Sunday, April 29, 2012

Parenting on soaps is a tricky proposition

Let’s face it, most parents on soaps are deadbeats when juxtaposed against the real world.

Soap kids disappear for days and weeks at a time – and, in the case of very special soap children, they go up in the attic as five-year-olds and come back down as 16-year-olds in a span of three weeks or so.\

There’s a reason why the vast majority of soap kids are aged rapidly – soaps and kids generally don’t mix.

Notice I said generally. There are some very specific cases where soap stories built around children did work – usually on ‘General Hospital’ for some reason – but those instances are the exception rather than the norm.

This week, Kristina Wagner’s Felicia returned to stand by her daughter – who is about to be sentenced for a murder she didn’t commit.
Felicia should be inducted into the Bad Soap Parents Hall of Fame – behind only the errant father of her offspring Frisco Jones.

Several years ago, in the wake of lagging airtime, Wagner opted to leave ‘General Hospital.’ At the time, the role was recast for a short while – but the recast didn’t work for fans – and the character was written off.

Problem was, her two teenage daughters weren’t. Instead they stayed with their stepfather – who raised three different girls who were essentially abandoned by their biological parents.

Now, this is a soap, you learn to suspend your disbelief, but as viewers we know that Felicia was a good mother when she was onscreen (especially by soap standards). Her abandoning her children didn’t make a lot of sense. On the flip side, Frisco was never a good father so his abandoning his children makes perfect sense.

When you compare that with Anna and Robert on ‘General Hospital’ – who also essentially abandoned their daughter – things become murkier. At least Robert and Anna had no choice (at least at first). Their excuse for leaving her to fend for herself in recent years is a whole other story, though.

So why do soaps keep saddling their characters with kids that they just ignore?

That’ a question I’ve asked myself for years. Take GH’s Liz. She was a young woman saddled with three different kids (by three different fathers) a little over a year ago. The character never had a chance to have any fun. Every time actress Rebecca Herbst got pregnant in real life they made Liz pop a kid out (and each time there was a paternity scandal).

I want to assure the writers of GH, as a fan, I’m more than willing to pretend the actress isn’t plumping up if it means I don’t get saddled with another who’s the daddy storyline.

Last year, Liz was so distracted by the DNA results for her most recent kid she didn’t notice kid number two walk out into the street in the middle of the night and get mowed down by his drunk grandfather. That whole scene was ridiculous because the room the two characters were in was the size of a large closet – there’s no way she wouldn’t have heard him at the door.

All that being said, Liz is probably the best mother on GH – especially now that Robin is dead. I mean, she’s not purposely raising her kid in the mob life like the rest of the females on that show. How sad is that?

Over on ‘Days of Our Lives’ – conniving Sami keeps blowing up relationships (and having kids with different men). Sami’s only saving grace seems to be that she’s a decent mother – and at least you see her with her kids from time to time. Sure, her kids are all screwed up and are going to need therapy – but at least she’s around.

Before GH killed off Starr’s daughter Hope, you rarely saw the toddler because her mentally ill grandmother was always watching her off screen. That makes perfect sense – especially since the kid had been kidnapped a couple of times.

That brings up the other problem, though.

A lot of fans complain about soap characters being bad mothers because you never see them with their kids, but fans should remember that soap actors are sometimes doing 70 pages of scenes in one day. When you add kids to the mix, that only adds to the problems. They also have child labor laws they have to abide by.

Essentially, having kids on soaps is a tedious and tiring prospect.

Even taking all that into account, though, there had to be a better way of writing Felicia off than making her the world’s worst deadbeat mother chasing after the guy who abandoned her and their children several times.

Why not put Felicia in a coma? Send her off to take care of her grandmother? Have her kidnapped by the Cassidines?

The fact is, soap mothers are generally so bad that it’s a wonder their grown daughters can tolerate being in the same room with them – especially since they seem to share men occasionally in this wacky world we’ve come to love.

What do you think? Who are the best and who are the worst soap mothers?

And, in the spirit of the day, click here for the best soap kids of all time list.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home