Jess or Tess?

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Jess or Tess?
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The week of April 10, 2006
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When viewers were first introduced to Tess, she was an obnoxious, rebellious, and promiscuous young woman who partied with reckless abandon and bore many similarities to Niki Smith.

Can you believe that we viewers have been following along with Jessica's D.I.D. problem for almost two years now? When we viewers were first introduced to Tess, she was an obnoxious, rebellious, and promiscuous young woman who partied with reckless abandon and bore many similarities to Niki Smith. Over time, Tess met Nash which led to a significant transformation to the character, one that has led to fan dissention on whether or not Tess or Jess should remain the integral and dominant personality when integration inevitably occurs. Because Tess took the initial steps this week towards introducing Jessica to the traumatic events that happened during her childhood, I suspect that integration is right around the corner. With that said, I thought I'd analyze the pros and cons of having Jess or Tess remain the dominant alter.

Scenario #1: Jessica is the dominant alter

Even though the character has been SORAS'ed over the years (that would be Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, by the way!), Jessica is the little girl that many veteran viewers of the show, myself included, remember growing up in Llanfair. Erin Torpey was the actress portraying her for most of her youth, and that process of watching Torpey (and, in turn, Jessica) grow up right before our eyes has been endearing. We watching her form a bond with Todd (then portrayed by Roger Howarth) that was unshakable; Todd has always had a soft spot for Jessica that nobody else, except for his own children, comes close to duplicating. We also watched Jess fall in love with a young Cristian in a Romeo and Juliet-type storyline of a girl from the riches of Llanfair falling for a boy from the streets of Angel Square. It was touching and innocent all at the same time. Later, her one-night tryst with Will Rappaport resulted in an unplanned pregnancy that taught Jessica about the real world and parental responsibilities quite quickly. Tragically, that pregnancy was cut short by Dorian as she accidentally plowed down Jessica with her car. Her relationship with Antonio has taken a more mature spin as she has dealt with motherhood (helping Antonio raise his child) and the many traumas that Antonio dealt with in regards to his parentage during the very forgettable Santi storyline.

Of course, this is the Reader's Digest version of Jessica's many adventures and experiences over her twenty-some odd years of living. How can the history of Jessica be erased so quickly by erasing her personality from the canvas? This is the same character who had to find out that she had a twin, that her father (Clint) wasn't her biological parent; instead, that honor went to the diabolical Mitch Laurence. It's also the same character who was going to be sacrificed so that her own grandfather (Victor Lord) could continue to live with a healthier heart! Saying that Tess is more spunky or more vibrant of a character diminishes the historical relevance that Jessica has to the show. Sure, Jess may be bland and boring. But does that mean that Tess's more outgoing personality should replace Jessica forever? I wonder if given the chance, would Jessica fall for Nash as deeply as her alter did? Would Nash help bring out the spirit and the life in Jessica that he found in Tess? Since we're talking about the same actors portraying both Nash and Jessica as play Nash and Tess, wouldn't the chemistry still be there? These are the questions I consider when debating whether I personally want Jessica to be gone forever. I'm certainly not an expert with D.I.D. integration, but even when Viki was fully integrated, no other personalities have come out. Viki is Viki. So if Tess and Jess are integrated, the same would seem to apply; we would essentially be looking at a stronger Jessica or a softer Tess, each with slight personality tendencies from the other.

Scenario #2 Tess the dominant alter

Okay, I'll admit it. I always loved Tess. I thought she was able to breathe fresh life into a character that basically had become dull and dreary to me since Bree Williamson took over the role from Torpey. With that said, when Tess came into the picture, I was shocked by how much I really liked the feistiness that came along with this alternate personality. The immensely positive fan reaction validated by opinions, and that is why Higley went forward with giving her a love interest in the form of Forbes March's Nash. The two of these characters has been nothing short of spectacular! The chemistry is strong, and the bond is even stronger. To see how Tess has allowed Nash to knock down some of the bricks that hold the wall between her and the outside world has been fun and exciting to watch. I love the multi-layers that exist with Tess. One moment, she is strong and hard to the outside world; the next minute, she's vulnerable and afraid. These pieces are what I truly enjoy about this character, and they are what help keep her fresh.

