Friday, July 10, 2009

Super Couple Angst, or Just Plain Bullshit?: The Ten Commandments of Soap Writing

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: happily, ever after is the worst thing that can happen to a soap couple. It means there's nowhere left to go, No conflict means no drama, which means who gives a damn? I stand by this. The mightiest soap super couple of them all, Luke and Laura, thrived on conflict. The minute everything seemed calm and sane in their world, they'd find themselves involved in a stolen diamond caper, or a plan to control the planet by manipulating the weather (I kid you not), or a long-buried secret would surface and rock the boat. The point is, Luke and Laura were only interesting as long as there was something for them to do, some foe for them to battle, some way to illustrate that their relationship was truly a you-and-me-against-the-world proposition. If there were some bible for soap opera writers, this would definitely be listed as one of the tenets.

One would think, then, that I'd be behind the decision to have Guiding Light's Natalia discover she's pregnant and suddenly run off and go into hiding, leaving Olivia in the lurch. I mean, it doesn't get much more angsty than standing in a church yard, clenching your fists and yelling at the top of your lungs, "Nataliaaaaaaa! I Love you!!!!" But there's angst, and there's angst, and this particular dose of angst doesn't sit well with me, at all. I think it's not so much angst, as total bullshit.

Bearing in mind that there is, in fact, no official bible for soap writers, and annoyed as allhell at recent developments, I've decided to make things easy for the writers of GL by making up my own:

Soap Writer's Ten Commandments

1. Thou Shall Know Thy Characters

Know them. Know how they think, how they act, how they react. Know their histories because, I promise you, gentle writer, your audience does. Know that Natalia "would die" for Emma and that she would never just not show up when she was expected, let alone abandon her. Know that Natalia "knows what it means when you tell somebody you love them." I don't think you know any of these things, and you really should.

2. Thou Shall Do The Fucking Math

Human pregnancies last for 9 months, and pregnant women usually start showing towards the end of the first trimester. A pregnant woman starts having symptoms of pregnancy long before it's obvious to the public that she's pregnant. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: a halt in menstruation, weight gain, morning sickness, increased appetite, and odd cravings. Frank and Natalia's no-go wedding was in April, which is three months ago in real life time. In soap opera time, Rafe recently referred to the no-go wedding as having happened "a long time ago." Frank and Natalia had sex only once, and this was before the no-go wedding which, according to your own words, occurred "a long time ago." Do the fucking math. The only way Natalia would or could be unaware of having missed her period for four or more months would be if she were brain dead. If she were pregnant all this time, she'd have experienced other symptoms...possibly even felt the baby move. Do the fucking math. Again, you can bet the viewers have.

3. Thou Shalt Not Lie

We understand there are secrets that must be kept, in order to keep us, the audience, engaged, but don't lie to us. We heard - over and over again - that Jessica Leccia's pregnancy would not be incorporated into the Otalia story line. This was clearly a lie. Not cool, and not a good way to treat loyal viewers. Better to say that you're undecided or that there are elements of the story that have not yet been decided upon. But don't look us in the eye and feed us a load of crap. It's just not the right thing to do to people who have put a lot of energy into supporting what you do, which brings us to....

4. Thou Shall Honor The Hand That Feeds You

I'm not talking about kissing butt, but let's call a spade a spade: soap operas are products. Soap viewers are customers. The customer is always right. In this case, we, the customers, made it perfectly clear that we did not, under any circumstances, want the next dose of angst for Otalia to be a pregnancy. Some fans/customers felt so strongly about this that they posted comments such as, "Die, baby, die." Now, I think that's sort of insane, and definitely disconcerting, but I digress. The point is, there has to be some give and take. We expected angst. Some of us even welcomed it - just not in this form. We made it clear. We expected hoops and hurdles that made sense, maintained the integrity of the story, and had some basis in common sense. Having Natalia suddenly realize she's four months pregnant, and then run away without so much as a word to Olivia or Emma that she's ok? It's an insult to us.

