August 23, 2005
Until I began to watch AMC, I never knew what it was like to watch a soap to which I had no historical allegiance. OLTL and GH had been a part of my life for my entire life, all through their ups and downs, their times of magnificence and their times of complete and total, ass-biting failure. For better or worse, for bitchier or gloating, through recast and in veteran status, till death do us part, I was forever wed to those two shows.
I came to AMC, as a lot of you already know, fairly late in the game. I was immediately after libidozone and right about the time Dixie was succumbing to the ample charms of this misunderstood genius, Dr David Hayward. Greenlee was trying to get Leo to pay attention to her, but he was fixated on making Laura's life worth living. Alex and NuDimitri were just seconds from deciding to leave town and Anna had recently arrived, with Gabriel (remember Dog Food Boy?) following soon after, then Aidan (*sigh*) not long after that. JR was called something else (was it Junior?) and was not yet the lead singer for Dreamstreet. It was a different time and a different place. We had yet to meet the handsome janitor, Chris Stamp, we had no clue that Proteus (or was it Poseidon?) even existed except in mythological form, Ryan was still with Gillian and Maria was still dead. We still got the ovary thumping experience of having Mark Pinter slip in from time to time as Roger Smythe (I've got a Daddy complex, so sue me!) and Jake ( I only knew J. Eddy Peck as Jake) was still around, lording his moral superiority over everyone.
I do miss having the history with the show that Sage and Kate possess. On the other hand, I am also grateful for the experience of coming into a soap well into its lifespan. Meeting established characters without the benefit of knowing their past allows me to judge them now, based on how they are written in the present rather than any nobility or devilishness of the past. I see Brooke and Liza as Grown Up Brooke and Grown Up Liza, not as the scheming teens many viewers watched. I never knew Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kendall. I knew SMG as Buffy and Alicia Minishew as Kendall (the end). I started watching in 2001, when my site-partner left to pursue other interests. I was handling GH and OLTL, she was handling AMC and PC and when she left, I wanted to know what I was posting about, so I started watching out of site obligation.
Now I watch out of pleasure. I am very much a hard sell. I tried to like All My Children when it first came on the air and could not get into it. I tried to get into Edge of Night, which came on after GH and could not get into it either. I figured I was locked into my two shows (excepting a brief dalliance with Dynasty and Dallas when I was in England and desperate for ANY American TV) for a lifetime of fidelity. As a testimony to its strength as a show, somewhere around the time that Sam Page showed up as Trey Kenyon and Chris Stamp started vacuuming Erica's office (am I seeing a trend here perhaps?), I was hooked. Then and now, it wiggled its way into my daily TV menu and I miss it on the days that I am unable to watch it for whatever reason.
Of course, as with any other show, I have my sore spots. Because I did not go through the fires of tribulation with Erica, I see her as a self-absorbed, manipulative bitch and not the loveable narcissist that veteran viewers do. I have watched very few scenes with Erica in which I saw her as an asset in any way. I prefer a more complex, mature female lead, such as Brooke or Liza. Erica feels very "one note" to me.
Although, as is heartily testified by those who have met him in person, Cameron Matthison is evidently the sweetest person to ever walk the planet, I can barely stand to watch him on the show itself. I missed the parts where Ryan was "cool." I've only seen him as oafish and a fairly dim-bulb. The idea of him as "romantic lead" is lost on me, again due to my lack of experience with the show. Although the premise interests me, I have not even watched one episode of "So You Want to Be a Soap Star" directly because I have seen the previews and know that A) CM does the eye bugging and lip licking thing there as well and it makes me crazy and B) one of the judges consistently typifies everything I hate about this business and I refuse to watch for fear of the projectile vomiting that is likely to ensue that I do not want to clean up.
I hated the character of Gillian with a white hot hate normally reserved for soap characters who have given me YEARS to build up such a degree of disdain. The only time I liked her was when she was dead and THAT was only because I thought Jesse Hubbard was just cute as a little bug's ear and I wanted to see him as much as possible before he went back to Heaven.
I despised the character of Laura and literally jumped to my feet and cheered when her wedding was ruined. How brutal is that? Just the fact that AMC is capable of creating character that arouse so much emotion in me is quite a feat.
Although I like both actresses just fine, the characters of Krystal and Babe make my skin crawl. I think my major gripe (other than that voice, dear lord, that voice) is that *I* am a Southern woman and these two hillbilly strumpets fully encompass all that Southern women hate about those worst case scenario, trailer trash Southern women. ("What does a woman from Kentucky put behind her ears to attract men?" "Her KNEES! Bwahahahahaha." Um, yeah.) There is something so grating and brass about a Southern accent put through the filter of nasal, twanging trash talk versus the soft, genteel Southern accent that is alluring and smooth (ala Ashley Judd in "Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood). If the accent is to be used at all and not cultivated out, it should be a power used for good instead of evil. Any time it begins to sound like this: "A nang nang nang a nang NANG," a Southern woman has slipped to the dark side. When either of the Carey broads is wound up and speaking as I am entering the room, I should not have to wonder if my kids have changed the channel from AMC to "Cops in Nashville."
I miss having known Phoebe and Langley Wallingford. I miss knowing the times when Palmer was shown more than once a month (see above Daddy complex - yum ). I miss seeing the back story on Adam and Stuart rather than reading about it in history recaps. I miss witnessing the cultivation of the most unlikely friendship of Erica and Opal. I miss knowing Billy Clyde Tuggle. I miss having the opportunity to hate (and I imagine I would) Cliff and Nina. I would love to have seen the romance between Cindy and Stuart. I believe that is what scared me off of coming into AMC prior to when I did; the fear of facing all I missed.
Still, moving forward from where I came in, it has been a lovely ride. There are things I love, things I miss that I never saw, things I miss that I did see (Vanessa, Leo, Trey, Chris, Jesse and Roger, to name a few), things I didn't see and I'm glad I didn't (most anything having to do with Dixie or Gillian, EricaWorld, that weird website thing Ryan did "enchantedwhatever.com," etc) things I saw and wish I hadn't (Mia going out the window, Dixie in a teddy, Leora dying) and things I would not have missed for the world (Leo's backwards dance of panic when he realized his mother, to whom he had just eulogized, was actually alive, Greenlee and that stupid Christmas box that I loved, Bianca and Lena's first kiss, Frankie).
The past four years of watching AMC has definitely provided ample opportunity for AMC to win me over and give me the warm, fuzzy feelings the other two shows have provided me over the years, as well as the ability to arouse some passionate dislikes. I'd say that pretty well covers the requirements I hold for a show to keep both my attention and my affections.
I look forward to covering AMC on a more regular basis in this column, as well as OLTL, which will be the focus of next week's writing.
Thanks for being here with us on our site,