Has your decade been bold and beautiful? Did you compare storylines from ten years ago with today's? Did you columnize through thick and thin? Did you realize a soap was as much a part of you as your right arm? These and more situations faced your Two Scoops columnist the past ten years!
A diamond's really a tenth-year anniversary present? Get at me, Scoopers! Just kidding on that one, but what I'm not kidding about is the fact that November 23 was my ten-year anniversary at Soap Central! Think about it: that's at least 260 columns over 2,000-plus episodes. And factoring in SORAS, I've been doing this 35 years! Reminisce with me (click the links for past columns!), and let's Scoop about it!
TONIGHT I'M GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S TWO THOUSAND AND NINE
So, a little back history for you. 2009 saw the second summer "season" of a musical I had written the book and lyrics for that focused on Canadian author L.M. Montgomery. (You know, Anne of Green Gables?) I'd taken a bit of a beating in that I had to rewrite it over and over and over, and it somehow still wasn't enough; it was a fairly decent success artistically, but not so much when it came to the Robert Bordens. (Hey, they don't have Benjamins where I live in Canada.)
So, I was rather in a slump personally and creatively, and desperate to write about something else -- anything else -- than L.M. Montgomery. Now, as it happened, I'd already been following The Bold and the Beautiful for years up to this point. I started watching in 1988, after I'd graduated high school; my Mom always had all the CBS soaps on. One day, I sat down with her and got hooked.
Kinda winked in and out of viewing between 1990 and 1992 but was all in (thank you, Sheila!) until 2003, around the time of the whole Ridge-is-a-Marone reveal. During periods I wasn't actively watching, I'd catch up via a handful of soap sites, including Soap Central -- I'm pretty sure I remember reading it as far back as 2001. Then, in the fall of 2009, there was a little advert on the page, asking for columnists.
Honestly, I didn't think I had a chance in hell of getting in, but nothing ventured, right? Much to my surprise, I was asked to write a guest column for B&B, which fit in after the usual columnist's opinions and went live November 23, 2009. I'd be taken on for a regular gig if the site's readers dug me. I definitely have a style of my own -- but what if Soap Central readers weren't about it?
Well, as evidenced by the writing of this column, like Sally Field, you liked me, you really liked me! And so, I have considered it my honor and duty to tell it like it is about Forresters, Logans, Spencers, Joneses, Avants, Spectras -- the lot! -- for ten years now. So much has changed in our lives, in our world, on this show...and yet, not. I guess we should start from the point in time where I joined Soap Central already in progress!
So, according to our recap from the week of 11/23/09, Katie and Bill had just gotten married and were having their wedding reception at the reluctant Eric's. You see, Eric was reluctant because Bill had recently taken over Forrester Creations, adding that it was "a Division of Spencer Publications," and Eric did not want to host his company's marauder, much less Katie, whom Bill had installed as CEO.
Well, I think in ten years, everyone but the company janitor has either been, or vied for the position of, Forrester's CEO. It's an angle that's been overused, to put it mildly. It was interesting that Katie was at the helm, but I remember thinking the former PR whiz had absolutely zero experience running a company! Who knew she'd actually end up running Spencer just four years later, as per her divorce settlement?
Ah, yes, the beginnings of Batie -- who knew they would implode so spectacularly -- and so slowly? Why we're in a place now where Katie has taken Bill back a third time, I don't know. I've forgiven more than was reasonable in my own relationships, but love ain't that blind! That barb Thomas made a few weeks back about Katie being on death's door all the time wasn't that far off, though. Think of how many times the former acne queen has battled the Grim Reaper since 2009!
Speaking of battling grim reapers, this week ten years ago, Ann Douglas herself got the "password" to Stephanie and Pam's lives, asking for help from her "golden girls." (Just going meta with Betty White there for you.) The Douglas matriarch revealed she had advanced pancreatic cancer, but she didn't want no damn hospital. But Pam took Ann to one, anyway, when she doubled over in pain.
