Thursday, March 22, 2007
REALITY ROLE MODELS
Is GL headed for an Ashlee (Caitlin van Zandt) and Coop (John Driscoll) pairing? Some fans, including former Lizzie (Marcy Rylan) and Coop boosters, certainly hope so.
Caitlin recently signed a three-year contract with the show, testifying to her character's popularity. Originally booked for only six episodes, Caitlin took Ashlee from merely a pathetic tool in Lizzie's schemes to a personality so appealing that the character warranted a mother -- D.A. Doris and, with Doris' marriage to Alan, a space in one of Springfield's core families!
Caitlin will be the first to point out that she isn't a typical daytime "type," i.e. thin as a runway model, but that she is a much better representative of the average American woman.
Even though soap operas in the past did tend to cast less glamorous women as their wholesome Middle American heroines, the genre was never particularly receptive to the plus-size female.
In 1975, Y&R (ironically the first show to adopt the all-beautiful-people-all-the-time-mantra) introduced the character of Joann Curtis (Kay Heberle), an unhappy housewife who put on weight due to problems in her marriage (her husband was played by Anthony Herrera who, a few years later in Oakdale, would show the world what a truly bad husband was like, as the habitually murderous James). Kay attempted to help Joann pull her life together and raise her self-esteem. But when the show began to hint at a lesbian relationship between the two, Joann was quickly shipped out of town and that was the end of that.
Over 20 years later, in a refreshing break from stereotype, DOOL offered Nancy (Patrika Darbo), a full-figured woman who was also sexy, confident, manipulative, and the object of her husband's mad lust. Lest viewers panic at this image of a large gal whose personality wasn't defined by her size, DOOL also featured Susan, an overweight, shy, socially maladjusted teen the other kids called Gigantor.
Over on OLTL, the character of Marcy (Kathy Brier), like Ashlee, was an insecure, heavy girl being used by the show's resident teen vixen to do her dirty work. However, Marcy proved so popular, that the teen vixen is now six feet under, while Marcy has a husband (a reincarnation of her first love -- long story, another time), and an adorable son (who really belongs to someone else but, hey, that's daytime).
Nancy, Marcy and Ashlee's success with fans seems to suggest that viewers are starved for heroines who look more like themselves -- or even real-life women, in general.
Would you like to see more diversity of body types in soaps? Tell us in the Comments box below!
Posted by Alina Adams at 6:19 AM