5. Remember The Story Arc, To Keep It Holy

Do you even remember how this story developed? Because we sure do. And here's one thing we remember: Olivia trying hard to suppress her feelings because she was sure that nothing good would come from opening her heart to Natalia. We remember Olivia saying "there is no 'us'". And we remember Natalia chasing after her, being the strong one - hell, I even called her a power bottom! - and forcing the inescapable issue: that they were in love and meant to be together. We remember how satisfying it was that, to everyone's surprise (sort of, but not really) Olivia seemed afraid, while Natalia seemed fearless. Hell, just two weeks ago she declared, "I'm tired of waiting!" How, then, did Natalia overnight become a woman who would run with her tail between her legs at the first sign of - what? An inconvenience? Because, really - for two women who love kids and love one another, and want to raise Emma together, a baby wouldn't be a tragedy, at all! (see Commandment 1)

6. Disbelief Shall Be Suspended Only So Far

You asked us to pretend not to notice Jessica Leccia's ample bosom, large belly and glowing moon face for months, months. And we did. We suspended disbelief and ignored the fact that Jessica was pregnant, even when it became ridiculous. We did this because the character, Natalia, was not pregnant. Or so we had been led to believe. Now that Jessica has given birth and is, I assume, getting back to her pre-pregnancy shape and weight, you ask us to believe she's pregnant? Seriously? No. Just no.

7. Angst Is Necessary, and Shall Be So - In a Proper Context

In storytelling, conflict is good. Hurdles and obstacles are good. Angst is very good. Angst and conflict that make no sense, have no bearing on the story at hand, or are caused by outside forces that seem to drop out of the sky? Not so good. Rafe being a holier-than-thou idiot about his mother's declaration of love for Olivia? Good angst! It's been painful to watch. It makes me hate Rafe. It makes me want to punch the tv. But it makes sense, and I can believe it would have a bearing on what Natalia chooses to do. A freakish, unexpected pregnancy leading to a total personality change in Natalia? Not so good. In fact, pretty freaking lousy. I repeat: that's not angst, it's bullshit.

8. Thou Shalt Not Lose Track Of Time

We'd probably have more patience if you, the writers, hadn't lost track of the fact that Guiding Light's final episode will air on September 18th, and we haven't even had a peck on the cheek between these two women. I'm all for taking it slow, and building up to a crescendo, but let's be realistic: the show has been cancelled, a pick-up is unlikely, and Crystal Chappell has already signed on with another show. Otalia is coming to a close, and you haven't delivered the goods. It's almost as if you'd lost your watches and calendars, thrown caution to the wind, and decided, "Hey....let's throw another wrench in the works and let them wait an extra six months before the girls kiss.' Well, guess what? We don't have another six months, so you've screwed up, big time. What can you have been thinking?

9. Thou Shalt Not Perpetuate Negative Stereotypes

Ok, this may not be set in stone, but it's my set of rules, after all: let's not have you writers rely on or perpetuate negative stereotypes, ok? Liz and Dani of Pancakes and a Valium made an excellent observation: Olivia's heartbreak over Natalia taking a runner was visually presented alongside the almost ridiculous level of happiness being experienced by every straight couple and heterosexual person in Springfield. Even Philip, who's dying, was having a big, old, jolly, hetero time that day. We don't want this. We've already seen every movie and tv show where the tragic faggot dies or ends up alone or loses everything, while his/her straight counterparts go for the gold. Some of us have even known that tragic faggot in real life. What we haven't seen a hell of a lot of are stories where there's parity, where couples are just couples. Why is the Bauer BBQ a festive occasion for everyone except the two women in love, and why were you so intent on sending that message out to the world? Why juxtapose the glee of heterosexual normalcy with the tragic, pathetic sadness of same-sex love in such a way? It's a cheap, obvious, insulting thing to do, and it doesn't even ring true for most of us. We don't want Springfield's Hispanics to all be street thugs, blacks to all be wife-beaters, or queers to all be miserable, unloved sad sacks.

