I only climb up on The
Soap Box when Iím really pissed off about something and today is no exception.
We have gotten a lot of great daily entertainment from ABC soaps. Iíd hate to do the math that would represent the number of
episodes of ABC soaps Iíve watched, 5 days a week for thirty-some years.
Factoring in the number of stories, characters and actors that I have
really, really enjoyed versus the ones that have made me puke versus the ones
that I didnít care about one way or another would produce very satisfactory
numbers. There have always been
really, really bad stories and horrendous blunders on the part of the The Powers
That Be. Itís not anything new, although recent years have shown a
greater inclination toward sloppy and sometimes deliberate incompetency than
others. In return for all the
entertainment we get, we put up with a lot as well. Repeatedly, we see the history that we personally watched
unfold mutilated, retold (no, you didnít REALLY see that, you just THOUGHT you
did) or worse, totally ignored in favor of a whole new story that has nothing to
do with what really happened. We
see characters sent away, never to be mentioned again by their families (Billlleeeeeee)
and we endure favorite actors leaving only to find talking pieces of cardboard
recast in their places. With the
recent trend toward casting for looks rather than talent, ABC might do just as
well to save their money, stand up cardboard cut outs of the old, beloved actor
and pay someone to do voice overs. The exceptions have been the casting of Larry Lau as Sam
Rappaport on OLTL, A Martinez as Roy DiLucca on GH and Anthony Addabbo as
Dimitri Marrick on AMC. We accept,
on a routine basis, mediocre acting as the standard to the point that when a
talented actor such as Chad Brannon, Jensen Buchanan, (GH) Addabbo, Josh Dumael
(AMC) and Jessica Morris and Linda Dano (OLTL) show up, we laud them as the
second coming. We tolerate the
crappy acting because we love the shows (so you know when we are complaining
about bad acting, as in Angel Borris and Tamara Braun on GH, they must be baaaad).
Itís all give and take in this holy alliance of us and them, the fans
and the creators, and always has been. We
trust them to take care of our characters and our show and deliver a quality
product. Sometimes they do; other
times, they let us down. They trust
us to watch the shows, buy the products they advertise (I refuse, however, to
become a Remifeminist) and cheer at the fan events.
What ABC and AMC has
done this month is absolutely deplorable and goes above and beyond the typical
abuse that we, as fans, accept as par for the course. Iím talking about the death of a beloved AMC character,
Gillian Andrassy Lavery. Although
this occurred on AMC, it is an issue of interest to all ABC viewers because it
shows the depths to which they will sink in their manipulation of the fansí
affections and emotions. I want to
start off by saying that I was NOT a fan of Gillianís.
The character just irritated the hell out of me and I pretty much cringed
when she was onscreen, so Iím not defending her presence on the show or her
contribution to any story line. This
is about the handling of a very faithful fan base.
A soap mag released the
info that a show vet would die and gave a list of characters in line for the
kill off. Gillian fans lost their
minds, right away sensing that all was not to be well in LaveryLand.
Almost immediately, AMC issued a simple statement assuring fans that Esta
TerBlanche, who plays Gillian, was absolutely NOT leaving AMC.
Now, it is obvious that they did not lie.
Este is definitely still with AMC and will be at least until her contract
expires in August, possibly even after if she resigns.
Since Gillian is now dead and her heart is in the body of another
character, it doesnít take a seasoned analyst to figure out that signing a new
contract probably isnít in the cards for Esta.
Once the statement was released, tongues began to wag about who the
reaper would come to claim. Would
the irony be that David would have to implant his own heart into Laura?
Hmmm. Not very likely.
What about the still warm heart of his beloved Dixie?
An intoxicatingly delicious thought, but no, with Dixieís heart
problems, she would not be a candidate for transplant and whoever dies has to
make Laura live. Leo?
Would he pay the ultimate price for his new bride?
Not likely, too many people love Leo.
Anna? Nope. We already
know that she is to be reunited with husband, Robert and transplanted to GH.
