Previous Jack and Jennifer post: How far would you go?

Jennifer has just decided to press charges against Lawrence, to take a step to fight back and not feel like a victim, to move forward from the rape. Here, she finds out it’s not going to be that simple:

Jen talks to Jack about Lawrence

It starts with a kiss, a kiss that Jennifer enjoys, but also one that makes her realize she isn’t ready to sleep with Jack – which in turn reminds her that she isn’t healed, things aren’t “fixed.”

And in one of the best speeches she gets during this story, she wryly refers to herself as “Pollyanna,” so sure that everything is going to magically work out. If just forgets about it and moves on, everything will be fine. If she tells Jack, everything will be fine. If she presses charges, then everything will be fine.

Everything is not fine, and it shakes her worldview, even her sense of self. How does Jennifer reclaim her optimism and faith now that she has lost her naivete? This is what I wish the show had explored more.

I love Jack in this scene. I like how careful he is not to push anything physical, how afraid he obviously is to make the wrong move. And it’s such a great role reversal to hear him trying to find his optimistic side, to play the role for her that she usually plays for him. And what he comes up with, the phrase “contra mundum” — us against the world — is so perfectly Jack. Indirect, quirky, obscure — and yet sincere.

Next Jack and Jennifer post: Jack tells Kayla

24 thoughts on “Pollyanna

  1. Maybe it’s just me,but I felt at the time (and still do) that the rape of Jennifer was more about Laurence(Non-mustache-villian) & redemption of Jack(Have Jo push Kayla to sit,hold hands during grace with her rapist *gagging, rolling my eyes *yeah,normal interaction at the dinner table) then the actual person that that horrific crime was committed against. The recovery of her sense of self,reclaiming her sexuality, any growing,learning and going forward.

    • It’s definitely not just you. I agree that it’s a problem with this storyline – which the show should have been aware of and been very careful to avoid by giving us more scenes like this one.

      I’m torn about it. There is some fantastic stuff in this story that I would hate to lose (like what is coming up next), but sometimes I wish they hadn’t done it.

      And oh, yes, Jo. Always consistently clueless where Jack is concerned. So oblivious to how Kayla must feel, how Steve must feel. The most painful one for me was when Jack was still really evil, before he knew he was Billy, he offered Jo a ride home in his limo from the hospital. He was doing it partly to lash out at Steve and Kayla, and she still went! I was so angry at her then. But, it was good drama.πŸ™‚

  2. All the things about the story that they got wrong (and many have commented on this) you kind of have to give up to the Soap God’s to appreciate which is yes more about Jack’s redemption then Jennifer’s ordeal.

    However, I do really love Jack during this whole story line. He is still so vulnerable and worried about doing the right thing for Jennifer. His comment about “I want to prove….” and then he gets tongue tied of course, just shows how he really doesn’t know what to do, but wants to much to do the right thing for Jenn. Which of course makes you like Jack more.

    Jennifer’s line about Jack being afraid to be happy because he doesn’t think he deserves it and is afraid that it will be taken away from him is of course spot on and what makes him agree to go to counseling (does he ever go with her?)

    • I really like Jack in this story too. I like how they don’t make it easy on him, and that it’s difficult for him to step up. The Jen side gets a bit better after this too, after she’s decided to prosecute Lawrence.

      He does go with her to a therapy session, but he runs away. I haven’t seen him go back yet – I’m in the middle of the trial now.

  3. As much as I loved the show at the time, and look back on these as the golden years, the show used rape storylines way too frequently and way too casually. And, yes, rather than being about the character and her recovery, it was treated more like just another obstacle to the progress of the supercouple romance. In Kayla’s case, it also rippled out through the Johnson family, leading to those awkward family dinners. But really, yuck. I can’t remember how Adrienne’s rape played out after it was revealed, or whether it was an issue as she got increasingly intimate with Justin. In any case, way too much rape going on.

    On the other hand, since it was part of their history, I did appreciate that they brought it all back up a few months ago when JJ discovered what Jack had done. It was a great opportunity to see how Kayla, Jennifer, and Adrienne felt all these years later.

    Watching this clip, I was reminded that Jennifer lived in the loft at that time. (I loved the loft!) But talk about the elephant in the living room … If I remember correctly, Jack raped Kayla in that very room, although it was a different sofa. Please tell me I’m wrong. Because again, ick.

