Thursday, November 22, 2012

The More I Know, The Less I Understand






Soap characters.  Sneaky ones, scheming ones, sweet ones, and not-so-sweet ones.  Small-business owners, and CEOs of major corporations.  People who built their empires from nothing, and people who inherited their many luxuries without ever having to put in an honest day’s work in their lives. Family-oriented men and corporate-minded women.  People who Macbethed their way up the ladder, and people who stepped up every rung without once stepping out of line.

When I say “people”, of course, I mean straight people.  Gay people have no time for all the aforementioned frivolities, like exploring different facets of their personalities, or nurturing/destroying relationships with friends/family/classmates/co-workers/etc.  They have their hands full teaching bigots and homophobes how to sing in peace and harmony.  Or at least that’s what Days seems to think.



Days forgets more often than not that it’s a soap, and not a fucking afterschool special.  Remember less than a year ago when Will suddenly came to life after he caught EJ surfing Sami on the waves of the DiMansion sofa?  It was a truly amazing thing.  Will went from being Rafe’s weenie dog to being EJ’s handsome, young Igor in a matter of weeks, which plucked him from the dull and vapid younger crowd and dropped him into the orbit of the far more interesting thirty-somethings.  He was no longer just the guy who watched the kids while Sami and Rafe were having sex or out judging the general population of Salem.  He was no longer insufferable ol’ Gabi’s uninterested boyfriend.  Suddenly he just snapped and realized that nice guys don’t always finish last, but that it happens often enough that he should start looking out for number one.  And that’s exactly what he did.  He went out and blackmailed up a job for himself working for EJ, along with a car and an apartment.  You see, gay people can blackmail people just as well as straight people can, and, just like straight people, some are better at it than others.

“They really want to tell a story that is unique and different from all the other stereotypical stories. I think they realize now is the time to take a risk and do a story like this where it’s not all PG, and not all happy, and everyone is loving and accepting. I think that is what makes this story so great; it’s twisted and dark and has so many facets to it. Another thing I like is they are not making Will the misunderstood goody-goody. He has some edge. He is going into a gray area instead of being such a clean character. I think that’s good too, because most of the storylines I have watched or read about involving a gay character, they seem to be afraid or hesitant to make the character bad. The lines are blurred here.”

-Chandler Massey, December 2011
MichaelFairmanSoaps.com


At first Will's reason for blackmailing EJ was to get enough cash to get the hell away from his mother.  But then something amazing happened.  He started to love his job, and he started to respect EJ, and he started to embrace his sexuality and come of age.  He started becoming comfortable in his own skin.  He was proud of his accomplishments, and unabashedly unafraid to stand up for what he thought was right (which, at the time, was keeping the object of his affection out of prison for a crime he didn't commit, having his own apartment away from Mother Hubbard and her shoe full of kids under the age of nine, being able to hit a gay club or two with Neil, and being one of the only people in all of Salem with a car).  In short, he was an engaging character with layers and all sorts of delicious quirks and qualms that could unlock so much storyline potential.

He had chemistry with so many different characters on the show.  His scenes with Marlena as she carefully nudged him towards the threshold of the closet he was still in were sweet and funny.  He had his group of friends that now included Sonny, and despite declaring that Sonny was not going to be reduced to being his gay life coach, well…Sonny was his gay life coach.  He was interacting with characters he’d never really interacted with in the past – Nicole and Abe, for instance.  Hell, we even saw him talking to Roman.  Like an adult, no less!



But for me, it was all about EJ and Will.  Ejill?  Wilvis?  Fucktacularly homolicious?  Whatever you’d call it, it was fun to watch.  So of course Gary Tomlin had to come in and pour sand on the fire.  There’s a line from Sex & the City that comes to mind when I think of Ejill’s time together.  “First come the gays, then the girls, then the industry.”  That’s pretty much what happened.  Yes, there was the coming out story that people had been anticipating forever, but there was this strange, palpable something happening between Will and EJ.  Chandler Massey and James Scott were clever enough to pick up on it and played it to the hilt.  Will smiled and snickered around EJ like a schoolboy in love (which essentially was how most of us were seeing it, too).  He looked positively starry-eyed around him.  EJ would deliver his lines with a glint in his own eyes that suggested he might be aware of the double-entendres, or might not.  It was up to us to decide if there was subtext, and what that subtext was.  In short, viewers were allowed to make what they wanted to make of what was happening on screen, rather than having “the word of God” telling us how and what to make of their dynamic. 