On the other hand, Tess is so new. Think to when we were all young children and we received a new toy. Boy, that toy was the BEST thing in the world...for a while. Then, it got lost among the others and lost its novelty. I think the same might be true for Tess. She's still new (even though it's coming close to two years). Her relationship with Nash is still strong, and it hasn't lost its luster yet. Do I think that time may come when Tess will not be that novelty character that we have to root for and get behind? Yes. And that is why I'm fearful of giving Tess the dominance henceforth. I know Higley has a sentimental attachment to her since Tess was one of her first creations as Head Writer; however, I hope that she looks at the long-term picture when deciding what will happen to Jessica.

There are so many more reasons that the ones I've listed why each should be kept as the dominant alter. What are your views and thoughts? I'll be opening up a new thread at the OLTL message boards early in the week. Come over and share your thoughts as to whether or not you want Tess or Jess to be "in charge." Now on to the rest of the happenings in Llanview.


1. I thought the scenes when Marcie and Lindsay remembered Jen were touching. Even more moving (yet a little strange) was Marcie's asking Lindsay to be her Matron of Honor. Too many times in the world of soaps, characters who are killed off are forgotten or relegated to the backs of people's memories. It was nice to see that Jen's memory lives on.

2. I'm glad that Todd seems to be on the brink of being captured. I think that more pieces to this story have been spread out (including a stronger relationship with Evangeline, David's getting closer to discovering Margaret, and Starr's eyeful when she entered Spencer's room), and it's about time to move the story to the next level.


1. Blair is quickly becoming one of the most poorly written and annihilated characters in recent memory! Okay, I'm first blown away that she even is attracted to such a slimy sleaze-ball as Spencer, but I guess the way Paul Satterfield plays the suave, slick, ladies' man works for her. But, secondly---WHY WAS THE DOOR OPEN AS THEY WERE HITTING THE SHEETS? Who does that? Really! Are you kidding me? Doesn't someone think to at least shut the door to a hotel room? Serves them both right that Starr walked in on them. I hope little Manning gives her mother one heckuva tongue-lashing. She deserves it!

2. Nora opens her eyes and then we have to go days upon days upon days for follow-up? Could the misuse of Hillary B. Smith be any more painful to watch?

A Favorite Nora Moment:

Nora has typically been seen as the upright, moral centerpiece of the show (except for perhaps when she slept with Sam to give Bo a baby, but I digress!). But one of Nora's more "catty" moments came when she interrupted Bo's wedding to Lindsay by revealing that Lindsay had switched Bo's sperm result tests. Soap weddings rarely go without incident these days, and this wedding was no exception. What made this particular wedding event even more memorable was the animosity and the tension that filled the church. Hillary B. Smith infused Nora with hatred and disdain for Catherine Hickland's Lindsay, a woman Nora has grown to despise and detest over the years. Knowing how she manipulated Bo, the love of her life, and deceived him ignited in Nora the drive to tell Bo that the woman he was about to say, "I do" to was a liar and a phony. After the admission, Bo lambasted Nora for ruining his day; no thanks were dished out for telling him the truth. Nora was left feeling guilty and perhaps a little selfish at using an ill-planned moment to spill her juicy secret. What I loved about the scenes so much was the history between the characters and the chemistry between the actors. Smith and Robert S. Woods always had a phenomenal chemistry between them, and to have them both play hurt, anger, resentment, and disappointment made their characters even more dynamic during the course of these events. And Hickland and Smith ALWAYS were able to play their characters as the "new-age" Dorian and Viki. Like those two, Nora and Lindsay will never be friends. They will never get along. But they have a connection to one another that can't be broken, and that deep resentment and animosity will always be at the core.

Keep showing your support for Hillary B. Smith and for Nora. We can't let the character go without a fight! I really do look forward to putting a lot of faces with your names when I see many of you at Smith's fan club luncheon in New York City on May 6th. Tickets are still available by going to Hillary's fan club site. I have information if you'd like it.

Enjoy your week,

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