How do you solve a problem like a miscast?
If you now have a certain song from a certain musical stuck in your head, I apologize. It's an important question, though: how do you solve a problem like a miscast? A soap miscast, that is. And if you're a Soap Central columnist, you solve the problem with a little game we're collectively calling "The Summer of Swaps," during which our intrepid bunch of miscast misfits will engage in a Hunger Games-style fight to the death to see who will emerge victorious as the best of the worst!
...okay, maybe that's just how it's playing out in my head. In reality, our game's actually a little more like a soap-fan version of "Who'd You Rather?" And, surprisingly, it's not quite as easy as it sounds. When the idea was first mentioned to me, I thought, "Sure, I can think of lots of candidates for Y&R!" But coming up with examples of actors who didn't fit the roles they were given is only half the battle. Then you have to figure out which character each actor should have played instead, and that's where things get tricky.
Take the role of Heather Stevens, for instance. After Vail Bloom left the show in 2010, Eden Riegel was brought on to replace her. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to Y&R's casting team at the time. After all, Riegel was an established soap actress who had become a fan favorite as Erica Kane's daughter Bianca on AMC. And, lo and behold, she was available, just when Y&R needed a new Heather! It must have been fate, right?
Yeah, no. I have a feeling that most bad casting decisions start with someone uttering the phrase, "[Soandso] is available right now. We'd better snatch them up quickly, before someone else does!" Top-shelf, super-smooth rum might also be involved. That stuff's dangerous -- just ask Victoria. But it gives people such a nice warm and fuzzy feeling, and who doesn't want that, right?
Sadly, the casting of Riegel as Heather didn't provide that warm and fuzzy feeling. Granted, the writing for the character didn't help matters at all, with her flip-flopping between two men she didn't have any chemistry with (Chance and Ronan), but she just seemed too...nice...to play Heather, the tough assistant district attorney whose most significant relationship up to that point had been with Adam, of all people.
Riegel probably could have been a good fit on Y&R if she had been cast as another character, but which one? Thinking back on the other characters who were part of the canvas back then, Mackenzie is the only one who springs to mind -- Mac's another character who has proved difficult to successfully recast, and Riegel, as Mac, would have still been in former AMC costar Elizabeth Hendrickson's orbit -- but I'm not sure Riegel would have clicked with Thad Luckinbill, who played Mac's love interest, J.T. Try as I might, I just can't picture them as a couple.
But Jennifer Landon, on the other hand -- I think she might have worked as Mac (and opposite Luckinbill). Unfortunately, she, too, was instead cast as Heather, replacing Riegel and, inexplicably, changing the character to a redhead in the process. Because there is apparently a contract clause somewhere that says that Heather's hair color has to change every time her face does. Maybe next time we see her, she'll have the gray-green 'do that Ryan Lochte has been rocking at the Rio Olympics.
And with Daniel set to return to Genoa City later this month, we could be seeing Heather again sooner than we think, although it sounds like he won't be sticking around for long. Which is a shame, because I'd kind of like Daniel to be there when Phyllis' affair with Billy is exposed. I'd like to think that's why he's coming back, but the writers are likely going to drag that out at least until the November sweeps period begins, so he's probably just returning for Summer's ill-advised quickie marriage to Luca, and Heather will probably just get a throwaway mention about being back in Georgia with a conveniently ill Lucy.
It's too bad that they wasted Chrishell Stause in a relatively minor role as one of Billy's more forgettable conquests, Britney -- I mean, Bethany -- because I think she might have actually worked as Heather. And, of course, she's engaged to Justin Hartley (Adam). While real-life chemistry doesn't necessarily guarantee reel-life chemistry, there's always a chance of it translating on-screen, and Heather could have easily been put back in Adam's orbit. Not that I'm trying to split up Adam and Chelsea, mind you -- or Heather and Daniel, for that matter -- but it would have been fun to watch real-life besties Stause and Melissa Claire Egan spar.
Speaking of Billy, that's another role that has been plagued with miscasts over the years. Have they finally gotten it right with Jason Thompson? Honestly, I'm tempted to say no, but the writing for Billy has been so bad lately that it's kind of hard to tell. I'm sick of the character, but I was sick of him by the end of Burgess Jenkins' run, too, so I can't blame that on Thompson. But I do wonder if Michael Roark would have worked better as Billy instead of Travis (a role that could have instead been given to Thompson). Roark might not have clicked with Gina Tognoni (Phyllis), but maybe that would have stopped the writers from going there in the first place.
Because I really wish they hadn't. Opinions on "Philly" seem to be pretty evenly split, based on what I've seen, but I'm really not a fan of the pairing. And it's not even about wanting Phyllis with Jack; honestly, I'd be fine with splitting the couple up, as long as the writers keep Jack far away from Nikki in the aftermath. But who else would they pair him with -- Hilary? Ugh. I'm sick of her, too, since the writers clearly have no idea what they want her to be, other than fifty shades of annoying.
Anyway, I digress. I can even kind of buy the whole "Jack's not letting Phyllis be Phyllis" argument that Billy feels the need to repeat every single week. That's always been a major problem with the couple, although the writers really only make it an issue when they want to (like now). But Phyllis can't decide who she wants to be with (since when has Phyllis been indecisive?), and Billy's acting like he's vying for an Olympic gold medal in Jackassery, so I'm having a hard time rooting for their forbidden lust affair to continue.
Sorry, forbidden love affair. Because, for Billy, at least, it's love. Or so he says. I'm not sure I buy that -- I think it's really more about sticking it to Jack than anything else, and his lack of remorse just helps solidify that belief -- but I'll give the writers credit for at least going all-in on that angle instead of making this all about Billy trying to forget about Victoria. Apparently, she has already long since been forgotten, and Phyllis is the new star of his fantasies, even when Victoria's using his lap as her pillow. We'll see if that continues to be the case once Travis reenters the picture.
