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Loving/The City Discussion Thread


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Personally, I don’t care for the gaslighting story. I think my biggest issue with the storyline is at its core it’s a perils of Pauline type tale and neither Stacey, nor Lauren Marie Taylor, were suited for this kind of story. Stacey as a victim, at least in this way, wasn’t interesting to me. Lauren Marie Taylor imbued such spunk into the character that Stacey almost felt like another character. Granted, Stacey had gone through a major life change with Jack’s disappearance, but so many of the little details to this story just bother me.

 

There’s a really nice conversation between Trisha and Stacey after Trisha has discovered that Stacey and Clay have married. Stacey makes it very clear that this a very old fashioned marriage intended to be about Stacey needing protection and needing to feel safe. Stacey makes it clear that she is not romantically attracted to Clay. Within a short time, Stacey and Clay sleep together. That seemed like a stretch to me.

 

Stacey began drinking during this period which either Clay encouraged or didn’t try to prevent. In a drunken moment, Stacey left something on the stove unattended and she nearly caused a fire. Later, Stacey was involved in a DUI incident. I found the parallel plot of Stacey’s true unravelling while Clay fed into her moment of desperation pretty horrifying and pretty vile even for someone like Clay.

 

Another problematic piece for me is Stacey’s position in the canvas. Stacey was a young widow with kids. On current soaps, I see women with children, not characters who define themselves by being someone’s mother. Stacey was a young mother and that was a significant part of her day to day story. J.J. and Heather weren’t off at boarding school. We had to watch them while Stacey unraveled. It would have been interesting if that layer was dealt with. Had Clay shipped J.J. off to a boarding school and turned Heather over Gwyn to look after (Heather was their granddaughter after all).

 

I think what bothered a lot of fans about the story at the time was Jack’s fate was very much left up in the air. Jack simply vanished. He was on the boat with Stacey one minute and then gone. I don’t think a body was ever really recovered. I know Clay identified the body of someone, but I believe it was later revealed that Clay had lied about the man being Jack. I think people expected the story of Stacey’s gaslighting to end with Jack returning to Corinth. Had that happened, people probably wouldn’t have been as upset.

 

This is also a story with no ramifications. The story is tied up very quickly under Millee Taggert and Robert Guza. Jeremy and Dinahlee team up to help Stacey get out and set a trap for Clay. Clay is never punished; Isabelle takes the blame for what happened. Taggert and Guza toy with the idea of Clay and Jeremy rivalry which leads to Clay leading the charge to have Jeremy removed from Alden University when Hannah Mayberry claims that Jeremy has seduced her, but it goes nowhere. I did like that they played on the ambiguity of Clay’s motives in that subsequent story (the harassment) with Clay wanting to believe Jeremy was not the nice guy.

 

Clay of the Addie Walsh era is a really hard character for me. When she comes aboard, Clay is intended to be a much more romantic character (a dreamer who has been embittered by the harshness of the cold reality of life). He is romancing Dinahlee and determined to make a name for himself, while Isabelle is trying to lure him back into Alden. Isabelle’s secret was Walsh’s story from day one and it was just a poor story idea. What was the point of Clay being Tim Sullivan’s son? To further alienate Clay from the family? That had been accomplished many times over. It just seemed to be a silly plot driven decision which led to this second act of the story: Clay learning the truth about Tim Sullivan and wanting to make everyone pay by taking control of AE with the intention of destroying the company. It just seemed too much.

 

Now, something I have considered in more recent years, is that I’m much less harsh on the story a year and half later when Curtis starts to place things around the Tides in order to convince Trucker that Trisha was alive. What I think worked better about this story was (1) Trisha was actually alive so this made the deception seem less harmful and (2) Trucker was the type of character who was gullible and I could see easily falling for such a claim.

