Hope and Steffy were out of the picture, the flip-flopping fop actually became interesting and root-worthy, the way he stood up for Ivy and stuck by her during Rick's reign of corporate terror. Liam even withstood Steffy's first sultry stab at seduction! So what the hell happened?

Maybe, maybe there's merit in Liam saying he didn't realize how strong his feelings for Steffy still were until he ended up in his quickie immigration marriage to Ivy. But even so, Liam totally crapped on Ivy, and I can't believe she took it. When Katie, the ultimate doormat, has to ask Ivy, "Have you seen you?" and remind her what a catch she is, you know something's wrong!

Then Ivy actually does the right thing, against Quinn's predictable urging, and tells Liam the truth about having legal citizenship status after all, even producing annulment papers for Liam to sign. And what does Liam do? He runs right to Steffy and comes up with this cockamamie idea to see both Ivy and Steffy at the same time. Say what? Liam sure didn't like it when Hope wanted to date him and Wyatt at the same time! Ivy should have stayed true to her Australian roots and kicked Liam down under, if you ask me.

I don't even like committing this many keystrokes to this rehash quad, but it was hardly a quad to begin with. Steffy and Wyatt flirted for all of five seconds. It's a shame, too, because they both have strong personalities and would have been a good match, whereas Liam and Ivy are gentler types who also go together well. Then, we were told that Liam was conflicted between Ivy and Steffy, but, as Bill said, it did rather seem like "a no-brainer" the way Liam was acting. Liam chose Steffy the second he said "I do" to Ivy!

Bill's "You're not as tired of Mr. Wishy-Washy as I am?" question to Katie once again shows that only the Dollah can call it like it is. Aw, hell, let Steffy have Liam back (she'll be sorry if Hope ever comes home) -- Katie was busy shipping Ivy and Wyatt, and I have to say I can see why. Ivy's a saucy Aussie with spirit, and Wyatt's been lookin' real good lately. It would just be nice if Wyatt didn't have to settle for another one of Liam's leftovers. And won't Ivy need time to get over Liam?

Yes, they're all running amok, and no one seems to have noticed that more than the again-deranged Aly Forrester. I read about this regression while I was traveling, and I kept thinking, "But didn't Aly make peace with Taylor and Taylor's role in her mother's death?" My DVR answered that question: Aly admitted to new enemy Steffy that she had simply told everyone what they had wanted to hear. You know, I can accept a retcon as long as it's reasonable. That was reasonable.

And we finally have justification for the Floating Darla Basketball Head! Aly views her mother as a saint. Okay, I get it now; I'm not a religious man, so I didn't immediately make the connection between the classic paintings of saints and the haloed glow encircling the deceased Mrs. Einstein-Forrester. Why couldn't the show have told us that when Darla first started appearing to Aly? Oh, well; better late than never.

Get this, though -- Aly kept her subservient cool while Rick and Maya treated her like a servant, but is now losing it because of the California Freedom line. (Maybe Aly just can't get her head around Forrester naming their fashion lines this decade when they never did before, but that's another story.) Aly interrupted not one, but two business meetings she really didn't have a place attending. Maybe if Ridge would put her shoe collection into production, she could channel all that vitriol about traditional values into something tangible and make Forrester some money at the same time.

Aly's got a major hang-up about sex, Scoopers, and it's not the first time we've seen it. Remember when Aly was first SORASed, and she caught Hope and Wyatt in bed? Aly went ballistic! No, that's not something I see developing solely out of the trauma of Darla's death. Was Aly molested? Maybe taunted in a sexual way by those that bullied her? Either that, or maybe Aly knows on some level that she's only here because her father cheated on Macy with her mother. Aly's head'll really pop off when she gets wind of that one.

Aly frothed at the mouth when she was told of the bikinis and lingerie that would form the California Freedom line; she even barked at Oliver for his supposed gawking at Steffy's scantily clad self. But if we ever had any doubt that Ghost Darla was only Aly's imagining, we don't anymore -- while Aly fumed, Darla went from bubble-head blonde to evil brunette! At first I thought it meant Darla had transformed into Aly's interpretation of Taylor. Not sure what I think of Evil Darla, but Schae Harrison must be having a blast doing this one-eighty on her long-running, good-natured character.