“I am so glad to discover that I’m not the only one who wants EJ to throw Will on the ground, mount him like a stag, and make the little bitch squeal.”

-James St. James, June 2012

The storyline was getting attention from viewers and the media, both gay and straight, and people seemed to be loving Will’s friendship with Sonny, his smexy, under-the-bridge antics with Neil (Jesse Kristofferson), and his adorable eagerness to please when it came to anything and everything EJ-related.  The storyline and its star won well-deserved awards and accolades. So there you have it - the gays, the girls, and the industry.  You can see why TomSell had to put a stop to it.

The gay storyline at that point was one of a few that Chandler Massey was juggling.  Will wasn’t defined solely by his sexuality (you know…the way us straight folks aren’t) the way he is now.  He was a skilled computer hacker, an astute observer, a competent liar, and a blackmailer-in-training.  He was a student, a loving grandson, a son who had a complicated (to say the least) relationship with his parents, a big brother to Allie, Johnny and Sydney, and a friend and confidant to EJ (even though EJ would never admit that – not until their abrupt “break-up” back in September).  He was more than just half of “that gay couple on Days of Our Lives”.

Stupid me naively thought that a second appearance on Days with
his arms around Will meant something would come of it.

Since then, it seems as though Tomsell has decided that if MarDar can win awards for writing a “gay storyline”, so can they.  It’s pretty evident, though, that Tomsell is still focused mainly on plot-points and less on actual story.  The first thing they did was remove Will from EJ’s orbit, so there went the job he loved, the one he’d spent weeks defending to anyone within a ten-foot radius.  Suddenly, inexplicably, Will decided that he wanted to be his own man.  You know, the kind of independent man who knows who he is and who he wants to be.  A man with a job, his own apartment, and his ow --- Hey…wait a second…

Interviewer:  We’ve heard through you and some of the other press that a Sonny/Will coupling is probably not going to happen.  Do you think that’s a good thing, because maybe it would have been a little too easy just to put these two together…?

Freddie:  It is. And I think that if it does happen in the future – which it could – that there’s gonna be so much more…Imagine being friends with someone for years, and you finally get together.  It’s gonna be explosive.

AfterElton.com, October 2011

Then Will and Sonny were suddenly rushed together.  After several interviews that took place over the course of a year in which both Freddie Smith and Chandler Massey said that it would be silly for Sonny and Will to get together simply because they’re the only two gay men in town, they got together because they were the only two gay men in town.  Neil (Jesse Kristofferson) vanished from the face of the planet, and Brian (Brant Daugherty) was reduced to being Sonny’s truthteller.  He was around just long enough for Sonny to suddenly lose complete interest in him so that Brian could tell him he was really interested in Will.  Boring, ol’ Sonny was interested in Vanilla Will (Wilnilla?).

"I'm sorry, Brian. But since you are not the gay man I'm interested in, we have no need
of you here in Salem.  Two gays per soap city.  You'll have to take your coffee to go."


TPTB announced that there would be an “anti-gay bullying storyline”, which was absolutely laughable.  The bully, T (Brendan Coughlin) beat up Sonny, so Sonny responded by punching him in the face the first chance he got.  Will, meanwhile, logically responded to T’s bullying by sleeping with Gabi, which, I suppose is akin to suicide.

"Sonny was picked on for being gay early on. So it has developed slowly, like it does in real life.  And what's interesting is that the bullying is being done by different people."

-Freddie Smith, August 2012

Yeah. Like…two.  And one is Will’s father.  I think what Lucas is actually doing is called “being a homophobic, unsupportive parent”, which, by the way, is a complete 180 for the character who didn’t run from the room in a panic when his son announced he was gay, but that’s another blog entry.  About a year ago T said a bunch of nasty shit to Sonny, who flipped him off with a big "whatever, dude", then apparently left Salem for a year, resurfacing a couple of months ago to tell Will and Sonny that he didn’t want to catch “the gay” from them.  Nothing about that storyline “developed slowly”.  Worse yet, the dialogue was positively cringe-worthy in its juvenility, with lines like, “Will was straight, ‘til he met you.”


“There’s people in this country, that, just because they have a last name like 
mine, have to show papers to walk down the street. Did you know that?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
I’d love to know the answer to that question, too, 
but that would just mean more of Gabi talking, so fuck that.


I think the most infuriating thing about all this is that the storyline turned out to be little more than a way to get some free advertising from gay media outlets while also acting as a way to get Gabi pregnant with some precious Brady stock.  Why have the Hernandez family earn a permanent place on the canvas by endearing themselves to viewers when TomSell can just keep handing them shit.


