I really, really tried to watch Beth Ehlers on All My Children. I wanted to catch a glimpse of Ehlers (formerly of Guiding Light) in her new role as Taylor, a wary veteran just back from Iraq.
It all sounds ideal. The role plays to all of Ehlers’ strengths. AND she would be reunited with the actor who has been a big part of her success over the last several years (Ricky Paull Goldin).
But I tried to watch, and I have to say, it just Broke. My. Heart.
I know that there was a time when Harley didn’t exist, but I fell for the character when Ehlers made her memorable entrance (giving birth to Daisy in the back seat of a car). I’ve followed Harley through thick and thin, and loved the changes and nuances that Ehlers gave the role. Quite simply, Harley was THE glue of GL for me, and Ehlers was my favorite actress there. I admit I was not the biggest fan of the Gus/Harley pairing after a while, but I understood why Harley would be attracted to him.
It broke my heart that Goldin and Ehlers aren’t in those roles anymore. And trying to watch them on AMC just reminds me of – excuse my French here, folks – the very shitty way that they were treated as they left and since. (This isn’t conjecture; Ehlers discussed this in Soap Opera Weekly.)
It makes me even sadder about the current state of Guiding Light, a show that (despite the efforts and affection for the show from its cast and crew) clearly seems to be beyond the point of return and is sliding slowly towards its inevitable death in the most undignified way that it can.
And if I may go off on a tangent here? An open letter to Ellen Wheeler and whoever’s-writing-the-show-right-now:
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO WAY – EVER, EVER, EVER – THAT HARLEY WOULD ABANDON HER CHILDREN FOR MONTHS. None. It is completely outside the realm of logic. If any of you knew the history of the show farther back than five years (or the last commercial break) you’d know that Harley was abandoned by her mother and father. She just would NOT put her kids through that. So DO SOMETHING. Recast the role permanently, or if you’re going to kill her off, at least bring someone back to play her off the canvas. (Hayley Sparks is probably available.)
Sorry if this comes off as angry and defeated. But I think my ability to have hope and faith for a show I’ve loved for decades is almost completely gone. And I don’t know if it can ever come back.