Guiding Light


On Friday, September 23rd, the last network airing of All My Children began at 12 Noon Central Standard Time. An hour later, it was over. The scheming, the lying, the loving, the surviving, the happy, the sad, the highs, the lows, the tragedy and the triumph.

Erica Kane, the Diva of Pine Valley, finally got her comeuppance when Jackson Montgomery finally, after years of pursuit, responded to her plea that she needed and loved him with an homage worthy of Gone With the Wind.  (“Frankly, Erica, I don’t give a damn what you need.” Aaaand exit – stage left). David Hayward, the Scourge of Pine Valley, resurrected several dozen people (at least it felt that way), including Dixie Cooney-Martin and Stuart Chandler, both done in via terrible writing by past writing regimes and approval of the Executive Producer (*coughJulieHananCarrutherscough*) and Zach Slater, half of the Zendall Supercouple both beloved and reviled across soapdom. Bianca Montgomery, the Moral Center of Pine Valley, finally, seemingly, got a happy ending. Adam and Brooke returned, as did Joe and Ruth.  And Jamie, albeit briefly. Tad and Dixie got back together, Jake and Amanda stayed together, David knocked up Cara and JR got a gun…

The show ended with a cliffhanger of sorts, as JR, mad as hell and apparently not going to take it anymore (no matter how stupid, selfish and alcohol-fueled) hid in the Chandler Mansion’s infamous tunnels and fired one single shot into the crowd of PV revelers as the screen faded to black. Who was shot? We don’t know. Why? Because the show will move on-line in January and Agnes Nixon, creator and headwriter, and Prospect Park, new owners of the venerable soap, wanted it that way.

While I didn’t agree with the ending, I understand why they did it. I’m just sad that such a time-honored icon went out with more of a whimper than a bang (no pun intended).  I understand that the cliffhanger aspect will hopefully keep people guessing until the show re-appears, it also could have the opposite effect in that as time passes, it’s possible no one will care what happened to whom by the time January rolls around. I think a finale tied up in a nice, neat bow would have worked just as well. Because while the cliffhanger keeps people guessing, the time that passes between now and January, in real time, would also allow the characters’ feelings to change, lives to begin and end and the world to continue turning (with apologies to another great, yet canceled, show). The show could then pick up from there, re-booting with an explanation of who and why without having to deal with death and destruction from the outset.

But that is neither here nor there.

What IS here and there is that this venerable show was removed from our airwaves after 41 years. Saying good-bye to such a dear friend has been hard. For every Daytime Television Executive intent on killing daytime serials one long-running, scripted show at a time for cheap, boring, horrible “reality television”, there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of long-time viewers who have incredible memories to share about their “stories”.  Women who grew up watching with their mothers, grandmothers, friends, family. Men and women who remember scheduling college classes around their favorites. An entire generation of teens struggling with their sexuality…

All My Children wasn’t just entertainment. It told the story of us, our neighbors, our families, our friends. It was timely and relevant. It told the story of legalized abortion (Erica had one in 1973, the first legal one on daytime television following the passage of Roe v. Wade- ridiculously undone in 2005), opposition to the Vietnam War (for which the late Mary Fickett won Daytime’s first Emmy Award), teen homosexuality (delicately and beautifully written by show creator Agnes Nixon and portrayed by Eden Riegel) and the stigma of Aids (heartbreakingly performed by David Canary and Ellen Wheeler). The show handled both drama and comedy, many times excelling at the latter at the expense of the former. It taught tolerance, respect and love.  It bridged generations and taught us all a few lessons we sorely needed to learn.

For me, All My Children was a lifetime friend. I began watching during the scorching hot summers of my youth, hiding in the air conditioning during the heart of the day and losing myself in Pine Valley, before following that up with the rest of the ABC Daytime line-up.  My senior year of high school, my schedule allowed me to be home by 11:30 where I would watch the shows before returning to school at 3:30 for basketball practice. I watched during my lunch hour all through college and as often as I could when I joined the workforce in a time before DVR’s- or even VCR’s. I grew up with Jenny and Greg, Angie and Jesse, Liza, Amanda and the entire teen set from the early 80’s. I loved the Cliff and Nina love story, the hilarity of Erica, Janet, Skye and Marian trying to hide the supposedly dead body of Dr. Jonathan Kinder and the incredibly told story of Stuart and Cindy.

I watched Tad and Dixie’s relationship evolve into one of the most enduring on Daytime television, persevering through 2 deaths (both Dixie’s) only to be reunited in the end, as it should be. I watched almost all of Erica’s marriages begin… and end.

