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5 Reasons B&B’s Plot-driven Writing’s Driving Me Crazy

Friday March 30 is changing up the usual Deconstructing B&B format this week, so this week I’m sharing an opinion on the show. Details, characterization, consistency and attention to history are all important to the integrity of a soap opera, and how it’s perceived, and B&B’s been a bit of an exercise in frustration lately.

Details matter

When Ridge was arrested for shooting Bill, he left the office hollering for Pam to call Carter. Huh? Since when is the company’s legal eagle also their go-to criminal attorney? When Eric met with Brooke and Thorne to discuss the running of the company in Ridge’s absence, they didn’t even mention Steffy, who is the co-CEO. Apparently, it’s convenient for Carter to suddenly handle criminal cases, and inconvenient for Steffy to do her job whilst pining for Liam and carrying a baby. These seemingly small details become irksome when they add up. Another example, if the headwriter’s going to explain why, say, Bridget doesn’t come back for an event, perhaps he should also explain why Taylor never comes back for, well, anything. As difficult as it has to be to take these myriad details into consideration when churning out this ongoing serial, the bottom line is these things matter.

Out of character behavior is jarring

There are just some things you should be able to invest in and count on – like the namesake granddaughter of Stephanie Forrester being able to stand strong in the face of adversity. When characters’ behavior changes to enable a plot it’s jarring. Remember Brooke’s totally uncharacteristic about-face toward Bill (then her husband) after he fought with his son, Liam? There has never been a more ‘stand by your man’ type than Brooke, who went from basking in Bill’s spoiling attentions to acting as though she feared him in the space of two episodes. While I can roll with tweaks that make a story more fun like Pam going off her meds and becoming crazy again just long enough to put her on the list of suspects in a shooting, there are things that shouldn’t be messed with, like making Justin suddenly seem cold and power-hungry to the point he barely asked about Bill at the scene of the shooting and was only concerned about the legal documents, and still hasn’t even visited his old friend Dollar Bill since he came out of the coma. It’s definitely a pet peeve when B&B alters a character’s personality to further a plot point. Especially long-term characters I’ve come to know well.

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History should be counted on

Stephanie and Brooke’s long history of over-the-top animosity altered forever when Brooke supported Stephanie through stage four cancer, a diagnosis which changed everything. I could accept this sensitively written end to their journey, but not so much the rewrites that came later during more than one of Ridge’s proposals alluding to the fact that Stephanie had always wanted them together. Most recently, Brooke was reinstalled in a marriage with Ridge, with the gushing blessings of everyone who had very recently lobbied against such a reunion with fervor and wearing a ring designed by the woman he’d cheated with. It felt like everyone got selective amnesia. At least Stephanie’s ghost showed up at the wedding and called Brooke ‘the slut from the valley’. As I mentioned, I have to be able to count on certain things.

Likewise, it was unnerving when Hope returned home and suddenly became Steffy’s friend and support, even after she found out she’d had sex with Liam’s father. Trying to sweep an entire rivalry under the carpet in this way for the sake of the plot doesn’t fly. When history goes out the window often, or in a big way, it’s frustrating and takes me out of the story.

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Storyline swerves throw things off

A nanosecond after Brooke threw Bill over for starting a fire and punching Liam, Bill decided Steffy, not Brooke, was the ‘must-have’ love of his life, and suddenly they were having sex and he was proposing. Thorne returned hell bent on taking back Brooke (bizarre in itself) and taking over Forrester Creations, but in the space of a few episodes, he was neutered into being Ridge’s best man and working for Hope. Hold up! How am I supposed to take the characters or stories seriously when they turn on a dime for the flimsiest of reasons to accommodate a new plot direction?

Dumbed-down writing disappoints

What kind of bunk it is to have Ridge carrying on like Steffy’s a 16 year-old instead of a grown woman who had consensual sex with a man she once carried a torch for? Or for Bill to tell Liam that he proposed to Steffy because if Liam wasn’t going to go back to her, she’d need to be protected and looked after. Really?! The way these men are talking doesn’t fit the reality of the situation, the character of Steffy, or even fit modern-day thinking in this century. It’s disappointing to see writing that makes little sense, is dumbed-down, or just plain dumb, in the name of driving a plot forward.

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Photo credit: Howard Wise/JPI

– Candace Young


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