Weekly Guiding Light Blog: Blogging from the Beacon
Week of August 4 – 8.
It was business as usual in Springfield last week, but something seems to be slipping. I’m starting to feel more like I’m watching a commentary on Guiding Light as much as the show itself. It isn’t parody, it’s just peculiar. The week was remarkably uneven. After the grieving that took up the first three days, the week drifted into two episodes which attempted to encapsulate what had come before.
First: The grieving. There’s one thing that GL does better than any other soap — grief. While it’s a common enough emotion on daytime, no one does it with the same rawness. Grief comes off as instant and actual and a general atmosphere of pensive gloom quickly pervades. People are confused, often inarticulate and there are odd pauses, silences, peculiar and incoherent camera shots. It’s impressive and, with few exceptions, rarely moves into the maudlin. But all of the grief seems to leave something behind, something which festers and which certain characters readily feed on. Lately, out of all of this loss, something odd continues to bubble up and each newly departed character takes on a disturbingly unbecoming saintly hue.
For instance, Cyrus and Daisy shared a genuinely painful scene in Company this. Accidentally stumbling into each other, they played a game of “What Would Harley do?” They asked themselves what moral guidance the woman would offer… the same woman he cheated on and who abandoned her children to run off to another continent with Rafe, her dead ex-husband’s son and abandoned daughter’s former flame. The secret of what Harley would do is, of course, that she would do whatever she felt like doing at the moment and, no matter what it was, the justification would always be basically the same: It was for her family or love or Gus, it doesn’t matter, they’re all interchangeable. I don’t have a problem with Cyrus saying that he learned everything about family from Harley, I just hope he doesn’t get another family of his own. Since he abandoned his mother and brother to become a con man so that he could “help the family”, he must have already known what Harley would have done. Even more bewildering than making Harley a saint, is making Cyrus the man to spit shine her memory. It’s one thing to write off a group of characters, but forcing those who remain behind to live in their shadows is just a bad decision. It’s glum and lacks energy. While Cyrus continues to prop up Harley like one of the town’s growing army of saints of dubious virtue, it’s what it does to him that really bothers me. He used to have charisma, but now they’re turning a rooster into a mother hen.
Harley's former father-in-law Alan continues with his visions from Gus, but is it what it seems? Could be scamming all of his "followers" for money and favors? I enjoy this, I assume it's an ironic comment on how all of the other characters on the show are becoming the followers to equally false saints. Alan's always had a penchant for pretending to be something or other and, even when being forced to deal with real mental problems, has frequently come back from it remarkably well. If anything, he's actually become less neurotic and paranoid over the decades. But is what he is going through now for real? I don't know. But he's the perfect character to actually take on the mantle of a saintly character, particularly a mock one. While I adore the old nasty Alan and even the far lighter version that's been around for the past few years, I find this new variation strangely intriguing; I just hope he comes out of it nastier than ever. Perhaps the aftermath of the trial will change things, but do we really have to hear about Tammy again? Cassie seems to be dealing with it better than the makers of the show at this point. If she can start to put it behind her, can't everyone else? Since she was the origin of this wave of pale saints, could this finally signal the end?
The Grady trial moved along quickly and was decently theatrical. The defence attorney did a nice job but it felt a bit truncated and the fiasco with the juror was rushed and unbelievable. Jeffery's conflation of Tammy and Ava is simply disturbing but attempts to tie the loss of Ava in with this other unresolved loss and redeem it. It would be easy to point to the hypocrisy in this hunt for justice. After all, the law enforcement in Springfield is hardly morally superior to what it battles. Jeffrey himself was a hired killer, as was Mallet, and Frank habitually bends or breaks the law with no real pangs of conscience. What separates the heroes from the villains is not how they justify what they do, it's that the heroes actually believe the lies they tell themselves and the villains know better.
Case in point: Ashlee, who continues to be one of the most annoying characters that I've ever seen. While on the one hand, I admire the character as an absurdly original soap creation and possibly the perfect expression of the banality of evil, on the other, she simply grates on me; she's a malignant force but that doesn't stop her from being genuinely self-righteous. Even when Daisy has to remind her ranting friend about her many crimes, Ashlee seems impervious to imagining there was anything to be ashamed of. After all, Grady's crimes aren't really any greater than hers, he simply isn't as innately pathetic. The only thing she ever seems to feel guilty about is that she didn't get weight reduction surgery sooner. But the larger problem is that all of her crimes, and her peculiar quips, don't have any purpose; they're basically random and inconsequential. Even shooting Alan never amounted to much. It may be the random and meaningless nature of the character I find so disturbing but perhaps this makes her a good reflection for some. Olivia, who Ashlee idolizes, said one of the best things about her. Commenting on the readership for Ashlee's blog, she said that there must be a lot of very lonely and desperate people out there if they were reading it. But that's Ashlee — desperate and pointless, like the virtually random crimes she commits and is then pitied for committing. Wasn't that what she was admitting when she compared herself to chicken little?
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Have fun.
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