Isn't that what soap opera is really all about? Anticipation of an event and its aftermath, then watching where the next story leads.
A couple of weeks ago when I was complaining about the lack of story on Guiding Light, I mentioned the evolving relationship between Olivia and Natalia:
Two heretofore heterosexual women, one of whom is devoutly Catholic, fall in love. The relationship between Olivia and Natalia has developed organically; the conflicts between them come out of their differences in life experience and personality. It could be the stuff of great soap opera, but will they do it? And if they do, will it be too little, too late.
A lot has happened on the show since I wrote those words in early January. Fearing the worst, I held my breath when Olivia's daughter, Emma, presented a class report titled "My Two Mommies" a couple of weeks ago. But when a frustrated Olivia kissed the clueless Natalia, who then proceded to accept Frank's invitation to go out, I realized that the story's been structured in a way that will allow every aspect of a possible late-in-life coming out to be examined, which gives me a reason - many reasons - to watch. It's not just that I want to know what's going to happen, I want to see how it's going to happen. It's been a while since there's been this kind of serialized storytelling on GL (the oldest soap on the air celebrated its 72nd anniversary this past Sunday - a belated Happy Birthday!)
Will Natalia pursue a relationship with Frank because she can't even consider the possibility of being attracted to Olivia? I hope so. And I can't wait to see Frank's reaction when he finds out. Then there's the return of Emma's father, Phillip, next month. I expect he'll have something to say about his daughter thinking she has two mommies. Emma's grandfather, Alan, already has. And how will Olivia occupy herself while Natalia's off with Frank. Will Olivia and Natalia eventually wind up together? Maybe, or maybe not, but on soaps, it's getting to the outcome, not necessarily the outcome itself that keeps us watching.
Of course, the looming question is whether GL will stay on the air long enough to see this story through. But a single story does not a soap make. And, sad to say, Olivia and Natalia is the only story holding my interest right now. Much as I like Jeff Branson's portrayal of the war-damaged Shane, the whole story feels a little forced - a lot of telling through exposition rather than showing by revealing characters' emotions.
Same with the Beth-Coop romance, which isn't doing it for me either. I get that for Beth, her relationship with Coop takes her back to her early days with Phillip. But the first time I really felt it rather than knowing it was in last week's scenes between Beth and Rick, which was a nice little treat, as were the Beth-Buzz scenes from a few weeks ago. But as with Shane, it's been mostly exposition. And since how John Driscoll's Coop will be written off next month is being foreshadowed with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer, I can't say that I'm looking forward to watching it play out. But I'll be around to see how things work out between Olivia and Natalia - or not.
© 2009 Lynn Liccardo
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