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Friday, November 7, 2008

The Llanview Conundrum

They went there.

I didn't think they would, but they did.

They went there, and one of daytime television's shining moments of the last twenty years - a ground-breaking landmark storyline that not only helped thousands of women, but also inspired some young viewers to pursue a career in writing for daytime? It appears to now have a stain that is spreading so fast, there's no wiping it away.

And I am speechless.

The blogosphere has lit up over the last two days with talk of the story beat finally unveiled this week - that an amnesia-stricken Marty had sex with the man who once tied her down and let his fraternity brothers take their turn and have their way with her in a monstrous, evil gang rape.

People come here when they want to hear a former soap writer's take on the writing going on at various shows. But I have no take on this. No explanation. No other perspective.

I know these writers. I worked very closely with them for two years - from 2004 to 2006. I do not speak to them on a regular basis, but I consider them my friends - and I consider many of them to be the best in the business. I do know that at the end of the day, even the ones who hated the storyline have no choice but to turn in their breakdown or script. But I can't even bring myself to ask them one simple question... two basic words... "What happened?!"

How did this get approved? And if it wasn't part of the long-story pitch in the first place, who was the person who even suggested this was a good idea? And what was the response from the women I know are sitting in that writers' meeting - both on the writing team, AND on the network end of things, AND on the production end of things - where were they when this breakdown passed through their hands?!

You can tell me it's building to a pay-off. You can tell me no judgment can be made until the story has played out. But honestly? It's officially over. There's no pay-off great enough to make what happened on One Life to Live "okay".

I really adore this team, and I still watched this show faithfully for two years after I was let go. Because I grew attached to those characters, and I believe in somebody like Ron Carlivati. It gives me hope that this industry hasn't turned its back on the people who genuinely love what they do, and aren't just collecting a paycheck. The writers who grew up with daytime, adore daytime, want to see it succeed, to entertain a whole new generation of viewers.

This is not how you do it.

I try really hard to be objective on here - in spite of the fact I adore some of these names you see on the credits (and not so much, with others). I have personal relationships with them, but I try and write this blog from the standpoint of a long-time fan of daytime first, and a daytime writer second. But I can't be objective here. All I can so is sit here in silent stun, trying to imagine the notes meeting in my head. Trying to imagine the conversation around the table. Trying to wrap my head around who it is that truly doesn't understand the sheer devastation of rape in any form, never mind a sadistic gang-rape. And I can't. I can't be impartial, and I can't give you another perspective, because having worked with the women in that room, I find it difficult to imagine any of them were okay with this decision.

It was a bad call. Whoever it was who wanted to do this, it was a mistake. I look up to Ron greatly - I have since I first started working with him. And I learned so much in that breakdown room. But this - this, I just want somebody to admit was a mistake. I don't care who.

What's written is written... what's taped is taped, and what's aired has aired. There's no going back, so there's no reason to pick it apart now. Against all protestations, the show went there and we can't change that.

Right now, I just want somebody to say publicly "We were wrong."

And to all those people who somehow found strength in Michael Malone's original story... in Linda Gottlieb's wondrous production of a graphically despicable act... in Susan Haskell's portrayal of a very flawed woman who suffered unimaginably the way so many women around the globe have and came back from it stronger than ever... to all of those women (and men), all I can say is that the power of hope and friendship and strength we all took away from that original storyline, and that legacy it's left with so many of us almost two decades later? It still holds up.

I only wish present-day daytime held up as well. . It won't. What happened this week, it will not be revered in twenty years. Not even close.

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