I made it through chemotherapy sessions in the summer of 2005 with the help of Kendall and Greenlee (Alicia Minshew and Rebecca Budig), affectionately known as Kenlee, watching them work their way through hatred and friendship, humor and tears, and equally tormenting Erica Kane in the process.

I cheered when couples I loved finally got together, I railed when poor storytelling made my favorite characters seem so foreign to me. I wrote the press, I wrote the show, I wrote the actors. I’ve watched through good times and some really bad clunker stories. I admit to walking away because of the reign of horror we were subjected to by one Charles Pratt and his offensive, insipid, insulting and ridiculous vision for the show. I came back because, like a long-lost friend, I missed it so much.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many stars of the show, Alicia Minshew, Thorsten Kaye, the irrepressible Michael E. Knight.  Michael even gave me 20 Disney bucks when he heard we had arrived at the park at 3am so I could grab some breakfast when I was done. I used the money to buy a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, instead…

I met some the of the best friends I’ve ever had at a Message Board dedicated to the pairing of Bianca and Maggie (the Supercouple known as BAM – portrayed by Eden and Elizabeth Hendrickson).  They were there for me as I battled cancer and hugged me tightly whenever we got together.

I’ve been honored to find myself one of the founding members of Eden Riegel’s Official Fan Club (AbsoluteEden.com) and have had the opportunity to know Eden and her husband, Andrew Miller, as well as her mother, Lenore.

I watched the final week of All My Children alternating between laughter and tears, finally coming to that realization that, come Monday at noon, there would be no need to make sure my television was on and tuned to ABC. I thought of the friends I made way back in the late 70’s during those hot summer days, who came into my house every day to entertain me, the ones who have long since passed and those we have recently mourned. I admittedly wept when thinking of those who I may never see again as they have been to me for 30+ years.

I sighed when I dried my tears and prepared myself to do this again in a few months when we say good-bye to another life-long friend.

And I smiled when I remembered what All My Children has meant to me for more than half my life.

Good bye, my dear, dear friend. I thank you for all that you have given me.

May we meet again soon.

GuidingLight
Today was the last first-run episode of Guiding Light to air on television. For the first time in 72 years, the lighthouse has gone dark.

Thank you for the longest running drama on television. Thank you for stories that were timeless and characters that were much beloved. Thank you for crossing boundaries (and paintings), for giving us love stories, cat fights, gun fights, laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, hope and faith.

I have no words to adequately express the loss of this true piece of American television history other than to say “Thank You” for giving us seven decades of entertainment, friendship and family. We are richer for having known you and poorer for seeing you go.

Thank you for the Bauers, the Spauldings, the Coopers, the Lewis’, the Marlers and all the other families we’ve met. Thank you for Josh and Reva, Josh and Olivia, Olivia and (fill in the blank), Reva and the fountain, the inimitable Bert Bauer and the last supercouple in GL’s long storied history, Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera (Otalia).

Thank you for sharing them with us and handling them all with care and love.

Only one thing recently has been able to say what the end of this show will truly mean to me, a song by Green Day, which I know seems rather unusual, titled Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). This is for the cast and the crew, past and present, and the viewers, whether you watched for decades or merely months.

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.

Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.

So make the best of this test
and don’t ask why.

It’s not a question
but a lesson learned in time.

It’s something unpredictable
but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs
and still frames in your mind.

Hang it on a shelf
In good health and good time.

Tattoos of memories
and dead skin on trial.

For what it’s worth,
it was worth all the while.

It’s something unpredictable
but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

It’s something unpredictable
but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

It’s something unpredictable
but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.


Good bye, Guiding Light. Long may your light shine on…

So, in Springfield Township, what’s a woman to do when she’s desperately in love and the object of her affection is her best friend who’s in love with her, too, but is deeply religious and hasn’t found the strength to tell her ungrateful, recently home from prison, rude snot of a son that she’s in love right back at her? So they can get down to business and maybe actually kiss each other?

First, the obvious: Olivia loves Natalia. Natalia loves Olivia. It’s just that simple… and that complex. But that’s another story… Right now, we’re discussing vexations. Of the physical variety… like… sex… or, rather, not having it…

So how do you resolve your sexual frustrations in the wake of being, basically, the only established couple in town who hasn’t gotten it on…? Like ever…?

Well, you’ve already done the food as sex metaphor. First there was the Great Peanut Butter Incident just before the spa trip-that-settled-some-things-but-really-didn’t… Then we had 50 Dozen Cookie Baking Day, in which first raisins, then cookies were casually fed from Olivia fingers to Natalia‘s lips… The very next morning, while clad in a shimmering magenta robe, Olivia called Nat and left an incredibly suggestive voice mail message about cookies and baking that I honestly believe had absolutely nothing to do with cookies or how a convection oven turns them into warm, edible treats.

