Thursday, September 10, 2009

Real Life (Sometimes) Happens Like This - Episode Breakdown


A pretty damned sweet day for Otalia, but with a few bumps in the road for me. Having been forced to accept the unacceptable (Natalia basically getting away with putting my Olivia through hell) I'm pleased with the way these two characters are interacting with one another and exuding as much love and sensuality as is humanly possible for two people who are basically handcuffed and kept at arm's length.  Yeah, this isn't a picture of Otalia. It's a picture of Olivia. But she's wearing that jogging suit and her hair is pulled back, and she's so freaking pretty. Is there a law against loving beautiful things?

Telling Emma
There's something about this scene that captures the true spirit of Otalia (prior to July 4th) - it's a little domestic gem. Not a big drama, but one of the little scenes that make up our lives. Early Otalia was all about this - about how women who love other women aren't other people living other kinds of lives. They - we - are just like everyone else. We stumble. We laugh. We play Scrabble. We watch TV. We argue over how to decorate the house. We love our kids. We get hangovers.  The big "telling Emma" scene was great because it was kept simple. We've always known that Emma was pretty damned on top of things, and that she wouldn't be traumatized. There was no need for drama, so it was wise of the writers to leave the drama out of it. Like so many real-life children I've known, Emma took the truth at face value, and moved on. She's moving back to the her beloved farm, she gets to see Natalia every day, she'll have a baby sister, and her mother is happy and in love. What's not to be happy about? Why would she be phased? I mean, look at her character's history: every year or so she finds out a parent is dead or dying, or she's introduced to a new relative she never knew existed. Mom is in love with Natalia? Yeah? So what? I could have told you that, months ago. Do I get my old room back? A shout out to little Jackie Tsirkin, who has such great screen presence and who has been great ever since she took on the role of Emma in 2007. 

Moving In and Rafe

The moving in really was like the old-fashioned barn-raising that I described in another blog post, when I talked about what GL should have done re the Bill/Lizzie house. The whole thing was pretty sweet, even if it does drive home the whole "it takes a village" thing that bugs me so much. What isn't ok, in my opinion, is the fact that it seems as if Rafe is going to get a free pass for the crap he's been handing out to Olivia and Natalia. He shows up and moves a few boxes and all is forgiven? Not in my book. He hasn't even apologized, and it doesn't look as if he has any intention to do so. This is not a message I'm happy about GL putting out there as it shuts down - that being shitty and abusive and bigoted to/intolerant of fags is ok, because it takes "normal" people a while to get adjusted to new things. Bullshit. And, yes, I picked the worst picture of E.J. Bonilla I could find because I hate Rafe that much. Sorry, E.J. - I actually think you're cute and talented. 

There was some goofy editing that played a part in this section of the show: where the hell did Daisy suddenly come from? How did Josh hear about Olivia's move, and where the hell did he leave the two babies he was supposed to be watching? How did Billy start out with Buzz to check on Alan's status, and end up sitting at a table with Lillian and Frank in Natalia's back yard? Ehhhh...who cares?

Frank's Reactions

Again, I'm happy with the way Frank has been portrayed in all of this. He doesn't exactly look comfortable about Olivia and Natalia moving in together or telling Emma that they're a couple, but he doesn't verbally object to it. This is realistic. No one can force a person to approve or agree with their life choices - but we all have the right to expect our loved ones to show tolerance. In real life, it does often take heterosexual people a while to get over their discomfort re homosexuality - I think this is where Frank is. Unlike Rafe, though, he's civilized enough to look at the situation and recognize that what exists between Natalia and Olivia isn't really about him and that, at the end of the day, they don't need his approval. They need his help moving. They also want his friendship, and he's clearly moving towards a place where he can be a friend who is comfortable with them being a couple. My own mother never, ever said anything negative about my choosing as a life partner another woman. She never once suggested I try to date men. She never asked me why I identified as a lesbian. I told her the truth and she accepted it.  I never for moment doubted my mother's love. I did, however, know that she wasn't initially 100% comfortable about my being a lesbian - even as she accepted it. She accepted it because she loved me. She became comfortable with it because enough time passed that it started to feel just like anything else about me: I'm left-handed, I'm a writer, I love soap operas, I'm a lesbian. Today, my mother is not only comfortable with my homosexuality,but she loves my partner, considers her a family member, always gets her the best gifts, and is disappointed when she can't accompany me on visits. Real life sometimes happens like this. 

