Pissed Off

What pisses you off?

This is an odd time for me to write this post, because actually I’m enjoying the show quite a bit right now. And even when I think the show is subpar, call me an apologist, but I’m just not a basher. I’ve always taken the viewpoint that there is plenty of cyberspace being taken up with people bitching and moaning about the show. And there are other blogs written by people far funnier than me who can snark at it. My philosophy is, if I can’t enjoy the show, why watch it?

Occasionally, however, I can be roused to anger. But first, let’s take a look at some of the things I’ve noticed that piss viewers off.

Some people get mad, and stay mad, at a certain character, for a particular action. Nick sleeping with Billie. Billie “raping” Bo during Pit!Sex. Chelsea the baby killer. Carrie the adulterous whore. To be honest, I find this kind of thing tiresome. This is what drove me away from many message boards, especially the “one-point posters” who think Carrie is a whore/Hope is judgmental/Billie is a rapist/Chelsea is a child-killer and never tire of making their point. I simply can’t feel this sort of visceral hatred for fictional characters.

I certainly get frustrated with characters for acting stupidly or unsympathetically. (Nick keeping yet another secret from Chelsea comes to mind.) However, I think the only time I felt truly angry was when Steve had conflicted loyalties after Jack raped Kayla. I still think it was a great storyline overall, but that’s as close as I’ve come to considering a character “ruined.” (I took things more seriously back then).

My knee-jerk opinion is that characters can’t be ruined, at least not forever, because they can always recover with a new storyline, a new writer. That’s the beauty of a soap’s longevity. But I must reluctantly admit that this isn’t true. If you try hard enough, for long enough, you can do pretty extensive damage. It’s easier to ruin a couple than a character. I found it difficult to root for Abe and Lexie, for example, knowing that Lexie had cheated on him on three different occasions. (I thought they were a mismatched couple anyway, but even if I hadn’t, I think that would have cheapened the relationship for me.) EJ and Sami? I’m not saying I would stop watching if they put them together, but it would stick in my craw, definitely.

Speaking of EJ and Sami, another thing that gets people riled up is missed opportunities like EJami, or not showing Kayla and “Nick Stockton” falling in love. Not pursuing Shawn and Mimi is another one that gets tossed around. When I let myself think about these things, I start to get mad, too. So I take the coward’s way out and I try not to think about them.

Then there’s those factual mistakes—for example, in geography, timeline, medical terminology, or legal procedure. Days has been pretty bad lately about these kinds of things. Here are some off the top of my head:

1. The cruise ship speed of light (two days, I believe, from Canada to the south Pacific)
2. There was no opportunity for EJ to hide the gas can in the bed
3. “Hypo-allergenic biotoxin antidote”
4. Claire doesn’t seem to need her immunosuppressants
5. How did Belle manage to salvage an unbroken framed picture of John and Marlena, between jumping off a cruise ship and being shipwrecked on an island when she couldn’t even hang onto her own daughter?
6. The Salem PD (where do I start?)

Each of these things, by themselves, generally don’t bother me. They can be amusing. However, there’s a line over which it becomes distracting, not to mention that it smacks of laziness. Show some lowly drudge how to use Google.

This laziness is related to the one thing that really gets my goat, and that’s sloppy execution. It’s like I’ve said to the show, “Okay, Days, I try to like the characters you parade in front of me and I try to forgive and forget when they act like fools, and I won’t question the stories you’re not doing and the couples you’re not pursuing, and I’ve put up with your medical mumbo-jumbo and your geographic impossibilities, but this is where I DRAW THE LINE!”

I’m not talking about the instances where a character is forced to do something questionable in order to further a plot point. My oft-repeated example of Steve breaking up with Kayla for Jack and Kayla marrying Jack is a case in point. In that case, the show did its best to give them each a believable motivation, it was just going to be a difficult pill to swallow no matter how it happened. And the subsequent story made it worth it—eventually.

I’m talking more about actions and plot twists that could very easily be made understandable and believable, but the show doesn’t take the time to do it. If they were really dying to get Shawn and Belle onto that island, they didn’t have to jump overboard. They could have been hiding in a lifeboat when a sudden storm came up. Lucas going to work for EJ could have been an interesting exercise in desperation and humiliation. He was blackballed by Victor, and Sami’s not bringing in any money right now. They needed an episode or two for the desperation to build—or at least one scene that showed him trying to get work elsewhere at the same time a bill for his hefty COBRA premium arrives in the mail.

