Warning:The following post contains salty language. Not safe for work. Not safe for kids. Not safe for pets. You have been duly warned!
The key to watching the NASCAR race that is As the World Turns is to latch onto whatever stories are playing, find the good, the bad and the ugly on any given day or week and hang on for dear life. With all the refueling, pit stops, tire changes, sharp curves, unexpected tune ups and occasional pile ups, by the time Head Writer Jean Passanante and Executive Producer Chris Goutman put the pedal to the metal on the storyline racetrack, it sometimes feels like someone is waving a checkered flag at the finish line while simultaneously getting ready to fire the start gun for the next race to begin.
In fact, it would seem that neither Passanante nor Goutman (with an assist from Barbara Bloom) have a firm handle on what's working and what's not working from week to week. The good part is that stories and some characters that aren't working are over and out sooner rather than later. The bad part is that stories and often characters that are working are over sooner rather than later, too. The rain, it seems, falls on the guilty and innocent alike.
So, goodbye Chris Hughes and Mike Kasnoff and Emily & Casey with the rekindled Margo/Emily feud and the explosive Holden & Carly affair and the prospect of a newly empowered, tough-as-nails Lily, all of which were airing only a few weeks ago. We might not have liked Sofie Duran or the strange way Craig was written when Scott Bryce came and went in the blink of an eye, or whatever else didn't work, but that's the way it goes when you throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Thank God, ATWT has more babies and bathwater.
What saves me from whiplash is the saving grace that each episode generally contains scenes that evoke the spirit of classic ATWT despite the show's runaway train pace. How else to describe the pure joy of watching Barbara and Emily go at it today, with Babs declaring to an intervening Susan, "Call off your pitbull with lipstick daughter and leave me alone!" Or the scenes with Holden & Lily coming together as parents to confront Luke about the election scandal and his reaction to their admonishments? While scenes alone do not a compelling soap make, the stories tend to be more interesting than not, whatever they may be this week as opposed to last, or even 2004 or 2005 where many of the characters seem to find themselves now reset as they were back then. To that end...
The Mystery of Josie Matthews Driver
I must say that in the wake of the wreckage caused by Dusty's return (most notably the demolition of Casey & Emily), I have to admit being drawn deeper into the mystery of this young woman's identity the more she interacts with the denizens of Oakdale. I wasn't completely sold given Dusty's warp speed mania for all things JMD, but her interactions with and affect on Barbara (the always marvelous Colleen Zenk Pinter), Paul and Emily have me intrigued. It doesn't hurt one bit that Kristen Connolly has done some really good acting as the maybe-she-is-maybe-she's-not a reincarnation of Jennifer, amnesiac or con artist.
What is most intriguing to me about JMD is her name. It so happens that on Another World, Sharlene Frame had a daughter named Josie. Josie's father was Dr. Russ Matthews. Matriarch Rachel Cory's maiden name was Davis. Rachel was married to Dr. Russ Matthews, who later married Sharlene. And one other thing: Sharlene suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) aka "split personalities."
Is it possible that "Josie Matthews Driver" is in fact related to some of the biggest families in Bay City? That name simply can't be a mere homage to AW, given that hers would not be the first name AW fans would expect to pop up in Oakdale. Also, it is also interesting that JMD as of this writing is listed on cbs.com as "Josie Matthews Davis."...(continued)
The Curious Case of Luke Snyder
So, Luke decided to run for election at Oakdale U. and got so caught up in winning the thing and getting back at borderline homophobe Kevin that he and Casey cheated. Now Luke is skulking about like a petulant child around his parents and is pissed that his boyfriend Noah snitched to the po po. Now he's drinkin'.
Clearly, Luke needs some dick.
Yes, I said it. Noah needs to lay that pipe on Luke like the police on Rodney King after a freeway chase on the 405 because nobody is apparently stuffing Luke's ballot box and it's making him a very cranky gay.
Seriously, how else to explain this bizarre behavior other than a brain tumor or a case of DID or maybe even rickets. Luke is frustrated. Luke is mad. Luke is acting out. Luke needs to take a ride on Noah's Twilt-a-Whirl at least once. What else could it be?
