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Death Of Daytme: Part Two
Irresponsible Social Issues
There was a time daytime soap operas were used to explore and educate people about social issues such as: drunk driving, cancer, AIDS, Dissociative Identity Disorder and racial bigotry, to name but a few. Of the soaps, ABC's All My Children seemed to do it the best. Now it seems when soaps do a social issue, it's done in a very irresponsible manner.
The story that has turned me off Days Of Our Lives for life was the irresponsible manner they dealt with a man physically assaulting a woman. The character of EJ forced himself on Sami and in a matter of months she fell in love with the man that forced himself on her. Why? Because fans wanted the characters of Sami and EJ to be a couple because they had chemistry and they just loved the character of EJ. So the show bowed to their wishes and wrote it like his crime was just part of some big romantic love story between these two characters. They even had the actors who portrayed Sami and EJ portraying two past lovers to further enhance their love connection.
Granted, General Hospital started stories like this when they had Laura fall in love and marry the man who forced himself on her, but they at least slowly built the story over two years, not a matter of months. When the show had Luke commit his crime, they were planning to kill him off, and at the last moment decided to kill the character of Roy DeLucca off instead. Then fans started clamoring for a romantic pairing between Luke and Laura, because like in the case of EJ And Sami, the actors had chemistry together, so they went for it.
One Life To Live also toyed with the idea of doing a romance between Marty Saybrooke and the man who engineered her attack, Todd Manning, by him and his two frat buddies. Like the two previous couples, the actors who played Todd and Marty had chemistry together. However, it never happened, when the actor who played Todd then, Roger Howarth, reportedly fought against it and won. So instead, Marty had a romance with Patrick Thornhart, while Todd fell in love with Blair. But it's a pretty sad situation when an actor has to fight against the story because he gets it's wrong to do a romance between a woman and her attacker. Maybe before these shows decide to go down this road, they should consider the fact the two actors have chemistry and not do it. Otherwise, once they go down this road and have the man criminally assault a woman, despite what fans clamor for, romance should be firmly off the books.
Another sad fact is most of the men rarely do jail time for their crime. Luke never was arrested for his crime. It was blamed on the dead Roy DeLucca. While Todd Manning did do some time, because Marty filed charges against him, the show came up with some contrived story so he got out of jail early. The same thing happened years ago when the character of Brad Vernon was convicted of forcing himself on his sister-in-law, Karen Wolek. He didn't do much time before the show found a way to get him out of jail.
Another social issue that hasn't been done much good by a soap is Dissociative Identity Disorder aka split personality. One Life To Live's Viki has been battling with this problem for years. At one point, they supposedly integrated all of Viki's various personalities, only for another writer to come on the show and have Viki split off into different personalities, completely disregarding the fact that since all these personalities had been integrated, this was an impossibility for her to have dual personalities again.
The show took it one more ludicrous step further when Viki's daughter, Jessica, also developed DID. It seems when Viki was her alter ego Nikki Smith, she took young Jessica to a bar, and she was molested, causing her personalities to split, as well. A lot of children get molested and they don't split into different personalities. DID is not hereditary either as far as I know.
Currently on the show Jess, who had treatment for her DID, has split again into a different personality. And there's speculation that Viki will once again split in two, as well. So the mother and daughter alter egos of Nikki Smith and Tess can hang together having a grand old time together.
Years ago when Claire Labine was headwriter, she did a wonderfully responsible and sensitive story of Stone Cates battle and death from AIDS. Unfortunately, that was then and this is now. GH's current social issue their doing is a hodgepodge of a child being killed by a hit and run driver, another child having kidney cancer and getting the dead child's kidney, and the driver who killed the child being drunk. But it's written in the most irresponsible way you can imagine.
There was no build-up to the child with the kidney cancer being that sick. She was kept off-screen for a week with the mention she had a fever. When she was taken to the hospital she was diagnosed with kidney cancer in both her kidneys. After declaring that chemotherapy is a toxic poison a kidney transplant is arranged in a matter of minutes and performed by two doctors who have no experience up until now in transplant surgery. Afterwards, there's no wait to see if the child will reject the new organs and she isn't given any kind of medication and she's quickly released from the hospital. The biggest problem with this story is the type of illness the child had wouldn't be treated with having a kidney transplant. The required treatment would be that toxic poison, chemotherapy, partial removal of the kidney and radiation treatment.
The next part of the story was who ran down Baby Jake. All the suspects claimed they thought they just ran over a pothole. I doubt hitting a chlid with your car would feel like going over a pothole. Ultimately, it was revealed that the child's grandfather, Luke, who was a bit pickled, is the one responsible for killing the child. Aside from the biological father, no one seems particularly angry that a drunk Luke ran down a child with his car and killed him. Luke has yet to be arrested for the crime.
Tony Geary who plays Luke is scheduled to take his yearly vacation, so I imagine he'll either pull a Lindsay Lohan by going into rehab for his drinking to avoid jail or be sentenced to jail and then when his vacation time is over, he'll get out of jail for some contrived reason. Otherwise, Luke would probably suffer no real consequences for the vehicular manslaughter he committed.
It's all fine and good for a soap to want to do a social issue, but when you do you have the responsibility to tell it in a responsible way. Otherwise, don't even bother doing it. The irresponsible way some soaps have told social issues is another ingredient in why so many people have stopped watching soaps. You see something like a man victimizing a woman being equated to a couple sharing their first romantic kiss and it disgusts you so much you turn off the show. In short, if you tell a good story the viewer will watch, and if you tell garbage the stench will be so bad it will drive viewers away in droves.