|October 5, 2003
Yeah, yeah, I know. It's silver linings, but I just checked the market and apparently, gold is worth a good deal more than silver, so I'm going with that.
In addition to the Fatastic Journal and my Nonsoapy Journal, I write two columns on this website every week, usually without fail, which are the spoiler commentary columns for GH and OLTL. I created Eye on Soaps and debuted August 6, 2000. Oddly, for about year now, I've been under the impression that it was in July of that year, but it appears by all evidence in the archives, it was August 6th.
Many of my long-term readers know the story of how this site came into being. I worked with another site and had ideas that I wanted to implement, which is sometimes hard when you work for someone else. My husband and son encouraged me to go for it (Joe was home from Canada for a week or two). I got a cram course in Microsoft Front Page (I am secure in my position as Front Page's bitch) and Paint Shop Pro (still my graphics program of choice) and Joe designed the first look of Eye on Soaps. It looked like this (a little nostalgia for those who have been with us for a while) and the inner pages looked like this. Actually, the inner pages you see there are grey whereas they were tan, similar to the background of this page, then they went to grey, then about a year or so ago, Joe developed the blue scheme that we still use. A lot of people have asked whose eyes are used in the Eye on Soaps logo shown here:
Some have said Vanessa Marcel, others are sure it's Jessica Morris and some think it's Genie Francis. Actually, it's an unknown model from some Playboy magazine Joe had at the time. With any luck, she won't be writing to fuss.
When I started the site, I spent over a month talking via e-mail with many soap web surfers to see what they wanted to find in a soap site. I was really surprised by the results of this study. Of the highest interest was a fast load time, no pop-ups, no funky colors, no goofy animated graphics, good grammar, good spoilers, lots of commentary, message boards, printer friendly pages, games and so on. We also learned a lot as we went along about what works and what doesn't and are still learning. I went through all of the thousands of letters I'd received from the other site and found about 20 people who wrote to me on a regular basis and were very articulate and well-keyed into the shows. I invited them to write for me on EOS and about 10 accepted. We've gone through a lot of different writers in the past three years, which is fine. One of the main reasons is that I encourage my staff to not write if they aren't getting the buzz. I think if you're writing because you're fighting with a deadline and needing to get words onto paper, then it shows and the effect is sometimes stiff and pressured. I wanted people to feel as if they were talking with a friend when they read one of our commentaries. You might not always agree with what a friend says, but it's said in a friendly way and you can warmly agree to disagree. One of the reasons why I chose to have a lot of writers on staff was to keep the columns coming if 2-3 of them need to slide for a while or take a vacation or have a baby or whatever. It's a lot of hard work (and it doesn't seem like it would be, I know) and it takes great dedication to crank out a column every week with no recompense other than a few e-mails and my eternal gratitude.
The only folks we have on staff now who started the site with me are Kate (my favorite cynic) and Victoria (a Muse Writer for GH). Laura Gedstern was a godsend to mentor me through the process of setting up a site and GH Rocks quickly jumped in as our sister site. Along the way, we made a lot of friends at other sites and found a wonderful community of readers that was drawn to EOS. I truly believe that we have just the best readers on the net.
The reason I'm telling you all of this is to lead into the golden linings thing. I mentioned in one of my recent Soap Journal columns that I used to have a "Positivity Policy" on the site. I figured that if we are here to promote our own love of the shows and share with our online readers/friends our thoughts, then we not only have to be honest, but we have to be positive as well. If all of our columns are just berating the shows, then why be here? Isn't that just fostering an atmosphere of hatred and ill-will about the very shows we want to enjoy?
Don't get me wrong. As anyone who reads my weekly columns knows, I'm completely unhappy about the way ABC soaps are handled from Brian "Primetime in the Daytime" Frons on down. Particularly, GH just really pisses me off these days and has for a long, long time. I know I'm not alone in my frustration after spending a weekend with hoards of GH (and EOS) fans this August at the GH Fan Weekend in Studio City. There is so very, very much to make us groan and roll our eyes.
