What Is One Life To Live Really Up To?

To say that One Life to Live is on fire these days is making a declaration verging on cliche. Each and every episode is a marvel of writing, acting and storyline integration. It is a shame that its ratings don’t reflect the awesomeness of its writing and ensemble.

If OLTL has two weak links story-wise, one is the Vanessa/Ray/Cristian black widow/revenge story and the teen drug plot. I agree that the former is very undeveloped at this point, with characters that few seem to find interesting on an already crowded canvas. The latter, the drug storyline, has suffered from a different sort of problem: despite some solid acting, the interactions and dialogue among most of the teen set (not to mention the unrealistic shock of the school principal) is rather unbelievable. At times it sounds as if the teens are in a very bad ABC Afterschool Special and we’re waiting for the inevitable overdose, a crisis of conscience and a moral to the story that "drugs are bad."

However, I’m beginning to think the story is not about completely about the teens. I think there are two drug stories going on at the same time and the second one is about the adults. The drug isn’t marijuana or cocaine. The drug is alcohol.

The first clue came when Bo (Robert S. Woods) and Nora (Hillary B. Smith) first confronted son Matthew (the fantastic Eddie Alderson) over a joint Nora had found. The scene, a realistic confrontation between parents and a potentially rebellious child, was brilliantly written and acted by all involved. The one element of that conversation that stuck out most was one that could easily be interpreted as a kid "talking back" or "giving lip" to his parents: Matthew called Bo & Nora out about their own "legal" habits — their drinking and even questioned them about whether or not they had ever smoked marijuana, instantly putting Nora uncomfortably on the spot. It also put Nora at odds with Bo over how to handle their son. Check the scene out here, thanks to amazinghbs:

There was another scene a couple of weeks later when Matthew made another comment about his parents’ drinking, followed shortly thereafter by a scene between John (Michael Easton) and Cole (Brandon Buddy) at Rodi’s. John confronted Cole and during the conversation Cole pointed out that John runs an establishment where people can get drunk.

Finally during Monday’s first Go Red Ball episode, Bo muses aloud about sending Matthew to military/boot camp (something he’s talked about doing since discovering the joint) to "straighten him out" and turn him into an upstanding young man. As he says this, Matthew’s immediate family is getting pissy drunk. In addition, as the Buchanans are getting sauced, all hell breaks loose at the Go Red Ball itself where several of the participants — especially Marty (Susan Haskell) — have had way too much to drink.

14 Responses

  1. Profile photo of LIASONADDICT

    Yesterday episode was hilarious

    all the drunken hysterics was great I loved the buchannans playing strip poker , nigel in sock garters was priceless.

    Blair passing out on the bed while looking for the bathroom was funny

  2. Profile photo of PatriniaJ

    Here’s an idea, and you all tell me what you think. I have a feeling that Bo is going to wind up being David Vicker’s father. I know, I know “David is to old”, but stay with me on this. Remember when Rex aka “Bo” slept with Gigi aka “Emma”, well that would make “Bo” his father and not Asa. Unless she was an even bigger slut than originaly thought, and then the Buch brothers and family wouldn’t loose their fortune because Asa’s codicile would no longer be in effect. Okay kids, let the comments fly!

  3. Profile photo of liason4real

    J,,,great comments! I agree with your assessment, ever since Nora made the comment to Marty about having Lupus and all of the drinking, add to that, Dorian getting Beaver drunk, Matthew’s comments about Bo/Nora’s drinking and all of the drunks from the Go Red Ball, then yes, I think the story is not all about teenage drug usage, it’s about the adults who need to grab alcohol to mask their feelings and dull the pain that they are in.

  4. Profile photo of soapfan14

    *******************SPOILER ALERT***********************

    I read a spoiler that Bo does get some shocking results from the DNA test. And I also read but I am unsure of how this ties in but Roxy is going to let Rex believe David is his father.

  5. Profile photo of EricasEvilTwin

    I assume that Bo will be the father – just when I safely thought I could put all of the 1968 crap out of my head. Yeah OLTL has been really good this year EXCEPT for the mendora silliness and the time travel silliness. Those were two of the most idiotic s/l I have seen in nearly 30 years of soap fandom. They were ETERNA bad and thats saying alot.

