For someone who says he doesn’t pay attention to fan mail or boards, As the World Turns’ Executive Producer, Christopher Goutman, seems to have gotten wind of one of viewers’ oft-mentioned descriptions of the show of late – “it’s like watching a train wreck.” Who knew he'd take it so literally?
But he did. And the train wreck death of Dr. Reid Oliver, a death Goutman described as “heroic,” has set off a firestorm of outrage, and a suprising amount genuine grief for a relatively new character, on the boards. Since Reid’s death left his relationship with Luke Synder unconsummated, many posters called TPTB out for homophobia – particularly since Reid’s heart would be used to save the life of Chris Hughes, the latest love of Katie’s young life.
I fully get why many see homophobia at work here: I mean on Guiding Light, while they refused to show Otalia kiss, they did show the two women together and happy at the end; but Reid Oliver is dead, and, clearly, there will be no happy ending for Luke and Noah. I just think this turn of events has more to do with why Goutman’s failed to adhere to any of Douglas Marland’s wise list, “How Not to Wreck a Show,” in particular, #3, “You have to put your own personal likes and dislikes aside and develop the characters that the audience wants to see,” than blatant homophobia.
(I’ll get to #6 on Marland’s list, “Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing characters. Don't shove them down the viewers' throats,” in invasion of the ciccones: the sad, inevitable conclusion to 15 years of faux family ties and squandered opportunities…)
The past fifteen years of disjointed storytelling and faux family ties left Goutman, et al with a rather threadbare canvas (and yes, I recognize the irony of TPTB having to reap what they have sown, or more precisely, torn asunder -- not to mix a metaphor). But when the show was cancelled, they had to play catch up – fast – the amphetamine-fueled pairing of Katie and Chris is but one result. I’ll lay out the particulars in, katie and everybody: the next chapter of 15 years of faux family ties and squandered opportunities…
But it wasn’t until I saw Goutman’s comment about Katie during his tell-all interview with Michael Logan that I realized how far gone he was: "She's the sweetheart of our show and she deserves a little happiness after all she's been through.” And, to be fair, there are some fans who feel this way, as well. However, the overriding reaction to the insta-pairing of Katie and Chris has been anger, frustration and resentment. That Reid Oliver had to die to facilitate Katie’s happiness has only added fuel to the fire.
But there's something cynical and spiteful – even cruel – about how this particular story unfolded. While I was in New York last month, I came across a Japanese proverb that said, “Don’t give others what they don’t want.” But that’s exactly what Chris Goutman has been doing for too long. And taking an almost perverse, albeit unspoken, satisfaction in doing so -- "If they think they've been watching a train wreck, I'll show them a train wreck!"
More to come on why…
© 2010 Lynn Liccardo
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