And, honestly, did anyone really see any peanut butter on Natalia’s face? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Good for Liv, making that move. I hope everyone was taking notes.

(and really, let’s not forget Liv practically making love to that muffin while talking to Josh at Company. You can’t forget it? Yeah, didn’t think so…)

Anyway, here you have Olivia Freakin’ Spencer, the walking, talking embodiment of sex on a stick. She knows she’s a sexual being. Natalia knows she’s a sexual being. Josh knows (boy, does Josh know!), everyone knows Olivia is a very sexual being. The characters on Another World know Olivia’s a very sexual being, and that show’s been off the air since 1999…

So poor Liv tried everything. First she kissed Josh, which, okay, we can forgive her for because, seriously, have you seen Josh? Of course, she’s giving off waves of sex pheromones that all the men in Springfield can apparently smell because suddenly even Matt is hitting on her…

So after “the kiss” poor Liv was even MORE frustrated. She knew it wasn’t Josh she wanted to be kissing, but she also knew she wouldn’t be kissing Natalia anytime soon. What’s a girl to do?

Well, she tried a little yoga. And that was a mistake…  First you have the calming female voice rather suggestively telling Olivia to relax, which she desperately tried to do, then what positions to contort her body into. Something about pressing downward… which… guh…

Poor Liv. Unable to take it any longer, she stumbles to her feet (literally), jams on a pair of Adidas Superstars and exits her suite with all the dignity she can muster… which is amazing considering she didn’t completely get one appendage all the way into a shoe.

She ends up shopping because… hey, are you frustrated? Nothing eases that sexual tension like giving the old credit card a workout. And apparently the local Springfield Township lingerie shop features more than just lingerie…

Like, apparently, they sell aids. And by aids I mean… “Aids” *winkwinknudgenudge*. I’m guessing the idea is, if the lingerie doesn’t get you what you need, there’s your back-up plan.

Drawn like a moth to a flame… or a frustrated woman to a table filled with gift-wrapped sexual toys… Olivia wanders over and, with the a sort of morbid curiosity, begins to look through them.

Of course, who should magically appear at just this moment? Blake. Blake, who apparently not only shops there but is quite familiar with the products and the store layout. (“This stuff is great. They actually have more in the back.”) Blake, who’s been on a dry spell longer than poor Liv.

Blake, who obviously has the Olivia version of the Nat-tracker…

And she’s encouraging Olivia to buy a little friend. Yes, okay, I’ll say it. A vibrator. Blake is encouraging Olivia Freakin’ Spencer, who has slept with more men than Springfield actually has in its population, to buy a vibrator.

Yes, everyone, Guiding Light went there.

Not only did they go there, they STAYED there for a good long while as Blake expounded on their usefulness, their tact and discretion. And she even told Liv that she should have gotten the red one because “red looks good on you”.  I can assure you that words immediately jumped into my mind and nearly out my mouth to correct Blakey but I managed to hold them in. Barely…

Without ever actually using the word “vibrator” or “dildo” or anything even remotely suggestive, the wonderful writing staff of Guiding Light made it incredibly clear exactly what was in those long slender boxes, what they were for, that Blake not only had one but used it and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

That. Is. Priceless. No other soap opera has taken on such a titillating topic and handled it quite so deftly with humor and, quite honestly, poignancy.

Olivia did make a purchase then spent quite a while agonizing over the decision, alternately freaked out and in deep denial that she would even use it. But I can believe that because Olivia doesn’t strike me as the type of woman who ever needed artificial…um… partners… (air quote, end air quote)

Eventually, she did chuck it in the trash, which, honestly, will be quite a tip for the housekeeper, before stumbling into yet another pair of shoes and hightailing it out to Natalia and the Farmhouse of Love. (Liv, hun, it really shouldn’t be that hard to slip into a pair of shoes)

I’m not sure if Olivia’s crisis was averted or if it just got worse with the trip to see Natalia, considering they spent the next several minutes caressing, touching and basically chastely canoodling right there on the steps to the farmhouse.

