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.