Otalia: My two cents

For readers who just checked out the great interview I just posted with Destini, the leader of the Otalia online community, thanks for stopping by! I just wanted to add my own two cents about the story, and why I think it’s so successful.  

As I’ve mentioned before, I was a bit concerned about how it would all play out, mostly because viewers have been burned so many times with insta-romances and 180-degree personality changes. But the execution story has been flawless every step of the way. 

Video courtesy of Destini and the Otalia YouTube channel

And though the show’s initial, and official response to inquiries – e.g., “This is not being presented as a lesbian storyline,” raised eyebrows and some ruffles, it makes complete sense now. It was genius to take this approach – by just telling this as a love story between two characters, it underscores the universal qualities of love.

It’s like hearing the lyrics to a song; it’s allowing the audience – the people seeing and hearing this narrative piece of art – interpret it in their own way and relate to it from their own point of view. 

And though it may seem on the surface that not labeling it as a lesbian love story is a disservice to the story – or even a sign of shame about it – it’s quite the contrary. I think it shows – in a far more tangible way than any other story in recent memory – what LGBT people have been trying to tell voters and judges in their states – love is love. 

I love that it’s a very basic, classic love story. And Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia have mad, mad chemistry together. This may sound odd, but their energy together – the sparks and the tension between them – reminded me of another couple, and I finally realized who it was: Roger and Holly.

No, these characters are by no means the same characters, or in the same situations. But Olivia’s tension and anxiety reminded me a bit of Roger. Natalia sees Olivia for who she really is, just as Roger only ever let his mask down and let himself be truly vulnerable around Holly. And Natalia has Holly’s warmth and sexiness (with a lot less neurosis). 

One last point – I think the response to this has been so positive because this is new territory. Like the best of the Nuke story, it’s a traditional story told with people we’ve not necessarily seen in our fictional worlds before. I think in a time where fans are bored to tears with the same-old, same-old and can practically recite the dialogue before it happens, it’s great to see a story that actually creates tension for the audience – and leaves them wanting.

Now, I’m not saying new-for-the-sake-of-new is always a great thing. (See under: cloning, walking through paintings, anything prefaced with “this has never been done on daytime before!!!!!!111111!!!!!!!!) But Otalia is an example of the reality I’m always hoping to see – two real, relatable people who care about each other and are involved in each other’s lives. In a messy, complicated way that draws us in, of course!

And more than anything, we know that Natalia and Olivia are falling for each other because of what we see. Finally, a soap is following one of the cardinal rules of drama: 

Show us, don’t tell us.

All My Children told us that Reese and Bianca were in love, but showed us Reese kissing Zach – a complete disconnect. 

GL has used the word lesbian sparsely, but they show us the love between Olivia and Natalia every time we see them together.

26 thoughts on “Otalia: My two cents

  1. They do indeed show us the love every time we see them together. What a beautiful way to end the article, Patrick.

    If only AMC would have gotten that lesson before Bianca and Reese showed up.

    I cannot wait to see how Guiding Light takes Otalia into the future. I can’t imagine how these characters might finally get on the same page and that’s the beauty of it. Finally a soap is keeping us guessing again!

  2. Great post, Patrick. You nailed it with the “show, not tell” axiom. GL has done that from the get-go with this storyline and it’s been brilliant. The reason this is resonating for so many people is because it’s realistic.

    Thanks for spotlighting this beautiful storyline.

  3. Thank you so much for covering this wonderful story! It’s refreshing to finally have a relatable storyline on tv which can connect people all around the world. The love shown by these two characters is so true to life and the actors are doing a tremendous job of capturing the essence of this storyline. It’s been a joy to watch so far and I’m sure that I’ll continue to be sucked in.

    In line with the soap cardinal rule… I think a lot of us are more than ready for more showing!!! 🙂 Otalia all the way!

  4. Loved your 2 cents! I think you hit the nail on the head. We’re seeing a love story without being told it’s a love story. If someone is falling in love or is already in love then everyone around them can see it. They don’t have to walk up to you say hey, I’m in love. All you need to do is take one look at a couple and its obvious! Thanks for that!