    • Sorry, you’re not wrong. Jack did rape Kayla at the loft. I think Jack ended up owning this building or something – I’m forgetting the details. But way back during the baby Hannah story he gets Jen this place to live in so they can pose as a married couple to try to adopt the baby. It never made any sense at all that Jack would do that (because, like you say, ick), but I guess you have to use those sets.

      I’m not a fan of rape storylines in general, and maybe they did go back to that well too often, but I give Days credit for this. I don’t think they did it more than once for any female character, and there are a few — a very few! — that never got this story at all. That might not sound like restraint, but when you consider the years and years of airtime the show has to fill, and the inherent drama in a rape story, I think it is. And they used to do them pretty well for the most part. Kayla’s rape and Adrienne’s rape still stand up as being particularly good IMO.

      That said, I think Days should never do rape stories now. They don’t have the attention span to show the trauma and recovery, and it comes off as cheap drama. I won’t even get into EJ’s rape of Sami, but in the past couple years they did a male rape (back)story for Nick, that was basically to give him a pass for his homophobia and then never mentioned again.

      And I just watched Kristen’s rape of Eric, and that was good wrenching drama in a lot of ways, but the trauma for Eric came more in thinking it was Nicole than being raped. I’m not convinced that the show thinks that this qualifies as “really” being raped — since Eric is a man and Kristen a woman — which is offensive on many levels. Anyway, I like to think that it played into how hateful he became toward Nicole later, because it was sex (the rape by Kirsten) that got him kicked out of the priesthood and also sex (his lust for Nicole) that kept him from being able to go back even after his name was cleared. But, the show never made that explicit so I guess I’m fanwanking.

      • Fanwanking is essential IMO. πŸ™‚ I like your theory. Although I have to point out that, when he made love with Nicole before learning about her destroying the evidence, they didn’t show any hesitation or discomfort about it. Or maybe that’s part of why he wanted to wait until marriage? (Who’s fanwanking now?). I hadn’t thought about the fact that there were two men raped in the last year or two….

        I suppose that rape is a reasonable storyline for a soap, given that it happens to so many women and is a fear shared by, I believe, most of us.

        I think I have some lingering bitterness about Jack raping Kayla, partly because I was too young to understand how soaps work, but mostly because I really liked the character of Jack, and when they recast him as Matthew Ashford, I liked him even more, and then almost immediately, BAM! And geez, who would want anything bad to happen to Kayla? Or Jennifer, for that matter. (Or others, but those are my faves.)

        Is Hope one of the characters who was never raped?

      • Eric does have some hesitation – he tells her he wants to follow the church’s teaching on it. But, like you say, when they actually have sex there is no sense of trauma or sense that it’s difficult for him. I was thinking more that he would feel sex screwed up his life twice – first when Kristen’s actions got him kicked out of the church. The Nicole part is more complicated, but I was thinking that he might feel he compromised his principles for her (when he slept with her, when he got involved with someone who he couldn’t marry in the church) and then she betrayed him. Then, even when he tried to go back to the church, he couldn’t because he was still lusting after her and hating her for it. I thought the earlier sexual betrayal by Kristen might subconsciously play into his over-the-top reaction to Nicole.

        Ah, fanwanking.πŸ™‚

        I kind of love Kayla’s rape story now, in the way it fits into the whole Kayla/Jack/Steve triangle storyline. But at the time I had some of the same feelings as you. I was really invested in Jack as a character when he was Jack #1, and the idea that he was Billy. I hated how the two recasts and the rape killed the character for me. It took me a long time to appreciate Matt Ashford. But now he’s one of my favorite characters.

        Oh, and yes, I think so – someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Hope has never been raped.

  4. Yes it is the same loft – I know makes no sense that Jack would move Jennifer into the loft he shared with Kayla and then raped her in. UGH and ICK.

    But I have to admit when I was younger watching this I sooooo wanted to live in a loft like that. Romantic rooftop dinners? check. An escape ladder for sneaking in or sneaking out check? Cool spiral staircase? Check. Very Cool sliding door? Check and room for a roommate? Check!!

    What more could you want in an apartment, I mean loft, even has a cooler sounding name.

    I think the show handled the trauma of rape pretty well, but yes used it as an obstacle and then once the couple was back together were done with it. I never felt that they delved into the becoming intimate again after the rape. With both Jenn and Kayla I know they both waited a bit but once they were finally intimate after the rape it was not made into a big deal of how it was the first time after the rape that they had sex. I always kind of felt like that would have been a good story to use the intimacy/sex for the first time after the rape into a bigger deal.

    Jennifer for one made it a point of wanting to wait until they were married to have sex and then on their wedding night it was never mentioned that this was their first time in a long time.

