The Other Siblings

Previous Jack and Jennifer post: The key kiss

Unlike Jack with Steve or Steve with Adrienne, there is no consistent through line that develops the relationship for the other Johnson sibling pair—at least not one that I can trace. Anyone else find this to be a pity?

Adrienne first found out that Jack was Billy at around the same time he did, and her reaction was to eagerly embrace the relationship. You would think that Adrienne the rape victim would feel some qualms about welcoming a rapist into the family, but she does not. I can (just) understand Jo overlooking Jack’s past misdeeds. But Adrienne?

After that, the show seemed to use the relationship in whatever way was convenient for what they were trying to do at the time. And because Jack and Adrienne’s scenes together are so infrequent, there isn’t much consistency. I don’t want to exaggerate: other than Adrienne’s initial reaction, their scenes don’t come off as inappropriate or wrong, but I think an opportunity was missed. The show already has Jo as Jack’s cheerleader, they don’t need Adrienne for that. And Steve, of course, has his own thicket of dysfunction regarding his little baby brother Billy and the grown-up Jack. Adrienne could have been more neutral, more objective, a middle ground between the other two. She could have tried to temper Jo’s headlong rush to forgive Jack anything when he was still at his worst, and also encourage Steve to give Jack a chance when he starts to change for the better. Also, I can imagine Adrienne representing for Jack, in a concrete, inescapable way, everything that Duke was and that Jack fears he could be.

But, for all that, they have some good individual scene together. This first scene takes place back in 1989, when Jack was still a pretty bad guy. It is part of a mini-arc involving Alexander’s birth (Anjelica’s son), and the reveal that Justin is his father. This is a lovely example of using the same incident in different ways, affecting multiple characters and storylines. Jack has been determinedly avoiding all things Johnson, and with his father in prison, that means Anjelica is the only family he has left. Jack is excited, almost too much so, about his new stepbrother—which reveals to the audience Jack’s essential loneliness. Jo and Steve both register this excitement, at different times, and are hurt by it. I just love the irony of Jack hurting his family, because of his longing for a family.

Adrienne, however, is more upset by Jack’s relationship with Anjelica, when it comes out that Justin is the father of the baby:

Adrienne and Jack

(I included, as a bonus, Jack’s scene with Jo beforehand—one of the only times she is less than effusively supportive with him. The best moment here is Jo’s obvious surprise when Jack asks her if Dr. Curtis is okay. “Are you okay?” she replies. She thinks he must not be feeling well, to actually ask her about something in her life!)

When Adrienne says that she’d like to believe Jack has a heart, for her mother’s sake (but from her tone, clearly not believing it), it is the kind of skepticism I’d have liked Adrienne to feel all along. I also love the moment when she mutters to herself that the fact that Anjelica raised Jack should be enough of a lesson for Justin regarding her parenting skills. Jack’s “ouch” shows Adrienne hit a nerve—which might surprise Jack as much as anyone, that he cares what she thinks of him. Maybe the Johnsons matter to him more than he thought.

And now fast-forwarding back to where I am in 1990, here’s another good Jack/Adrienne scene:

Adrienne defends Jack

Adrienne’s passionate defense of Jack comes a little bit out of the blue, but it’s still pretty great. It fits with Adrienne’s character in general, and it’s nice to see after all the skepticism Jack is getting from Steve. Plus, having Roman there as the voice of doubt and skepticism helps to balance things out, to keep this from feeling like character propping. My favorite part of the scene is Jack’s expression in the background, as Adrienne calls him “my brother” and says she believes him and argues that Roman should give him a chance. It is clearly a novelty for him to have anyone spring to his defense, and he is very surprised, even thrilled. I also love his look as he’s hugging Adrienne afterward, like he can’t believe this is happening. Adrienne and Jack’s relationship may not be consistent, but Jack’s redemption is—and a year later, this whole family thing is still new to him.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Smokescreens

9 thoughts on “The Other Siblings

  1. I always thought Jack and Adrienne’s relationship was rather scattershot myself. I remember being shocked at how accepting Adrienne was when she found out Jack was Billy. I would have expected/preferred at least a little bit of hesitation about her brother being a rapist. In fact, I think it could have been a really good character arc for Adrienne to be torn about the whole thing.

    I think it would have been far different than Steve or Jo. Steve was never really torn. He would have accepted Jack early on if Jack had made any kind of effort or shown any desire to make peace. It wasn’t until Jack had truly burned his bridges with his continued harassment of Steve and Kayla that Steve really wrote him off (ironically, just as Jack was deciding he might not want to be written off). And, of course, Jo never comes close to writing Jack off no matter what.

    So, I would have love to have seen Adrienne actually initially reject the idea of Jack as her brother. When Jack snarked about not wanting to be part of the Johnson family, she could have snarked right back without feeling the hurt that Steve and Jo did. After all, she didn’t have the memories of Billy that they did anyway. It would have been interesting to have her be the one doing rejecting — that being Jack Deveraux’s sister was not some great gift.

    Then they could have worked their way into a sibling relationship from there. It would have been a long process like Steve/Jack, but also very different, I think.

  2. I think Adrienne knew how much her mother regretted giving Steve and Jack up and how much she loved them that she loved them too even though she didn’t know them. I think Adrienne had hoped to have Jack part of the family but I don’t remember her going all out to do that or anything. I think if Jack wanted to part of her family then it was up to him. I think if he was sincere that she would give him a chance. If he didn’t want to be a part of it then she accepted that too.

