GOOD-BYE ALL MY CHILDREN: MY FIRST RUN-HOME-FROM-SCHOOL-IN ANTICIPATION STORYLINE: JANET THROWS NATALIE INTO A WELL (1991)
By Nicole Walker
As I’ve previously posted I inherited my All My Children love from my mother in the 80s. After picking me up from afterschool care and coming home from a long day of work she would rewind her VHS tape and play her ‘stories': All My Children and As The World Turns. I’d sit (or lay sprawled on the floor in a prime viewing spot) to watch the shows and slowly became enamored with the scandalous people of Pine Valley and Oakdale. So much so that when my mother ‘took a break’ from All My Children I continued to tape it myself out of habit and loyalty mostly.
Until Janet Green arrived in Pine Valley on her more glamorous sister’s, Natalie’s, doorstep....
Then I began paying a little more attention to the story-especially since we got the ‘Uh oh’ reveal of frumpy Janet trying on a wig that suddenly transformed her into a near double of her sister Natalie.
‘Uh oh’ because when you saw Janet in that wig you knew some wacky twin hijinks was a’comin.
‘Uh oh’ because Janet was such a dead ringer for Natalie that Natalie’s beau, Trevor Dillon, mistook her for Natalie and planted a kiss on the little lady sparking an instant love and obsession with him that guided story in Pine Valley for nearly twenty years.
Because in that moment a psychotic was born. A psychotic (to be later) named as Janet from Another Planet.
An apt moniker given to her by Trevor’s niece, Hayley, as Janet was everything Natalie wasn’t: frumpy, socially awkward, unsophisticated, eccentric, although they did share a propensity to have very flexible morals (Natalie’s early years on the show had her scheming, scamming, spying, with the best of them but by the time Janet came along Natalie had veered more into victimized heroine territory until her unfortunate demise).
Janet was a loser at life at everything while Natalie (in her view) had been a winner and slowly but surely Janet slipped from admiring her sister and being moderately jealous of her, to resenting her and coveting her life (especially Trevor) so much that a plan began to take root.
Taking over her sister’s life by becoming her sister. By being that winner.
There was just one thing she had to take care of in order to make this plan work.
She had to get rid of her sister.
And so Janet, not wanting to go as far as kill Natalie as she had the foresight to realize she may need to pump Natalie for information on how to successfully be her (and maybe because she just couldn’t bring herself to listen to all the voices in her head and kill her)
Threw Natalie down a well.
She threw her sister down a well and came to visit on a regular basis to gloat about it!
Oh, the craziness! The insanity. The tension of just how far Janet would push this and how soon would Natalie be rescued. If she was rescued!
And that’s I became a bona fide in my own right fan of All My Children, anxious to get home as soon as possible to rewind my VHS tape and watch Janet torture Natalie from her safe perch above the well, frustrated and groaning and enraged right along with Natalie as Janet insinuated herself into Natalie’s life by mothering Natalie’s son, Timothy, by taking over her company, and finally after many near misses, bedding Trevor which took things to a whole new level.
I was hooked. Hooked!
How long was this to go on!? When would Janet get her comeuppance and be exposed?! When would Natalie get out of that stinkin’ well and those stinkin’ clothes already and go beat Janet and Trevor senseless. Her for stealing her life and Trevor because he didn’t know he was sleeping with the wrong sister?!
I was hooked for weeks- months- completely unable to miss a moment of Janet’s rise and slow, slow, slow downfall, happily clapping and fist pumping when Janet couldn’t keep the gig up any longer and was busted by Hayley with Trevor searching for Natalie and having to fight for her all over again after his betrayal.
And then when they found out Janet was pregnant with his child. Oh the drama!
But to get back to what started it all, Janet and the whole dropping Natalie down the hole thing, major props need to be given to Kate Collins for being up to the task of taking on two roles and not doing too shabby a job of it. As Natalie she was prim and snooty and sophisticated while making Janet markedly different with awkward hunched shoulders, furtive shifty eyes, and a zany irrational rational screw loose thought process that just made you laugh even while you wanted to throttle her. Kate had a flair for comedy and sure she could be hammy and campy but that’s part of what made Janet fun and what made the story work. I do applaud what Robin Mattson did with a more layered Janet during her own stint upon Janet’s return to Pine Valley after a stint in prison and a mental hospital, but Kate’s Janet was the first and what got me hooked and thus holds a special place in my AMC loving heart.
Coming tomorrow my favorite AMC 'Oh, you just got owned!' moment. And it involves Erica Kane. Being on the losing end...
Nicole Walker is the Associate Producer of Another World Today.