Hey, NBC.  How’s about getting rid of some
of the real-life bullies on your Facebook page?


Okay, okay.  Back to me trying to stay on topic.

While I love what Sonny and Will represent, from the perspective of a soap opera viewer I’m completely bored out of my gourd.  Their sex scene was executed well enough (I was beyond impressed that they showed Will and Sonny’s bare thighs, which suggested that they weren’t wearing pants, which suggested actual sex took place!), I don’t see a lick of sexual chemistry between the two.  Obviously chemistry is in the eye of the beholder, and there are plenty of people out there who think Will and Sonny are hot.  I’m happy that they’ve found something to enjoy about the show these days, and – coming from someone who’s been waiting since mid-2008 for Sami and EJ to fuck in a bed – I truly, truly mean that.  For me, though, it feels like they were quickly tacked together to fill an agenda.  Will’s coming out story won awards.  Will kissing Neil got mainstream media attention.  Anti-gay bullying storyline?  Will and Sonny have sex?  More free advertising for the show, but little more than that.  And now that Gabi is pregnant, could a story about whether or not gays can be suitable parents be that far behind?  Since September, everything that’s happened to and between Will and Sonny has felt so cold and calculated.  There’s just no heart or heat in it anymore for me.

Our anti-gay bullying cast. Or something. Oh - and Caleb Hunt,
who I just stuck in there because I think he's gorgeous.


Poor Will hasn’t had a chance to do what a lot of characters get to do at his age on television – go out, meet people, date people, fall spectacularly in love, fall ever-so-dramatically out of love, then fall in love all over again.  All soap staples.  But Will isn’t just a soap character anymore.  Will has been groomed to be the award-winning gay Rosa Parks of daytime.  TomSell stripped Will of anything that might have kept him even remotely interesting, might have kept him from being more than just “that cute, blonde, gay kid from Days”.  After all, it wasn’t just anyone coming out.  It was Will coming out.

Nipple nibbling?  Milky-white thighs tangled in sex-messed
bed sheets?  You go, Wilson!

I’m going to pretend the past couple of months haven’t happened.  I’m going to pretend that Will continued working for EJ, honing his scheming skills and dreaming of starting his own empire.  I’m going to pretend that Will and his mother still have that tumultuous relationship Sami had with her mother for so many years so I can watch him in all his snarky, mirror-carrying, truth-telling glory.  I’m going to pretend that the show still has an interest in character development, and character-driven writing, and develops Sonny so that when he and Will finally do get together, I know who the hell that guy is and give a shit when Will has an argument with him and walks out looking absolutely crushed.  Most importantly, I’m going to pretend Will didn’t sleep with a girl whom we've previously established through months and months of storytelling he has no physical attraction to just because he was sad.  A girl he insisted on using protection with the first time they had sex, but for some reason couldn’t care less about the second time around. 

“I did not go through all of that story for them to now have [Will], ‘in a moment of sorrow’, fuck a woman.  I am a gay man.  I have never fucked pussy in sorrow.”

-Larry Flick, September 2012


I’m going to pretend that, like with any straight couple on a soap, the interloper is someone who could feasibly keep two characters “meant to be” apart.  Nicole and Eric had Lucas and Greta.  Bo and Hope had Carly.  Jack and Jennifer had Dan.  And Frankie.  And Brandon… Every couple deserves a decent, plausible interloper.  How lame is it that Will and Sonny’s interlopers are Gabi’s inability to keep track of neither her birth control nor her menstrual cycle, and Lucas?  At least if Ejill was still around, we’d have Will crushing on the bad boy, letting us viewers soak up all that chemistry between James Scott and Chandler Massey, while the good boy worked at winning his heart.  Le sigh.

Wasted potential.  Wasted Days.


9 comments:

  1. Bravo! Awesome as always, Diggy!

    It's a damn shame how quickly Tomsell took the interesting, complex character that Will had become through MarDar's combo of Will's coming-out story and his unconventional friendship with EJ and reduced him to nothing more than a one-dimensional stereotype. I swear that it happened in the blink of an eye, or at least over the course of a few minutes of conversation between him and EJ at the town square. WHAT THE FUCK?

