Friday, May 8, 2009

Woah, Nelly!

I keep reading frustrated posts by fangirls who want Olivia and Natalia to JUST DO IT, ALREADY. I don't get it. I don't want this, at all. The best stories, the most meaningful ones, the stories that capture the viewer's imagination and keep them going for years and years are the ones that aren't rushed. Good soap writing is all about character-driven drama. There might be some quick, instant gratification in seeing Natalia and Olivia hop into the sack, but it wouldn't last, and it would have no where to go. And, really, we've all seen Olivia fall in love (or what she's thought was love) and follow her physical urges without thinking about the big picture. It's all she's ever done, really. This story line is about people facing change. Change in the way their world works. Change in how they think of family. Change in who and how they love. Change in how love manifests itself. It's damned good story-telling, so why rush it?

Reflect on back at how this story has developed, and how Olivia and Natalia have come to be involved in one another's lives. It's all about slow change. It always has been, and their story has all the classic elements of soap:

1. A love triangle (Olivia/Natalia/Gus)
2. A beautiful woman facing early death from a fatal illness
3. Seemingly small events that lead to disaster (Olivia losing out on a heart transplant because she's locked in the bathroom
4. Guilt->Acts of Desperate Kindness->Manipulation (Olivia guilting Natalia into "giving" her Gus)
5. Tragic irony (Gus dying as he rushes to get to Oliva's side)
6. Moral dilemma (what should Natalia do with Gus' heart?)
7. Sacrifice (Giving the heart to Olivia)
8. Yet more tragic irony (Olivia survives, thanks to the heart, but just wants to die, because Gus is dead)
9. Unlikely bedfellows (Oliva and Natalia forced together by circumstances)
10. A shift in dynamic (Olivia and Natalia move from enemies, to friends, to falling in love)

This story is an admirable throwback to the golden age of soap opera, when stories were allowed to unfold without special effects or stunt casting or big, lavish location shoots. When the story, itself, was enough to keep viewers coming back, day after day. Slow and steady wins the race.


Robert said...

Exactly. This is less about the writers hesitating about showing the couple in bed for fear of offending viewers. (ATWT has been guilty of this, treating 2 college-age guys as if they're in a Merchant-Ivory period drama.) But Otalia's story is inevitably a richer story, because it's dealing with characters who have history with many others on the show, these ladies are not college coeds, and are onscreen almost every day. (ATWT, on the other hand, has been guilty of showing Nuke once or twice a week, in overly-rushed stories with very little intimacy, physical or emotional. And when these characters finally became intimate, it was offscreen, so as not to offend sensitive viewers.) Why would anyone want to see this well-told and engaging story rushed?

Snapper said...

Yes, yes, and yes. This is classic soap opera storytelling, the likes of which we haven't been treated to in ages. The folks over at need to either find out what soap opera is all about, or just stop watching GL. Their complaints about the story not moving quickly enough, or having enough sexual content are pretty ridiculous, and incredibly ill-informed.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm one of those folks over at and I can tell you that people are pretty divided about how things are moving. I favor the slow pace for all the reasons you've mentioned, but I'm certainly not alone!