January 29, 2007

        “Sometimes real life seems like a hallucination”

                                                              Ryan Lavery 

I do my best to forget everything Ryan says the minute he says it, but this comment has stuck for months. It has stuck because it is true. 

We all have lousy days, weeks, months. Lousy can range from being out of Diet Coke to having a co-worker take credit for an idea to having your car die on the interstate. The hallucination factor kicks in when lousy turns into truly mind boggling awful. Losing a job, losing a home, losing a loved one to death, all these fall into the “this cannot be happening so it must be a hallucination” life experience. 

Like everyone else, I have had life experiences of both varieties. When distressing things happen, it’s nice to be able to escape. My everyday life has never allowed for jetting off to Bali, but it has always allowed for visiting Pine Valley. 

It was great to escape to a place where there was romance, intrigue, humor and great clothes. There was a comfort in knowing the characters and their relationships with each other.  I did not love every character or every story, but there was always something to enjoy. Pine Valley was the kind of place, had it been real, it would have been fun to visit. A little shopping at the Boutique, a margarita at SOS and the hope that I would see David Hayward in jeans.  

AMC’s characters were flawed, to be sure, but they had friendships, families and humor. I liked them. 

These days I turn on AMC and think, “Who are these loathsome people living in this depressing place?” 

Maybe ABC Daytime thinks it’s great that I feel this way, since I passed their desired demographic decades ago.  However, declining ratings indicate that no one, save ABC, is feeling very good about AMC’s current state. 

Gone are so many things that made AMC one of the truly great soaps.  

Like friendships. Erica and Opal being the least likely, but one of the most enjoyable, friendships. Does Opal even know Erica is living at the Valley Inn?  Eddie and Tad, whose friendship was never a drag, especially when they were doing drag in Hungary. Brooke and Trevor, proving that a man and woman can be “just” friends.  Brooke and Tom, proving that being ex-spouses does not preclude being best friends. JR, Jamie and Amanda, their friendship proved that children’s stories can be really interesting, if well told and acted. Phoebe and Mrs. Valentine. Phoebe and Benny. Donna and Estelle.  Dixie and Michael Delaney. Palmer and Isabella. Palmer and Kendall. Bianca and JR. Kendall and JR. The list could go on and on. 

These days there is a nary a friendship in sight, except for those involving Babe, who is everyone’s designated friend, because her heart is as big as all get out.  

True families disappeared as quickly as friendships did. The Martins have been reduced to a murdering Tad, a scene filling Jamie and an adultery seeking Jeff. Where are Joe and Ruth? Shouldn’t there have been a scene where Tad struggled not to tell his parents about murdering Madden? (Tad could never keep a secret from them for long.) Shouldn’t Joe be counseling Jamie to do something with his life? And shouldn’t Ruth be hitting Jeff upside his head for pursuing a married woman? And a married Erica at that?  As for the newest Martin, will we ever see Josh meeting his grandmother Ruth? If only so Ruth can hit him upside the head for pursuing a married woman. 

As for the Chandlers, it is a sad day when Colby is the only Chandler who has not sold the family down the river for a few rolls in the hay with a Carey. 

At least we see the Chandlers, the Cortlandts have all but disappeared. Why isn’t Petey mixing things up with Colby?  

The Kane-Montgomerys were a family with great promise. Jack and Erica, together at last. Together at last with quite an interesting bunch of children, Greenlee, Bianca, Kendall, Lily and Reggie. As well as the cutest grandkids in soapdom, Miranda and Spike. The KM alliance lasted less time than a Botox treatment lasts. Greenlee has fled town, Lily is always in her room and Reggie is at the basketball-tournament-that-never-ends.  

Most ridiculously, the writers decided that Erica would lose all the hard won maturity she has gained in the past few years. The current Erica bears a depressing resemblance to Erica when she was 17 years old.  What is bearable in an 18 year old is unbearable in an adult woman. Not to mention pathetic. 

The writing was on the wall for the end of the intergenerational AMC when SOS disappeared. I miss SOS, or as Spotted Dick called it, “the” SOS.  All ages would be there. Kendall, the nanny, would be there with her blackmailer Petey. Opal and Myrtle would be enjoying martinis. Leo (Leo!) would be on the dance floor proving that the one thing he could not do was dance. Simone, when single, would be drooling over the latest hunk. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. 

Good stuff seldom happens in PV these days. Two people had to die for Father Clarence to pull off this year’s promised Christmas Miracle. You don’t have to read the writing (in poisoned peanut butter) on the wall to know the miracle many fans have been anticipating for years just is not going to happen. The other big holiday story was the White Gardenia murders. As I have said before, nothing quite says holiday cheer like a serial killer. (Myrtle dating Santa Claus is looking better all the time, isn’t it?)  

Then we have Babe and Ryan. There is something terribly pernicious about having them as PV’s hero and heroine.  (That’s all I am going to say about that because I already have a headache. It’s caffeine withdrawal; I really am out of Diet Coke.) 

I want to love AMC again. I want to smile when I watch it. I want Pine Valley to be a place that’s interesting, not frustrating, to visit.  

I think I want the impossible. I want TPTB’s almost dystopian interpretation of life in the Valley to end. Right now. 

Of course, thinking that is going to happen is another one of life’s hallucination, isn’t it?

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