Monday, July 21, 2008

Is ATWT's Nuke a squandered opportunity?

Roger Newcomb linked a really nice post about the Nuke controversy. I liked it because it took a balanced view:

There’s also the realistic and tender side of As The World Turns. It’s found in the several other plots, including the love story of Luke and Noah. I’ve been trying to find my equilibrium since the writers opened up the issue of Luke’s sexuality. Luke has always been a dear character, in my book. He is, after all, the son of Damiangodofallmen Grimaldi - I remember Damian as he was, not the loser of a guy the writers transformed him into. With Luke’s coming out, I was fearfully sure the writers would take the same path with him that most daytime writers have taken with almost every other character who’s come out of the closet. Hank Elliot.

When I look at the difference between Hank Elliot’s storyline and Luke’s I am amazed. There’s such a sensitivity and care about developing Luke and Noah as people, not just ‘gay young adults’. For veteran soap viewers like myself, this is the gradual unfolding of a love story, the kind soap writers were once capable of penning. For other soap viewers, this storyline is at a standstill. Luke and Noah aren’t moving as quickly as other daytime couples. For me, it’s the fast moving couples that are the problem, but I understand the frustration. There have to be questions about why the writers have taken more time to advance this couple:

The author goes on to advance some great hypotheses about why the Nuke story has played out the way it has. Some of it is obvious (the P&G-homophobia/fear-of-AFA argument that has been discussed everywhere). Some of it is unlikely (Nuke too young for sex? Not with Parker kissing like a fool. Writers trying to script old fashioned romance? Yeah, right). But there is also an intriguing "sensitivity" argument: "Is there are greater sensitivity to Loah/Nuke becuase they’re sexual minorities and the writers are afraid of advancing stereotypes? I think it’s possible that there’s some merit to this one. The writers have not only kept the storyline around, but have found ways to deepen the commitment the two have for one another. "

Okay...but here's the thing.

I visit a lot of soap boards. Too many. And with rare exceptions (so rare I can name them), I mostly get four reactions to Nuke.

a. "I never liked Nuke. They were pushed before they were even really on screen. This is a homosexual agenda". Do with that what you want.

b. "The depiction of young male sexuality is SO unrealistic, I cannot invest in this tale". This goes beyond not kissing...because they do now. This is about the fact that they are not sexually satisfying each other. Most viewers acknowledge it doesn't have to happen on screen--this is NOT about voyeurism--but that it doesn't happen...

Noah was about to "ship off" to Iraq...and STILL he and Luke couldn't even -- forgive my language -- give a hand job or something?

c. I'd stick around for Nuke, but the REST of the show is so vile, this is only too much junk.

d. Go Nuke! Finally something that shows some element of the real gay experience with a member of a core family. Be happy that--even if this is a baby step--it is a real step.

In my more rational moments, I'm a "d". But I gotta tell you, that is a rare sentiment...and I see a lot more of a, b, c.

Here is my hope: Nuke opened the door. Noah's behavior has made many of us dislike him and think he needs to grow up.

So, for ATWT, I'd send Noah away, and give Luke a chance at a fresh, mature love--DEPICTED HONESTLY. (Think Brother and Sisters).

And for the NEXT soap (I personally hope it is B&B), use the door that Nuke bust open, and do it right--fearlessly (not Passions-fearlessly, but fearlessly) the next time.

As trailblazers, no matter what the future brings, Nuke, ATWT, and the actors have garnered my eternal gratitude for the big step they have taken...even if ultimately it was not quite big enough--or too big--for many in the audience.


lynn liccardo said...

hi mark --

following the nuke saga this past year -- yes, it really has been a year -- i can't help but be reminded of the goldilocks. most hetro relationships hook up way too fast. "hey, nice to meet you. want to f***?" is the norm, and really, there's not much romantic, or frankly, interesting, about that.

and, everyone (except for the homophobes) seems to agree, getting luke and noah together is taking way too long.

but if every other relationship on the show (and i'm guessing, soaps in general, although not oltl), wasn't moving at warp speed, it wouldn't be so glaring.

so, in the future, maybe the writers could try and get it "just right, not too fast, not too slow."

Norrth said...

Thanks for the kind words about the blog, Mark. I've grown weary of the direction the ATWTs writers have taken, since I wrote that. The warp speed of the Puberty relationship did it for me. I am still very appreciative of the respect and genuine warmth they've given to Nuke as a couple, but it's time to move forward.

I've noticed that they've kept Nuke away from a peer group. I think it's because it would make it even more difficult to hold Nuke back while letting their peers move forward with relationships, work, families, you name it.

To Lynn, I completely agree. The fact that it's so common for soap characters to fall into bed before even learning one another's names is disturbing. I hate sex scenes in daytime and miss the old-fashioned courtships. What happened to the months and years of chase before sex was even discussed? The golden days of daytime have spoiled me.

Nuke being together makes more sense to me, than almost any other couple on screen.