    Besides, I want to see Nora out on her ass and Clint without papa’s money even if its just for a few months.

  6. Profile photo of marceline

    People are always noting how much Ron loves history. And he clearly has a thing for the 80’s style of soap. Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and the like were completely soaked in alcohol. When I’ve seen old eps of Dallas, I’m astounded at the amount of booze those people sucked down. Perhaps Ron is just copying that.

    Here’s my question though: assuming you are right J. Bernard, where is all this supposed to be going? What the payoff of the drinking angle?

  7. Profile photo of lilyredd

    It could merely be that the writers are drinking while writing, thus Llanview is on a bender.
    By the way, the picture of Dorian and David shows that hot twosome in all their hedonistic glory –LOVE IT!

    On second thought, perhaps, the writers are trying to say that the pursuit of pleasure is bad and has consequences –example D&D again –this couple will, unfortunately, be smashed and I mean literally, not drunk, with Dorian picking up the pieces with nothing as a way to punish this hedonistic woman (while Todd, Clint, Asa (RIP) and any other male character -whether on OLTL or Y&R, skates for their “bad” behavior and desires) for all her crimes.

    Or the writers are trying to find excuses for the kids when they inevitably go on their own benders with bad consequences –“but you drink mom and your the DA”

    Nah, they’re drinking while writing.

  8. Profile photo of tonyjets02

    J Bernard,
    These are some fascinating observation, probably too deep for the average viewer. Just look at half the comments – most of them have nothing to do with your blog. For me, I did not pick up any of what you observed while watching.

    Perhaps RC is just paying homage to the soaps of the 80’s like marceline posted and if not, then, what is the payoff?

    I think the subtle cues you noted are just part of the phenomenal writing, production, directing, and nothing more. I don’t mind all the drinking, besides in this economy, everyone needs to throw back a few every now and again, even the people of Llanview.

  9. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones
    Here’s my question though: assuming you are right J. Bernard, where is all this supposed to be going? What the payoff of the drinking angle?

    I honestly don’t know. One possible direction in which it could be headed is that there might be a crisis of some sort that could bring the adults’ drinking ways out in the open and cause them to confront it. After all, ALL of the people who are drinking the most have children or are connected to teens who are directly affected by the primary drug story line. There might be a way that Something Could Happen to one or several of the kids that would make the adults examine their own ways of using and abusing alcohol.

    Or this could be no more than an exercise in dramatic license where the subtext of the drinking is underplayed and with no other purpose than to rouse the curiosity of people like me. In short, it could be like watching Lost: there are those who watch it for the romance, others who watch it for the primary mysteries, and others who dig deeper for additional meanings within the text. You don’t have to watch it for all three to enjoy the show. 

    I can only say that the last several weeks worth of very direct and very explicit references to drinking/getting drunk by the adults have been highly unusual and only really started around the time the drug story line began. I’m just curious about where all this might lead, if anywhere.

  10. Profile photo of marceline

    J, let me be clear, I don’t like Ron’s writing but I love your theory. Mainly because it would be a real change in the way TV addresses drug use. Unfortunately, I think the show is much more likely to stick to the Reefer Madness model.

    I think you’re right that when the big meltdown happens someone will mention all the boozing but I suspect it’ll be a throwaway. Drinking is too easy a plot device to mess with.

  11. Profile photo of Desertrose

    Thanks for bringing this up, J Bernard. I was really appalled at the amount everyone was drinking! I’ve done my share but these people lately have ALL been boozing it up way more than usual and it seems like its all the time…for no real reason.

    I did love it when Matthew called Bo out during their father/son drug confrontation.Go Matthew!

    The Go Red ball was basically a big boozefest. Least it coulda been wine to be “heart healthy”!

    If this is all a convenient way to “haze up” everyone’s memory to make us wonder who is this serial stabber, then it seems a poor choice to me. I do hope they eventually address the sudden and large increase in alcohol consumption…otherwise, as someone mentioned upthread, makes me wonder what the writers are drinking.

    And the drug story….hate the way Bo & Nora are handling Mathew…and Cole…he seems no different on or off drugs to me.So which is the red herring..the drug story or the booze story…..or maybe both.

    Great piece, J Bernard . I really appreciate that you share your deeper insights here.

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