Hello, my name is Shelly and I watch soap operas. There. I said it. Now please get over it so I can move on to the very important topic at hand.
I’ve been watching All My Children for over 20 years. It all started when I was home sick one day from school. Germing up the family couch, I found myself drawn into the drama of super-teens Jenny and Greg, Angie & Jesse. Oh boy, I was hooked! Not to mention there was Tad the Cad and that scheming bitch Liza. And Opal—Tad’s eccentric, kooky headdress wearing biological mom (as opposed to the “perfection in an apron” adoptive mom, Ruth) and Marian, Liza’s equally scheming and cougarlicious mommy who was knocking shoulder pads with Tad the Cad. (He also got it on with another mother/daughter team, Dottie & Edna—THAT was great TV!)
So it’s no wonder why a 10 year-old future D&D player would fall madly in love with these fantastical plots, luscious characters and backstories more involved than a live-in mother-in-law. I got my brother hooked too and from that summer until the summer we discovered cigarettes and Meister Brau we were glued to the television from 1:00-2:00 every afternoon.
Thankfully VCR’s were invented so Mike and I could watch our soap every day after school. But I didn’t have a VCR in my college dorm so I had to resort to less technically savvy measures to keep up the Pine Valley happenings—schedule all my classes around All My Children. Yep, I probably missed out on a few good ones but tough noogies. If the gods wanted me to take Linguistics Theory and Poetic Structure they wouldn’t have scheduled it at 1:00. I’d change my major before I missed an episode! This was around the time Billy Clyde Tuggle retuned to the valley and caused all sorts of hell! And Molly had leukemia! And Noah and Julia were falling in love! I was a theater major! This stuff was pretty much my homework. My priorities may have been whacked, but you can’t way I wasn’t dedicated.
And then I took some time off but I’d always tune in on the occasional sick day or holiday. And guess what? I knew exactly what was going on! In a world where babies born in 1990 are on their second marriage and pregnant with 1 of 3 possible father’s babies today, time sure does seem to stand still. This is all too evident thanks to my favorite invention: the DVR. It’s All My Children, all the time. While I’m not exactly rooted in front of the TV like days of yore, I do manage to watch every episode to this day. I have a nice routine going. I dismiss Diane Sawyer every morning (but not until I’m out of the shower and the contacts are in) and watch the previous day’s episode. I miss about 80% of it thanks to the hair dryer, the water running, or my downstairs neighbor’s inexplicably loud bathroom fan (and regrettably Loud Fan Guy and I seem to be on the same exact morning schedule. Which is odd considering I’ve never actually seen the guy.) But still, I see and hear enough to know what’s going on in Pine Valley. And let me tell you—I’ve become bothered by it. So bothered that I have to say: All My Children, Help Me Help You. I’m your only hope.
Suspension of disbelief is common on soaps. Scratch that, it’s required. And I get that. And I do it willingly. But there are some things going on that I simply cannot accept. Some examples:
1. Opal’s visions. So she’s apparently psychic? Whatever. She’s nutty and jingly and is always having visions of someone’s bloody forehead or a torso pinned under a tornado ransacked beach house. And get this—they ALWAYS lead to fruition! And they’re pretty literal too. It’s not like the blood on the forehead represents a cloudy third eye or something. It usually means you’re going to get shot in the head.
And yet, NO ONE BELIEVES HER. Okay maybe the first time she pulls this crap you make that thumb-index-smoking-a-doobie gesture behind her back. And maybe the second time you’re thinking about inviting her and those old tarot cards to your BFF’s bachelorette party for some kicks. And then the third to eighty-ninth time it happens YOU START TO BELIEVE HER! Suspend your disbelief, Residents of Pine Valley! Apparently killer tornadoes DO happen in Pennsylvania.
2. What else is interesting about Pennsylvania? Well, it borders the Atlantic Ocean. Sorry about that, New Jersey. You’re going to have to suspend not just your disbelief but also apparently your mail because YOU DON’T LIVE THERE. Or anywhere! Pennsylvania is home to some of the finest, most pristine, most remote beaches in the country. So remote that only one beach house exists—well it did until that tornado wiped it out.
3. People who live in mansions do not lock their doors. This is a true statement. If you want to rob a house loaded with treasure, might I suggest visiting one of Pine Valley’s most wealthy estates? Apparently you can walk right through the front doors of the Chandler Mansion into the living room and confront the people who live there. Don’t worry—they won’t yell at you. Or call the police or even the security guard who allegedly mans the large wrought iron front gates. They will however appear to be bothered that you’ve managed to walk through their front doors, into their living room, and confront them once again.
But once you’re in don’t stop at confronting! No! Feel free to take up residence in the secret tunnels that everyone in town seems to know about! Many serial killers and runaways and surreptitious twins have lived there before you. The attic is also quite nice and apparently comfortable enough to live in for years.
Am I wrong to be moderately disturbed by the fact that Adam Chandler is apparently one of the savviest businessmen with the most enemies in all of Pennsylvania but he can’t figure out how to use the deadbolt on his front door? Seriously? You can take the boy out of Pigeon Hollow but you can’t take the Pigeon Hollow out of the boy.
4. Hookers turned Housewives. Man, I am sick of this storyline! Soaps, movies, family reunions. Enough! And I’m especially over Randi, the ex-hooker, now wife of doctor/soldier Frankie who is the son of Super Couple Angie & Jesse! Angie & Jesse people!
So yeah, Randi is annoying as a character but she really sealed the Wrath of Shelly deal when she bombarded Frankie at the hospital where he works saving lives and seduced him in a vacant room. With candles! And incense! Loads of them! Who uses incense besides dorm-dwelling potheads anyway? So of course Frankie is game! They totally go at it—in the hospital! While he’s supposed to be saving lives! Do those doors even lock?
