Friday, June 28, 2013

Sex, violence, and pole dancing, or What the hell is up with ABC Daytime?

I've been mulling over a GH post for a few days now, one about what I'm kind of liking and kind of hating on the show these days. Then I found out about the pole dancing on All My Children. And the smack-you-over-the-head product placements on GH (watch to about 4 minutes in for the moment). And I realized I may be trying way too hard to justify my allegiance to my show. Here's the scoop:

In a week in which CBS, Guiding Light, and P&G mount an all-out promotional assault to tell us about the debut of their new shooting style, ABC Daytime pulls out the stops the old-fashioned way: sex, violence, and pole dancing. Let's start with the pole-dancing. I had been feeling more hopeful about All My Children lately, what with the glowing reviews of the Jesse and Angie reunion of recent weeks, and the pretty location shooting to match it. Then the good folks at Daytime Confidential brought this to my attention: the young women stars of AMC taking pole dancing lessons from Dancing with the Stars' Maksim. I can deal with the cross-promotion, even with a cheesy "let's learn to dance" sequence, but the soft-core porny music video montage of the ladies working it out on the pole--in their office? Yikes.

Then there's my show, GH. The internets are all up in arms over the hypocrisy of the oh-so-serious PSA airing after one of last week's episodes, when pre-teen Michael Corinthos accidentally set off a gun, shooting his dad's lady love. The actors portraying said lady love and the young mafioso-in-training solemnly came on screen thereafter to tell us violence is bad. The great wits of Serial Drama, both columnists and forum posters, have painstakingly detailed the seemingly endless acts of violence portrayed on GH ever since. It's a long list.

I'm totally with these folks in denouncing the hypocrisy of it all. And yet. Here I am, hard at work on my gymnastic efforts to read much of the business on GH these days differently, even sympathetically. For example, the reveal of Diego Alcazar as the Text Message Killer (for the uninitiated, no he doesn't kill BY text message, he just likes to taunt his victims VIA text message) is, indubitably, preposterous. As zarathelawyer reminds us, the character is dead, and dead in a pretty "yeah, he's definitely dead" way. Yet I kind of don't care about how very much the story asks us to suspend our disbelief. I'm just so glad it's almost over. I think the interim writers, whose work is still playing out, desperately grasped at whatever end they could give the story that would give the killer some plausible reason for committing his murderous acts. I still can't imagine how they will explain him offing Georgie (haven't watched today's yet, so don't tell me if it's been addressed), but he has something resembling a motive for the rest of his victims. More outrageous to me is the decimation of one of the few characters of color to grace this show in recent years. It began when he was, inexplicably, made into a sex criminal by taking naked pictures of roofied girls a few years ago. And now this. Nothing about the character ever signaled these sorts of acts of misogynist degeneracy--except that they told us he did these things. And he wasn't white.

I know. I'm making all of this sound really despicable. And in many ways it is. And yet. At least they're getting us out of this damn story, and placing blame on a character who has long been destroyed anyway.

Meanwhile, I continue to find ways to see the development of Sarah Brown's mob-girl Claudia Zacchara as an interesting characterization. Claudia is aggressively sexual, like, so aggressively sexual that it's freaking Sonny Corinthos--he of the Fonz-like sexual magnetism--out. But unlike the earlier female mobster, Faith Roscoe, Claudia's sexual aggression may actually have a cause. There have been hints that she was sexually abused by her father when she was a child and Sarah Brown's magical vulnerable bravado thing is making me believe that her present-day aggression, sexual and otherwise, is all about reacting to this painful past. And so I find her sympathetic and compelling.

In contrast, Sonny and all of the other typically dominant characters (and I mean dominant in that we are typically expected to take their perspectives and attitudes as those we should accept and adopt, as well) are falling to pieces. Sonny is running around town accusing all the wrong people of shooting his lady love and kidnapping his boy, all wild-eyed and gun-wagging. Frankly, he looks like a wack-job. Meanwhile, Carly is all a-fretting and a-wailing about her missing son, the aforementioned accidental shooter, Michael, believing he's another victim of Sonny's mobbin' ways (a view shared by the other GH dominants, Jason and Sonny) when in reality the kid is just totally frakked up, wielding guns and then running for his life because he thinks his pops will respond to violence with violence. Wherever did he get that idea? So here's what I'm liking: Sonny and Jason and Carly look stupid and wrong and misguided. I DON'T think I'm supposed to accept their worldview as mine. Meanwhile, saner citizens of Port Chuck speak sensibly: Jacks wants to call the police because a kid is missing. Sensible! Ric continues on his path of redemption, making nice with Alexis and kicking Trevor to the curb. Sensible! Johnny Zacchara wants to ignore all the mob business and snuggle up with his new sweetie. Sensible!

I may be trying way too hard to find the happy in GH these days. But in a world of sex, violence, and pole dancing, I take what I can get from the ABC soaps.

1 comment:

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