At first when I started reading internet posts that “only the three gay characters are ending up alone (Noah), miserable (Luke), or dead (Reid) while all the straight characters are getting their happily ever after,” I thought there must be an exaggeration in that statement – given statements by TPTB, there must be some others who end up not so happy.
On closer inspection, I have to say I pretty much agree with the initial assertion: either there was serious homophobia in play, an immense and unlikely “coincidence” in their choice of characters for unhappy endings, and/or a level of naivete about the show’s responsibility to a very supportive LGBT community that is appalling.
I took the final ATWT cast photo as a starting point and added back a few people who have been pretty prominent this year (Emma, Damian). If I’ve missed anyone – let me know and I’ll add them to the list!
There are one or two people I’m not sure I recognize, but below is my take on the endings for all the characters (excluding poor Ethan and Johnny who are destined to grow up with all the nutcases from Oakhell). Where characters are part of the key families, I’ve noted which clans; characters with no surnames are “islands” (or have only one or two family members on the Oakdale canvas).
Happy, And Deservedly So/Popular Choice
There were a number of pairings I would describe as “inevitable” or “appropriate.” That is, I could completely see why it was important for these couples to end up together either from a show or a fan point of view. These were:
Bob (Hughes) and Kim (Sullivan/Ryan/Stenbeck). These are two of the oldest characters on the show (along with Lisa) and the Hughes lineage dates back to the first episode. They have for a long time been a core part of the show’s moral compass and legacy. Of course they should go off with a happy ending.
Tom (Hughes) and Margo (Dixon/Montgomery/Peretti). Aside from a few indiscretions on each of their parts, as of late, they have both been upstanding citizens and faithful partners. They would rightfully carry on the Hughes torch as patriarch and matriarch of the show (if only they had more appealing kids!).
Carly and Jack (Snyder). She’s a lying, cheating, alcoholic basket case, but CarJack are (aside from Luke/Reid/Noah and Lilden) the most universally popular couple on the show. Jack is a goody-goody, but the two do have great chemistry and are an enjoyable couple to watch. It’s hard to assess their true popularity given the fanaticism in the Nuke/LuRe fanbase, but I would guess that many casual fans (those who would never vote – like me, pre-LuRe) are pleased that CarJack are getting a happy ending. But like many of the other characters, it’s not just enough that Carly and Jack are happy with each other, but they get their icing on the proverbial wedding cake as well, as spoilers note that Carly will find that she is pregnant to boot.
Janet and Dusty, and Paul (Sullivan/Ryan/Stenbeck) and Emily (Stewart). I don’t really get either of these pairings, but they don’t bother me, and I believe both pairs have their fan bases. And oh yeah, isn’t it convenient for them that Janet’s baby turns out to be Dusty’s and Barbara and Emily have buried the hatchet, clearing the way for Paul and Emily to remain happily ever after indefinitely? On their own, it wouldn’t bother me, but in context….
I used to love Lily (Walsh/Grimaldi) and Holden (Snyder), and though I personally think their time has passed, I can understand how many fans still want to see them together for sentimental reasons (see Soap Opera Digest’s September 21st Snap Poll: Who duo do you most to reunited before the show’s end?) as well as Soaps in Depth’s September 27th poll where 96% of respondents wanted to see Holden and Lily reunited.
Ditto Lucinda (Walsh/Grimaldi) and John (Dixon/Montgomery/Peretti). They were fun to watch years ago, and their banter is still heated, but I agreed with Lucinda who asked John where the hell he’s been all these years. Rekindling their romance at the 11th hour seems contrived to me. On its own it wouldn’t bother me, and if it makes fans happy, then more power to them. But in context…
To me, Barbara (Sullivan/Ryan/Stenbeck) and Henry (Sullivan/Ryan/Stenbeck) are the odd couple in this mix. They are the newest pairing to make my list of couples that seem like they make sense. Although I don’t know that Benry is anybody’s favorite couple, I believe that a lot of people (myself included) like them a lot, so they’re a strong #2. Their chemistry is great, and like LuRe, they were well-matched in terms of being able to love each other in spite of their faults, and I, for one, was glad to see them end up together.
Happy/Open Ended, Really?
Then there were a whole gaggle of couples which I found tossed together and unconvincing, and not convincingly deserving of a HEA.
Casey (Hughes) and Alison (Stewart). I could see the argument for bumping this couple into the “deservedly so” category since they have had a long-standing friendship and are both the children of legacy characters. But not only do they get a second chance at love, but former-convict Casey gets to follow in dad’s footsteps as a lawyer, and former-porn-star/meth addict Alison gets to follow in mom’s footsteps as a doctor. Not just HEA but perfectly HEA. Again, I could live with this on its own, but….
But then: Craig (Dixon/Montgomery/Peretti) and Rosanna. Really? Of course Rosanna should be there for Carly’s wedding. Despite their troubles, the sisters overall have healed their wounds. But getting these two back together? Ugh. Let’s see, while Carly was in rehab, Craig slept with Rosanna and wanted her back. But as soon as Carly emerged, Craig ditched Rosanna for Carly claiming he has only loved her. And now Rosanna would take him back? And that’s just in the last year – don’t forget, he ran her car off the road and put her in a coma. And not only does Craig get his sweetie, but he also gets to heal his rift with son Gabriel. In what world does Craig (whose list of misdeeds in this calendar year alone has to be an arm’s length long) deserve a happy ending, but not say….Noah? This one gets a big UGH from me.
