Hello, Jack and Jennifer fans! I have been watching their story and blogging about it since this very first post. I thought people might enjoy the chance to read this analysis in order. I’ve linked all my Jack and Jennifer posts together, starting with this one. At the end of each post, just click the link to the next post. I know some of the videos are dead links – my YouTube channel was deleted. I am slowly reuploading all the clips to my Google+ account. It’s private, but I’m happy to add you to my circle. Just click over there to my channel and leave a comment there, and I’ll add you!)
After Steve and Kayla, Jack and Jennifer are the couple I like most. I am looking forward to revisiting their love story, for two reasons. One is that I missed a lot of it the first time around, because I wasn’t watching Days regularly. And the other is—as I’ve mentioned before—I had some “couple envy” resentment the first time around that colored my reaction to them. Let’s hope I’m more mature now.
I’m no expert on Jack and Jennifer, but I always hear that they were not a planned couple. I think you can see that clearly from their first meeting, when Jennifer, the young journalism student, comes to pitch a story to Diana and runs into Jack instead. This could be a chemistry test, but I am inclined to think it was standard cast mixing:
First of all, Jennifer is very young. Days didn’t have much of a teen set back then, but Jennifer was definitely a part of it. She graduated from high school in 1988, and this scene is from early 1989. At this point in history they were testing her out with Emilio—who was in high school himself—in a story that was just getting going. More than that, Jennifer just seems like a kid in this scene, compared to Jack. (Insert inevitable Chan comparison here.)
And let’s not forget how truly Jack was the villain at this time. He was a corrupt politician and a toxic waste dumper, a blackmailer and an arrogant jerk. And a rapist. Given his history, his suggestive remark about “anything blonde and under 30” is extraordinarily creepy, and it casts a pall over the rest of the scene. I think the way Melissa Reeves plays Jennifer’s discomfort is meant to call the rape to mind. Knowing they will be a supercouple later makes it easy to miss that.
(I wouldn’t blame shippers for not seeing it. After all, I know for a fact that some Steve and Kayla shippers think “their love was obvious from the start.” Um, yeah. Nothing says love like stalking.)
At the same time, though, the chemistry really is there, right away. Melissa Reeves, nothing special before, really upped her game opposite Matt Ashford, and you can see that here even in this first scene. I love the way she stands up to his condescension about human interest stories like this one, and in the end she gets him to admit that sentimentality sells. The famous J&J banter is there, too, when she mentions “Journalism 101” and then he throws it back at her later. Matt Ashford had a way of showing, with a half smile or just a slight glimmer in his eye, Jack’s respect for anyone who stood up to him. He did it occasionally when Steve outsmarted him (before the truth about his identity came out), and he does it with Diana when they wrangle over the paper. And he does it here.