    The writing just made it a big deal to keep the couples apart


    • Oh my gosh, I know! I wasn’t watching back when the loft belonged to Bo and Hope (I think?) so I really associated it with Kayla and then with both S&K. They even had a “goodbye to the loft” ep, where S&K made love on the roof one last time. It was a very cool set!

      And yes, I wanted more coverage of the intimacy issues. It seems like that would have been an interesting thing — for one of the couples to have some continuing sexual issues after they did make love again, instead of being all better. Maybe that would have been too clinical or depressing. Jennifer’s rape story seemed to include the most long-lasting repercussions (as in the video above) and it certainly became a powerful story when Jack interpreted that as being about his past. And now that you mention it, I remember Kayla pulling away from Steve at first, up at the cabin, so maybe I’m being a little unfair. I haven’t wanted to re-watch the key parts of those stories, so Marypickford and you probably remember better than I do.πŸ™‚

      • They did a pretty good job with that for Kayla, I think partly due to SN and MBE. They showed her pulling away at the cabin, as you remember. Then they showed they were sleeping apart for several months. Then there’s one scene I’m remembering where she’s saying goodnight and looking at him longingly, but she goes upstairs alone.

        Then there a couple more scenes that show them getting closer physically before she finally takes the plunge. One that cracks me up a bit is she comes in while he’s lifting weights (sexual frustration?) and gets this look in her eye and goes over to touch him. It’s not long after that they sleep together, and they show him being very sweet and asking if she’s sure.

  5. My first time commenting as I only recently discovered your blog. Let me say that I love your insights and analysis so don’t be surprised if I read and comment on some of your older posts.

    I will need to rewatch this storyline to refresh my memory since I was about 17 at the time this story aired but I remember feeling that both Jennifer the character and Melissa the actress were in over their heads. I think that is why I felt the storyline was more about Jack than Jen, because we could see the angst and tormoil his character was going through a lot better than we could see it from her.

    Even in this scene where she clearly indicated her world view is shattered….I want to see a real reaction to that realization and not just a statement that she realized it. Maybe it is a shortfall of the writing but I always wanted more from Jennifer.

    • Hi, Shea, thanks for chiming in. Feel free to comment on older posts as well – I love that.

      There is something in what you say. This is a demanding storyline with a strange line to walk – Jen still loving Jack the rapist while she deals with being raped. I think MR is a good, capable actress but I think she has one kind of major limitation – major at least for a story like this – she really only plays what’s on the page. So the throughline of Jen’s recovery isn’t really there. Plus even when Jack brings up Kayla and his rape of her, she never does any kind of reaction shot. It could be she genuinely didn’t know how to play it.

      But I do fault the writing too. Veering to comedy and then back to angst was fine in their early story but not this one. Having her say contradictory things, and sometimes just flat out prop Jack in a really annoying way.

  6. Has there been a more physically awkward supercouple than this one? Before she was raped, Jennifer was always the sexual aggressor in the relationship. It’s interesting how removing that dynamic creates these gaping physical spaces between them. Even when they end up kissing, she has to walk away and turn her back on him. And it’s pretty rare that he instinctively reaches out to give her a hug–she always has to ask.

    I love your comment about him finding his optimistic side. When she says that the odds aren’t good, he replies that “they aren’t bad either, they’re ok.” For Jack, that’s wildly optimistic.

    • Ha ha, I never thought about it that way, that they are the most physically awkward supercouple. It’s true though. I do recall that in some soap poll or other back in the 90s J&J won both Favorite Couple and Worst Kissers. Hee!

      • If I recall correctly, MA said at the time that he found really passionate kissing for a role kind of tawdry, so Jack comes across a little stilted in the kissing department. I don’t think Mellissa shared that feeling, but it added up to kisses that didn’t rock my world. The rest of the physical awkwardness may have come from MA playing Jack’s feelings of unworthiness and hesitation AND his attempts to make Jack comical. I think the island cave scenes were the exception, but yeah, they were an extreme contrast to SN & MBE’s comfortable physical affection. (I loved both couples, though.)

      • That’s interesting about MA. His awkwardness fits with the character, so it all works. I think their banter and wordplay is how they do foreplay, lol.

  7. It’s funny but since MA was the third Jack I try to imagine how this storyline and these scenes may have been different if Jack #1 were still around. (I ignore Jack #2 since he was just a wooden puppet and not a real boy.) Jack #1 certainly didn’t have the awkwardness or the comedic touches of MA but his Jack hadn’t been through all this turmoil. The type of chemistry MA and MR have is certainly in their banter and their comedy because it doesn’t come through in the intimate scenes…at least not to me.

