December 6, 2006
One Life to Live Through Our Children
So how do the Llanview kids reflect back onto their families?
Buchanan Seniors: Sticking to those only on the show, I find it interesting that in most of the families on ABC soaps, the writers work hard to create personalities in siblings that illustrate different aspects of the parent's own persona. Well, if it's not intentional (as in writers "working hard"), the laws of fate and balances create that illusion. Both Clint and Bo are sold on Asa's "Cowboy Justice" code of living; however, neither one is opposed to calling dad on his behavior if he takes things too far. Where Asa has no filters on what's right and what's wrong when the means justify (to him) the end, Clint and Bo have managed to pull back along about the time their actions border on breaking the law, a quality they definitely did not inherit from either Asa or their mother, Olympia. While either of them might fudge on the letter of the law, they both tend to honor the heart of the law and neither of their parents had trouble stepping right over that line in the sand. Granted, Olympia definitely had better reasons than Asa for going a little crazy and wanting to kill people. Clint and Bo are good examples of how kids learn from their parents what not to do. For representing Asa out there in the world, I'll give them a C. As all around good guys, I'll give them an "I" for I'd hit that.
Buchanan Lite: Oh yes, the Buchanan pater familias have spread their seed. There are little Buchanans, biological and adoptive, out there everywhere, so I will limit my observations to those currently on the show (plus Kevin, who just left). I am sorely tempted to include Joey "Fuck it, I'll be a priest" in the line up, but since his entire personality changes with every recast, it's hard to tell who exactly he is. Honestly, I consider Nathan Fillion to be the only Joey and anyone else to be some guy pretending to be Joey. Although, as a Buffy fan, I can tell you that Nathan Fillion in priest robes is a breath-taking sight to see, even when he's killing people left and right.
Matthew, as Bo's only living child, is the perfect example of what I feel a child raised by Bo and Nora would be. I'd like to see a little more fun in him. For that matter, I'd like to see a little more fun in Bo and Nora. Those of you who missed their marriage missed seeing the heart of both characters. Sam Rappaport, I curse your name. Matthew gets an A.
Kevin, Natalie and Jessica (Cord is so long gone most of our viewers probably don't even remember him, but he was a near perfect Buke Boy) again espouse the trend of highlighting specific personality traits of their parents, personified in each child. Kevin has the Buchanan boldness and determination to have what he wants (although it would be lovely if Kevin were played out to be more like his biological father, Joe Riley. I know they try to do that with Joey, but I'm not feeling it.. except with *say it with me* Nathan Fillion's version), but he also has the fragility of the Lords and their history of mental illness. With rewrites, we find that Victor was a man who presented himself as intensely powerful, but was actually a slave to his own dark obsessions. Eugenia was weak, fearful and fragile. Viki, of course, is fractured and damaged, while working hard to hold it all together on the outside. Natalie shows herself to be a Buchanan through and through, even to the point of being more like Asa than Clint. She rarely thinks twice about breaking the law to get what she wants, although that is likely influenced greatly by having been raised by Roxy. In that case, biology and environment married up into quite a mutually amicable package. Jessica reminds me of Viki and Eugenia, not just in the sense of their mental frailties, but of also in their soft demeanor. Jessica, like Viki and Eugenia, seem afraid to move quickly or take chances for fear of rocking the boat and making waves. That is fully understandable considering that we now know they were all walking a fine line to keep from toppling over into madness. Why would Viki or Jessica not be afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone and doing something outrageous when that is exactly what would entice the other parts of their fractured personalities? Eugenia would never presume to do anything nutty because of the firm hand her husband held on the family. Meredith (Viki's long dead and much beloved sister) was gentle, loving, wise and sweet and who knows what kind of craziness would ensued if the writers had their way with her over the years rather than killing her off? The part that is most interesting to me is that I like 'real' Viki better than Niki or the other alters (although I found myself drawn to Jean Randle a good bit), but I like Tess tremendously more than Jess. I am still heartily dismayed when I see Jessica's family frowning and giving her the "tut tut tsk tsk" face whenever she demonstrates any behaviors that could remotely considered Tess-ish. Someone needs to explain to them that "integration" does not mean turning back into the person you were before with no evidence of the other personality that is being integrated in as well. Personally, of all of these kids, Kevin, Natalie, Jessica and Tess, I think Tess is the only one who doesn't reflect the Lord/Buchanan attributes. Maybe that's why I like her so much. She is definitely a free spirit and her own person. Kevin, Natalie and Jessica get a B.
The previous paragraphs make me wonder if there are any progeny on the show who are NOT Buchanans. Well, there's Hateful Hattie, aka Madriana. Who would ever think that a daughter who has only known her mother for a couple of years and was raised by just the sweetest woman ever would out Dorian Dorian? There is one very big difference between Adriana and Dorian, however, and that is that Dorian actually has a heart and Adriana does not. Adriana gets a C-.
T-Rex - Rex is a fine, fine son who has proven to be forgiving, supportive and very sharp while still maintaining the street smarts and quick wit he honed from knowing Roxy. Whether it was from being raised by Aunt Colleen or his own internal fortitude, Rex brings determination and quick problem solving skills to the table. He is dedicated and loyal in love and, in fact, loves fiercely. Defying his difficult and complicated childhood, Rex represents more than any mother could hope for in who he has become. In short, Rex gets a D in reflecting Roxy to the world, but gets an A as a really cool guy.
Va-Va-Va-Vega - I'd say that the Vega boys represent Carlotta and Diego marvelously since they appeared to have the perfect nuclear family until Diego's death. With the except of his time with the street gang "The Arrows," in which Antonio was known as "El Lion," the boys have been all that their parents would have had them be. Mind you, there is that whole story of how Carlotta and Diego are not really his parents at all, so while I'd say that Antonio is everything the Vegas want him to be, I'm thinking he's a few gold chains and chunky rings shy of what "El Toro" would want for his son. Cristian has been the best case scenario of Perfect Vega Son with the exception of the whole killing people while hypnotized thing. In regard to the Vegas, both boys get a big ol' A. Mind you, I'm not big on either one of them, but I think Carlotta and Diego definitely should be.
Bright and Shining Starr - We watched this little nugget grow from practically a baby into the fine young woman she is today. She took the best from parents in whom it is hard to find a "best" and even forces them to be better people. If that's not furthering the evolutionary process of the species, then I don't know what is. Plus, you have to admire a kid who, out of a whole world of teens, sniffs out Patrick "the hottie" Thornhart's kid from the crowd. I just love her and boy, does she ever personify what we want our kids to be in the world: better than we are, but still close enough that we can see ourselves in them. Starr gets an A.
photos from abcwebpix.com