10. Remember, Always, The Power of Revision

When it's broken, fix it. Take a cue from the top-rated daytime drama, The Young and the Restless. Last year on Y&R, they introduced a new character and immediately married her off to Victor Newman. No one liked her. The two actors had no chemistry. Their love affair was not even remotely believable. Fans revolted. The show became unwatchable. What did the writers at Y&R do? They paid attention to the feedback they were getting from viewers. They looked at Victor - an established character - and remembered who he was and what his history was. They pretty much followed Commandments 1-9, and then they fixed the problem by way of revision. Victor's marriage story line wasn't working on any level and, so, his young bride was immediately killed off -in a believable, plausible way. Victor acted in a way that was in keeping with his character. Within a month, Y&R went from being unwatchable to being must-see-tv

A storyline needs to be looked at as a living, breathing thing. If certain elements aren't working, they need to be revisited, retooled and, maybe, completely revised or rewritten. Hopefully, it's not too late to fix what you have so badly broken. Listen to your audience, and don't insult their intelligence. Know your characters. Remember where you've taken us with them, thus far, and keep it in mind as you plan to take us further. Pay attention to and use wisely the time you have left with these characters. Make choices that make some sense not just for the moment, but for the characters and plot, overall. Don't make the cheap, easy choices that send out negative messages and perpetuate stereotypes. If it's broken, roll up your sleeves and fix it.

 © 2009 Lana M. Nieves

Limited Licensing: I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution license, granting distribution of my copyrighted work without making changes, with mandatory attribution to Lana M. Nieves and for non-commercial purposes only. - Lana M. Nieves


mangababe said...

Thoughtful, coherent, and well-written commentary. Someone needs to nail this to the front doors at CBS!

MJinTenn said...

I'm willing to truck my ass to New York or Peapack and attach this to CBS's doors with a heavy spike.

I do feel as if my intelligence -- as well as Olivia Spencer's -- has been insulted. While the howling outside the convent was a vehicle for showcasing Crystal Chappell's most excellent and Emmy-worthy acting skills, I do not feel it was in character for my beloved OFS.

Snapper, is there any way possible for the writers to redeem themselves and salvage this storyline? I wish they'd put you on retainer. Just a thought.

Karen said...

Thank you for writing this beautifully written and really well thought out piece. Let us know when and where to purchase & distribute the spikes. Not only was the wedding in the middle of a snowstorm but according to their story, Frank & Nat slept together a full month before the wedding. Was there a snow storm in May I missed? We will link to you everywhere we can. Again, well done!

Columbus said...

Excellent, excellent piece. From your mouth to the ears of the idiots who have been writing, producing and authorizing the past month of complete crap. How is it possible that the writers who crafted such a beautiful storyline with such attention to detail screwed it up so badly? The Natalia that we know and Olivia loves would NEVER leave town without talking to her and would NEVER do anything to upset and disappoint Jellybean. NEVER...I just hope that there is time for them to fix it - and that they care enough to do so!

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of these but my favorite is number 6. I still can't get past how utterly ridiculous the visual aspect of this story is. Hello, visual medium! These people should never work in television again. Idiots.

Carol said...

I'm standing up and clapping at the computer screen. My dog stares, but I think even she agrees.

Is there any hope that this message (and the sound of thousands of loyal Otalian's hearts breaking) is even getting thru to TPTB?? Do we have any reason to believe the same people are even in charge, or has it been wrenched out of their hands during the last golden mile? (Or is that giving them too much credit?)

Cause it's been hard to recognize the writing as the same as even a few months ago. Their instinct to straddle the line between soap conventions and Otalia pay-off was pretty masterful for a very long time. Then this monumental stumble.

It's hard to conceive of a move more tone-deaf to the GLBT (& friendly) audience. Something so perfectly perfect at undoing all the goodwill of over a year in one fell swoop.

They have paced this so deliberately, in such a measured way - and then this extreme Hail Mary pass of the Absurd crammed into the the last 2 months? A pregnancy silly in it's conception (no pun etc)? A pregnancy to make Natalia seem brain dead and irresponsible (are they gonna ignore the multiple shots she's been downing for weeks?) A pregnancy that we'll never see the pay-off to?

