Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Could Have Been

So much for where the writers of Guiding Light have dropped the ball and left us scratching our heads as they've wasted precious time on nonsense. What else could the writers have done? What other paths could the good people of Springfield have taken as the show slowly came to a halt? 

First off, let me just put it out there - on April 1, when the news came down that GL had been cancelled, the best story line, the most compelling story line, the story line that had bloggers, fans, journalists and even actors who weren't involved in it the most excited was Otalia. This is indisputable.  It stands to reason, then, that Otalia should have been the centerpiece of the last 5+ months of the show. I'm not talking about Otalia as we see it today. The writers could have easily taken Otalia on a trajectory that would have involved every major member of the Springfield community, on some level, provided drama and angst, allowed for loose ends to be tied up. There are two magic words that could have made this a reality, and given the writers a realistic reason to have Natalia leave Springfield for a time as Jessica Leccia went on maternity leave. Those words? CUSTODY BATTLE.

Mid-May: Olivia and Natalia return from their spa weekend (where, in my version, they kissed after taking that hike...because, for heaven's sake, the timing was right, the setting was perfect and, by that time, it actually looked un-natural for them not to just lean in and shyly kiss one another. I'm true to soap convention and, if ever there was a classic setting for a first soap kiss for a couple, that was it.) Instead of returning to some bullshit murder mystery that ends up going nowhere, they return to Phillip Spaulding who has chosen to share with Olivia the news he's just learned: he's dying.  Why does he tell Olivia when there's been such bad blood between them? He tells her because he knows, full well that, once he's gone, he won't be able to protect Emma from winding up in Alan's clutches. He also knows that Olivia is in love with Natalia - a piece of information Alan would happily use against Olivia in a bid to gain custody of Emma - he's made no secret of this. If anything, a disclosure like this about his own impending death would make the emerging friendship between Phillip and Olivia even more believable than it now is. What Phillip and Olivia need is a couple of good lawyers to help them set it up in such a way that Alan can never get his hands on Emma....lawyers they can trust with the information about Phillip, and with the truth about Olivia and Natalia, which is still kept on the DL until there's a legal assurance that Olivia is in no danger of losing custody of Emma. Who are the good, trustworthy lawyers in Springfield? Mel Boudreax and Jeffery O'Neill - both people who Olivia has already blabbed to about her love for Natalia.  Are you starting to get the idea that Olivia and Natalia are no longer adrift at sea on their own private island, but interacting with other characters, forming alliances, and acting a little bit more like part of a community? Good. That's the idea. And, you know that there's no way Reva doesn't find out that Jefferey is up to something involving Olivia, and no way is she going to stay uninvolved. The simplest of tweaks to the story line that the writers of Guiding Light already had set up would have allowed for an Otalia kiss and a partial coming out to the community, engaged Olivia and Natalia with Phillip, Jefferey, Mel and Reva, and set up a killer summer story line way back in May. 

The whole Phillip-is-dying story line is a good one, and I wouldn't change anything about it except his disclosure to Olivia and the timing. If we place his road trip with Alan in mid-June, it opens up a whole can of worms and gives Alan time to find out, somehow (from Emma?), about Olivia and Natalia, and make a move to get legal custody of Emma - even before Phillip is dead. I know some people will say that Alan would never do such a thing. He would. It's exactly what he would do. And especially if he were in pain over the idea of losing his son. Who does Alan call on to take up his case? Doris Woolf, who he considers to be in his back pocket. This strategy backfires on him, though, as Doris refuses to help him and, instead, is moved to finally come out to Ashley. 

By July, Alan has found a lawyer to take up his cause and has filed for custody of Emma, stating that Phillip is mentally unstable and Olivia is a lesbian degenerate. (Remember, Phillip's medical tragedy is a secret from most people - a secret Alan keeps in an effort to avoid facing it, himself. Totally believable for Alan.) Just as the custody case is about to get underway, Natalia leaves town in the hopes that her no longer being in Olivia's life will keep Olivia from losing Emma. And, guess what? She actually leaves Olivia a note explaining why she's gone and telling her where she'll be. Even though Olivia is broken-hearted over Natalia leaving, we don't spend July and most of August with a weepy, crazy, drunken Olivia. We spend it with a kick-ass, keep-your-hands-off-my-kid Olivia as the summer revolves around a super soapy courtroom custody battle where Alan exposes Otalia, and which involves just about everyone in town on some level. 

Think about the line-up of character witnesses Olivia would have on her behalf: from the Lewis family: Josh and Bill, both ex-husbands who she gets along with, and who know she's a good mother....from within the Spaulding/Raines families: Phillip, Beth, Lillian. Hell - even Lizzie knows that Alan shouldn't have Emma. Rick Bauer would champion her cause, especially in support of Phillip. Dinah. Blake. Reva. Buzz. This would have been a perfect reason to have Jonathan come back to town - to support his aunt and to rub Alan's face in it. Same for Ava. And the clincher? Frank Cooper. What better way to prove all the "good man" stuff than to have Frank stand up in court and say that, even though he's been hurt by Olivia and Natalia, he knows Olivia is a good parent and that she and Natalia together have only been a good influence on Emma? 