Alex? Nope, she and Dimi
leave together and go off into the sunset.
Despite all those issues, fans banked with confidence on the insinuation
that AMC had given that Gillian would not die.
Instead, they got to see their pet character get shot in the head,
discovered by her handsome new husband (they were planning their honeymoon at
the time of her death) who thought she was sleeping (aww) until he saw blood on
his hands (gasp!). They got to see
Ryan learn that his princess, his new bride, had no brain activity. As he worked to reconcile all that through a haze of denial,
the donor vultures not only circled, but started pecking and clawing at the two
of them until he finally agreed to let them claim the heart of his wife before
he was ready to let go. Now they
know that Esta is appearing as Gillianís ghost and we all know that ghosts
have a limited tenure on soaps. Again,
TPTB didnít lie; they gave out information that they damn well knew would be
misinterpreted by the fans and are probably chortling at their coup. Yeah. They
really put one over on us. Boy, are
Hereís why that pisses
me off. Itís about trust. What
The Powers That Be (TPTB) are not only ignoring, but are USING in this case, is
the fact that for a lot of people, a soap opera is more than a show.
I have to confess, for me, itís a show.
My soaps, which after many years has only recently reached out to wrap
about AMC, are a wonderful source of entertainment that enriches my life
enormously and gives me a great deal of happiness.
But itís just a show and the people on it are just that: people. They are
actors who are doing a job, some better than others, and getting paid, just like
the kid who bags your groceries. The
characters are dear to me, but they are still just fictional characters in a
fictional town living fictional lives. That,
however, is just my take. I love my
soaps, but they are not my life. For many, that is not true.
If you go to the buddy board on www.cameronmathison.com,
you will find a lot of people who are absolutely devastated by Gillianís
death. There are people out there
who are unable to function in their day-to-day life out of grief over the loss
of this character. I get letters
from fans BEGGING me to tell them that Gillianís coming back (Look, her heart isnít
there, OK? So itís not likely
unless there is a twin floating around or Ryan wakes up to hear the shower
running in Dallas sometime soon) and even a few demanding that *I* bring her
back. I might be good, but I
ainít Helena Cassadine and this ainít Port Chuckles, city of the walking
dead. Iím just a chick with a
computer and a web page and a love for the soaps.
Iím not here to say that this kind of passion for a show or a character
is out of line or inappropriate just because I donít share it to that extreme.
Most major characters have fans that feel this way about them and TPTB
know this and depend on it. Itís
no secret that spoilers are out there and most of them come directly from info
leaked by the show itself. There
are people who like spoilers and some who like to be unspoiled.
People who want to know what is going to happen ahead of time have their
reasons and often it is to prepare for traumatic changes in a story. In this case, TPTB abused their power and took advantage of
the trust of the fans. Itís not
about the letter of the truth, which has not been violated in any way, but about
the heart of the truth, which was shattered.
The fans prepared NOT to lose Gillian, based on what the network said and
they were betrayed as soon as the transplant was performed.
When that happened, there was little hope.
Personally, I donít care if there are people in charge who like to keep their little stories secret. It should be the choice of the fans to know or not know whatís coming up in a world where spoilers are leaked. Despite some of TPTB being rabid against spoiler leakage, it is a fact of the soap world and to intentionally mislead the fans, particularly the ones for whom this is not just another world, but is their world, is just cruel. There are fans who let Pine Valley, Llanview and Port Charles be where they live. The most exciting time of the day for them is when AMC rolls around and their day can begin. They know the citizens of those towns better than they know their own neighbors or the members of their family. It is a safe, comfortable place for them to be and they trust it to remain that way. The intentional misleading of those faithful fans is nothing short of a travesty and those who allowed it to happen should be utterly ashamed of themselves. The customary pat ďABC does not comment on the contract status of actorsĒ would have sufficed just fine. At least then, fans could have prepared for the possibility of the death of a beloved character and not been blindsided (on purpose) like this. Iím deeply offended on behalf of those people whose trust was so grievously violated.
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