It just makes no kinda sense. No even Soap sense.

Except for a few fans I personally suspect are experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, this plot/ploy has been universally scorned - even by the Soap Press. Does GL care?

May your commandments be heeded. (For the record, this title - Remember The Story Arc, To Keep It Holy - actually made me chuckle. These days, I especially appreciate that.)

Rae said...

I love you! Thank you for taking the time to write this out in a concise manner and voicing the otalia fans opinions!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying some of the things I have been thinking for several months. I have tried to focus on the positive messages in this story line.

Robin said...

I don't agree. I think the current BPD threads give lots of rebuttal to your points so I won't bother. But, for those interested in different takes, they are out there...

chet said...

AMEN! GL read this, memorize it and live by it! Rinse. Repeat. I know the clock is ticking but we've seen some excellent writing before this inexplicable blunder came to be. Therefore, I hope GL has the audacity to fix this wreckage. We, the viewers deserve to be treated with respect. Bravo Snapper!

Marion said...

Thank you for this fantastic article!!!

a famous german lesbian author says about Otalia and the s/l the last few months:

When the sun of lesbian TV-Culture is low, there are long shadows of stupid soap story telling!!

And don`t tell me one of them have watched "the childrens hour". They are in the moment creating "the childrens hour" 2009 version for all pride and out lesbians.

Uhaulhasaflatt said...

That was the most honest and dead on storyline commandments I have ever read and so very appropriate for the last months of silliness we have endured. I am so happy to see that free thinking is still alive and well in Otalialand! I was beginning to think everyone had fallen into some type of purple hazed LSD trip that prevented them from being able to differenciate between angst and idiocy!!! Thanks for this wonderful read!

pandora said...

i agree with everything said here expect for the bit about happy hetero philip. philip is getting screwed in much the same way otalia is--he's dying, his son is an ass, he's alone with his feelings except for lillian, etc. do gays and lesbians get fair and equal time? hell no. but there are a LOT of old characters who are also getting screwed due to shit writing. even good man frank, who used to be kind of mr. reliable and has become mr. judgmental asshole deluxe.

both the otalia and philip storylines are upsetting to me as a longterm viewer of GL and hearken back to the days when the showrunners pulled such bullshit as showing michael zaslow the door just as he was beginning to face the illness that would ultimately take his life, or killing off maureen based on stupid focus groups. let's face it, GL often fucks up in the most astonishingly egregious fashions when push comes to shove. what we all want is for them to do the right thing by both viewers and actors alike, but i'm not holding my breath. wheelie has it out for all of them.

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether Jill Lorie Hurst is still writing the storyline. I held out hope that Natalia would ultimately not be pregnant until the photos from Peapack were posted this week, and was surprised at the extent of my visceral reaction to the visual confirmation of this ultimate betrayal. My "purple haze" of denial has unmercifully cleared. The way this is going I would not be surprised to see this conclude with Olivia swinging from a rope, with Frank and Natalia sad, but smug in their heterosexual wedded bliss, all a la The Children's Hour indeed, while the BPD drones on with robotic excuses and inane discussions about soap conventions.

fran said...

Great article. Think 1 and 8 can be a failing of most soaps!

HOWEVER BIG DISCLAIMER: JL and CC make lemonade when the script hands them lemons (or vodka st clements if you need a little alcohol to get you through!)
The writers have done some awesome stuff with Otalia prior to this.

I think there is ONE reason Otalia has gone wrong, by forgetting:

Commandment 11- It is mainly women that watch soaps.

Guess what GL a lesbian relationship can occasionally be about the two women in it, not purely the father/frank/rafe/philip/the man of the week/probably the new baby who you will have named Frank or Gus no doubt.

Any secure hetero male viewer will not feel threatened enough by this relationship that you have to:

. call frank a good man four times an episode
. show otalia coming out to the entire town but never have them kiss
. make natalia pregnant in case they are not de-sexualised enough for CBS
. have it declared in court that the widowed mother who worked two jobs to support her child is less of a parent than the nearest xy chromosome

Dont even get me started on the Jeffrey/Olivia rapemance ;)

Anonymous said...