(This is just a little meta for me right now, as I am preparing to head down to Florida to visit with my own mother, who has COPD and whose breathing has become so labored that there has been more than a passing mention of "I don't have much time left." As of this writing, she does seem better, but I'm still on yellow alert. As you will see, this isn't the only connection or parallel to B&B my own life has had.)
Sadly, Ann did die that following week, and Stephanie three years later (leave it to the Douglases to make exits during November sweeps). The only one of the trio we've got left is Pam, and she is tragically underused, even though she's been with Charlie for six years. It's already been twelve months since they postponed their wedding plans because Quinn was being a brat. And please...enough with the lemon bars, okay?
That leaves Sandy Sommers getting implanted with Nick and Bridget's embryo. Wait -- who? I won't blame you if you don't remember that story, Scoopers; unfortunately, it ended up being Bridget Forrester's last big one. So, Bridget got the big one from Owen and soon came baby Logan Knight, who's supposedly growing up in New York. Logan would be nine in real time. Which means at least 21 in soap time!
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
All right, I'm not going to even try to wax nostalgic (or is that analgesic?) about the ensuing ten years of soap. Though one thing I did notice reading through my first few columns is, man, did I hate on Steffy! You know what? I'm not sorry. She was a spoiled child then, though she was lucky enough to get to kiss up on the Dollah. Had I known what was in store for her, I might have cut her a little more slack.
Because, not six weeks into my tenure, Hope Logan, who should have been eight at that point, came back as a 17-year-old, and the show careened in a whole new direction whose trajectory we're still on. It's not Hope's fault. I know a lot of you hate her. The only thing I ever hated about her was that she was up in our faces all the time, and that was only because of the advent of Liam Cooper. Did he ever legally have his name changed to Spencer?
If you liked watching on-again, off-again stepsisters battling for a guy who's always looked like he needed a bottle of Imodium to choose between them, boy, were you in luck! The infamous Leffy/Lope triangle (which now is more referred to as Steam/Lope) were front and center and center and center and center for pretty much the next three years. I don't think the show has quite recovered from it yet. And I don't say that because we're sort of into Leffy/Lope Lite currently.
I ragged on the show for the prevalence of this triangle, but I wasn't the only one. Even Soap Opera Digest deemed it their Worst Story of 2012. The main thing B&B hasn't learned since then is how to tell more than one story at a time. That's a shame, because they used to be pretty good at it; I know attention spans have changed thanks to technology, but it still all feels like so much beating over the head.
And you know that hyperfocus had a lot to do with Jack Wagner, Ronn Moss, and Susan Flannery leaving. No Ronn Moss after 25 years?! I remember sitting in a hotel in Tennessee while on a trip to spread my brother's ashes when I read about that one. It was unthinkable! There was no way in hell Ridge Forrester could be recast. And now, here we are, nearly six years into Thorsten Kaye's tenure. A different take, but one I've gotten very used to. And I never used to dream about Ronn's arms around me. Oh, Thorsten.
Our job as columnists for Soap Central is to write about what we see on that show in the affected week, no matter how glorious or ridiculous it happens to be. And yow! Have I seen some ridiculous. Brooke's infamous mask-boink with Oliver in 2010 was interestingly shot, but come on -- you're with someone you've married however many times before, and you can't tell that's not your man's D?
Of course, what really inspired my rage was that impossible-to-top-in-terms-of-stupid Berry Island storyline. It was the moment B&B became Days of our Lives, but not in a good way. Psychedelic berries. Brooke and Thomas' plane crash itself was harrowing and of cinematic quality (and I was in a show with Alan Pietruszewski, who played the pilot who died!). But...psychedelic berries. Oh. Did I already say that? So, I did.
You've heard me prattle on about the done-too-often triangles and plot-driven stories and character assassinations. The beauty of soaps is that they venture into the incredible, but all I've ever asked of B&B is to at least root the incredible in the plausible. And for the continuity we get too little of. Soaps are best when they acknowledge and tell story out of their histories. Not that B&B never does.