Yes, I've run out of good pics of Frank D., and this one made me happy. 

Doris and Ashlee 

The Gazebo

Ashlee is good for Rafe. He can learn a lot from her. Unfortunately, he hasn't learned that saying "I'm sorry" is the traditional first step towards making amends when one has been a complete and utter asshole. I really liked Ashlee's take on Olivia and Natalia as a couple. Simple and logical - two things I wouldn't expect from Ashlee, but she delivered. For heaven's sake, they've been joined at the hip for about a year. Natalia is the only one on earth who seems able to handle Olivia. Olivia has been the only one to believe in Natalia's abilities. They're able to work and live together and still get along. They do a great job of sharing domestic and parental responsibilities. How could anyone NOT think they make a pretty good couple? Of course, Ashlee has only so much room for logic. Thank God Daisy has become the Albert Einstein of Springfield's young set - without her, would Ashlee ever have thought to make clear to Doris that the gay thing was no big deal?? Jeez.

And, because it needs to be said again and again: Rafe is a fucking asshole who should be on his knees, begging Olivia and Natalia for forgiveness. 

The Mother/Daughter Moment

Lovely. Enough said. Oh, yeah - yay for letting Orlagh Cassidy look pretty!

The Spauldings

Again, I'm loving this story line. There wasn't a lot of meat, today, but I loved the scene between James and Alan. For someone like me, who remembers Alan and Phillip's many years of struggle, the James/Alan dynamic is a redemption of sorts. Honorable mention to Marj Dusay and Ron Raines: thank God they thought to give Alexandra a word or two to say, and that they 
were so true to history. Alan and Alex have always had a fierce and passionate sibling bond. I know some newbies have mentioned feeling weird about a brother and sister being so close but, again, real life is sometimes like this. Alex and Alan remind me of a late aunt and uncle of mine who were especially close - the were best friends who relied on one another, supported one another, and always seemed to share secrets. One of them was always bailing the other one out of trouble. They also argued like cats and dogs.  It wasn't sick or dysfunctional: they were close in age, had very similar personalities, and related to one another almost as if they were twins. When my aunt died, her little brother became despondent. I don't think he ever recovered from losing his best friend. 


It's fitting that four of GL's veteran characters should be the ones to take stock of what richness they have before them. This is all a bit of nothing, but it's a sweet, touching, moving sort of nothing. The scene with Billy and Frank at the table was evidently the last scene filmed. The last GL scene, ever. Knowing this made me choke up a bit as I watched it. Billy Lewis, I've watched you go through how many struggles with your demons? You somehow kept me liking you, even when you put my Vanessa through hell, married Nadine, and shot Roger. You've got a heart the size of Texas (or Oklahoma.) I'm going to miss you, you big lug. 

I preferred this awesome picture of Buzz and Lillian to any I found of Jordan Clarke. Sorry, mate.

Jonathan, Reva, Josh 

Who? Whatever. 

Tiny, Little, Almost Negligible Moment of Awesomeness

Olivia and Jonathan running into one another. "Auntie O"!!! IMO, Crystal Chappell is basically the Alec Baldwin of chicks. By that, I mean she's so fucking playful and fun and awesome and I want to go out and get drunk and raise hell with her. I think Tom Pelphrey feels the same way, because they bring out the brat in one another. Jonathan's reaction to his Aunt having a girlfriend? Spot on. (Olivia was like this with her brother, Sam, too - why didn't they bring Sam back? I loved him.) 

And, yeah, this picture has bugger all to do with Olivia and Jonathan, but it's a great picture of the Olivia I want to hang with. Plus, you can never have too many pictures of Olivia.


DJ Bixby said...

The lack of the Rafe character arc really bothers me (almost as much as the non-kiss). I'm still somehow able to look at this episode EXTREMELY positively. Most of the town helps Olivia move in with her GIRLFRIEND (and the GF word is finally used). Seeing the last couple episodes between Doris & Ashley during the coming out storyline have helped to counter-act my reaction to Rafe. I still have to sit back and recognize all the small, yet amazing moments, of a woman loving another woman, or dealing with her own coming out process within the last six months. there has been SOOO much.

As always, thanks for the blog and pics:) I think i'm in my 9th stage of denial about next week's finale.

Chele said...