Kayla should have tried harder to find an alternative to taking out John’s kidney. A few more reasons for Abe to believe Lexie really left him, like a planted note by EJ, would have better explained why no one is looking for her or talking about her. Stephanie turning on her father needed a little more buildup. Sami should have had a few qualms about selling Shawn out to EJ.

Then there’s what I can only call WTF? moments. I don’t know if these count as sloppy execution because they seem quite deliberate, but they definitely add to the lack of realism of the show. Shawn, with a recent bullet wound, jumping out a plane into a typhoon. Marlena jumping out of a plane to reduce the weight (I guess). The aforementioned cruise ship jump. (Jumping seems to be a problem.) And don’t get me started on EvilEJ’s “plot” to have Sami try to kill him with drugged lipstick and a fire in order to prove her supposed love for him.

Another issue is the lack of fallout, the lack of reaction to things. Back to John’s kidney: there should be consequences for Kayla. Shawn and Belle have been wandering around like village idiots waiting for people to bail them out—and someone always does. When Marlena jumped out of the plane, she only hurt her leg a little teeny bit (and Smokey was immediately there to help her). Phillip’s face transplant was smooth and scarless as soon as he took off the bandages. All this turns the Salemites into a bunch of Wile E. Coyotes—crush them into the ground with a rock, blow them to smithereens with dynamite, don’t worry, they just pop right back up again.

Also, we need to see that characters are aware of what’s going on in each other’s lives, especially the family members they supposedly care about. Maybe it’s not that exciting to show everyone reacting to Lexie’s disappearance, or Shawn and Belle’s supposed death. Or maybe you have to delay the plot a little to establish a good reason for Stephanie’s anger at her father, or to show Sami’s crisis of conscience in selling out Shawn. But you have to do these things. It’s the sum total of these little moments that establishes character and realism, allows us to suspend our disbelief, and most importantly, adds emotional weight, so that we care when Shawn gets shot, when John loses a kidney, or when Lexie disappears.

Because when I don’t care, I don’t have anything. And that pisses me off.

9 thoughts on “Pissed Off

  1. Your last two paragraphs sum up what pisses me off. I tend to laugh at the geographic stuff ups – it has constantly amazed me during the island story line that they seemed to have actually remembered 95% of the time that Shawn and Belle were in a completely different time zone – but it’s when they miss the potential by rushing the little things while dragging out the unimportant that bugs the hell out of me. Granted, GH is even worse as this in recent years, but when a couple of days of motivation is sacrificed in favour of nothing and therefore we don’t care about the outcome because it’s completely unearned it’s annoying and sometimes more.

    And that’s doubly the case when, as you say, the outcome is not a bad one and actually makes for good drama but it’s so obvious that it could have been so much more compelling had they paid a bit more attention to how they got there in the first place.

    Oh, and no more jumping off or from anything, thanks.

  2. Wow. Comprehensive post! I think you hit most everything that irritates me about the current storylines. I’ve been watching the Marina storyline, though, which uses two soap plot devices that piss me off.

    1. Serious retcon without real payoff. We all know that Marina couldn’t have existed in the past of 1986!Steve. I refuse to believe that that Steve had been married before, or had another “great past love” besides Britta. I just refuse. If the story had opened up some grand new avenue for Steve and Kayla… but it didn’t. (I will admit that it was good for the Jack redemption story, though.)

    2. Misunderstanding as major obstacle. I *hate* this with a passion. Even in the couples that I particularly care about, I’d rather see them make real mistakes with real consequences than just misunderstand each other. I hate that Kayla flew all the way to Italy just to see Steve and Marina in bed together. I know it was Steve keeping his marriage from her that really kept them estranged, but still. Lame.

    JER was a master at this — before the failed Bo/Hope 1996 wedding, Bo was stranded on Smith Island with Billie and tried to swim back to Salem to make the wedding, but he didn’t make it. So Billie pulled him out of the water and saved his life by sharing body heat with him, which was really just an excuse for the writers to have Hope walk in on them in her wedding dress. I hate all of the gymnastics it took just to get that dramatic shot, that there was no good dramatic reason for Bo and Hope to be apart, and that there was no character development to be had in resolving the “conflict”. This is what I call the Bad Angst.

    Phew. Glad to get that off my chest.

  3. You really hit the nail on its proverbial head. Days stories may look good on paper, but comes short when executed. Everything is rushed and mostly unresearched, they think watchers don’t pay attention.