Gabriel (Dixon/Montgomery/Peretti) and Liberty. So not only does Gabriel find peace with the father he came to town to blackmail, but given that final-week spoilers have Parker paired with Faith (more on that in a sec), that leaves him free to ride off into the sunset with now cancer-free Liberty. Oh yeah, and Liberty also gets to pursue her dream of studying fashion design. So not fair.
Meanwhile, Parker (Snyder) and Faith (Snyder). The first thing that should be setting off (LOUD) alarm bells is the fact that they share the same last name. Triple ewwww……! That in and of itself should be enough, even though they’re not blood related. Parker deserves a happy ending – he’s mainly been a good kid (except for knocking out Gabriel and leaving him unconscious in a room where he might have died in a fire). But despite that misstep, he’s now following in the footsteps of both biodad Hal Munson (RIP), and adoptive dad Jack Snyder. As for Faith, though she’s been addicted to pills, based on what she’s been through with Lily, Holden, and Damian, I don’t blame her for being a bit messed up. But not messed up enough to hook up with her cousin. So yeah, happy, but ewww…..
Which leaves me with Chris (Hughes) and Katie (Dixon/Montgomery/Peretti). So let me get this straight? Chris lies to his parents and Katie, refuses treatment that he clearly needs because he thought he could “beat it,” continues to make dumbass moves (like making love, moving benches, and playing golf) so he can “spare Katie”? PUH-LEASE. Katie gave him an earful and she should have given him more. If she weren’t kicking the guy when he was down, she SHOULD have shown him the door. And on top of that, Chris ends up COS by default, something Reid clearly said he didn’t want (and went so far as to blow his chances on the golf course because Chris’s life was more important). Chris’s story SHOULD have been about him redeeming himself after being such a jerk in the past and making it VERY CLEAR that he did not want to be COS. Instead, despite Bob’s protests about not having everything handed to him on a silver platter, that is exactly what Chris gets. Bob has forgiven all, Chris is COS, and he ends up with Katie.
I’m more sympathetic to Katie’s plight than many. I do believe she’s vulnerable, and Chris came along at the right time. Yes, lying to Henry was sucky, but I’ll also give her a little benefit of the doubt in that in her warped little way, I do believe she THOUGHT she was doing what was best for Henry. So I don’t mind if she ends up with a HAE.
But with Chris? Katie and Chris have ZERO chemistry. I did a Google search and found that there was basically NO internet buzz on this couple (that wasn’t followed with…why are they taking screen time away from Luke and Reid?). As I mentioned in the September 8th news update:
I subscribe to elle1406’s YouTube channel – she’s like Katie’s HappyInChintz72. As the time this paragraph is being written (Wed 9/8 11.47pm GMT/6.47pm EDT, so approx. 27 hours after Tragic Tuesday ended), her clips of yesterday have a grand total of 2 (yes, that’s two) comments – and they’re both about Luke and Reid. In contrast, ADL has a whopping 596 not to mention BombayHighway (32), smuchshypush (30).
A much better choice would have been Simon who was brought back as a tease only to be sent off again having served minimal plot function. If they wanted nice pat endings, they should have reunited Simon and Katie, leaving Chris for Ali, Casey for Vienna (hey, it was meaningless, but they had way more chemistry than Chris and Katie!) Chris and Katie? Not so much.
Alone…But That’s a Good Thing!
Many people have said along the way that either they preferred Luke to end up alone rather than returning to his relationship with Noah, and many of those in the equivalent of Nuke/LuRe Switzerland would have liked to see him alone because he needed to grow up before he was ready to commit to either man.
The other person I thought this applied to was unquestionably Molly. I never really liked Molly with Holden and always felt like she was putting her own needs aside to cling onto a long-dead romance. I LOVED the fact that she recognized the behavior she was modeling for Abigail and that she cried for that – it was mature, selfless, and beautiful. As opposed to most of the crying she has done over the past year (“poor me – Holden has chosen Lily….again”). Molly should have showed Holden the door a long time ago, so I was thrilled she did so – without histrionics, and walked off strong, and with some of her pride back.
Victims of Character Assassination
Although Vienna was once a popular character, her actions over the closing months of ATWT have made her completely unlovable. That she has run off, probably to hide her beautiful face and body at some luxury spa in Europe, is more than a generous ending given her crimes. Many fans may rue the demolition of her character, but the ending, given where they took the character was fitting..
Similarly, while many found Meg (Snyder) to be dull and uninspiring, NutMeg had her appeal. Once Meg’s character went down the dark path of stalking Damian and Lily, and then Emily, eventually trying to shoot her, she was a lost cause, destined for the looney bin (and appropriately so).
So that leaves the few characters with no life companion or storyline trajectory.