    I liked it when the grey Will and the vanilla Sonny were friends and thought that they might have a little potential as a couple. However, I hoped that Days wouldn't just glue together the only two gay characters on the show because they're the only two gay characters on the show and they didn't want to create a stir by bringing in any more gay characters. I also know that some people see tons of chemistry with Wilson and they're enjoying all of Wilson's scenes. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. They don't have much in the way of sexual chemistry and they're just too much alike for my taste - vanilla + vanilla = boring. I think that this could have worked a lot better if Will had kept his edge, but that was unceremoniously stripped away over the course of a single episode. It also didn't help that Will decided to have unprotected sex with Gabi in a moment of "sadness" just so that Gabi could tie the Hernandez horrors into the main families of Salem through a child and make the H-crew seem less irrelevant to the Salem landscape. Plot point. Plot point. Plot point. Fail.

    Good soap is about interesting, compelling characters, not moulding them to fit plot point and connect the dots in whatever horrid plot they're trying to sell. This is something that Tomsell have apparently never learned and it seems like they never will. It makes me very sad for Days. So much potential, yet again wasted with a few pen-strokes from a team that doesn't have a clue how to relate to a contemporary audience. Shame on Days.


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  2. You said it all. I'm not one bit surprised that an interesting storyline got turned into something else. It now seems so deliberate they do this crap on purpose. Every single instance when they could develop a nice storyline, it's suddenly dropped and forgotten.

    Great post!

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  3. Thank you Diggy! Every comment of yours is SOOOO on target. Needless to say I wish you would write more often; but we have to admit November 2012 has not been as inspiring as last year’s... That was then, this is now...

    I’m glad someone finally acknowledged the non-chemistry between Will and Sonny. I mean their lovers’ chemistry because in the friendship department, Wilson is a fine combination.

    I get the impression that if fans say they don’t «feel» this couple, it’s like being against the gay storyline. Which is absolutely not true. But in my opinion, there is palpable discomfort between Chandler and Freddie that gives a funny taste to their character’s love story. Maybe it’s just me... hmmm, some people have said that Rafe and Sami as friends works well and I absolutely don’t see that either!!! But that’s a whole other story!

    You do have a point about how they are killing a perfectly interesting character by reducing him to his sexual orientation. The fact it was decided in the «hautes sphères» to get rid of the EJill connection is as stupid for the ratings as it is disrespectful for the clever fans who «got it»! It was also a bad Tomsell decision for both James and Chandler who not only excelled in the subtly of their parts but were given new dimensions to their characters. Everyone, from actors to audience, was gaining from this smart combination. The younger man «seduced» by the mature one, the fully grown one inspired by the younger one’s naiveté and desire to be taught.

    I believe Will growing closer to his mother and accepting who she is had a lot to do with EJ’s influence on him. I also think Will helped EJ realize what Samantha really meant to him. Wasn’t it wonderful when Will asked EJ what he found in Sami that made him go back to her incessantly? I miss that...

    What I hate the most right now is this stupid idea of a Gabill baby on the way. No doubt they found crucial to tie some kind of knot between the Hernandez and Brady families... But in the process, they made Sami a freakin’ parrot and Rafe a suddenly compassionate big brother. I’m depressed...

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  4. Great article, Diggy. What the writers have done to this character is a disgrace. GT does NOT understand "grey" and "complicated" characters like Will, Sami, E.J. or Kristen.

    Which is why I am fully expecting to see him completely destroy Kristen at some point, like he did with Sami and E.J. during the DH years. And Will right now.

    If he needed some angst for WilSon, Will working for E.J. could have done that. The DiMeras and the Kiriakis have a past. During WilSon's conversations's about E.J., it became apparent that Sonny just didn't know Will at all. It would have been fun watching Sonny realize that Will is not the sweet, innocent boy that he thinks he is. And Will trying to find a balance between remaining the guy that Sonny sees in him and who he is.

    Instead we have to watch Will being used to prop the lame Hernandez and solidify their place in Salem.

    WHATEVER!

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  5. Excellent! I agree with EVERYTHING you said. It has been just awful to see the exciting/buzzworthy/entertaining EJILL relationship end and to watch Will go back to being a boring character. Will having sex with Gabi and the subsequent baby is just wrong on so many levels. MarDar weren't perfect, but their writing for Will was phenomenal. It was refreshing to see an innovative approach for a gay character. I really miss watching the edgy/confident Will and the EJILL relationship. This would've been much better angst for Will & Sonny than this awful Will & Gabi baby! Now Will and Sonny are boring and I agree with you that they were thrown together too fast. Now we're going to have to endure endless Will and Gabi scenes and yet another boring baby story.
    I just miss EJILL and the complex/gray Will we got to know and love. My interest in WilSon has diminished as well now.
    The writing for Will has been such a letdown since TomSell took over.