Liv may want to hurry back to the hotel before housekeeping empties her trash…

To be fair, Nat’s not immune from the frustrations, either, you know. In a fit of pique at her son, she wound up at Farley’s with Rage- er, I mean, Rafe and Frank, “knocking a few back” and following it up with a shot of something that looked suspiciously like whiskey before challenging them to a game of pool. Not being as comfortable with her sexual awareness as Olivia is, this was Nat’s coping mechanism. Slugging down a couple brewski’s was Natalia’s way of working past the fact that her son is a major obstacle in keeping her from ripping Liv’s clothes off right there in the front yard of the Farmhouse of Love…

Er, I mean… Natalia said it herself. She’s not that naïve…

**Thanks to Otaliafan and Donna Pool for the clips pulled from their YouTube account

The nominees for the Daytime Emmy’s were announced on May 14th and true soap fans must be shaking their heads in wonder. Or are speechless… Or dumbfounded… Or all of the above…

Somehow, beyond all the laws of nature, All My Children leads the way with 19 nominations. Let me repeat, ALL MY CHILDREN GOT 19 NOMINATIONS!!!! One year removed from one (one, singular, individual, solitary, ONE) nomination (David Canary as Adam Chandler – currently being forced out by TIIC), they managed to rake in 19 nominations!!!

WTF?!?! NINETEEN NOMINATIONS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Are you serious?!?! You cannot be serious!! That’s… that’s mind-boggling!! The show that was made fun of, turned into a punch-line, became an utter laughingstock to a huge cross-section of viewers, got 19 nominations?!?!? I’d like to know what compromising photos Charles Pratt has of the judging committee to sway the vote like this.

Now, granted there were acting noms that were much deserved. Thorsten Kaye (again), Debbie Morgan (YAY!), Melissa Claire Egan (first time), Alicia Minshew (finally!) all transcended the material they were given to earn their nominations. Angie’s return and her discovering Jesse alive after 20 years was fantastic work. And Alicia, finally recognized after many deserving years, snagged her first ever nomination. Melissa Egan’s CrazyAnnie was worth the price of admission (except, of course, the day she leapt off Ryan’s penthouse balcony and landed without a scratch several floors below, but… that was the writing, not the acting).

However, I seriously take exception to All My Children and The Bold and the Beautiful receiving nominations as Best Daytime Drama. AMC, if nothing else, deserves an award for Best Example of How to Destroy a Once Incredibly Popular Soap with Nothing More Than Amazingly Bad Writing. (I bet that wouldn’t fit on the trophy, but, you never know, it has a pretty big base). The Bold and the Beautiful is good soap, but no where near on par with The Young and the Restless or even One Life to Live’s level this year.

All My Children, once one of the strongest shows on daytime, has been reduced to mindless hackery. Charles Pratt has taken the show to the very depths of ghoulishness with his unbelievably high body count in a relatively short time-span:  Zach shooting Josh in the head in order to harvest his heart, Annie clubbing brother Richie like a baby seal to save her marriage (oops), Babe getting impaled during a tornado, Greenlee flying off a cliff on a motorcycle, Di Henry being shot and killed by CrazyAnnie during her plot to save her marriage (again, oops). (have I missed anyone? They came fast and furious at one point)  There was the waste of veteran/returning characters (and big names with big-time talent) to pimp new characters that utterly failed (*coughRebecca-Jesse’s-long-lost-wife-when-everyone-thought-he-was-dead-and-her-daughter-and-the-one-hooker-we-couldn’t-care-less-about-Randicough*), the force-feeding of the re-pairing of Ryan and Greenlee, which effectively ended Rebecca Budig’s return, which, oh, yeah, was botched by ABC/AMC. Toss in some cool effects, some plots with holes the size of the one in the ozone layer, plot-driven, soulless storytelling, and that was All My Children in 2008.

And yet, somehow, THEY GOT A WRITING NOMINATION!!!!!!! Charles Pratt got an Emmy nomination for the ridiculously HORRIBLE writing he cranked out in 2008. REALLY? REALLY?!?!?!

The man who actually blamed an Emmy Award winning actress for HIS inadequacies was nominated for Best Writing. This is the man who so completely decimated what should have been the most intriguing storyline on television, daytime or nighttime, was nominated for a writing award… Again, was it the headshot to Josh? Annie’s leap of faith and tire-ironing? Ryan and Greenlee rutting like pigs at every turn? I am utterly mystified how this drivel is worthy even of consideration, let alone an actual nomination.

If anything, Esensten and Brown deserve the nomination without Pratt’s name being tacked on to cheapen it. They did the work that resonated last year with Angie and Jesse’s return, among other things. They had started turning the show around when Brian Frons inexplicably fired them and brought on his buddy, Charles Pratt. And the impact was felt immediately in declining quality. Attaching Pratt’s name to this makes the category irrelevant and a farce.

Like toddlers with no sense of actual value, it’s obvious the judges are swayed by a shiny trinket from a gumball machine. The fancy effects of CGI outweigh the quality of the writing, pacing and continuity.