Here's the deal, though. As any of us can attest, in life in general and in soaps in particular, it's very, very easy to find the things that are bitchworthy (especially on ABC). I have come to expect that I will be disappointed with most things GH and find myself tensing when I hear that a fan favorite is coming back home to roost (Stephen Nichols, Chris Robinson and now Constance Towers, Anthony Geary and Jane Elliott). I know that their character is inches from being made into some bastardized caricature of the one I know before it is ultimately destroyed.
In previous columns, I have likened GH to having a sister who is with an abusive boyfriend or husband who she will not leave because she luvvvvs him and knows he'll change. You love her and you want to be there for her and be faithful, but it's killing you to watch her being beaten to shit and lord, do you hate the bastard who is doing the hitting. I still feel that way and I am still very disappointed in the choices ABC has made in the handling of their soaps (MY soaps!!). But you know what? I don't think I'm going to stop watching. I'm in it for the long haul and after 40 years, I think leaving isn't really an option for me. I need, for whatever self-serving reasons, to be able to talk to you folks about what happens to these fictional people in this nonexistent town and to do that, I need to watch the show. For my own purposes, I think I need to watch and see if it ever gets better.
In that line of thinking, I was really affected when I heard someone recently mention how easy it is to find the negative and focus on it. Those who read my Nonsoapy Journal know that I am very interested in the ways that energy affects our environment and our well-being. I had to wonder why if I am so involved with focusing on the positive and looking for the blessings and miracles around us in the rest of my life, I so eternally negative about the shows I actually love. Just because (go with the metaphor, folks) that sister is being beaten and has made very, very bad choices about to whom she trusts her care and safety doesn't mean that she herself has diminished in worth. In fact, the she becomes more empowered with her own self-worth, the greater the chance that she's going to demand better in her life. Is it possible that the same can happen with the soaps? If we are truly intelligent people (which I believe we are) and we're compelled to spend hours a day watching and talking about shows that we hate, then there is something seriously twisted going on. I am more inclined to believe that we are intelligent people who are engaged in an intricate process that evokes some pretty strong emotions. We expect a particular level of pay off for the time and energy we have invested and when that comes up short, we feel disappointed and betrayed, as we would in any relationship that appears to be taking advantage of us. But even as intelligent people, we're still sticking around, so there must be something that draws us back because loyalty only really carries us so far and in many ways, these shows have been stinking up the room for a lot of years.
I've only followed AMC for a little over two years and I do enjoy it very much, although the whole Fusion in the City approach leaves me a bit stale and I'm anything but an Erica and Bianca fan. I've watched OLTL since it began and it has suffered wildly with ups and down. Back in the "old days," it never failed that when GH was hot, OLTL was not and vice versa. After Jill Farren Phelps and Megan McTavish got ahold of it a few years back, it went deeply into the toilet to the point that many never expected it to recover. They moved on to GH, Gary Tomlin came on board and in a matter of weeks, GH was sewerbound and OLTL was on its way to an Emmy. That's how quickly it can turn around and I believe in that, but I believe it takes new blood and new ideas to do it; not the same people shifting around playing musical soaps.
In lieu of that, (because although there have been rumors of BIG CHANGES BEHIND THE SCENES OF __________ - fill in the blank with your show of choice, I don't think we're getting anyone new on board) I think the best and wisest thing that we can do is to challenge ourselves (EOS Staff, Wake Up And Pay Attention!!!) to really look for the wonderful things that happen in every episode of every one of the shows. There may be 90 groan-worthy moments for every 10 smiles or hubba hubbas, but I think we should take Sage's letter writing campaign a step further and implement it in our own soap-watching lives in a profound and unprecedented way. Sage pointed out in one of his columns a month or so ago that writing to the show's exec's does NOTHING. To be counted, you have to write to the actor of whom you'd like to see more. That raises the actor's mail count and demonstrates an interest in that particular person/character. If you write to say, "I HATE _________," then that is seen as an interest in the character (albeit negative interest) and the powers that be say, "Ah ha! ________ is evoking reaction! We must have more of _________." To get your point across for who you'd LIKE to see, you have to write to the actor you'd like to see. This was demonstrated clearly when tens of thousands of letters poured in to keep Nathaniel Marston in the role of Al after he was fired. Because supporters were sharp and informed, they wrote to the actor himself and bags of fan mail later, here he is back on the show again, in what capacity we don't know, but at least he's on the show. THAT's how it works.