With that said, Clay’s gaslighting story has some elements I don’t abhor. What there is of a resolution with the guy calling Clay to lead him to think Jack is alive while Jeremy, Stacey, and Dinahlee team up is enjoyable. Clay’s monologues from that Shakespeare play add some fun flourishes to the story. And everyone reacts the way you would expect to Stacey being in the mental hospital.

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Thank you for your extended explanation. That's the brilliant stuff that comes from this kind of community.

I admittedly didn't remember some of these ickier plot points (I in particular was convinced they had managed to never write Clay and Stacey as sleeping together which bugs me in a way Stacey falling apart after Jack's "death" doesn't).
They had clearly left the door open for Jack to come back at some point; do we know why they never did?

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Why Jack never came back is probably tied to why Jack was written out, which I don't know. Christopher Cass was a competent actor, but he was replacing one of the original actors who didn't leave by choice. Jack had very little story under Cass. The biggest stories he was involved in were inheriting the family fortune and the plot to convince Stacey that Jack was sleeping with Dinahlee. Walsh kept Jack and Stacey in different stories before their quick vow renewal and Jack's disappearance during the honeymoon. Walsh seemed determined to pair Stacey and Trucker and I think removing Jack was a way of allowing that to play out even if Stacey / Trucker was only meant as an obstacle to both original couples. 

 

I think Noelle Beck's departure, the arrival of Jean LeClerc as Jeremy, and the show's constant identity crisis each played a part in Jack's failure to return. After Trucker fell from the belfry during the final showdown with Giff, Trucker suffered a temporary case of amnesia and thought he was in love with Stacey. This plot point was quickly dropped and Trucker and Trisha remarried in an extensively lavish wedding in November 1992. Beck's contract should have ended with the episodes in December, but she agreed to stay on for a bit to resolve the story. I imagine with Beck leaving and the expensive casting of Jean LeClerc, the Trucker / Stacey story was abandoned for the Stacey / Jeremy pairing and some final moments of happiness between Trisha and Trucker.

 

Once Trisha was gone, the show had to figure out what the central focus would be now that the world could no longer revolve around Trisha. The Jeremy / Stacey pairing was a dud. LeClerc / Taylor had passable chemistry, but it was nothing to write home about. Also, the story between Stacey and Jeremy didn't write itself. Both trying to get over losing their spouses wasn't enough to drive significant story at least in the way it was presented. The sexual harassment storyline where Hannah lead people to believe she and Jeremy were sleeping together when she was his student lead to some drama, but there was nothing to build on so Taggert and Guza decided to pair Stacey with Buck and Jeremy with Ava. 

 

A Buck / Stacey / Curtis triangle should have ended in a Curtis / Stacey pairing with Jack returning not only interrupting the Curtis / Stacey marriage, but also J.J.'s affection for Buck. It would have elicited more drama if Jack had returned during the Cradle Foundation storyline rather than Cabot. 

 

Truthfully, Jack probably didn't come back because they couldn't generate story for the character and/or they couldn't secure Perry Stephens to return. 

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30 minutes ago, dc11786 said:

Why Jack never came back is probably tied to why Jack was written out, which I don't know. Christopher Cass was a competent actor, but he was replacing one of the original actors who didn't leave by choice.


OK I feel like I am abusing now and you can ignore my questions if this is too much but this is an interesting rabbit hole so let me ask... what?
I feel I must have read it at some point and yet it doesn't ring a bell. Stephens didn't leave by choice?

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Jacqueline Babbin came in 1990 as a personal favor to Agnes Nixon. There are some rather blunt interviews in this thread from her. She pretty much says the show was stuck in the 1980s and that she was determined to give the show some more definition. I think part of the process was to basically eradicate the Alden family. In her year as EP, she saw the exits of Rick, Curtis, Clay (maybe), Isabelle, and Cabot. She also got rid of Perry Stephens and was overseeing the show when they wrote out Alex and Egypt. Stephens may have had demons that haven't been spoken about, but my understanding (possibly just an assumption) was that Babbin didn't consider Stephens a dynamic presence. 

