(Photos courtesy of Google)
I watch soap operas as a form of escapism. There’s so much going on in the world that scripted affairs, folks coming back from the dead and aliens named Casey coming to earth seem normal. Still, my suspension of disbelief has its limits and daytime treating the #MeToo Movement as one big “F U” is one.
Soaps are a medium primarily directed to women. However, the recent stories and dialogue would suggest that it’s more of a vehicle to watch women be crapped all over and exploited. I, Stephanie of the opinionated tribe, will not have it.
I could be here all day writing another novel detailing the numerous offenses. There’s the Young and the Restless punting on Mariah and Tessa becoming a couple or Hilary being used as the town punching bag. Hope and Rafe still being a thing on Days of Our Lives. Or that my sanity is threatened every time Carly wails about Morgan on General Hospital. This diary entry will focus on the soaps treating sexual assault and abuse as casual sins. Across the dial, female leads are being written to just take it and in many instances, deserving of it.
DAYS has their heroine Abby suffering DID and being in a “relationship” with Stefan. She’s battling a mental illness and therefore, consent isn’t possible. This is straight up sexual assault, not must see TV. Bold and Beautiful is bartering Steffy’s freedom by having Bill force her into a relationship or else her mom will go to jail for shooting him. On Y&R, Neil arranged for Devon to be assaulted by hookers and kidnapped a comatose Hilary but yet he returned to town with an “S” on his puffed out chest. Superman, he is not but that’s the way he’s portrayed. On GH, the show is tackling Kiki being harassed by an older male doctor but yet writes Liz, a rape survivor, to be passive as she romances Franco who arranged for Michael to be raped and tormented Sam. She’s understanding of his childhood trauma but tells Sam to just shake it off whenever she’s near Mr. Baldwin.
As someone who became a fan of Elizabeth Imogene Webber and her iconic eye rolls during the powerful 1998 rape storyline, that kind of flippant attitude is not her. My fave is problematic but this particular arc is a reach. Different regimes have taken their turns writing Liz out of character but reducing her to a prop in a subject matter that defined her legacy is just for the birds. She was an afterthoguht as her rapist returned to town with a blink and you missed it confrontation. They’re not even playing it up as though Liz has a tumor. She’s just dismissive and that’s not her, no matter how badly GH wants to make Liz vs. Sam a rivalry for the ages where each takes the feud to a new low. Sam letting Liz’s kid be kidnapped was just as offensive but that’s neither here nor there at this moment. I like both but it is what it is.
Writers have got to move away from the Luke and Laura teas. I feel some type of way when my texts are left on read. Loving a guy who just raped me on the floor of a disco club isn’t how he gets my heart. Consent matters. Except during the afternoon hours it seems.
Yes, I can stop watching and I have. There are days when I don’t even give these shows energy. I don’t tune in or tweet but old habits die hard. I also happen to be a fan that wants what’s best. I love camp and do get that it’s ultimately just a soap opera but allow me the following; Erica Kane’s landmark abortion and endless marriages is lore in pop culture. Bianca Montgomery’s coming out, rape and marriage to her partner were groundbreaking. Ruth Warwick protested the Vietnam War. Jenny Gardner’s death. Dr. Marlena Evans was possessed by the devil. Robin Scorpio’s HIV diagnosis. BJ’s death. Marty Saybrooke’s rape. Karen Wolek on the witness stand. Erika Slezak’s portrayal of Viki Lord and all those alters. Angie and Jesse’s iconic romance. The great Victor Newman, love or hate him, has been in almost every grandmother’s home. Even the turkey baster is that cousin we reluctantly claim. The list goes on and on. As the great philosopher Rihanna said, Don’t act like you forgot.
Daytime is ground zero. It doesn’t need to retreat.