    And just for the record I always found Kim and Shane to be a bit awkward in their kissing and love scenes too. Now PP and CS have tons of chemistry but I always felt it more intensely when they played all of the emotional scenes and when they argued more than I did when they were making up and making out.

    Steve and Kayla were the gold standard in my book because the chemistry and connection of SN and MBE come through regardless of the type of scene they are playing. I have been re-watching the BradyClanFan playlists on Youtube and I remember someone mentioning how awkward scenes with Steve and Jennifer always seemed to be. It’s funny because they didn’t have many scenes together but their characters just didn’t seem at ease with each other. Maybe it had something to do with Steve trying to give Frankie love advise back in the day when we all know he was still trying to figure it out for himself and Kayla.

    • Bless you, Shea, I didn’t think anyone else in world gave any thought to Jack #1 anymore. I kind of love the guy. But, I have actually never thought of how he would be with Missy. I just think of him longingly through Kayla’s marriage to Jack, how much better it would be with him instead of Jack #2 (who I agree is not a real boy – heh). I enjoy him so much as the perfect foil for Steve when he first comes on.

      There’s a scene where Jen interviews Jack #1 for her school paper. That’s fun to watch knowing what will happen later.

      Big surprise, I agree on S&K.πŸ™‚ I love them in all kinds of scenes and I really think they can do it all.

  8. Shea love your comments – (not a real boy, is perfect)

    I always found MR sort of lacking on the big emotional scenes (with the exception of the rape slap scene which she did perfect) and I don’t think she has the range of some of the other actresses. I think the banter and frustration/cutesy scenes of her and Jack was definitely her strong suit.

    The only reason the awkwardness and bad (IE not so passionate kissing, with the exception of the “I believe in you kiss”) worked for me was because Jack was so bad at showing his emotions could you really see him just letting go? Just wasn’t his style he was always so bottled up.

    • I agree the bantery scenes are where MR shines. I do think she does drama well too, but really complex emotional scenes where there are lots of mixed emotions and layers are not her best type of scene.

      And for the record I actually like JnJ kisses.πŸ™‚

  9. First time commenter hereπŸ™‚ .

    I just found your blog – While discovering J&J first run – And I really enjoying reading yours (And the other commenters) insights.

    I’m not sure Jennifer’s rape storyline was supposed to be more about Jack.
    I think it has to do with MR and MA different acting styles, choices and their dynamic.

    One thing I noticed early on – that unlike with Steve, Joe, Harper or actually Anyone before : Around Jen – Jack never stand still.

    He is always moving, constantly changing his place, posture and when he can’t – even his expression. He just never at rest – which make his quiet moments more powerful.
    Jack keeps dancing around Jen who just the same, near him – is more physically reserved.

    Given your observation – that MR basing her performance mostly on the script alone – and after reading some interviews – Matt clearly uses research and head canons – I think in most of their emotional joint scenes MA do the heavy lifting and kind of steals the focus.

    ( Except for the “Rape Slap” scene – which I think Missy performance was heartbreaking and amazing)

    For example, after the slap, when Jen visit Jack in his office, and he takes the engagement ring back – While MR giving one effective desperate intense expression – So much is going on on MA face – you really can imagine Jack different thoughts and feelings.

    I think the writers were very aware of their differences – And it contributed to the shifting through Jack POV during this story – as can be seen especially in the big revelation scene.

    • Hi dafi! Thanks for the comment!πŸ™‚ I think you might be right about the writers being aware of their differences and writing accordingly.

      Good point about Jack always moving around Jen. He really does act differently around her than anyone else. I don’t like the more silly physical comedy but I do love when MA and MR play off of each other physically. I’m remembering a scene where they broke in to someone’s apartment and they are searching it, and they just keep weaving in and out of each other’s space, walking up on the couch at one point — it’s like a ballet. I also like when they play off of the different in their heights, like when Jack picks Jennifer up. They really worked I think to create something truly unique.

      I think MA did tend to do the heavy lifting in their emotional scenes and that is usually fine, since he is the character with all the issues. But in Jen’s rape story it doesn’t work as well. I agree it wasn’t intended to be more about Jack, that’s just how it played out. And I’m not complaining about the Jack stuff because I love it. But I want more balance, and I think the writing and MR are both at fault. MR could definitely bring it in scenes like the rape slap — it just wasn’t consistent and that hurt the story.

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