 

Babbin stayed the year she agreed to. She was also pretty critical of the writing. She stated that she struggled with Tom King and Millee Taggert because they assumed she was going to fire them. In a subsequent interview, she made it clear she still wasn't happy where the writing was at. King did end up leaving the show in April or May 1991. I don't know the circumstances. Taggert worked briefly with Babbin's successor Fran Sears for a few weeks before Mary Ryan Munisteri took over.

 

To be fair, Babbin and Taggert left the show in a decent place for Sears and Ryan Munisteri. It's really unfortunate that the potential of 1991 (Carly and Paul reuniting with Michael, Matt and Ally's romance, Celeste Holms' Isabelle Alden, the sexual powerplay going on between Gwyn Alden and Giff Bowman, Dinahlee refusal to be run out of Corinth) was squandered in the following year. The second stage of the college revamp (the introduction of Greek system and the arrivals of Staige, Kent, and Cooper) was not as interesting as the first stage (Giff's arrival to Alden University, Ceara's brief stint in the administration offices, Dinahlee and Trucker's affair in the art room).  

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12 hours ago, dc11786 said:

To be fair, Babbin and Taggert left the show in a decent place for Sears and Ryan Munisteri. It's really unfortunate that the potential of 1991 (Carly and Paul reuniting with Michael, Matt and Ally's romance, Celeste Holms' Isabelle Alden, the sexual powerplay going on between Gwyn Alden and Giff Bowman, Dinahlee refusal to be run out of Corinth) was squandered in the following year. The second stage of the college revamp (the introduction of Greek system and the arrivals of Staige, Kent, and Cooper) was not as interesting as the first stage (Giff's arrival to Alden University, Ceara's brief stint in the administration offices, Dinahlee and Trucker's affair in the art room).  

 

I have been rewatching the 1991 episodes on YT at the moment so it is fun that the conversation ends up back here.

I had completely memory-holed that so many of the Aldens had disappeared at some point. I knew some had gone and came back but not all at once.

I thought there was something unique to PS that might have led him to being fired. I know nothing of the demons you speak off but it sounds it was more all of them at the same time.


And on the Ally/Matt note I just realized LW had good chemistry with all her romantic partners on Loving because I kinda rooted for all her pairings - even when it was supposed to be "obvious" she wanted to be with Casey I liked her and Cooper as well.

 

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I’ve never seen an episode of Loving or The City, but I was bored and this came up on my Youtube recommendations so I decided to watch. 
 

 

Ive heard the stories about how innovative The City was and finally getting to see it I was very impressed! The direction in the episode was a sight to behold. The cast also seemed fantastic. This felt like a daytime Melrose Place with the loft setting. If they ever decided to stream this I think it would hold up very well! Now I’m curious to see more and may even check out some Loving episodes. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Chris B said:

I’ve never seen an episode of Loving or The City, but I was bored and this came up on my Youtube recommendations so I decided to watch. 
 

 

Ive heard the stories about how innovative The City was and finally getting to see it I was very impressed! The direction in the episode was a sight to behold. The cast also seemed fantastic. This felt like a daytime Melrose Place with the loft setting. If they ever decided to stream this I think it would hold up very well! Now I’m curious to see more and may even check out some Loving episodes. 

 

Have fun.

Please register in order to view this content
 

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Posted (edited)

You missed out on our Loving Murders journey in this thread last spring and summer that got me through the first lap of the pandemic! I hadn't seen that story since it first aired. We were all gassing on about it in here and other threads last year.

 

Brown and Esensten did that story and the final year of Loving as well as most/all? of The City, but the foundation was largely built in the early 90s years of LOV by Agnes and others where so many of these characters came from. Loving in 92-94 is worth a watch. And I know opinions on B&E's work in '95 and '96 understandably vary, but I think the frontburner quad material with Angie, Jacob, Charles and Lorraine on LOV is still way ahead of where we are now sadly. And I think the murder mystery holds up. I also think much of the look and style of TC holds up today, but the stories weren't always there.