Although I was annoyed that Victoria was na´ve enough to let Jill manipulate her into returning to Brash & Sassy, I'm thrilled that Jess Walton is back, so I'll take what I can get. I love how she comes in like a wrecking ball (oops, did I just put another song in your head?) every time she returns to Genoa City, but I hope the writers decide to let her just, you know, stay this time. The show just isn't the same without her, and someone has to make sure the Chancellor mansion never gets another hideous paint job or becomes a brothel. And maybe now we'll finally find out who stole that damn music box!
Okay, maybe not. But at least we found out where Chloe hid those damn journal pages! (When the word "damn" starts getting thrown around, you know a Victor mention is imminent.) Hopefully Chloe will hand them over to Victor on Monday instead of tearing them up right in front of him, because Adam's already starting to lose it in prison.
There was one glimmer of hope in Adam's otherwise nightmarish dream: Victor's dead twenty years from now! Of course, that was probably just wishful thinking on Adam's part. We all know Victor will probably outlive the lot of them. Good to know Adam plans to still have a chiseled body and youthful good looks after spending the next twenty years in prison, though. It's always nice to have realistic goals to strive for, and what's more realistic than the idea that one can walk away from a twenty-year prison stint looking like a soap star, right?
Meanwhile, Kevin has set his sights on a slightly less realistic goal: getting back together with Chloe. Which, of course, leaves poor Mariah firmly stuck in the friend zone again. Will those two lovable goofballs ever get over themselves and become a couple? What's holding them back, anyway -- one night of bad sex? When has the solution to bad sex ever been "stop having sex"? What happened to "practice makes perfect"?
I've been rooting for Kevin and Mariah to get together for years now, but Chloe's return does create a bit of a conundrum, since I liked her with Kevin, too. If she's actually going to be sticking around for a while this time, then I find it kind of annoying that, after all these years spent keeping Kevin and Mariah apart, the writers are now going to revisit the idea of that pairing just for the sake of a potential love triangle. Didn't we just go through that with the geektastic Chloe look-alike, anyway? But Chloe does have a kid, and Daddy Kevin is one of my favorite flavors of Kevin (wow, that sounds wrong on so many levels)... Decisions, decisions.
Phyllis would probably welcome the dilemma of having to choose between two love interests. Oh, wait -- she's already dealing with that dilemma. But it pales in comparison to the other dilemma she faced this past week, when she was forced to swallow her pride and team up with Victor in order to stop Summer from marrying Luca. Now Phyllis, Victor, and Nick are doing everything they can to prove that Luca sabotaged the Newman oil rigs, and I'm loving it because I never get tired of hearing how Eric Braeden pronounces the word "sabotage."
Seriously, though, I hope Luca does turn out to be the guilty party, not just because it makes perfect sense (as it always has) but also because it would be refreshing to see Victor, who has been getting blamed for practically everything lately, be proven innocent of something for a change. But I'm already bracing myself for the seemingly inevitable reveal that Victor is the culprit and has been planning all along for Luca to ultimately take the fall for the whole thing. Either way, I'll remain firmly on Victor's side. As Nikki said this past week, it's nice to see him back behind his desk, where he belongs.
Speaking of people being right where they belong this past week, Nikki and Sharon were at each other's throats again. I could do without most of the scenes of women sniping at each other -- Hilary and Lily, Hilary and Ashley, Hilary and Phyllis, Hilary and Jill, Hilary and basically everyone who doesn't have a Y chromosome -- but there's so much history behind Nikki and Sharon's rivalry that it just never gets old for me. There were some real zingers in this latest war of words, too -- like Nikki dubbing Sharon "the Human Vacuum" in response to Sharon's comment about Nikki allowing herself to get sucked back in with Victor again.
I can't wait for the showdown that will undoubtedly occur between those two once the truth about "Sully" is revealed. No, let me rephrase that: I don't want to wait. Not anymore. I've already waited long enough. Can't this secret just be revealed already? I know Soap Law dictates that these things must be dragged out for what feels like an eternity, but we passed that point a while ago. Let's move things along before the kid is out of diapers. Or has to suffer another camping trip with Dylan, Sharon, Mariah, and Faith. I'd certainly rather see Dylan and Paul react to this news than see them butt heads over a case yet again.
At least we know who Not-Sully's true parents are. We can't say the same about Neil's parents, but if the conversation he had with Lily this past week is any indication of things to come, he might finally be reunited with them in the near future. And all signs seem to point to it being an unhappy reunion. It's too soon to tell where this is headed, but if it's going to bring Malcolm back to Genoa City, let's just hope it's not in the form of Darius McCrary, another perfect example of miscasting at its worst. In fact, I hear Shemar Moore is available at the moment -- hey, Y&R casting directors, you'd better snatch him up quickly, before someone else does!
And with that, we've come full circle, which can only mean it's time for me to shut up so you can have your say. Which names spring to mind when you think of actors who have been miscast in roles on Y&R? And who would you have cast them as instead? Would Michael E. Knight (Neville) have worked better as Tucker, back to woo Ashley again? Who could Maura West have played instead of Diane to ensure that she'd still be working at Y&R right now instead of GH? Sound off below, and be sure to check back next week for another generous helping of Two Scoops!
Exchange of the Week:
[Mariah finds Kevin at Crimson Lights, doubled over and gasping for breath.]
Mariah: Wait, were you running? Not from someone -- like, physical-activity running?
Kevin: [still panting] I needed to clear my head, okay?
Mariah: And you had to get all sweaty to do that?
This duo might not win any track-and-field medals this summer, but when it comes to comedy, they always seem to fly high and stick the landing!
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