I loved your episode recap but must disagree in a tiny way over the Rafe assessment. Although I agree his turn around was rushed to get the family a 'family' by shows end (helped by two, count them TWO tennis related interruptions) I don't have issue with the way his arc was played.

Unlike Frank who is adjusting in a grown-up way, Rafe is a younger man, a rebellious young man, a young man with a troubled past and not much in the way of worldly life experiences. Should they have taken the time to have him talk to his mother and/or Olivia - yes. However, the beat of his character being VERY upset about his mother's love life I found a completely reasonable arc to follow and in fact one that had they not followed would have felt fake to me.

Where Ashlee's issue was with her mother hiding it from her and using that wall to lash out at Ashlee Rafe was having to see his single parent in a whole new light that his upbringing didn't want to see.

I think had GL stayed on the air we would have gotten to see this Rafe beat play out with sorry's and more talking (after much more Rafe drama) but considering the clock ticking I am not surprised the sorry part was leapt over to get to the bookend.

Now if CBS would only release the handcuffs and make Otalia look like a real romantic couple - because talk about an inauthentic beat of a story. Those two poor actresses.

Thanks for a great read.

Snapper said...

It woul dhave been great if the show had followed such an arc, but they didn't follow through with ANYTHING. Rafe was an upset, uptight, homophobic, hateful piece of shit and then POOF - in one fell swoop he was happily moving his mom and her lesbian lover into their love nest. No "I'm sorry." Not even an, "I don't get this...but whatever, Ma - I love you." He's happy happy joy joy boy, and we're supposed to buy it? I don't. I don't find it believable. And I don't find it believable that Olivia wouldn't make it a condition of her reunion with Natalia that, "If Rafe can't at least be civil, we'll have to figure out a way to make sure we don't run into one another." It's just more watered-down, don't-feed-the-lesbians GL bullshit.

MJinTenn said...

OH MY GOD!!! You're... you're... left-handed? I can't believe I never noticed it about you, but it all makes sense now. I guess I just wasn't paying attention. How could I not have seen it? It doesn't matter, it doesn't change my feelings for you, much.

I agree with your assessment and I'm loving the daily count down analyses.

Oh, and if you ever get drunk and raise hell with Olivia, keep your hands to yourself.

Snapper said...

Yes, MarthaJeanTammyBobJoeMavis from Tennessee, I'm a lefty. So's my other half. It's a thoroughly right-brained household.

If I find myself drunk and raising hell with Olivia Spencer any time soon, all bets are off. So are the gloves.

B Fuhr said...

You never really disappoint me in your blogging. It makes me feel like my own thought to do another 'Stachey Recap of the last two weeks just doesn't need to happen. Because you're so spot on.

Of course I probably will do it anyways. It'll just take me a lot longer.

I'm so happy I stumbled upon this blog. I can't wait to read where you go after GL.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorta done thinking about this show and Otalia anymore, but one thing I totally agree with....

You can never have too many pictures of OLIVIA FREAKIN SPENCER!!!


Anonymous said...

Snapper, thanks again for your insights - I agree the Rafe thing was not just not believable - I think actually insulting - like its ok to rage around for 2 months saying hateful stuff and then just pretend it never happened - I know time is short - so why not shorten what was essentially a silly time-wasting ball game and just have one brief 1 minute scene where Rafe AT LEAST apologizes to his mother for telling her she is going to hell and does not need a "playmate". They made sure Otalia talked to Emma and got things clear [as if we ever thought it would be an issue for her]. But we are left with the story of Hateful Rafe, alienated from his mother - they were a pair for 17 years - now Olivia lives with her - will he visit them? Does he still hate Olivia? Does he still think Natalia is going to hell? That was some serious stuff - then just blown off. Dumb.
In terms of Frank, I think they are doing an ok job with this part. As much as I thought the whole pregnancy thing was a very stupid ploy to keep Otalia from having intimacy, once they did it they had to follow up with the Otalia/Frank dynamic. This could have been quite an interesting fresh story in an ongoing GL. Another missed opportunity.

jimf said...

Billy and Lillian weren't in Olivia's backyard, they were still at the Coopers' place. Frank went there to get some tools and then head back to Olivia's farmhouse. I agree with you about the editing in general though.

Still, all in all, it was a great episode! I loved Lizzie and Sarah's reunion in this episode too, which you didn't mention much.