And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Alicia Minshew, and she is incredibly deserving of her nomination, but there was an indescribably better heart transplant story on daytime last year, involving Crystal Chappell’s fantastic Olivia Spencer on Guiding Light. Like Minshew’s Kendall, Olivia also received the heart of a loved one. Yet Olivia’s story ripped out viewers hearts with her despondency upon learning of Gus Aitoro’s death and the fact that his heart beat now in her chest. How she woke asking for Gus, how Reva broke the news of his death and the gift of his heart from his widow Natalia Rivera. How she gave up her will to live, crying out that she didn’t want to live if Gus was dead. On a daily basis, you watched Crystal Chappell with a lump in your throat, unable to swallow it down with every scene that played out. In this instance, Guiding Light outshone AMC and Crystal Chappell again acted circles around the best daytime has to offer.

(Let me add that I seriously doubt Alicia Minshew’s Emmy submission material was the heart transplant storyline, since she was lying in a bed during that time, pretending to be in a coma. She was, however, an incredibly realistic coma patient)

There is one, possibly two, names on the list for Best Supporting Actress that should have been switched out with Crystal’s. She is undoubtedly one of the best actresses working in daytime television and her name absent from this list is really a travesty. She’ll get hers in 2009 for the work she’s done in recent months. If not, then there’s something seriously rotten in Denmark.

I’ll give AMC the technical award nominations, though. Well deserved, I’m sure.

Here’s hoping OLTL sweeps every category they’re nominated in with AMC…

Deserving Nominees include Susan Haskell, who transcended the repugnant rape-mance storyline on OLTL. She always does top-notch work. Daniel C0sgrove, as GL’s Bill Lewis, also delivers quality work on a daily basis and Jeanne Cooper, the Grande Dame of Daytime, still impresses and had a fantastically  meaty storyline last year.

I would replace Anthony Geary with Darnell Williams. Darnell’s turn as newly-back-from-the-dead Jesse Hubbard was tortured as he still fought to keep his family safe. Plus the respect to the history of the character by the writers made his portrayal even better.

Gina Tognoni, Kim Zimmer, Crystall Chappell, all names that could, and probably should, be on this list. I like Bree Williamson, I just don’t think her turn as crazy Tessica is Emmy-worthy, even with the work she did during Nash’s death.

I think Tamara Braun’s Ava from DOOL was a loony-tune… which means of the 5 nominees in the Best Supporting Actress Category, 3 characters were mentally unbalanced last year… Lack of originality much, Academy voters?

Congratulations, however, are in order for the brilliant minds behind Imaginary Bitches, which snagged a nomination in the New Approaches in Daytime Entertainment category opposite fellow You Tube series I Met The Walrus. TAC. TV, The New York Times Magazine Screen Tests and All My Children are also nominated. (Um, AMC? WTF?!?!) Of course, if they walk off with the trophy, it will be all Eden Riegel’s fault. (And watching Eden win an Emmy over AMC would be sweet vindication)

The Daytime Emmy’s will air on August 30, 2009 on the CW.

Best of luck to the many deserving nominees… Charles Pratt, on the other hand, can suck it.

The April 24th episode of Guiding Light picked up right where we pleasantly left off, with Liv and Nat sitting quietly in a pew at the church… holding hands. Emma had wandered off, as kids are wont to do, giving Nat and Liv some quality time alone. Natalia tells Olivia that she knows everything will be alright. Having come to some measure of peace with herself, her beliefs and her faith, Natalia knows that God will continue to love them, no matter who they love, or possibly because of it.

Olivia tells Nat she’s so sorry that Rafe had to go away. Natalia replies that at least she has the rest of her family with her, Olivia and Emma, until he comes home. Liv wants to know where they go from there and Natalia suggests taking some time apart to think about things. Knowing that is a positive step for them, Olivia agrees.

Emma has other ideas, though. Bounding back in from wherever she had disappeared to (it’s okay, everyone, she disappeared in a church, I imagine she was rather safe) stating clearly she is hungry and her mother had promised her spaghetti after her play. When Olivia agrees and tells Emma to say good-buy to Natalia, the littlest Spencer replies guilelessly “I want both my mommies to come.” (UPS just delivered an anvil, did you get it?)

With Natalia unable to resist the Jelly Bean, an endearing family moment occurs complete with teasing and laughter and they rise from their seats. Olivia reaches for Natalia’s hand, which she easily takes, and they walk out of the church with their hands clasped. Let me repeat, they walk out of the church holding hands, people. With that simple gesture, they’ve taken yet another step forward.