    Something or someone is missing that is holding these characters and stories together. Where are the patriarchs and matriarchs of this show? I think they are sorely needed right now. I remember the Bradys all gathering at the Fish Market to talk about their issues. The Horton kids had Grandma H to talk to. Now everyone’s on their own and doing stupid things.

    I’m really upset about Sami’s rape and she telling who, Celeste? Why not a counselor, if she couldn’t go to her own mother? Grandma Caroline, maybe? But she’s nowhere to be found.

    Ugh! Sorry to rant. I’ll stop here. Have a nice day!!

  4. ITA Mary. (Though I would like to jump on the Carrie is a whore bandwagon. It’s not that I like to bash fictional characters either, but when the show writes her this way but no one calls her out on it is what leads me to react so negatively).

    I do hate the lack of consequences. Or more importantly, follow ups. We have what might be interesting plots on their owns that get quickly dropped. For example, a long time ago Chelsea and Willow almost started working alongside each other at Maggie’s restaurant. How hilarious could that have been for a little while?

    Thanks for getting pissed off, it’s a pleasure to read what I have been thinking. 🙂

  5. Well said. I agree with pretty much all of the stuff that pisses you off, but have to add my own (surprise, surprise). The absolutely unnecessary stall. And, I’m not talking about the 3 month one earlier this year (although that pissed me off for all sorts of different reasons), but stuff like the Bo/Shawn/Steve scenes last week. We had four days of the EXACT SAME SCENE. Bo thinks Steve’s crazy, Steve says he’s not, Shawn is confused. 4 days of the same basic conversation about whether they could trust Steve or not.

    I know that it’s supposed to create the tense moment — is it BSC!Steve or Real!Steve? Will he help them or kill them? But, it would have been sooooooo much more effective if it had been done in about a day and a half, not 4 or 5. It pisses me off because it’s a hugely wasted opportunity to actually have a dramatic payoff for this storyline. But, by Monday, I almost didn’t care. Kill Bo, don’t kill Bo — just DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. And that just makes me mad.

  6. esp13 – I agree completely on the amount of time Steve and Bo went back and forth over whether or not he was crazy and there to kill Bo. If they wanted to stretch it out to two days fine but it was ridiculous. I understand that they are also trying to build scenes for other characters but again it could be done in a lot less time.

    I agree marypickford with your entire post. It’s a soap so I am willing to suspend belief pretty far on a lot of things if they would do some things somewhat rationally.

    As far as permanently hating characters – I guess I’ve mellowed in my “maturity.” People change for various reasons and as long as it’s properly explained and we get a glimpse of layering I enjoy it. Look at our Steve. He was so evil when he first arrived but then again you could always see a little something just under the surface and I think that was largely due to the actor.

    I always found it interesting during the scene where Patch holds Hope captive and torments her with the acid. Patch gives hope a drink from a soda and Hope, as part of her proper upbringing, says “thank you.” The look on Patch’s face for that brief moment tells a lot about the character. There is something more to this guy and that little bit of kindness from Hope is all that is needed. Maybe this is all that is needed on the show.

  7. Oh, Kathleen, you remind me of another moment in that scene, I can’t remember the dialogue, but I think he asks her to tell him he’s good-looking or something like that, and SN adds this little layer of vulnerability that hints at what’s going on underneath.

  8. I finally saw those pan of acid/Hope scenes and I agree SN layered in some self-loathing. There was one of those “look in the mirror” shots after it was all over. It was clear he was disgusted with himself.

    I posted this on TWoP, but I think they drained a lot of the tension out of the “BSC or not” scenes just from the way they filmed them. Totally anti-suspense. Steve should have gotten there before Bo, there should have been ominous scenes of Steve handling the gun. Shawn could have gone from trusting Steve (before Bo arrives) to being suspicious (after) to so desperate he’ll try anything.

    lska, the Marina retcon bothered me SO MUCH. Even today I retain a soft spot for Britta and Steve’s loyalty to her, and the Marina retcon totally screwed that up. I always hated that.

    Misunderstandings are a soap staple, especially the “it looks like my true love is with someone else.” I don’t mind them as long as they’re cleared up quickly (like Kayla seeing Steve with the hooker), but when it leads to a major estrangement—yuck.

  9. “I posted this on TWoP, but I think they drained a lot of the tension out of the “BSC or not” scenes just from the way they filmed them”

    The dressing Steve completely in black from head to toe didn’t help much with the suspense either.

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