At least Floating Evil Darla Bubble is consistent, though I did about fall off my couch when Darla's head manifested on Rick's body in Aly's crazy collage! Interesting, too, that the vandalized photos of Steffy and Maya appear on the flip side of Aly's Hope for the Future board. "Freedom. Acceptance. Tolerance! What kind of message is that?" Aly seethed. Oh, Aly's not at all well, because that's pretty much the same message that factored into her idol's line to begin with.

Back at Forrester, Aly heeded the advice of her maniacal mother's manifestation and made nice in regard to the California Freedom line, though her continued scowls were a dead giveaway. Then Ridge declared that CF needed a fashion show that would embody the principles they wanted to get across -- and Maya would be at the center of it, taking the stage with fellow transgender models. Such a great idea to weave fashion into Maya's identity journey! Except for one thing: Ridge announced a huge fashion show that took place the next day!

Yes, I know soaps play fast and loose with time; they always have and they always will. They even have to. But are we really to believe Forrester Creations completed their designs, produced them, hired models, and set up a fashion show in one day? "Not one overseas client declined our invitation," we were told. It takes a whole day just to fly in from Europe and beyond! And don't get me started on the fact that it takes way longer than twenty-four hours to generate the kind of publicity an event like this would need. I hate when B&B does this. Couldn't we have built up to the show for a week or two first?

Anyway, practically every scene with Aly ended with the girl sneering and promising herself and Floating Evil Darla Bubble that she would do something to stop all this debauchery. But what exactly is Aly's problem? Far from being about "sex, sex, sex", California Freedom ended up being a collection of tasteful evening gowns instead of lingerie and swimwear. Have we just not seen that component yet? And sure, I get Aly's problem with Steffy and Maya, but Miss F also seemed to glare at all the models around her. Is Aly anti-trans? I'm not sure what we were supposed to take away from that.

The final thing is, all of Aly's stomping around, threatening things under her breath, got really old, really fast. As my mother used to say (in her very thick Dutch accent), "s**t or get off the pot." At least, that's what I kept saying to my TV screen. We got a hint of action when Aly spied Steffy's car in the Forrester parking lot. So what is Aly going to do to stop the CF showing -- drive up the runway and mow down the models?

Ridge should have called Thorne the instant Aly got that crazed glint in her eye again. For that matter, Thorne should probably not have left his daughter in a different country, even if he bought Aly coming to terms with losing Darla. And that brings us to something that is driving me nuts: Aly cannot, cannot, cannot have flashbacks to Darla's death! Aly wasn't there! She was at home, having her birthday party! With Taylor the only one left alive to recall that moment, I realize the show wanted to drive home its trauma, but then why not do it through Ghost Darla? Gah, that sticks in my craw!

Perhaps Aly needs a lesson in nuttiness from Quinn, who wasn't thrilled to see hubby Deacon talking to Brooke backstage, though I'm uncertain what the point of that was. I will say it's gratifying that Bridget's parents acknowledged their sobriety, which was nice after virtually ignoring Brooke's seemingly instant recovery from her equally instant alcoholism.

So, Maya struck some serious poses in front of her parents, and the overall crowd loved watching transgender models do their thing. Will Julius prove me right and use his "freak" of a daughter for her money? Will Aly finally act on her puritanical brand of craziness? Or will Darla finally just eliminate the middleman and pull a Poltergeist right there in the Forrester showroom? Go toward the light and share your thoughts in the Comments section below, on the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column!

I usually bullet point various and sundry observations about B&B here in Points to Ponder, but I'd like to focus on a different, parting ponderable: the status of Rick and Maya. And I don't mean as a couple, but as people. It's still hard to root for them, because the shadow of their diabolical deeds, and their enjoyment of them, looms long. The message of California Freedom is that you're free to live your life as long as you're not hurting anyone. That is certainly not an example Rick and Maya spent several months setting.

Surrounding Maya with acceptance, deeming her an inspiration, and pitting her against her intolerant parents isn't enough, either; we need to see Maya walk the talk. Partially owning up to Aly is a start, but Maya's got a long way to go. Rick actually made much more headway this week, replying to Nicole's assertion that her parents feel everyone is against them with an "I'm too familiar with that state of mind to criticize them," then joking in a meeting that "I'm the first to admit I let my ego get in the way." Maya following suit in a more direct manner is the only way to really make her transgender saga work. Because bad behavior is something you have to take responsibility for no matter what your gender identity is.

It's time to give Chanel a much-deserved break, so I will be back next week to see who survives the California Freedom fashion show. In the meantime, keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!

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