Tuesday, October 26, 2010

By Alina Adams

I love old people. Primarily on TV, but, still....

Old actors can be very interesting to talk to. The late Helen Wagner (Nancy; ATWT) and I once had an awesome, bonding chat about how young people don't know how to use proper grammar anymore. And about why Alison and Chris shouldn't live together before marriage. "If you love him," we agreed. "Marry him. If you don't, they why are you together?"

Marj Dusay (Alex; GL) is always hilarious. As is Don Hastings (Bob; ATWT). Unlike many of the young actors just starting out, they can speak in complete sentences and actually express coherent thoughts that might be of interest to someone other than themselves. And when I interviewed Mark Pinter (Grant; AW) last year, he told me, "When I first started in daytime, it was 1979 on a show called Love of Life. I’ve done a lot of daytime, and I always found myself getting close to older actors: Shepherd Strudwick (Professor McCauley on LOL; James Matthews on AW), Ron Tomme (Bruce; LOL), Bill Roerick (Henry; GL), Larry Bryggman (John; ATWT). I would watch them work on the set and just steal everything I could from them. Because if you admire actors, you steal from them. It’s a wonderful thing."

But, I have to confess, the old people I really like are the imaginary ones.

When I kicked off my soap watching career in 1980 with General Hospital, yes, Luke and Laura were what first got my attention. But, by the end of the summer, the story I was really interested in was Lesley/Rick/Monica. And, since I was only ten years old at the time, they seemed really old. But, they were also a lot more interesting.

While ATWT tried to reel me in with the story of Lily and Holden (Martha Byrne and I are almost exactly the same age), I wanted to see John and Lucinda (and, earlier, when they were still Justin Deas and Margaret Colin, Tom and Margo).

On GL, sure, The Four Musketeers were okay, in their teeny-bopper-ish way, but Alan was who really held my attention, and later, when I was in college, the one and only Roger Thorpe.

These days, however, my favorite old people are the ones featured in Another World Today. Here's a trade secret: Old people are the easiest to write for.


Because they have so much history with everyone else on the canvas, the scenes more or less write themselves. You don't have to manufacture conflict or drama, it's already there. You don't have to come up with outlandish plot twists to force things to happen.

On AWT, I will use any excuse to get Rachel and Alice in a room together. Then stand back and just watch the fireworks (oh, and take notes).

This week, we are featuring the wedding of Spencer and Alice, two characters so far outside the traditionally desired youthful demographic that, on most shows, they are usually only trotted out for weddings and major holidays.

I realize that unlike a producer who works with actors, I don't have to worry about availability, contracts or budgets, so the comparison is somewhat unfair.

But, from a creative standpoint, give me old people over young people any day.

Young people are... how to put this nicely... dull. They haven't lived long enough to earn their angst. They haven't really suffered, they just think they have. (To be fair, GL's Beth had certainly experienced her share of real suffering before she was even old enough to drink, and so had Phillip, to some extent. But, that's what lifted their tale above standard-issue teeny-bopper fare. Lily Walsh, on the other hand, was just spoiled. Her biggest problem was having too many parents who loved her and were willing to sacrifice anything for her happiness.)

But, as always, this could be just me. For those who started watching soaps as teens, which stories did you find more compelling: The ones featuring your age group....

Or the ones with, you know, grown ups....

Tell us in the Comments section, below!

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