It’s easy to forget that I didn’t always hate Shelle. In fact, I hung onto the possibility of liking them much longer then they deserved. I sensed, even before I heard they were Ken Corday’s baby, that they were considered the Big Thing among the younger crowd. And so I was prepared to try to see what all the fuss was about.
I did not hold the embryo switch against them. I put up with watching Belle alternate between moping about her true love Shawn and self-righteously declaring that “I love Phillip!” I also didn’t hold it against her when she was both encouraging and undercutting Mimi’s relationship with Shawn. I didn’t hold Shawn’s strong judgmental streak against him. No, I generously excused it all, blamed JER, and looked forward to what a recast and a new writer could do for this couple.
And when Hogan took over, at first, I was cautiously optimistic. Martha Madison impressed me with her scenes in the hospital when Belle found out her baby had been aborted to save her life. Brandon Beemer seemed a promising Shawn at first. I had to admire how eerily he resembled his onscreen mother, Hope, even down to also being left-handed. And Madison and Beemer had a low-key chemistry that I thought boded well for the future. Yes, Willow was a plot contrivance, but I was encouraged by Belle’s talk about taking control of her own life. She seemed stronger, less whiny. Shawn seemed to be going off the deep end, but I hoped it was in the service of shading the character a little and perhaps making him less judgmental. My only reservation was that the two characters had no internal distance between them, conflict that could be mined for storyline possibilities. Still, I thought I could enjoy them on a “B” couple level.
I can only shake my head at such naive optimism. The promising chemistry I thought I saw turned out to be lukewarm at best. Belle’s nods toward independence were illusory. Shawn retained all his judgmentalism (except when it came to Princess Belle) and became dumber than a post besides. Madison continued to shine in dramatic moments, but the show seemed determined not to play to those strengths. Beemer had one expression and one tone of voice. They were two cardboard characters who yet were the fulcrum that the entire mid-20’s set revolved around.
Blah, blah, blah.
Now they are gone. I still can’t quite take it in. I’m not sure what the show had in mind with the sendoff they got. Let’s go sailing around the world! Nursing school? Police Academy? Source of income? Who cares! If they were determined to make sure we had no regrets about losing them, they succeeded. Shelle as a pale imitation of Bope? Check, let’s give a cheap knockoff of Bo and Hope’s sendoff in 1987—on a boat named the Fancy Face IV, no less. Shelle as incompetent losers who can never shift a finger for themselves, while everyone else in the cast falls over themselves paving the way for them? Sure, let’s have John give them a boat. This, however, at least gave me a laugh, when Belle wanted to accept the boat and Shawn didn’t. When she said, “This isn’t about trust … ” I wanted her to say it’s about getting a huge fucking boat for free! But no, “it’s about love.” Groan.
I’ll miss Claire, though. I take back everything I said about her acting. But probably it’s best this way. With the recent reveal of John’s identity as Colleen and Santo’s love child, Clarie is now a mixture of Horton, Brady, Dimera, and Kiriakis blood. She is a genetic dead end in Salem.
Though I guess there is always Max.