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Monday, May 27, 2013

A Little Rivalry Never Hurt Anyone: My thoughts on One Life to Live so far

If I had to choose one word to describe One Life to Live 2.0 it would be “rivalry."  We have Vicki versus Dorian, Todd versus Victor, Matthew versus Destiny, The Banner versus technology, etc.  While soap rivalries are always fun, there seems to be a little too much on the canvas right now for my taste.  Everyone and everything is clashing with each other.  These conflicts have been given so much importances that they appear to trump any emotional payoff that the audience may desire.

The misstep with Victor’s reveal has been critiqued a lot already but I really can’t talk about lack of emotional payoff without discussing it.  It was a mess.  After over a year of waiting for this story to conclude, fans were treated to lackluster performances and unanswered questions.  This was the story line that had everyone watching One Life to Live during it’s final year on ABC and yet it has completely fallen flat on the online version.  The Two Todds story line itself is ridiculous and it has always been yet fans cared about it because of the emotional connections we were given.  That is what made the story good and the lack of it has made the story a miserable failure.  The end result was a bunch of plot holes and slow moving story.  I’m not sure I care if we ever find out what happened to Victor now.  If this plot was just dropped I would be fine with it.

I really enjoyed the moments we got in Thursday’s episode and hope that this was the beginning of seeing more of the stories that appeal to me.  I liked seeing Todd and Blair work together as parents of a troubled teenager back in 2011.  It seems that story may be picked up again and it should be.  One Life to Live needs more of families working together instead of against each other.

I am enjoying roommates Dani, Jeffrey, and Matthew.  The actors are all very likable and play well with each other.  I’m enjoying Dani as the the troubled lost girl type and hope that gets explored.  I want to know more about her.  What was her major in college?  Is she artistic, athletic, or bookish?  What are her desires other than drinking and ogling a shirtless Matthew?  The answer to these questions would be a nice journey for the audience to go on.  And can we get her a job at the coffee shop a la Rachel from Friends?

Jeffrey is by far the best new addition to the show.  Corban Bleu is talented, charismatic, and handsome.  The three most important qualities a soap star should possess.  He is adding class to the younger set and holding his own with the veteran actors.  I’m very interested in learning more about his character.  I think he can be the show’s next leading man.  He manages to be a good guy without being boring.  He just needs the perfect leading lady.

As for Matthew, I’m not quite sure what my thoughts are on him yet.  I like the actor but the character is spoiled, clueless, and a deadbeat.  While unfortunately there are young men like this in real life, I don’t want to see them on my soap opera.  I don’t want to root for him or even understand where he is coming from.  More One Life to Live did hint at some interesting upcoming stuff for the character so hopefully I will change my mind.

I would have enjoyed seeing Matthew and Destiny struggling together as young parents as oppose to just Destiny as a single parent.  Their arguments could have been more about trying to work with each other’s schedules to take care of their son, how they wanted to raise him, whose going to take time off work to take him to the doctor, etc.  Instead Drew seems to be a unwanted burden on both his parents.  Although Destiny is suppose to be the victim in this story line, I think the real victim is Drew.

One Life to Live does have a pretty good single mother story line with Natalie.  We get to see her at work, trying to have a social life, picking up the dry-cleaning, grabbing a cup of coffee, cautiously starting to date after a broken heart, and pining for her son’s father.  These are all very relatable things for many viewers.  I wasn’t a big Natalie fan when One Life to Live was on television but the online version of this character is smart, sexy, and independent.  My only complaint is that we are not getting enough of her.  I want her to get together with bad boy Cutter and then have to struggle with her decision if John ever comes back to town.

It is nice to see Dorian and Vicki’s rivalry reignited.  Dorian’s oust from the Senate and decision to lash out to Vicki seem very in character for her.  It’s nice to see Dorian being a jerk.  I am also intrigued on what the fallout from her revenge will look like.  Vicki’s struggles with her family’s dying business are realistic and I’m glad that this story is being told.

Although One Life to Live has always been a darker soap (the original title was Between Heaven and Hell), it's lacking some of the humor and light elements it needs for balance.  David’s reality show is cute, Todd still gets some delightfully snarky lines, and Bo and Nora make lovely empty-nesters but the fact that the majority of the characters seem to be making war instead of love can be too much of a downer.  At least we are getting plenty of Todd and Vicki scenes to give the show some heart.

The online version of One Life to Live was suppose to be edgier and sexier.  The first episode teased at this but so far the show hasn’t delivered.  Cursing isn’t edgy.  Dani’s drug problem seems a little forgotten.  The Two Todds story line is uneven.  The seediness of Shelter just makes Blair look like a bad business woman (I’d rather it be more of a place for characters to meet and interact like Roadies was in the 1990’s).  The one love scene between Victor and Tea was really just Florenca Lozano in her underwear.  Todd and Blair are being promoted as a couple in the opening and the show’s social media but not much has happened for the former lovers.

I love the characters and the first weeks of One Life to Live have felt like they have been a lot about the characters.  This isn’t a bad thing because these are some of the greatest characters in soaps.  I do want good stories though to go along with these characters.  Right now it seems like the stories are slowly beginning.  I’m hoping that the new writers will be able to effectively speed things up and still have the characters drive the story.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for the denizens of Llanview, PA.  I know I’ll be watching.

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