They arrive at Towers where Natalia makes the first awkward mis-step when she tries so sweetly to show she’s accepting of her feelings when she blurts to the waiter that she and Olivia are “Friends… good friends” when he asks if they were together. Olivia smiles understandingly as she explains he only wanted to know if they were together for dinner.

Awkwaaaard…

The waiter seats them, hands them menus and walks away. Suddenly, it becomes a date. Stilted conversation, uncomfortable silences, glances that dove away when eyes were met… They were like 16-year olds going out for the first time… EVAR…

After eventually stumbling over the menu, they each blurted out “Banana Pancakes”, something Emma apparently does when she doesn’t know what to say next. Bursting into laughter, they realize they were making dinner a little harder than it was supposed to be and finally fall into a comfortable togetherness. (And watching Jessica Leccia say “cuckoo!” in explanation to the waiter was truly a funny moment… Nat was trying just a little too hard)

And I must say that Emma, whether intentional or not, is becoming quite the little schemer. Once again she managed to toss out a double entendre, wondering why Nat and Olivia weren’t holding hands, which made Liv and Nat glance at each other with a “What does the little goober know? Is it that obvious?” expression. It all had to do with saying Grace; however, and with matching looks of relief, they clasped hands and said a pre-meal prayer.

At this point, they fell into a companionable state of comfort. Conversation turned to work (how innocuous) and Emma’s Harriet the Spy book then took on a teasing tone as they nagged each other about money and dry cleaning.

At one point, Olivia snagged a meatball that looked to be about as big as Emma’s head off the Jelly Bean’s plate. (Can I say how true to life it was to actually see people eating on a soap opera? And what appeared to be real food, not caviar and tea cakes? Gratifying, I tell you, at how those in charge at GL have made a show that is much more real than other soaps, while still having very real soapy moments…) It was such an honest moment, what parent doesn’t take some food off their child’s plate, either because there’s just too much food for the kid to handle or they really just want that bite?

Dinner finished with Emma heading off to spend the night at her friends house and Natalia insisting on driving Olivia back to her room at the Beacon. Much like any one of a million dates that go on in the world, Natalia walked Olivia to her room to say good-night (now you know it was a date. Friends usually just drop each other off at the door, dates walk you to your door).

So they stood awkwardly at the door like two young lovers on a first date. Do they kiss? Do they shake hands? Maybe a hug? Olivia makes the first move (so to speak) and asks Natalia if she’d like to come in. Knowing better, Nat declines. So far, things have been rather normal and if she enters that room, all of that changes. Knowing Natalia isn’t quite ready for that change, Olivia graciously agrees.

The looks; however, that pass between the two during this exchange very clearly shows that they know they’ve already taken that next step. There were nerves and some excitement and desire and quite obviously want. It was awkward once more, but not like at the dinner they had just shared, but as if they knew the next step in the dance they were now engaged in yet still weren’t sure, or ready, to act on it.

They still need to be themselves around each other as they get used to this new phase of their relationship. Slowly, ever slowly, they’ll be able to take this to the next level. And the level beyond.

Still unsure, Nat asks what they do now, what happens next. Olivia steps close and takes Natalia’s hand. We say good night, she says. Natalia responds with a ‘good night’ and Olivia steps into her room, closing the door behind her. She leans against the door and a smile unlike anything we’ve seen in recent months (possibly the better part of a year) lights up Olivia’s face. It is so very obvious that Olivia Spencer is in love like she has never experienced before in her life.

It is now that we get to see the courtship. What happens as they slowly learn to deal with these feelings with each other, no longer internalizing them and drowning in their agony or running from their sorrow. From this moment on, we get to see the friendship become a romance…

And the truly nice thing about this episode is that Frankencooper was no where near the pair at all throughout the show. So either his tracking skills have been blunted by catching Natalia and Liv standing thisclose together at Emma’s school (seriously, wouldn’t you begin to wonder about your relationship if every time you stumbled upon your fiancé and her roommate, they were a) holding hands, b) hugging, or c) invading each others personal space?) or Nat made a quick trip to Cedars and had the microchip extracted…

However, he did continue being the most obtuse man alive when he straight-facedly told his father Buzz, that he knows he and Natalia will make it down the aisle and be married.

Oh, rly?

Mr. Oblivious, you’re table is ready. You will be dining alone.

One of the many things I love about this story is the little moments. The looks, the smiles, the gestures. There are wonderful eye-rolls, half-smiles, grins, little minutia that give the entire story its textured and realistic layers. For instance, watch the clip above and check out at 1:12 the fantastic look Jacqueline Tsirkin gives Jessica Leccia in the church after Emma says she wants “both her mommies” to go to dinner. It is priceless…

Thanks again to Yodaluver28 for the clip pulled from their YouTube page

With the words “God still loves me” and Olivia’s hand wrapped in hers on Friday’s episode of Guiding Light, Natalia Rivera set into motion what comes next with Otalia.