With other things happening in Springfield (Fallout from Doris' coming out, Bill and Lizzie's wedding, the Vanessa/Billy, James/Daisy, Shayne/Dinah and Lillian/Buzz romances, Phillip's drama), this courtroom drama would be front-and-center, but not be the only story line as the show nears its end. 

Some time in August, as both sides of the custody battle are about to rest their cases, who should show up in court, in typical dramatic soap style? Natalia, who realizes that she can't run away and hope things will take of themselves - she has to fight for what she wants: a life with Olivia and Emma. You want a grand gesture? How about Natalia taking the witness stand and telling all of Springfield that she loves Olivia, and that they want to keep raising Emma together? There is, of course, a happy ending, as Olivia retains custody of Emma and is publicly reunited with Natalia...Alan's evil deeds are finally exposed....Phillip goes into remission...and it's all in time for the show to wrap up with a soap opera double wedding: Billy and Vanessa/ Lillian and Buzz. And non-asshole Rafe being released from jail on Sept 18th. 

Every loose end tied up. No Cyrus. No Edmund. No Remy. No insulting crap about adoptive fathers not being real fathers. No baby stroller murders. No bat-crazy Reva. No flat-leaving Natalia. No boozy, irresponsible Olivia. Just a classic soap story. 

 © 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


DJ Bixby said...

Love it! Can i read this version somewhere as fanfic? I'm serious.

MJinTenn said...

Snapper: This Is. Utter. Genius.

I have spent every day since the 4th of July in stunned disbelief of how terribly astray a magically spellbinding storyline can go. It had me in it's iron-strong grip until the Nataway.

I sit here in front of my laptop nearly in tears reading the fabulous, soapy goodness we could have had.

Snapper said...

DJ Bixby - You must know I have declared this a fan-fic free zone. And no one has permission to use my (COPYRIGHTED) idea in fanfic.

Luna Whisper said...

I love this post, to me the story pretty much died for me after the spa. I know a lot of people hung in there after wards and leading up to the crappy Mat leave story but c'mon, the spa was really where they dropped the ball. And it just got worse from there.

I love your version better. But that would have made the gay yet lable-less couple the center of the story. And we couldn't have that. I mean, if they can't kiss they certainly can't be the main focus of a story either. Too bad.

toastegrrl said...

THIS! This is the story I wanted to watch. The most compelling stories on GL the past few months have been Otalia (through at least mid-May and charitably through July 3rd) and Phillip, and for too brief a moment the murder mystery that promised to involve everyone but didn't deliver.

I don't understand fully why the writers took one giant misstep after another. Perhaps if P&G had been honest earlier about the chances of the show getting picked up things might have gone differently. Still, that is no excuse for not thinking ahead logically and writing stories that did not need to be rushed to a close. Why throw in plots that went nowhere (diamond and ponzie)? Why waste all that time islanding characters when everyone could have been involved in one MAIN story arc with several secondary but related plots?

Great post!

Robert said...

Effin' brilliant. If you had been writing the show these last few years, there's a good chance its ratings would have risen and kept it from cancellation. This is smart storytelling, it utilizes most of the characters in a front-burner story, and affects the B stories going on at the same time. Why can't daytime writers and the network micro-managers figure this out?

I DARE you to use this sort of intelligence fixing the utter crap that is AMC!

Snapper said...

A dare? Do I smell a dare? Ok, I'll have t bone up on AMC, which I gave up on watching regularly a couple of months ago.

I can pretty much promise you this: any repair job at AMC will involve the return of Brooke English.

Laurie said...

What I love about your scenario is that I feel moved, inspired, interested and I care about the Otalia s/l (which, frankly, has waned). You draw the battle lines, you make everyone a part of this one big story. What a way to conclude the show. You are brilliant!

riot said...

Fuck, this is brilliant.

ocean1blue said...

Awesome Snapper! I am going to pretend that your version is what really happened and delete the unpleasant reality from my brain. Denial can be your friend!

P.S. Could we have a triple wedding and add Oliva and Natalia to the nuptials?

Rikita said...

I can't imagine a way in which the show could have more thoroughly screwed the pooch than they have done with every storyline and pairing. The only interactions that have any resonance for me have been the real life emotions the end of this show is obviously drawing from these yeoman actors. I really wish the writers had been more able to bring the show to a close with something resembling dignity. It's as if they forgot about character and good story and figured we'd be satisfied just watching our favorites sit around in random clusters in stretches of less than a minute each. So, so sad.

B Fuhr said...

I think the only thing that I would have wanted in this MORE Dinah wrapped up into the story as well, but kudos. That's just merely my love of the Marler characters (Blake included).

I often think that fans know how to fix the soaps they love because they care about the entire tableau and understand that stories on an island don't work as well if you don't involve the entire canvas.

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