What's interesting is that this proven method of effecting change on the soaps we watch is based on a focus toward the positive. Even though we may be writing because we are unhappy about something (AJ gets no scenes!!! Bobbie gets no story!!!), we are forced to direct our attention in a positive way by supporting the people we love on the shows.
So here's what I'm suggesting and I have to be honest, I don't think the readers of most of the other sites could handle something like this in their little white trash drama worlds. You folks I know can do it. See if when you are watching the shows, you are able to give the scenes, actors, characters and lines that you love as much power (or preferably more) as those you detest. Look for the things you really enjoy about the show and let that carry more weight than the things you don't like. Even if there are more of the latter, give the former more power. It's been proven that people will tolerate a negative stimulus if it is necessary to produce a desired positive one. (You might work at a job you don't like very much to get a paycheck and experience for a job you DO like. You might go through a few popups to get to a site that you really enjoy... that sort of thing). So what if we just see the crap that we have to put up with on the three soaps as payment for the really, really good stuff? Hey, it's a good deal as far as I'm concerned. I'll wade through a few Erica and Bianca emoting fests to get to Greenlee stretched on on Ryan as she negotiates business or trade a few Michael Cambias scenes to get Reggie and Greenlee sparring. I'd watch Jacob Young to see Palmer and Adam in lumberjack gear in that bar. It's a good trade off! Some shows, like AMC and OLTL, really do give you more than you pay for. They are good bargain shopping. GH, well, their good stuff is a little more expensive these days, but hey, I'll shop and grimace if I have to. There is still some really, really great shopping in there.
Each column that I write, I'm going to come up with at least 10 things that I really enjoyed about each show the previous week or month or whatever. I would like to encourage my writers (and well, our message board folks as well) to do the same. Hell, as far as I'm concerned, we can even set up a "10 Favorite Things" message board all on its lonesome just for people to post their positive notes. OK, so ten minutes or so later, here it is:
Now watch your shows, then go over there and rave about some of the really cool stuff you saw!! I know you can do it. WARNING: Just like when you start a diet that reverses your normal way of eating, you may feel a little sick and queasy when you first start practicing positive mindset. It has also caused vomiting and diarrhea when compared to placebo, but I can assure you that it is a much healthier way to live and the symptoms will resolved quickly. If results are any indicator, it's definitely a better way to change these shows into what we want them to be.
So here are my lists:
1) Reggie is just too much fun.
2) Love Jackson and Greenlee together.
3) Ryan is just hotter than two rats screwing in a wool sock. I could look at that man forever.
4) Michael Cambias is dead and that pleases me.
5) Palmer and Adam in their Lands End clothes were just a hoot.
6) Jacob Young actually looked a little like David Canary.
7) Bianca thought of Kendall for a while when she decided to keep her baby (and thought positively of her) and I thought that was really sweet.
8) Whoever writes Tad's dialogue is the best. He gets such great zingers in there.
9) I'm still cracking up over Opal at the police station talking about "blow."
10) David looking at the picture of Leora. Awwww.
11) Ryan actually explained why he wasn't at Leo's memorial and basically had a damned good reason.
12) I totally dig Ryan as the Cambias heir and the glitches that presents around town.
13) Mary and Erica's ppfft ppfft hisssss fests have been great fun to watch.
14) I thought Alicia Minishew was incredible in the scenes where Kendall is negotiating with Ryan and they have a romantic moment. My heart broke when she crumbled after Aiden showed up and Ryan mocked her.
15) I could really get used to NuJamie. He's very much a chip off the ol' Tad. :o)
There, that wasn't hard at all! Fifteen for the first go!
1) I can't say enough wonderful things about Kathy Brier, but I promise not to cheat by listing her as all 15 positive comments. She's taken me through a spectrum of emotions and I just adore Marcie, even though she gets sappy sometimes.
2) I'm so happy Al is coming back! Can't want to see how! They've got me hooked. Ghost, angel, Dallas shower the whole last year was a dream, I don't care, bring it on!!!
3) As to #2, I separately love that Al is back just because the fans wanted it. If they're going to throw us a bone, this is a good one.
4) I am thrilled that David Vickers is in town and have loved every scene he's been in so far. That guy is ripe to fall for someone soon and Ms Kelly had best watch her heart strings!
