With just 10 episodes to go, it seems like a good time to rate how Guiding Light's winding down is going, thus far, on a storyline-by-storyline basis. Normally, the Snapper Academy would operate on a Pass/Fail basis, but there's just too much grey area here, so the grading system will allow for some elbow room:
D= Poor, but just passing
F= Failing Grade: Unsatisfactory
The Coopers - F
The business with Cyrus is pointless and boring. Besides that, it's insulting to anyone who has
watched the show for any length of time and knows the family's history: for Frank to refer - however snidely - to Cyrus as a "long lost brother" is just stupid. Frank wasn't raised by his dad. He didn't really meet him until he was about 30. He didn't meet Jenna until about the same time. He didn't much care for Jenna, and she was in no way a mother figure to him. A child Jenna had 25 years before she even met Buzz, and who she didn't acknowledge as her own? That child is a long lost nothing to Frank, Marina and Daisy. No one cares about this development, and GL would have done better to leave Cyrus out in Australia and never bring him back to Springfield.
Coop's Book - D
The only reason this doesn't get an F is that I love Liz Keifer and thank God for any screen time they give her before the light goes out for good. The story is lame. On a show that has actually been pretty cool about addressing the real economic crunch this country is feeling (Blake talking about real estate not being a good business to be in these days, Olivia pointing out how difficult it can be to find work in this economy, Marina and Mallet struggling to make ends meet, etc) it's completely ridiculous to have Blake get an advance on book, sight-unseen. And not just an advance, but such a huge advance that Buzz reckons they can pay off both mortgages, buy a new stove, repair the roof AND send Daisy to college. Yeah, right....publishing is such a booming business that Simon and Schuster is wiring out million dollar checks to an author whose book they haven't even read, yet. Oh, wait...Coop had a great "reputation." STFU. Maybe Stephen King gets an advance like that. Otherwise, seriously? Shut up.
The Mallets - F
Can I give an F-minus? The business of Mallet leaving town to let Henry be close to his "real"
father is an insult to any parent raising an adopted child. What's more, the implication that this is somehow a brave and courageous move on Mallet's part is preposterous. Abandoning one's child isn't brave. It's cowardly. Mallet turns out to be even more of a douchebag than we all thought he was, and every character who thinks that his leaving was "brave" needs to kiss my ass. I'm fairly sure he'll be back before September 18th, but who cares? The fact is, this sort of plot twist can do a lot of damage, and the damage has already been done. Whoever wrote this is an asshole.
The Spauldings - A
When Phillip and Beth and Lillian cry, I cry. And, boy, has there been some crying going on. I love the whole "Phillip is dying" plot, even if he's got some disease no one dares give a name to. Grant Aleksander is as great as ever, and I'm loving it that Phillip's condition is turning out to be a catalyst for action from several members of the Springfield community. It's bringing Lillian and Buzz closer together. It's making Olivia and Frank take stock of what truly bad news looks like, and how good they really have it, in the grand scheme of things. It's forced James to acknowledge how much his father means to him. It will, we all know by now, provide Alan with an opportunity to do the right thing for once in his life.
Billy and Vanessa - B
Billy and Vanessa's storyline isn't compelling, but it's sweet as hell, any opportunity to see the lovely, talented Maeve Kinkead on screen before the show ends is welcome, and long-time fans will be satisfied that these two are giving marriage to one another a third chance. Also, we all know by now that this wedding will be the event of the year, one that will being all of Springfield together as Guiding Light says goodbye.
The Wolfes - A+
I've never been a huge fan of Doris. In my opinion, Doris has never really done enough to convince me that she's likable or trustworthy. Simply being a lesbian is not enough. I mean, so what if she's a dyke? She's a ruthless, mean-spirited dyke. Her whole involvement in the My Two Mommies debacle makes me think she's sort of the Ted Haggard of dykes.
Slowly, though, the fact that Doris is gay has proven useful to Olivia - not by example, but as a cautionary tale. Doris' shameful silence about her sexual identity has cost her any closeness she may have shared with her own child - a child she obvious wanted badly...badly enough to go to a sperm bank as a single woman, and raise Ashlee on her own. Every time we hear Doris talk about her regrets, about how much time she's wasted, about how trapped she feels, it's like a beautifully crafted instruction manual on how NOT to do it. This instruction manual is for Olivia and Natalia. (If only they'd flipped through it some time in May!) As the show winds down, we've finally witnessed the confrontation Doris has waited over 20 years for, and the pay-off is spectacular. I love it that Ashlee isn't angry about her mother being gay, but about being kept out in the cold. I love it that Ashlee sees clearly and articulates the simple truth: Doris hasn't hated her all these years, she's hated herself. I love it that, in her interaction with Rafe, Ashlee uses the "H" word: "I can't believe my mother thought I'd be homophobic." If Doris' life story is an instruction manual for Olivia and Natalia, Ashlee's reaction to the news that her mother is gay is an instruction manual for Rafe. Read it, Rafe....it will tell you that being angry at your mother for not being honest is fine, but being angry because the things she needs in her life to make her happy are not the things you'd choose for her is not only childish, but hateful.
Otalia - D+
I wish I'd done some grading back in April, because I would have had the pleasure of granting Otalia an A+. Grading the storyline based on how it's playing out as the show winds down, though, is a whole different kettle of fish. The fact is, it's a sad, depressing mess. I'm not satisfied with the fact that Natalia has failed to show a reasonable level of self-awareness and remorse. I'm not satisfied with the fact that it seems clear Rafe will never get his comeuppance. And, unlike many Otalia fans, I'm not satisfied with Olivia and Natalia sharing a head butt in place of a long, slow, kiss. We've been ripped off. If not for the incredible amount of talent and charisma that Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia bring to the storyline, I'd seriously consider giving Otalia's last chapter a big, fat F.