Edited by Vee
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Watching the March 96 episode, the direction/camera work is quite impressive no doubt, but I am wondering if in someway takes away from the essence of a soap.

By taking away the generational aspect and intimate feel, The City and other shows that tried to re-invent the genre took away what makes soaps unique and identifiable.

It certainly did not help the genre in the long run.

Do others agree or feel soaps should have continued to try and become more 'contemporary'?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Paul Raven said:

Do others agree or feel soaps should have continued to try and become more 'contemporary'?


Yes but my main gripe is that producers have tried to become "contemporary" has either meant story gimmicks (like inserting the Internet everywhere in the 2000s) or lessening the visual quality in order to feel 'realer" or more modern.

The best way to be more modern and contemporary would be to address the world as it is in stories. Whether it is on race, sexuality, "social mores", writers still write characters as if it is the 1960s in many ways and it turns off young people.
No need for hip camera angles. Just write good story that resonate in the world that we live in today - not the conservative rural Americana of the 1950s that is still so pregnant in our collective imagination.

The interesting thing about The City is that while it did try innovative things visually speaking (and while I do not like the shakyish camera work, I do think American soaps should move away from the traditional sets and copy British soaps that have a real-life setting that look more like primetime in terms of staging like the City did), it did try to be modern story-wise as well. First soap transsexual character that I know of - which in the 90s was quite something.

I do think the cast was too white. It is never good for a soap in general but while it might be believable in a small mid-America town like Corynth, setting a soap in New York and having a mostly white cast rings wrong. Having superstars lead the black cast still does not replace having a real rich tapestry of characters of color.
Modernity would have to come to terms with the fact we are moving fast towards being a minority-majority country.

Edited by FrenchBug82
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Posted (edited)

I don't think the cast was that whitebread. Debbi and Darnell led it; Maggie Rush followed close behind. Early on they had Frankie, Azure and Bernardo. And Lisa Lo Cicero, Ted King and George Palermo were, for better or worse, typed as 'ethnic' at the time. Roscoe Born was rough and tumble. Could there have been more, of course, but they had a good mix.

 

One thing I recall the production saying to soap press before it was cancelled was that they'd misjudged the audience's appetite for 'found families', as in the characters from Corinth and NYC bonding together as close friends in a shared group, vs. actual family blood ties like a traditional soap opera, and to that end they would be dealing with Ava and Alex's kids or others in the future (which did not come to pass). I understood that impulse to return to norms but I think it was a mistake. The less conventional found family canvas was ahead of its time for daytime, even though it had been seen before on soaps (like OLTL) and would be again - but it never caught on like it did in primetime or cable.

Edited by Vee
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48 minutes ago, Vee said:

I don't think the cast was that whitebread. Debbi and Darnell led it; Maggie Rush followed close behind. Early on they had Frankie, Azure and Bernardo. And Lisa Lo Cicero, Ted King and George Palermo were, for better or worse, typed as 'ethnic' at the time. Roscoe Born was rough and tumble. Could there have been more, of course, but they had a good mix.

 

One thing I recall the production saying to soap press before it was cancelled was that they'd misjudged the audience's appetite for 'found families', as in the characters from Corinth and NYC bonding together as close friends in a shared group, vs. actual family blood ties like a traditional soap opera, and to that end they would be dealing with Ava and Alex's kids or others in the future (which did not come to pass). I understood that impulse to return to norms but I think it was a mistake. The less conventional found family canvas was ahead of its time for daytime, even though it had been seen before on soaps (like OLTL) and would be again - but it never caught on like it did in primetime or cable.

 

I think one of the problems is that the found families for most of The City's lifespan were unknown or barely known to viewers. There weren't that many longstanding friendships to carry over. 

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