5) I've heard that Kelly's brother... thinking... thinking... Paul or something, is really, really hottastic.
6) Tim Adams who plays Ron, Marcie's brother is also very, very cute!
7) I've always loved Dorian and thought the show really was missing a certain zing without her.
8) Nigel and Roxy are just hilarious and I totally enjoy their over-the-top scenes. More! More!
9) Both James DePaiva and Fiona Hutchinson and throw in Timothy Stickney were amazing as grieving parents. I bawled my eyes out big time.
10) I loved how utterly trashed Gabrielle looked at Al's memorial, exactly as a grief-stricken mother should look. I was so afraid they were going to gussy her up.
11) Trevor St John is doing a great job of playing Roger Howarth playing Todd, which I really appreciate. It's seldom that a recast comes on board with any interest in portraying the character as it has previously been played and TSJ has just been great, both as Todd and as Flynn, who is a real piece of work.
12) I've totally enjoyed seeing Vincent Pastore in the role of Rack'em Up Ross. Great character and a wonderful actor
13) Kristen Alderson as Starr never fails to amaze me and her chemistry with TSJ is so similar to that which she had with RH that it really carries over the illusion that this guy is Todd.
14) Bo and Nora are likely getting back together again and at the risk of sounding like Tony's groupie from Saturday Night Fever, "I just love to watch them dance!"
15) Apart from my complete appreciation of David Vickers, I have to really chime in on David and Lindsay together, especially sharing getaway stories. They are perfect together and I'd love to see them take over the town with each knowing the capabilities of the other and for once, being appreciated for being their devious and scheming little selves. I think David is PERFECT for helping Lindsay to reclaim her self-esteem and get back into the swing of just being bad!
16) Addie: Anytime, any way except being suffocated by a pillow. :(
now on to:
1) Luke's back!!
2) Helena's coming back!!
3) Someone came up with the idea that it wasn't really Stefan who returned to Port Charles, but Stavros surgically altered (and shortened, I guess) to look like Stefan, which explains his weird behavior and leaves hope that one day Real Stefan will return. Now if Helena will only give us a hint of that when she shows up for 2 days...
4) Tracy's coming back, supposedly for 3 years!! YAYY!!
5) Lorenzo... hubba hubba!
6) Alcazar's niece named "Sage" is coming, so we can see spoilers like "Sage is out for revenge against Alexis" and tease our Sage about it.
7) Coming up romance for Alexis and Cameron! Finally! Yayyy!! I wonder if he'll want her to be Dobson sometimes.
8) AJ is going to be involved in the Sam and Jax story and I'm thrilled he's going to get some screen time!
9) Tyler Christopher is going to blow us away by his performances when Nikolas is grieving for Stefan.
10) Bobbie scenes!!
11) I am so digging The Haunting of Sonny. In my opinion, it's being played out perfectly.
12) I've heard that the haunting is going to drive a wedge between Sonny and Jason for a bit and they are so good at playing tortured lovebirds when they're fighting.
13) I just absolutely love Lindze Letherman and Scott Clifton. I have to confess, I was diggin the Bart Simpson hair better than his exec look, but they two of them together are just really cookin.
14) I loved the scene where Edward called for Dobson to answer the door and when reminded, said, "That was the best damned butler we ever had."
15) Big Alice as nanny for Kristina?? Please say the rumor is true.
There, I even exceeded my own standards and came up with 15 for each show. Surely if I, the biggest torch and hayfork carrying mob mentality monster killer of ABC daytime can stick to the positive, anyone can. That actually did remind me that there are a lot of things I still like these shows, so I'm going to take my golden lining and cuddle up with it for a while.
[Note to the EOS writing staff: I'm not asking you to alter your columns to never say bad things because let's face it, there's a lot to work with there. What I'm suggesting is to add a list to your columns if you can - ignore it if you can't, it's not a demand - of your 10 most current favorite things about the show. It's OK if some are repeats from the previous posts]
For the rest of you, scuttle on over to the message board and whip out a few positives things about the shows. Doesn't have to be 10-15... you can start small.
Take care now,
PS: You guys got off easy this column. The next one is on homoerotic overtones in ABC soaps and is bound to piss off the world. *sigh* It's just what I do.