And all of God's people said.... AMEN. Email to everyone one at CBS this great piece of writing that has a lot of everyone's feelings. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...


You told 'em Snapper.

Somebody go and staple this to Ellen Wheeler's office door or forehead. Preferably option B.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this wonderful article!!! Totally agree with everything. The producers and writers from GL have to read this to know why the Otalia fans are so annoyed!

Anonymous said...

GL took a beautifully written storyline that was something special and in one plot device made it into a run of the mill soap story.

Otalia had enough hills to climb already. I was hoping that they were waiting until JL ml was over to get the couple 'together', then we would have a few weeks of seeing them as a happy united couple interacting with the town. Was that too much to ask? After all, this audience watched them FOLD LAUNDRY for months!

With this pregnancy thrown in now, i see GL holding off on them until the very last episodes, where they will decide to raise the kid and 'be together'. But we will never actually see it on screen.

From what I have read GL is at the bottom of the ratings because they do not listen to the fans, and have broken up popular couples, or killed popular characters in the past. I fear the end story for Otalia is just another reason why the audience abandoned GL and it's canceled.

boldklad said...

It's hard to tell from the pix of Jessica Leccia's recent scenes near Philly on location if she's still (as Natalia) "pregnant", so I'm holding out hope. However, if in fact the writers have been secretly making us think it's a pregnancy when in fact Natalia's got diabetes or something else, it does not excuse that she left Springfield "out of character" (again, she'd never hurt Emma, and allegedly loves Olivia so much that she'd never hurt her either, but not telling them both about the suspected pregnancy before "going on retreat"). It's a load of bollocks, or "everybody bulls@#$s", as Nikki Wade said in the UK series "Bad Girls" - a really fine example of a soap lesbian couple and another pair of fantastic goddess actors. At least there was a happy ending at season 3 for them. Hopefully, by 18 Sep we'll have one, too, for the ages.

JCF said...

Oy vey, I feel so ambivalent.

I agree w/ much of what you've said, Lana.

The discovery of pregnancy at 4 months along strains credibility (esp. for a woman who's had a child before), and the visual bit---after our months of ignoring JL becoming house-sized---is atrocious.


All that said, I still don't feel it out-of-character, IF Natalia discovers a pregnancy this far along, for her to have FREAKED . . . even to the extent of ignoring her commitments to Olivia and Emma (whether Olivia will be able to forgive such a freak-out is another matter). <*>

This is Holy Not-Quite-Virgin Natalia we're talking about. Sex---and esp. pregnancy--- Pushes.Her.Buttons. (not the good ones, but the Catholic GUILT ones!) like nothing most of us can imagine.

***IF*** it was the intention to not just get Jessica off-stage, but actually BREAK Otalia up (in such a way as COULD not be fixed, until Jessica/Natalia physically returned), then this seems *to me* like just about the best way to do it [No offense to anyone out there, but all the other "They could have done it THIS way!" scenarios I've seen written by fans haven't done it for me]

Here's my fanwankage (anybody wanna call me a Purple-Koolaid drinker, I really don't care. God only knows I'm not in the employ of CBS or Telenext!):

Combined w/ the knowledge of Jessica's mat leave, June-ish, the GL writers learning of September cancellation, went with a "Hurry Up and Wait" (or rather "Wait and Hurry Up"?) strategy.

That is, to actually S ~ L ~ O ~ W Otalia down, pre Mat Leave, and then break them up... order to RAMP UP the intensity when JL/Nat returns! [Yes, yes: the waters of the Egyptian River are indeed quite swimmable, to me]

Hence, I think a conscious decision was made: "No kissing for Otalia, till after The Return". When this decision was made in April/May, it may have made some sense, but perhaps they just didn't realize how LUDICROUS it would seem by late June? [And BEYOND ludicrous, the visual of 36-month preggers JL w/ that damn pee-stick?! :-0]

Ah well: I'm well and truly wanked-out for now. Hopefully by 1 August (if not sooner) we'll see (on air) if I was well&truly deluded.