None of this stuff should be surprising, of course. We've all seen this coming (well, Luke hasn't) for many months. Luke has increasingly asserted his primary identity as a gay man over every other aspect of his personality much to Noah's increasing chagrin. When he decided to run for college office, Luke made a statement about being Lucinda Walsh's grandson which clearly implied that he was willing to emulate her take no prisoners, ends justify the means style. So it made perfect sense for him to want to stuff the ballot box to win the election.
I get it. This is about Luke fighting back with mixed up feelings about Kevin and the humiliation of the internet video and the slurs and not wanting to be a victim and empowering himself, but Luke didn't think the election fiasco through, nor was he prepared for the backlash or the blowback. Now suspended from school, having disappointed his highly imperfect parents and after inadvertently getting Casey expelled, Luke is feeling low. Well, I know what will lift him up a little bit and it's not the kind of thing where he'd smack himself in the forehead and exclaim, "Wow, I should have had a V-8!"
The lack of some good shagging between Luke & Noah is the 800 lb gorilla in the room....a gorilla that has more likelihood of getting some despite its gargantuan size than two normal, red-blooded, healthy young gay men in their early 20's in Oakdale.
There can't be a lack of spaces: the Snyder barn, the Snyder pond/ocean/trade canal/shipping lane, the hotel Lily owns, the television station that Lily co-owns with Kim, the entire office building that Big Lucy owns, Big Lucy's boathouse, Paul's living room couch when he and Meg aren't screwing on it, even Emily's office since she and Casey stopped getting splinters from banging on her desk every three hours. Talk about "The Intruder"!
I'm not saying that sex alone would cure Luke of his issues; far from it, but after all this time the idea of Luke & Noah not screwing is out of control because, seriously now, it is becoming harder and harder (not for Luke and Noah, obviously) to take their fights and disagreements and rifts as serious threats to their non-consumated relationship.
I get why Noah is disappointed in Luke and, less sympathetically, why Luke is upset with Noah. There are principles at stake and respect on the line, but it is increasingly hard (not for Luke & Noah, obviously) to care about what Luke & Noah are fighting about when I'm no longer certain what they are fighting for.
They can't be fighting because they "want to be together" because from my vantage point Luke and Noah already are together. They have declared their undying love for each other, so the whole issue of "waiting until the right moment" is ludicrous given that they can't be saving themselves for marriage in the state of Illinois. Hell, Illinois doesn't even have civil unions given the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, introduced to the House of Representatives in early 2007 by State Rep. Greg Harris, is only going before the Illinois legislature this month. So they aren't hoarding condoms for that blessed event either. Luke & Noah are accepted in their community, not particularly harassed at work or school on a day to day basis, and are able to live their lives as a couple. Damn, Noah is slated to curate a gay film festival, so it ain't like he's scared at this point!
The act of sex itself isn't the issue. What is at issues is that for young gay men in committed relationships who do not live in the few states where marriage or civil unions are available to them, sex can be a symbolic and personal bond between them as a couple, establishing the intimacy of their love not unlike their heterosexual counterparts who have the benefit of rings, certificates, and legal standing to back them up.
So why should I care about Luke & Noah ongoing battles when they haven't been allowed to take the next step toward a fully committed relationship? it is a question that bugs me more and more with each new crisis they face as a couple. This brings us to....(continued)
As a final note, our own Jamey Giddens reports via Michael Logan's soap article in TV Guide that next week Brian Wheatley kisses Luke after marrying Lucinda. This is not surprising at all, given the many hints we've been given about Brian since he came aboard the canvas. What I find odd is the instant negative reaction to this development.
I see it as an opportunity for great drama of conflict and betrayal between Luke, Brian, Noah and eventually Lucinda instead of an instant gag reflex (something Luke obviously hasn't experienced with Noah) about an attractive and successful older man's advances toward a younger (and, by this point, a blue-balled) one. Who knows where this may lead! Somebody is going to be getting some. The only question is who. One of them better be Luke before he burns down a sugar cane plantation or shoots a moose from a helicopter. So to speak.
Kudos to terrific performances by Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann, who delivered some of the best work we've seen out of them in a long time in a series of strongly written scenes. Hansis, in particular, proved that he is long overdue for an Emmy.
Uh oh! I see a pit stop coming up. I hope they've stocked up on oil and grease!