Ridge, Brooke, Hope, Steffy, and Liam have rarely been off the front burner in the decade I've been columnizing here. I'd really love to see more balance. That's why I envisioned what a DAYS-style time jump would be like in my last column. I know B&B is in their own groove and always will be, but a guy can dream. But is it too much to ask to give day-one legacy character Thorne his place in the sun? He's been notoriously intermittent these past ten years, and his last go-round left a lot to be desired (sorry, Ingo.)
I give B&B a hard time within these pages because I love the damn show and not only want it be better, but I know it can be better. I wish they'd sit the actors down and ask them what they'd like to see their characters doing! Betcha that would put a fresh spin on things. However, it wouldn't be fair to say we've never gotten a fresh spin or two over these years.
For example, I really enjoyed the Adam-and-Eve storyline, when Quinn kidnapped an amnesiac Liam and made him believe they were husband and wife. It was the kind of story you used to see on As the World Turns and Guiding Light back in the day. First, Quinn tries to impale Liam with a sword, and then, she gets impaled by his! Well, metaphorically. The whole thing was quite brilliantly old-school.
And, although the follow-through was rather clunky, I still have to applaud B&B for having Maya come out as transgender. For a show that has traditionally shied away from any true LGBT representation, this was a good step forward. I was even able to swallow the retcon that Maya's deceased daughter was really her "daughter." "You're Myron...you're my brother!" That was surely the ish.
It was just too bad that this happened right after Maya had been such a thirsty bitch. See, this is another of B&B's problems -- they change a character's personality on a dime, without filling in how we got from A to B. (Caroline 2.0, this means you, too.) Maya was pretty chill for the most part, then became a social climber, willing to stab anyone who kept her from the top. Then, she comes out as transgender. That was always an unfortunate correlation.
I remember tying Nicole's surrogacy into Maya's physical inability to have a baby as genius. But I guess I was hoping too hard for an original Dynasty parallel, which would have seen Nicole suing Rick and Maya to nullify the surrogate contract and keep Lizzy for herself. (We flirted with that in 2017, to no avail.) That's another accepted reality of B&B: they often start a story like gangbusters, but it starts to collapse about midway through.
Then I finally got my Sheila back! I knew she couldn't have died with Phyllis' face on Y&R back in 2007! Sheila even made a don't-believe-the-rumors joke out of it when she resurfaced. This return also started out well but devolved into a silly attempt to steal Eric from Quinn using a masseur. That first Quinn/Sheila catfight was the stuff of legends, though; the classic soap catfight seems to be a dying breed in this PC age.
I wonder if Lauren Fenmore knows her archest of nemeses is serving up garlic bread at Il Giardino, waiting for a proper storyline? In fact, we last saw Sheila there last year when Ridge suspected her of shooting Bill! Now there was a kick-ass soap moment. Winds howling, power flickering, shadows lurking, classical music wafting...bang! And even now, only Bill, Brooke, Hope, and Liam know that Taylor popped him. Does Ridge know?
Bringing us into the current year, Episode 8,000 was also extremely well done, as Hope delivered Beth on Catalina Island, only to think she was dead for months...and months...and months. Well, if B&B is anything, it's consistent -- another story that had a boffo beginning but not a satisfying follow-through. Ten months later, we're still in its repercussions. I'm about ready to see what else the show has to offer. How 'bout you?
Ten years, Scoopers. That's two Ridges, two Hopes, and four Thomases! Oh, and about 87,000 lemon bars! Hard to believe I've been here on Soap Central for all of it!
I've also had the pleasure of maintaining our character profiles for B&B seven of my ten years! I ultimately rewrote all of them from scratch, of course created new profiles when new faces appeared on our screens, and even went back and did meticulous research to do up profiles for vintage characters. I really sort of get a geeky thrill out of doing them. I hope you'll check 'em out and relive your faves!