  5. Thank you for the coverage of Otalia. I totally agree about some shows where you can recite the dialogue before it happens. I think the speculation on the BPD board is part of what makes it so great. We all have a different take and GL still surprises us. It’s a real credit to the writers.

  6. Your comments are spot on Patrick! I initially was put off that GL wasn’t describing this as a lesbian relationship. Now I think that it’s been a brilliant decision to call this a “love story” not a gay story. Falling in love is universal and relatable. Hopefully all viewers, gay or straight, can appreciate the quality of the writing and acting we are seeing with Otalia storyline.

  7. When I briefly got involved in an acting/writing class, that saying – “Don’t tell us, show us” – was drilled into us. It’s amazing how often it’s ignored when telling stories on TV or movies or even stage.

    But that’s exactly what they’re doing at GL with Otalia. Telling us they care about each other would ring hollow. Seeing is truly believing with this storyline. And they’ve already shown us a year’s worth. That’s commitment.

    Thanks for your thoughts and support!

  8. This was one of may favorite parts. So true!!!

    “And though it may seem on the surface that not labeling it as a lesbian love story is a disservice to the story – or even a sign of shame about it – it’s quite the contrary. I think it shows – in a far more tangible way than any other story in recent memory – what LGBT people have been trying to tell voters and judges in their states – love is love. “

  9. Thank-you for that great post. You summed up exactly how I feel about this story. I like how you linked it to what the LGBT community has been trying to shout about for years.
    It’s amazing how just telling a story can change more minds than much of that shouting has done.
    I agree that they have been SHOWING us. In fact, it’s all been showing and no telling. I love that about it. Love it. I hope they continue to be brave and to continue to show us. They have struck gold with JL and CC. I don’t know how they manage the chemistry, whether its luck or manufactured, or both….but it’s explosive! They could sit in silence and you’d feel it.

  10. Thanks for this thoughtful analysis. I very much agree with your assessment of why the Olivia/Natalia storyline has proven so compelling. Yes, the writing and acting has been terrific from day one, but it also involves the audience in an atmosphere of genuine discovery. As you said, it’s “a story that actually creates tension for the audience – and leaves them wanting”. How refreshing to feel we’re no longer treading the same narrative hamster wheel, but are taking a journey with these characters into truly uncharted emotional territory!

  11. Thank you for your article. I watch the clips of Olivia and Natalia together and am totally charmed. I love the sparks, the quips, the long looks, and the obvious affection these two characters show each other on TV… ON TV! I’ve never seen this with two women on TV. I’m loving every minute of it and hope it continues for a very long time.

  12. Thanks again Patrick! Like I said before, this is the best love story I’ve seen in a long time. Best one on television, bar none. I have so much respect for everyone over at GL for the way this story has been presented. They are not jumping up and down, screaming look at us, and trying to rack up a bunch of acclaim and awards. They are just slowly but surely telling the best story on daytime.

  13. Love the “show us, don’t tell us” line!! That’s so true. You can tell me all day long that 2 people are in love, but if i don’t see it, I won’t believe it. GL is doing an amazing job by showing us BEFORE telling us that Olivia and Natalia love each other. This is what true soap story-telling should be…and what it used to be. Hopefully GL and Otalia will inspire other shows to go back to the classic style of soap writing where they allow the audience to invest in characters and storyline over a period of time. If a story is told in the right way, people WILL watch! Otalia is proof of that!!

  14. Patrick your post was beautiful, it makes me teary eyed! I am so happy the way GL is telling the love story of Olivia & Natalia two people that fall in love, this story touches my own life, and when I watch them together on screen they pull you in heart & soul! It’s not like we are watching a tv soap, it’s like we are watching a real live love story in front of our eyes, the chemistry of Crystal & Jessica is pure poetry in motion! I am on the edge of my seat everyday loving every Otalia moment we get, and can’t wait to see more of their journey together!

  15. Patrick, thanks for putting the Otalia storyline in this broader context. It really needs to be seen from that perspective cause the way this same sex love story is being told is almost revolutionary. If it wasn’t such an incredibly beautiful experience to watch this unfold I’d almost get bitter considering what that tells us about those last decades of LGBT representation on TV.