It actually began the day before on April 23rd in Emma’s classroom. Natalia insists to Olivia that she knows what it means to tell somone you love them. She knows exactly what she said and she knows there are consequences involved. Olivia insists to her that she’s not ready to deal with what comes next, she has too much to deal with, her religion being one of them. Natalia replies that her religion is about love. Olivia, near tears, puts Natalia’s hand to her cheek and says “Really? This kind of love?” and Natalia pulls away. Olivia tells Natalia she’s not ready. Natalia, instead, reaches for Olivia’s hands and holds them in hers, stepping closer for comfort.

And precisely at this moment, Detective Frank Clouseau- er, I mean, Frank Cooper makes another incredibly poorly timed entrance. Olivia pulls her hands free of Natalia’s but Nat doesn’t seem as inclined to jerk back as if caught doing something she shouldn’t. Frank looks like he knows he walked in on something but isn’t quite sure what. (Hello, Frank Cooper? I have an anvil here with your name on it. Yeah, yeah, says right here in neon pink: FRANK COOPER, GET A CLUE!)

Unfortunately, he’s come to tell Natalia that Rafe must report to the halfway house immediately and will take her to him so she can say good bye. Giving Olivia one last, rather pointed, look, she follows.

At the farmhouse, Rafe tells Natalia all he wants is for her to be happy. Frank’s a good guy, but maybe he’s not the guy for Natalia, Rafe will be happy simply if Natalia is. Then he tells her he wants to go to church to pray before leaving.

Meanwhile, Emma and Olivia are heading to Company for the cast party for Emma’s school play. Being ever the schemer, Emma asks for Olivia’s phone, ostensibly to take pictures of the party, and she secretly dials Natalia’s phone. Grinning impishly, she asks her mother to invite Nat to the party. With a shy giddiness not typically seen on the face of Olivia Spencer, she assures her daughter that she’ll mention it.

However, Nat’s in a church and doesn’t answer. Of course, her just having lit a candle and asking for God to forgive her sins might have played a small part in her decision, given the look on her face after putting her phone away. But there is a moment where it looks as if she wonders if she did the right thing. Over at Company, though, Liv sees this as a rejection and is clearly hurt.

Back at the church, Rafe and Natalia walk out hand in hand, knowing that Frank is waiting to take Rafe away. Jessica Leccia knocks it out of the park once more in her portrayal of a mother saying good-bye to her child, her breaking voice and tears heartfelt and true.

Olivia and Emma arrive at this moment, Emma realizing immediately that Natalia is sad. Nat says she’s not sad anymore because Emma (and by extension her mother) are there now. Before Olivia can make excuses and leave, Natalia asks them to go into the church with her. Unable to deny Nat anything, Olivia agrees. The three walk hand-in-hand into the church.

Seated in a pew with Emma between them holding Olivia’s hand, Olivia looks lovingly at Natalia and asks what they’re doing there. Natalia replies “we’re being together” and gently lays her hand on top of Olivia’s.

Olivia gazes at Natalia once more, then turns her eyes forward as a smile, one of contentment and joy, gently crosses her lips.

As the camera faded on the scene, we were witness to the first fledgeling steps of the newest Supercouple in the vast soap opera landscape. The relationship of Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera began what many had been waiting months to see. Their confessions of love wasn’t the end of the story, it really was just the start.

In the immortal words of Hugo-award winning author John Varley: This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. It’s the end of the beginning.

Yeah, the true love story of Olivia and Natalia is really just beginning.

~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve realized that I have somehow changed that old Fortune Cookie thing everyone does (you know, reads their fortune out loud then adds “in bed” to it at the end of it to sometimes hysterical effect) from the “in bed” to “wearing a hat”. So, thanks for that, Olivia. And the BPD’ers, who use the “wearing a hat!” statement from Olivia now as a rallying cry.

Today’s Fortune: A person is never too old to learn…. Wearing a hat…

That was a little more prophetic than I had planned, but… anvil, anyone?

~~~~~~~~
Today, class, we’re going to study How to hide a pregnancy on-screen 102 – When laundry baskets no longer do the trick

1. Behind a large roll of paper in a classroom while holding your giant purse on your arm as you hold the hands of the woman you love
2. Behind a small topiary tree while holding your giant purse on your arm as you say a tearful farewell to your son before he reports to the halfway house
3. Behind a large candle stand while holding your giant purse on your arm as you and your son light candles before he departs for a halfway house
4. While wearing a gigantic poofy coat while holding your giant purse in front of you like a cloaking device

Unfortunately, number 4 won’t work much longer because warmer weather eventually will arrive in Springfield. It’s called spring and it can’t be stopped.