DON'T TRY TO LIVE YOUR LIFE IN ONE DAY
Fittingly, my own life has been a bit of a soap these past ten years. No more than anyone else, I suppose. I used to see myself as the central character of a soap until I realized that soap characters are constantly subjected to drama, and that wasn't a healthy way to look at things! These days, I try to leave the drama to B&B denizens. And hope that my own storylines make more sense than theirs!
When I started Scooping, I was 40. Now I'm 50! Went through the breakup of a 15-year relationship, but that happened in slow motion, anyway, so when the time came, it wasn't a surprise. I've written columns at home, of course, but also in libraries; once, I wrote one in between a theatre show. I've tapped away in Toronto, Alaska, and one time, sitting outside the gates of CBS Studios, where B&B tapes.
Naturally, most of my columns have been written from my homes in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Yes, homes. As in five of them. Somehow, I end up moving a lot! Including what you might call my ill-fated relocation back to L.A. in 2016. That attempt generated unprecedented anxiety (part of why I went back to PEI), but in soaps and in columns, the show must go on, so Two Scoop I did.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression long ago, and it's not easy to write when those forces try to clamp down on your creativity. Sometimes, columnizing would be an escape, and sometimes, it would be a burden. I remember writing the 2016 Best & Worst installment through a particularly nasty downslide I experienced after bailing out on California.
There were columns that needed to happen when my brother died, and when my father died. Plus, I'll never forget how hard it was when Stephanie Forrester died the same week as Christopher, one of my best friends. I couldn't even watch Stephanie's final scenes until many months later, but I did put together a fun column honoring La Forrester that was a somewhat silent tribute to Christopher, as well. I also took a break from Scooping while I outran a hurricane!
Then there was the shock of losing our own Two Scoops' Allison, Streisand fan extraordinaire. Since then, I have alternated weeks with Tracy, and more recently Chanel. And through these years, I have traded "shifts" with all of them as I took off on various trips. And Dan, the King of Soap Central -- how do I say enough about him? It's wild how you kind of become family with these folks, most of whom you don't meet in person. (I did get to meet Tracy and Dan in 2012 and 2014, respectively.)
Life goes on, but there's something strangely comforting about being a fan of a long-running soap, isn't there? You go through all kinds of the above changes, all of which are common among all of us, yet you can turn on that TV or that monitor, and those characters you remember from so long ago are still there, bringing all their history with them (even when the show tends to forget or alter that history from time to time).
Sure, the faces change sometimes. You go from standard to HD. The show moves time slots or gets preempted due to life events (or basketball!). Maybe you skip weeks or months or take time off out of dislike for a character or a certain story. But in the end, we're all here, and we all are able to look at a screen most every weekday and keep up with these fictional folks that have been a part of our lives for years. Even decades. There's definitely something magical to be thankful for in that.
So, as I sit here in Bradenton, Florida, finishing this column at my Mom's (since the last mention of her above, I am happy to report that her new COPD meds have eased her breathing -- and our minds -- significantly), I have a small turkey breast in the oven that she won't eat because meat grosses her out. But we'll have a little Thanksgiving dinner together, the first since I moved out of the house 30 years ago.
And obviously, the reality of this holiday and spending it in a different environment is rubbing off on me. Truly, I am thankful for being able to write for Soap Central a whole decade (my longest job ever!), and to all of you for rolling with my rantings all this time. As I said before, if it wasn't for you, the site would have dropped me like a B&B plot point!
I kid -- mostly. I know I've waxed about this several times over the years, but, to me, B&B is like that friend you have that you adore but often shake your head at because of some of their odd life choices. At times, you want to go further and shake their shoulders -- hard -- and exclaim, "Dude, what the hell!" And when they ace something, you couldn't be prouder. And you can't imagine your life without them.
So, here's to The Bold and the Beautiful, and to all of you, and here's to an awesome Thanksgiving and holiday season. What about B&B are you grateful for? Talk turkey in the Comments section below or the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column!
Oh, and that musical I mentioned before? I've adapted it as a screenplay. Keep your fingers crossed.
See you all in two weeks. And remember, no matter color, creed, religion, gender identity, orientation, or nationality, we're all 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.