    I don’t think she was blind to who he had become when he was bad but because she really didn’t know him then she was open to giving him a chance.


  3. I actually think one of the best moments in “other sibling” dynamics was when Jack brought Earl to Jo’s birthday party. It emphasized how divided he was from his family — he didn’t even know what his father looked like, he didn’t think about the impact his “surprise” would have on anyone but Steve. But when he realized what he had done, especially to Adrienne, he really was ashamed of himself. So it also sort of lead to him making an effort to reconcile with the family he really didn’t know much about. It made the event much more than Jack’s usual random mischief-making.

    On another note, I’ve been getting caught up on my DVDs, and I feel like the saga of Kayla’s kidnapping by Kiriakis may go on forever. They’re all about to meet down in Miami and Steve’s got the key. Am I anywhere near the end? (Though, now I come to think of it, we go almost straight from this story to Kayla in jail and Stephanie’s kidnapping. That’s a lot of suffering!) I’m just trying to hang in there for a few happy moments. Frankly, Jack and Jennifer have been the only joy out there and now they’ve taken a turn for the worse. Tell me there’s a few moments of joy ahead of me…

  4. There’s a few moments of joy ahead for you, Flaco, but very few. The kidnapping story does get resolved in Miami, so you’re not too far from that. After that they have a couple of happy episodes, and then Kayla gets the tape in the mail of the recording of her and Marina the night she died, and it pretty much goes downhill from there. It is pretty hard to take.

    I agree about the Earl stuff—I would have liked to have seen some follow up to that for Jack and Adrienne. Another perfect time to show some distance, and then working their way back together.

    Esp, I love the idea of Adrienne starting out totally rejecting the idea of Jack as her brother. It would have been a great contrast to Jo and even Steve back then. They seemed to be trying to use Adrienne’s siding with Jack as a way of creating a little extra angst for Steve, but I don’t think it worked.

    Mary, you make an interesting point that maybe Adrienne was just responding to what Jack wanted, and going back and forth based on that. I’ll have to think about that a little more.

  5. Excellent points, all. Comparing how the writers built up Adrienne’s relationship with Steve and how they dealt with her reaction to Jack, you can really see the difference in quality. In general, it just seemed like Adrienne loved Jo and Steve so much that she wanted their fantasy of an intact family with “Billy” to come true. Thus, she was willing to help achieve that goal if Jack seemed willing.

    That said, I agree, MP, Jack and Adrienne did have some valuable scenes (when it suited the storyline). I like Flaco’s reminder of the Earl debacle. Another element I recall from that episode was when Steve yelled that Jack had freaked out “my sister,” NOT “our sister,” emphasizing that Jack did not behave like a brother to Adrienne. Then that heartbreaking look Adrienne gave Jack, asking, “How could you?” It was like Jack finally opened his eyes and realized he had a sister to consider. The bratty little brother was no longer the baby of the family and needed to think about little sis.

    There are some more good scenes between Jack and Adrienne coming up in 1990, but you are right, overall it was a lost opportunity.

  6. Good points everyone. I have always felt that one reason the Johnson family interactions were uneven was because the show always felt (at least during this time period) that the Horton and Brady families were the center of the show. However, for me, the dynamics between members of the Johnson family were always so much more interesting than the other families. Since they were never a dominant family on Days, only a few of all the potential (many of which you have mentioned here) story lines were fleshed out and made sense. For me, I never bonded with the Kiriakis and Brady families and so their story lines never interested me as did the Johnson family. Once most of the characters left the show, so did I.

  7. While I love all the comments and agree with them, I must step outside the thread and make a totally ridiculous comment. In the second video – was Roman the original conehead or what? I couldn’t wait for him to take off that cap!

    Sorry, now back to the original discussion. Thanks for your patience.

  8. Kathleen, hee! That cap is indeed ugly. He looks so serious when he walks in with that thing, too. So funny.

    smflan, you’re right that the Johnsons never reached the iconic status of either the Bradys or the Hortons. To me that’s a plus, because it means their relationships didn’t get diluted and scattered from too many different writers and crazy storylines. In the 80’s, the Bradys were still a pretty new family and felt more like a cohesive family unit, but by now (meaning 2009 Days, not where I am on the DVDs!) they are so all over the place that they’ve lost a lot of that.

    Great point about Steve’s line “my sister” during Earl fallout, Melaraus. I think the Earl mini-arc would have been a great opportunity to backtrack for Jack and Adrienne, and start over again with the two of them. Like you say, it was a point for Jack to start considering “little sister.” Adrienne holding a grudge for awhile would also have been a way to reinforce the “bad blood” theme for Jack, which becomes so important later.

  9. That cap on Roman! It held a certain horrid fascination for me. I kept trying to understand why they would have him wear the damn thing. Was he supposed to look like a dork? Or did someone actually think it looked good? That’s not possible, is it? The sad thing was I remember Roman had a rather nice, tight fitting knit cap once upon a time. Did he lose it in Stockholm or something? His jacket with the wing flaps was also pretty bad. All in all, he was going through some kind of fashion meltdown in those scenes. Probably the strain of mislaying one too many blond inamoratas.

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