FWIW, I still don't think (for now) Nat's pregnant. IF she is, I think somehow Natalia will come to realize it's NOT God's judgment on "Otalia", and not the end of the world for Otalia. Whether it is for us the fans (in some large portion thereof) remains to be seen...

<*> Speaking of Whom: what was TRULY out-of-character, IMO, was Shiny, Happy Oblivia, of 2-3-4 July. Natalia has that "Can I Die Now?" tone, and Olivia doesn't notice? Doesn't take her to the doctor? Is repeatedly put off re The Big Emma Talk? Puh-leez. THAT was the Writing-FAIL of the past few weeks.

revamy said...

I am finally coming out of my "Otalia" closet to say that this article actually lowered my blood pressure. Whew. Breathe. Thank you. I have been utterly dismayed at how two women who are in love or even "in like" do not KISS ON THE CHEEK. I kiss people left and right on the cheek in my own life who are even casual friends.... And CC oozes sex appeal. The writers know this. Blind people know this. I wonder how many times CC and JL have gone ahead and kissed "in character" at the end of a scene because as professional actors and human beings with a pulse it just "feels right" to do so. If only we could see what is on that cutting room floor....

Anonymous said...

WORD, Snapper. You nailed it completely. You say the developments in the s/l are inexplicable...they are certainly unjustified, stupid, and yes - insulting.

I am left you think we will ever get an explanation? Do you think one of the actors will spill once GL is off the air? Because I would really like to know. This was not just a good story, you know, it was one of those magic events in the history of artistic and creative life - a combination of story, acting, context, outside circumstances, that you can't replicate - they just happen if you are lucky. When they cast JL and decided that she and CC would become a "couple", I'm sure they thought it would be interesting, but they could never have anticipated the explosive sexual chemistry they would have - no one can anticipate that kind of thing. And not just sexual but "couple" chemistry, love, family, humor! The humor is one of the most special and rare qualities, and they have authentic humor as a couple [like Hep and Tracy].

When something like this happens, DON'T BLOW IT!!!!! That could be your 11th Commandment.

What if the Guess Who's Coming to Dinner writers had chickened out: "Nah, we can't possibly have Tracy and Hepburn star in a movie about their daughter marrying black Sidney Poitier!! The fans won't like it" - so they have the daughter back out at the last minute or Sidney Poitier dies in a car accident or something - LAME, LAME, LAME - but no - instead, they took the chance, they went for it ...and got 2 Oscars, countless other awards, AND made a HUGE positive social impact. Yes they offended plenty of bigots, but WHO THE HELL CARES! Offending bigots is a sacred duty.

The chemistry b/w Hep and Tracy, AND Poitier in this case MADE IT WORK. The chemistry b/w CC and JL could have carried ANY story arc here, and that was becoming obvious even before they made the romantic feelings explicit. My biggest sadness is the squandering of that chemistry - killing the humor, b/c you can't predict it, you can't replace it - even those two actors in other roles won't be quite the same b/c of Olivia's long GL character history and the overall context. [Although I hope somehow we might see them in some other story together]. You seem to think they can fix this thing, and I hope you are right.
Thanks Snapper for speaking the truth.

Snapper said...

To be perfectly clear - Otalia is only a little piece of what I've loved about GL over the years. I intend to watch right until the very end, and I do hope steps are taken to fix what's broken with this particular story line. I know that a resolution is planned and I hope it's presented in a way that is at least partially satisfactory to those of us who have invested a lot in. I do not hate Ellen Wheeler, and I'm not in any position to point a finger at any individual for making the mess that now exists - I just know the mess is clear to see, and someone needs to clean it up.

Anonymous said...

Word to JCF's post in its entirety (except I do think N's pregnant in all likelihood).

I'm a dyke too (not a soap viewer, and not on BPD) & yeah, we've been here before. But... the customer is not always right. Viewers are not making the product. We all have the option to turn off the set, always.