~~~~~~~~

On another note, did the AMC telling of the Bianca and Reese storyline leave you a bit cold? Shaking your head with confusion? Mouth agape in utter disbelief? Well, if you did, never fear! Some enterprising soul, dubbed MMStone82 (I’m guessing in honor of Maggie Stone, Bianca’s first love of her life) is re-telling the Bianca and Reese story on YouTube. Titled Bianca and Reese: Behind the MuZach, it’s a delightful reimagining of Charles Pratt’s disastrous storyline that could have been promising, yet failed miserably…

Enjoy Episode One here, then head over to YouTube for the entire series:

(more…)

On the April 22nd episode of Guiding Light, Jessica Leccia’s Natalia took control and didn’t relinquish it for a moment. She faced down Crystal Chappell’s Olivia and told her, in no uncertain terms, that she knows the consequences of telling someone you love them. She knows what’s she done and she is more than willing to take on whatever comes. She shouted down Olivia’s attempts at “saving” Natalia from the shame, the ridicule, of what their love could mean to them.

The look on her face when Emma asked her if she would be attending her play at school, talking over Olivia to tell the Jelly Bean that she “Would love to” brooked no argument and Olivia knew better than to try. At the school she willingly confronted Olivia, calling her out for her actions and attitude, then stood up to the backlash she knew was coming. And there was real conviction in her voice and her expression when she told Olivia the hardest thing she had to do on the day of her wedding to Frank was telling you that I love you. Telling you how I really feel.”

Her expression was set and she snapped at Olivia on multiple occasions, unwilling to let Ms. Spencer bully her into accepting how she thought it should be. Nat was strong, she was forceful and, once she built up a good head of steam, she was very, very sure of herself. She even managed to tell Olivia off at one point, quite pointedly, I might add. She was not, as she so purposefully told Olivia, at all naïve

She called Olivia to task for selling her short. Angrily and defiantly so. I do find it ironic that Natalia called Olivia on this, since it was always Olivia telling her she was better than the station in life she’d settled for. It was wonderful to see Natalia standing up for herself, for what she was feeling and what she truly believed in, which, honestly, was their love.

She might have completely knocked down the walls Olivia had so carefully constructed after their mutual confessions of love last week if the show hadn’t ended and we hadn’t just absolutely known that Frank would somehow manage to interrupt… Impeccable timing that man has, they could use him over on All My Children whenever Ryan and Kendall get within range of each other…

It takes a very strong actor to be able to stand toe to toe with someone of Crystal Chappell’s caliber and not fade into the background beneath such a commanding presence and formidable performance. Jessica Leccia is just that type of actor. She not only holds her own, but makes herself an equal to the daytime powerhouse and today proved it. Natalia’s confession of love at the gazebo was a powerful moment. But when Natalia faced off with Olivia in Emma’s classroom and took control of the moment, took control of her emotions and the situation, she wasn’t the Natalia Rivera that Olivia mocked and insulted in the weeks following Gus’ death.

She was Olivia’s equal.

Everybody knows what a powerful, talented actor Crystal Chapell is. Now everyone will know that Jessica Leccia is just the same.

***********

Things I learned on GL today (although some of them occurred during the previews for tomorrow):

Billy needs medical attention for what appears to be a massive tapeworm
Frank is a horrible detective, unless it involves Nat then he’s got the tracking skills of a Lakota Warrior
Buzz needs to comb the hair, yet keep away from the hair gel
Roc really sucks at keeping people captive
Never turn your back on the guy holding the gun
Olivia will kill someone someday with those incredible eyes of hers
Bosnia looks curiously like rural New Jersey
Nurse Call/TV remotes in hospital rooms can double as walkie talkies
Tipping Bosnian bellmen really well doesn’t improve their English comprehension
Putting a gun at the bottom of the suitcase, between a couple of shirts, makes it invisible to airline security… And customs…
Bosnian children have very nice Midwestern accents
Never eat at Company if you see Buzz, Billy and a computer on the counter. Especially don’t eat at the counter…
Nice hotels in Bosnia are never very far from wide open rural spaces
Dinah IS Carmen SanDiego… and Carmen SanDiego is in Bosnia right now…

thanks again to YouTube member Yodaluver28 for the clip of Otalia from the April 22nd episode

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