  16. Beautifully put, Patrick! Guiding Light, Crystal Chappell, and Jessica Leccia are showing viewers what soap operas use to be like; a slow burning, love story. We do see the love between these individuals, and we also see the love they share for both of their children (Emma and Rafe). The word “family” is used frequently; how cool is it to have this family established before establishing them as a couple. It’s just clever and unique. Thanks for spreading the Otalia love.

  17. “All My Children told us that Reese and Bianca were in love, but showed us Reese kissing Zach – a complete disconnect.

    GL has used the word lesbian sparsely, but they show us the love between Olivia and Natalia every time we see them together.”

    Perfectly put Patrick. I can’t wait to see how Otalia plays out on my screen everyday. It’s my love glue.

  18. Patrick thank you so much for a wonderful article. Your “two cents” on Otalia is truly priceless. You are so correct w/Otalia we are definitely being shown what true, deep and meaningful love is and not being told what it should be. Because GL took the “show us” and not “tell us” stand point with this story, as you stated, we’ve all become very invested in these two ladies and their story. Thanks again for the wonderful article!!

  19. very well said, patrick! otalia is indeed something new, bcoz it is realistic, and almost everyone, if not all, can relate.. the angst, the waiting, its all worth it!

  20. My biggest issue with the way Natalia and Olivia are written as they are too much in a bubble. What relationships does Natalia have outside of Olivia and Emma? Alan, Rafe, Remy, Frank The first three relationships are usually ignored and the last may not last for much longer. I have no idea how they will have Frank handle the idea of two women loving each other. I hope they give Natalia people she can rely on that aren’t Olivia/Emma/Rafe.

    I don’t see much Roger and Holly in Natalia and Olivia as Holly was damaged as much as Roger. Holly without the neurosis is not Holly (at least for me). I feel that Roger could be vulnerable with her, because she saw the worst of him, still loved him, and believed in his redemption. Natalia has seen Olivia do some awful things, but usually not to her.

    Olivia isn’t the town outcast who is hated by nearly everyone. The only parallel to them (meaning Roger/Holly) I see is how there is an unspoken undercurrent, between the two women just like whomever Roger and Holly were seeing Zas and MG wouldn’t forgo the subtext of Roger/Holly.

    BL, I knew you’d have a great comment and unique point of view! You are right, Otalia is in somewhat of a bubble. I am HOPING that’s more of a side effect of the slow build. I did like how they’ve been slowly drawing others in – Bill, Mel, and even Phillip – who are getting a clue. But you’re right, those people are mostly connected to Olivia. The reveal of their relationship – when the story takes that turn – should make a big impact.

    One person Olivia’s turned to – Jeffrey – has been MY biggest thumbs down. It’s been a hard road to try and reconcile the fact that Olivia’s put the rape behind her, but having Jeffrey be a confidant was a bit much.

    I wasn’t saying that either Olivia or Natalia were supposed to verbatim represent Roger and Holly. I just see a similarity in the type of tension between the characters, for some of the same reasons.

  21. Patrick, what a thoughtful article! I have been scratching my head about why Otalia is so an addictive/obsessive pair to watch. I don’t watch soaps regularly and have rarely felt invested in any soap couple.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment ‘Show us don’t tell us’. That’s it! This story line is not preachy or out to convert anyone. It is a love story between two people who are dramatically different from each other but still get each other on a level no one else in their lives ever have.

  22. I say, bring on the angst and drama; this has been a well thought out and truly soap-worthy. It’s been a long time since a show has pulled me in so strongly (re: Xena) and I’m having a lot of fun waiting to see what happens next.


  23. I think we’ll see Natalia and Olivia begin to break out of that bubble now as they both step back and re-evaluate where their lives are headed now that it seems their happy farmhouse may no longer be just theirs.

    Their bubble was needed at the time. It’s about to burst.

  24. I love Otalia but I dont know what they are going to do. They need to hurry up and either take the plunge, or not. Jessica is clearly starting to show her pregnancy. They try to hide her behind coats, blankets, tables and pillows, but they are not going to be able to do this much longer. She is going to have to disappear for a while to have the baby. So I think GL is going to be forced to either make these two commit to a relationship or break them up. Breaking them up would be a crying shame.

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