Do I sense a pattern here: Lisa (former Hughes and Grimaldi), Emma (Snyder), and Susan Stewart all end the show alone with no promise for new relationships. They’d long been forgotten and used as occasional decorations at family functions (so that TPTB could claim they were paying attention to their heritage). There is clearly a shortage of men of “the right age” on the canvas, but even without men in the picture, these ladies should have been given other storylines that would give us a glimpse into their future – a new project, closure on past wrongs, or anything really, to honor their longevity with the show.
When Guiding Light ended, Matt Reardon ended up with the short end of the Vanessa/Billy/Matt triangle (not my preference, but I could live with that). And while COMPLETELY contrived, at least the writers thought enough of him to have his daughter match him up with some completely random day-player teacher thrown in at the last minute so that he wasn’t forgotten.
Similarly, Doris Wolfe was largely an unlikeable character. And having been outed as a lesbian, there were NO viable love interests on the canvas for her. However, what GL did right is they wove her story into Otalia’s frontburner story, developing her underlying fear of coming out to daughter Ashley and Ashley’s subsequent response (anger at not being told, and being trusted). So for Doris, her unequivocal happy ending was an open, healed relationship with Ashley.
GL resurrected Fletcher for Alexandra (like John for Lucinda) but also brought back both Holly and Ed for each other, and Mindy for Rick. So why these three grand dames of ATWT have had zero storyline these last few months is a shame.
Incidentally, just who do they think is watching the show? A non-negligible portion of their audience are fifty- and sixty-something year-old women who are (or may someday be) alone. What kind of message does this send them – that their only role in life is to worry about their philandering children?
So About That Gay Love Triangle…
This of course, leaves just Luke (Snyder), Noah, and Reid (oh yeah, and Richard who of course, is also gay).
Compared the the bribery, extortion, kidnapping, falsified medical records, faked pregnancies (and miscarriages), druggings, and more perpetrated by the straight characters on the show, these three are really boy scouts. And for the most part, their crimes have all been truly well-intentioned.
On Noah’s only material crime (aside from being a jerk – but if that was a crime, most of Oakdale would be in jail!) was marrying Ameera to keep her safe. While Luke had more than his share of missteps (including trashing Julia’s apartment, and DUI) in his youth, most of his later misdeeds have also had underlying selfless reasons: rigging the election because he thought Kevin would really be ruinous (though there were a lot of other issues involved there as well); lying for Ameera to keep her safe; blackmailing Reid to save Noah’s eyesight.
Reid’s only known “crime” is stealing the fellowship away from Chris Hughes a long time ago. While it’s still possible he had something to hide (which is why he succumbed to Luke’s blackmail bluff), his record is pretty much spotless.
In this calendar year, after Reid’s arrival, Noah’s worst offense is being a bad boyfriend (again, would send most of Oakdale to jail if actually a criminal offense). Reid and Luke? Reid saved Noah’s eyesight, helped Luke to grow a pair, and bailed out Holden. Luke flew to Dallas to save Reid’s medical license, and funded the new neuro wing (which, of course, you might as well put a match to at this point since instead of being run by Reid, it will now be run by Channing…or Richard Meredith with Reid’s ashes buried in the foundation).
So why is it that NONE of these three characters deserve a happy ending? The straight characters of their generation not only are ALL paired up (Casey, Ali, Parker, Faith, Gabriel, Liberty), but all (except maybe Faith, who’s the youngest) not only have relationship fulfillment, but career fulfillment (Casey, Ali, Parker, Liberty) or other wins (Gabriel/Craig) in addition.
Seriously, if they had done this right, they could certainly have shown Noah succeeding in LA, with a new love in his life (combining the Matt Reardon ending with Dinah and Mallet’s out-of-Springfield happy ending from GL) and Reid and Luke happy. The Nukies wouldn’t have liked it, but I would guess any neutral observers would consider it a fair solution.
I don’t buy a Nuke reunion, but if they’d wanted to take that path, they should have started redeeming Noah mid-March or so, and then allowed Reid to be COS with the promise of a relationship developing.
But no, instead, all three gay characters end up SOL.
P.S. The Hugheses vs the Snyders
Incidentally, I’ve always thought that the Snyders were one of the core families of ATWT. For example, if you look at the blinkx TV show description, it begins, “The randy residents of Oakdale fire up this hour of small-town scandals and big-league betrayals, especially among the Hughes and Snyder families.” The official As the World Turns site lists four core families: the Hugheses and Snyders, as well as the Stewarts and Ryans.
Yet somehow three Snyders have clearly been snubbed in the finale (Luke, Emma, and Meg), while all the Hugheses have their HEAs. The ATWT site describes the Hugheses as “working upper class” (does such a thing even exist? sounds like a way to make the doctor and lawyer-heavy Hugheses sound more like “regular folk”) and the Snyders as “a simple country clan.” So on top of the homophobic bias to the endings, and the snubbing elder stateswomen Lisa, Emma, and Susan, you can also add a bias against the working-class – so not only do you have to be straight (and preferably male and young) for a HAE on ATWT, you need to be affluent as well. Way to send an uplifting message, show.