5. Well hell, why not have sex in the hospital? I mean, you work there after all! What else will you do there? Fight. Fling. Mix illegal drug cocktails you slip into your fellow neighbors’ orange juice that cause them to fight and fling all over Adam Chandler’s (no doubt unattended) private yacht. People in Pine Valley DO NOT WORK. Millionaires do not even have an office! David freakin’ Hayward is the Chief of Staff at the hospital and yet, he’s always lurking around the Chandler estate (or his own—which I’m still not sure how he ended up with? Wasn’t that Edmund’s?), throwing evidence in the fireplace. Occasionally you see a bunch of 20-something girls and Erica (who is what? 143 by now?) at Fusion—the cosmetics “empire” but you can’t really say you’re “working” just because you have a manila folder in your hand. Believe me, I’ve tried.
6. Pennsylvania has at least 2 different time zones. What? You didn’t know this? Well let me enlighten you. There are times in Pine Valley when two characters are having breakfast at BJ’s, lamenting on the illicit night they spent in each other’s illicit arms while two other whores are drinking wine and getting it on by candlelight three doors down! Weird, huh?
7. Speaking of illicit lovers... This is my favorite. Ryan was set to marry Greenlee. For what? The eighth time? Greenlee is the love of his life. For real this time. Only, uh oh. She ends up driving her motorcycle off a cliff and dies seconds before their wedding. Ryan is devastated.
Kendall was Greenlee’s best friend. They had a lot in common, including Ryan whom they both bedded and endlessly fought over like dumb hamsters on a wheel. Kendall no doubt would have been devastated too but she was in a coma when Greenlee bit it.
Flash-forward two weeks after Greenlee dies. Kendall is out of her coma only to find that her husband fathered her lesbian sister’s baby, she had a heart transplant, and her new heart belonged to her brother whom her husband Zack shot and killed in order to score a new heart for Kendall. You with me? I haven’t even told you the best part but hang on—I’ll get to it on #8.
But not even what I was talking about here. The real issue I have is with Ryan and Kendall who are now apparently in love WITH EACH OTHER. Seriously, seconds after Greenlee died Ryan was professing his love to Kendall and she was all “don’t look at my hideous heart transplant scar” while I get naked and rock your world. Um hello, Kendall? Remember Zack? Your husband? The supposed love of your life? Isn’t there some kind of etiquette ruling on when it’s okay to sleep with your dead best friend’s almost-husband?
8. My, the things that can happen in a uterus. It’s amazing really. Science is so progressive. Remember Kendall’s dead brother from above? Here’s a bit of trivia for you. In 1973 All My Children aired the first ever legal abortion on television. Erica Kane was just a teenager. Yep, same year as the Roe vs. Wade ruling. It was groundbreaking to the say the least. They don’t even do abortion storylines much on today’s television shows. It was groundbreaking until the a-holes behind the scenes thought it would be a grand idea to unabort the fetus and bring him back to Pine Valley twenty-years later. This better be good, we all thought! You just undid some famous television history. And yet, this Josh guy comes back to do… NOTHING. He wasn’t even likeable! And he had no storyline! Just a mean old scheming gynecologist papa who apparently stole Erica’s fetus (instead of aborting it) and get this—planted it in his wife’s uterus! For reals! Imagine that conversation:
“Honey! I brought you home something special from work!”
Wow. If that kind of stuff can happen in 1973, just imagine the things they can do today. Makes me a bit nervous I have to say.
9. Truth Serum. For real? Not only can Dr. David Hayward, Chief of Staff whip up a few dozen syringes of this quicker than a batch of poison pancakes, but it WORKS! Once he jabs you with the needle you spill your guts. Wouldn’t a few bottles of cabernet be easier?
10. Desperate Look-a-Likes. Anyone ever tell you that you resemble their cousin? Well get that person’s name and number in case you ever have to spend time in the slammer. Like Kendall, who was sent to jail for alledgedly killing the beloved Stuart. Why alledgely, you ask? Because the only people who think she did it are a 6-year old and herself. Whatever. She’s supposed to go to jail and leave her fey little boys who spend more time in the hospital that that Dr. David Hayward to be sure. But one the baby daddy’s (Zach) ain’t having it. Oh no. He hires a look-a-like to take Kendall’s place in jail while Kendall lives the sweet life (not really) tucked away in some secret room with only a lap top (where she’s no doubt writing her 2nd best-selling novel. I hope under a penname.) She gets to listen to her husband being seduced by her half-assed lawyer, Liza, via baby monitor. That’s good TV watching! Oh yea, Kendall decided she really loves Zach—not Ryan. Keep up people!
Back to the look-a-like. Really? I know the economy is tough, but someone is so desperate for a job that they’ll take a gig serving jail time? Can’t you transcribe medical notes from home or something?
The list goes on. But I’m pooped. We might have to break this down into two sessions. Now, you might be asking me with so much to complain about, why I bother watching this drivel? I’ll tell you. I’m stuck. I’m too invested. I’m mired in the Pine Valley mud.
Don’t we all have friends that are a little dramatic for their own goods? Those people who only seem to call when they want to unload some baggage? They’re seldom happy but wow, when they are— they’re the life of the party! If you’ve been hanging out with someone for over two decades they become grandfathered into your life.
Once again, don’t bother to thank me. I did this as much for myself as I did for the other 18 All My Children viewers out there. Now come on, Powers-That-Be, get on it. Together we can keep Pine Valley, PA beautiful.