It seems to me that in their rage and disappointment, many people are no longer watching this soap--the one in front of them. They're watching what they think they're not-seeing. Which is something very different. They've come to conclusions and are looking to see those confirmed. If the couple had not been desexualized, people wouldn't be so angry. But then we wouldn't have been watching this story on this particular soap because that's a large part of the issue, has always been so, and, in terms of how lesbians are represented in the media, will continue to be so indefinitely.

If people already know there is no way they will ever be able to accommodate a view wherein a plot development that has already taken place might indeed continue to play out over the coming months, why continue to watch? This show has gone there. Like it or not... we're apparently stuck with it. Coming to a foregone conclusion about a piece of media that is still mid-story--doesn't help me see it more clearly, engage with it, or understand it. It only confirms to me what I already know I think about it.

So far as the writing goes, the characters have behaved consistently--without any fanwank required, for the reasons JCF discussed in her post. This couple will end up together. People might not like the way they end up together, but that they will do so is the other foregone conclusion no one seems interested in, at the moment; a happy ending was pretty important to folks a few months ago. It's still important.

"Listen to your audience, and don't insult their intelligence."

Lesbian viewers are not GL's primary audience--only a small, vocal minority. The intended audience is straight, fearful viewers from middle-America that the writers think need hand-holding in order to help them get over their awful fear of l-l-lesbians and gay men. That's what this storyline has always been about: making Pleasantville--where bias is not okay--safer for cute purple bunnies. --ekny

Sarah said...

Can we keep in mind this is a soap opera? I still say SHE'S NOT PREGNANT.

Anonymous said...

((EKNY wrote:

" 'Listen to your audience, and don't insult their intelligence.' "

Lesbian viewers are not GL's primary audience--only a small, vocal minority. The intended audience is straight, fearful viewers from middle-America that the writers think need hand-holding in order to help them get over their awful fear of l-l-lesbians and gay men. That's what this storyline has always been about: making Pleasantville--where bias is not okay--safer for cute purple bunnies.))

That makes sense to a degree, except that
1] in the history of GL they have taken on several controversial topics that could have [and did] offended "fearful middle america" and done it in a non-hand holding fashion - like rape and incest for instance. CC was an integral part of some of those as well, so they know she can do it.
2]They decided to take this "lesbian" issue on, and they have been doing it for a year now really well - in a non-hand holding way [Natalia dissing Fr. Ray using scripture was NOT backing away from controversy!] - the "fearful middle americans" that were going to react badly already have. When Natalia stopped the marriage and Otalia declared they loved each other, that ship sailed. Whoever was going to be offended has already been offended - so why screw things up now? Even if [oh horror of horrors] Natalia kicked Olivia over and married Frank, EVERYONE knows it will be a sham loveless marriage. They already left Pleasantville - why then stop in "weird inconsistancy town"
3] What would be the use of pretending to the alleged "fearful middle americans" who you say are the audience that "lesbians may get together, but they don't really have sex, so don't worry". I think that cat is out of the bag, thanks to Oprah,Rosie, Ellen and Portia, etc. If someone is fearful or hateful, nothing they could do with this story now would really appease them anyway - and at this point what good would it do, since the show is ending - no one will be watching in future.
4] I think you are selling much of "middle america" short. The small vocal minority here are really the bigots and haters that can find fault even with a beautiful story like this one {used to be}. True - lesbians and gays will always be a statitical minority, but our friends, families, and allies all together with us are actually a majority. They ALL want to see a positive story of women in love like this one.
Your point about watching the story that is being told now is a good one...I am still watching. I will still note and be heartened by anything positive that happens [including especially the ongoing bravura acting by CC and JL]. But I can't help but think sometimes about what might have been -

Snapper said...

Add this to any concerns people might have about how ready the GL audience is for a less pussy-whipped Otalia:
my inside sources tell me that P&G has received almost no negative feedback from viewers re Otalia, but an staggering amount of POSITIVE feedback. It's a product and you know what they did when they decided to pull Otalia's teeth? They invented New Coke.