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  6. Great blog going into detail about what exactly is it that made Will's characterization under TomSell become so boring. As to the why it happened? It's so simple: Tomlin & Whitesell are petty little creatures. And that's exactly what I thought would happen when they'd get back the jobs they were fired from: they'd exact revenge on their predecessors by completely dismantling this past year's work. There were rumors (or blind items I'm not sure) about newly appointed head writers going to the network & asking them to make the last year a dream but the network refused. Needless to say it was obvious it was TomSell & they've found (contrived) ways to undo everything without making it a dream. TomSell underestimated the intelligence of some viewers though, who could see through their shenanigans. Let's run down some of the stories that got derailed, shall we? First, the obvious: EJ & Sami going on the run together. When Rafe showed up in their storyline after only a week & Ian was caught in less than 2, it was obvious someone wanted that to end & end quickly. And then, there were almost all the vets MarDar had brought back: Austin & Carrie leaving town, Jack dying for the millionth time & TPTB downplaying Jack & Carrie's sentimental value to Jennifer & Rafe, all while insulting viewers' intelligence. After that, there were the newbies that MarDar introduced: dead was Madison & captured straight to offscreensville was Ian. And then, there were all the storyline turns: Gabi failing to pay for having a hand in the Daysaster, Daniel & Nicole going from willful participants to neediness on Nicole's part, Cameron & Abby breaking up and now there are rumors she'll be all about Chad again, Chad & Melanie breaking up (to be fair, MB was leaving), Sami & Rafe inexplicably not being over each other after not speaking or thinking of each other for months, Rafe getting back in the Salem PD & inexplicably getting a promotion over Bo & Hope after he was fired from the force last year, Jennifer getting into Daniel's business again after months being careful to stay out of his life, EJill's working relationship inexplicably being broken off after Will had been defending it for weeks on end, Nicole losing another baby. And then, there were storylines that were simply not properly addressed: what's the significance of the coin? Are John & Hope still legally married? All of this just doesn't make take Days seriously anymore & does not want to make me watch on a regular basis.

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  7. Hi Diggy!! I'm so behind the times!! But Days has failed to be entertaining (other than from a snarky perspective), so I don't feel entirely bad about it.

    The biggest failure of the new/old regime is a return of certain stories such as the Sami/Rafe crap, because that is what it truly is, but the treatment of Will is definitely the number two failure of this group. For the majority of 2012, I found myself enjoying Will for the first time EVER! And the reason I was enjoying Will had little to do with his sexuality, but rather, about finally seeing Will morph into the grey little man he should have been. His parents are Sami and Lucas, so by that genetic pool he should be loud and scheming...

    I loved watching Will flourish under EJ's tutelage. First off, their chemistry was a-mazing, but also, it was kind of an interesting twist to the Brady/DiMera plotline that we've had for so many years. But under EJ's influence, we finally saw Will. He was interesting and devious. He stood up for himself because he had the confindence thanks to his mentor. And in one short scene, Will resorted to being just plain old, boring Will once again.

    Sonny has clearly been painted as a "good" guy. So, I think you're right in that it would have been interesting to see Will conflicted between the life that working for EJ presented, and a good, little domestic life with Sonny. Freaking Gabi should not be anywhere near this story, unless of course, this is an elaborate exit storyline. (Although, I've learned the hard way with Days, that what I want to see is not what's going to happen. Kind of a tough life lesson to learn from a soap, but I digress).

    Sonny and Will were way too rushed. It would have been nice to watch Will date around a little. I always felt that Wilson was pre-ordained in a way, but was hoping that Will would experiment with Neil or Brian a little first. And thank you for the gratuitous picture of "Andrew." I miss that hot pink wearing psychopath!!

    I'm not even going to discuss the heavy-handed, after school special approach we had on the bullying story. It was OTT, unnecessary, and I think it belittled the plight that real life gay men and women have to endure. But as I said, better to let sleeping dogs lie.

    I always love your blogs Diggy! I promise to keep a better eye out for the next one!!

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  8. When I go back to the blackmailing scene and watch it over
    ...'keep your friends close and your enemies closer'..comment by EJ, it seems EJ was trying to scare Will into staying around. Why? Because EJ cares for Will, the big lug. Sure he came off as pissed off that Will had the balls to try blackmail, but in the end it seemed to me EJ was looking out for Will in his complex sort of way. The show seemed a lot more interesting when Will was inside of EJ's orbit. Fast forward to today and they seem relatively disconnected.

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