December 18, 2006

I don’t usually have spoilers in my column, but I’m finding it more and more difficult to effectively discuss Zarf without revealing what I know is going to be eventually revealed on the show.  There probably aren’t many people who don’t know the punch line, since the intent of the storyline has made national news.  Zarf is planning to become a woman.  The first transgender in soap history, to quote the press release.  From what I know about transgenders, they feel strongly convicted that they were born the wrong gender.  In their hearts, their souls, their very essence – they are the opposite gender.  For men wanting to become women, it isn’t just a matter of wanting to dress up in women’s clothes.  They feel trapped in the wrong body.  

If you didn’t already know this about Zarf, now the stuff he’s been talking about makes sense, eh?  His chuckle of amusement when Bianca, who he proclaims to be his soul-mate, tells him she is only attracted to women.  This past week, when he wanted Bianca to close her eyes and kiss him – to feel his soul, not just his lips – it was clear that he was hoping she would connect with that part of him that truly believes he was destined to be a woman.  When Bianca felt moved, much to her confusion, I suppose the unspoiled viewer will guess that they are trying to de-lesbianize Bianca.  Supposedly that is not the case.  Supposedly she has connected on a psychic level with that part of Zarf that is female.  That is the intent of the writers. 

Before we get to my reaction to all this, let me say that I am well aware of the cynical take on this storyline.  TPTB are only introducing the transgender storyline as a publicity stunt.  Something sensational to draw in more viewers.  Also, it is a way to have Bianca remain a lesbian and be in an on-screen relationship without actually having to watch her make out with another woman (quel horror!).  Hey, this all may very well be true.  But what am I supposed to do with that, from the practical standpoint of watching the show every day?  When Josh was revealed to be Erica’s unaborted son, it was easy to be disgusted with the sensational aspects of the plot, because there was nothing about it to like.  The concept itself was abhorrent.  I’ve learned to accept it for the sole reason that it is fun to watch Josh as a Kane.  My remaining bitterness is in the knowledge that it could have been written a different way without pissing off so many fans.  The transgender storyline also has its sensationalistic bent, but the concept itself is not offensive.  At least not to me.  I personally would love seeing a transgender in a serious storyline – whether it was in prime time, a movie, or daytime.  I really think that it’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater to dislike it just because TPTB likely did not have pure motives in creating it.   

Now, you may dislike the Zarf storyline just because you dislike him.  I can see why that would be the case.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with a character that has “woo woo” philosophies about life, or with someone that has an uncanny ability to instantly read people for who they, or even with a person that falls in love at first sight and rhapsodizes about destiny.  I just think that merging all of those characteristics and beating us over the head with it every day gets to be a little off-putting.  Dial it down!  I’m not talking about the actor – he is doing an excellent job.  Love ya, baby!  But the writing needs to be toned down a bit.  The scenes of his I love the best are when he is with Bianca.  He is clearly so taken with her, and his almost childlike enthusiasm to know her more is very endearing.  Knowing what I do about his conviction that he is really a woman on the inside, it made the scene where he wanted her to kiss him very touching.  Maybe I’m just a sap, but it really worked for me.   

At some point I’ll probably end up being deeply disappointed with this storyline, and rail against the fact that they took something that could be good and pissed all over it.  This has happened too many times for me to have even a shred of optimism left.  So my philosophy is to live in the moment, and enjoy what I watch on the screen now.  Even if I was feeling optimistic that the writing for this romance will stay strong, I do not see it being a long-term thing.  Zarf is, like the other characters keep saying, a rock star.  I believe his role on this show is to burn bright, enchant us all for a moment, and then come to a tragic end.  This isn’t meant to be an enduring story.  So if you hate him, then grit your teeth and ride it out.  It won’t last too long.  That’s my prediction. 

Erin Lavery died this week.  When Josh discovered her, that was one of the freakiest things I’ve ever seen.  She was on only a quarter of the time that Simone was on, so I grieved for her less.  I did feel for some of the characters that were grieving for her – Ryan and Jonathan and Annie.  Even though I got kind of annoyed that they were repeating themselves ad nauseum about how much she meant to them all, for the most part their tributes were sweet, poignant, and in the case of Annie helping Ryan to pick out a dress, it was very raw.  I felt really bad for Jonathan – that was a hell of a way for him to find out about his sister’s death.  I also loved Amanda’s attempts to help him grieve, by going to bat with Derek so Jonathan could see his sister one last time.   

Once again I wasn’t feeling Babe’s grief at all.  I was creeped out by her dozing on the lounge chair where Erin had died – although as Josh pointed out, maybe it wasn’t as creepy as constructing a coffin and climbing in it.  Seriously, though, after all the promises made by the Fusion gals to be vigilant, she still slipped off on her own anyway. 

I really am enjoying the mystery of Zach’s memories about a woman in white, and his secret belief that she is connected with the current murders.  I just don’t have any comments because we aren’t being given much.  I’m sure I could come up with all kinds of speculations, but I prefer at this point to watch it play out. 

The whole malaria thing was beyond dumb, contrived and pointless.  I did appreciate the discussion Erica had with Jackson about the safety of Kendall and Bianca.  He stated his case, she stated her case – it was all very civilized.   

On a similar note, when JR finally consented to talk to Babe, he actually talked to her as opposed to spewing at her.  These two still really annoy me (oh how the heart changes – I certainly didn’t feel this way a year ago), but at least it was a change of pace.  I did have to laugh when he was being so sarcastic with her to hide his fear for her safety, and she got annoyed with him.  “I’ll see you later.”  “Okay.  Good luck with that.”  “Yeah, thanks for the support.” 

I was vastly amused by Del unabashedly flirting with Amanda while Jonathan listened in, ready to crawl out of his skin. 

Awww(x25) Moment of the Week was when Kendall was in the bathtub and she turned to look up at Zach with a little girl lost expression on her face.  This is one of the many reasons why I love Alicia Minshew.  She may do “bitch” really well, but she knocks “vulnerable” out of the park. 

Snark of the Week goes to JR, who tells his mother, “I’d sound more like Dixie Martin’s son if she hadn’t decided to play dead.”  I always love his snark, but I kinda took issue with a snark of his at the start of the week.  Babe points out to him that they married for better or for worse.  He quips, “And it doesn’t get worse than you, does it, Babe?”  Uh no, JR.  I’d say it doesn’t get worse than a husband trying to murder his wife. 

Image that I really wish that I could erase from my head:  Colby rolling around on Josh’s bed moaning, “You’re so cute, Josh!” in order to test out the nanny cam.  The irony in this is that in the previous scenes when she was with JR, I was really appreciating that they had toned down her brattiness so that she is not as annoying and seems more authentically Chandler: mischief-maker and revenge-seeker who is fiercely loyal to her family.  I had written in my notes, “toned down Colby.”  Ah well. 

Closed-Captioning Line of the Week:  I always have on the CC because I tend to catch more stuff if the sound is wonky or people are mumbling.  When Bianca brought Miranda over to the condo, and was taking her to the back room, Zach made a Donald Duck sort of noise as she left.  I was so enchanted with it that I rewound and watched it about 3 or 4 times.  The last time I did it, I noticed that the CC actually acknowledged the sound with the following:  [Zach quacks] That is awesome on sooo many levels. 

Thanks for reading.  Cheers! 


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