Anonymous said...

And I think the writers of GL HAVE followed the commandments. Those only tuning in since the Otalia storyline "started" (late 08) are missing a lot of character truths about Natalia and Olivia that ARE being deconstructed and reconstructed brilliantly in the current arc choices.

Snapper said...

And some of us who have watched GL for 35 years or more call "BULLSHIT"

Anonymous said...

Everything about otalia followed the commandments until this latest pregnancy/ unlike the character of Natalia.. What a sorry ass group of writers if this was all they could come up with to explain La Leccia's absence. Even if they do redeem this whole BULLSHIT when she returns, I have lost that thrill..the OTalia magic that made me obsessed..BUZZ KILL to the max

Susan said...

A-Freaking-Men, Lana. Thank you for adding such an articulate voice to the chorus of objections to the recent developments in this storyline.

at this point, I'm actually far less bothered by the maybe-baby (even tho' I still don't want to see it!) than I am about the manner in which the Natalia character left. Yes, it is in her nature to run. I won't dispute that. But, to take off, *without a word* to her son (so far as we know), or her supposed girlfriend? (and, no, 'passing notes' through Blake &/or Fr. Ray don't count, imo) and disappointing said supposed-girlfriend's daughter, who she loves like a daughter, in the process? No. Just, no. I will never believe Natalia capable of such callousness.

I have loved this s/l. Even with the recent missteps in the story, it's still the best thing out there. but, that doesn't mean I don't have every right to be disappointed in the recent choices the writers have made. I hope that they can redeem themselves, to some degree, when Natalia returns, but for me the damage is done.

I'm still "invested," but not quite so much so, anymore, because I know that things could have been soooo much better, and I reserve the right to mourn the loss of what I wasn't allowed to see.

Sly said...

Susan said
I'm still "invested," but not quite so much so, anymore, because I know that things could have been soooo much better, and I reserve the right to mourn the loss of what I wasn't allowed to see.

Yes this is the issue for me too. It seems such a waste of time and talent to have done such a good job of writing this story with a delicate hand then come along with a sledge hammer to ruin it at the very the end of the show.

Yes they can fix it a little bit but I don't blieve there is time to give it the repair it truly needs and deserves. What's going to be given is words out of someone's mouth which breaks the cardinal rule of writing, show don't tell.

I am a GL wathcer from it's move from radio to TV and over the years there have been other such goofs regards incoherent story but this is the worst yet because it it throws a monkey wrench into what was a lovely healing attempt at this certain prejudice.

This story surpassed every other way it's been told for sensitivity. The L Word din't have this nor any of the movies which seem to think the only outcome for such people is either death or alcohol and drug addiction.

Two adult women in the midwest of the USA; come on that was great stuff that is what kept me invested was the fact that not only were these women straight all their lives before but they fell in love in the bible-belt.

I hope the ending will be a good one, (even though I know it will all be words) so I can continue to watch on youtube wothout knowing it will end badly, that's all at this point I can hope for. Sure they can do a hurry up fix but that's just another slap in the fans faces, a disregard for our investment.

Snapper said...

Sly - how awesome to hear from someone who followed GL from radio to television! here I thought *I* was a long-term viewer - I'm humbled.

You should check out and consider contributing to the Guiding Light Project at ...I'm sure you have stories to tell.

Sly said...

Sly - how awesome to hear from someone who followed GL from radio to television! here I thought *I* was a long-term viewer - I'm humbled.

-Oh no don't be, it's just that I'm older than dirt. ;-)

You should check out and consider contributing to the Guiding Light Project at ...I'm sure you have stories to tell.

-What's the link I'll check them out? By the way I'm loving the comments and the scenarios for a new show. Let's do it.

Snapper said...

Here is the link tot he announcement of the The Guiding Light Project:

Here is a link to the stuff I've contributed (there's some duplication between that site and this one...but not entirely):

I hope you do consider contributing. It would be great to have something from someone who's followed GL from radio. Older than dirt is good!