The curious case of Otalia

otalia3By now, most soap fans and soap blog surfers know that “Otalia” is the squish name for Guiding Light‘s most buzzworthy couple, Olivia and Natalia.

For those that don’t, a quick history recap:

The foundation for this unconventional couple came about in 2008, after Gus Aitoro’s death led Natalia to donate his heart to Olivia. The two moved in together, and eventually fell in love.

The couple was a hit with old school soap fans as well as new viewers who were drawn to GL by the slow-burn romance between these two women.

So…..WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

The Otalia story seems to have derailed.

Of course, Natalia was absent from our screens because Jessica Leccia was giving birth to, as Otalia fans would say, “baby Dimples.”

pr79But many of the Otalia fans are disillusioned at how the story explaining Leccia’s absence was told. Natalia not realizing she was pregnant made her look stupid, and leaving town without telling Olivia (or Frank) where she was going was incredibly selfish.

With a few scenes, GL nearly dismantled a heroine they’d taken care to have us fall in love with. It was a hard fall for many Otalia fans, who up to that point had been blissfully watching this romance unfold on our screens.

As I mentioned a few months back, many LGBT viewers in the audience (myself included) had been burnt by bad storytelling and ideas that seemed to suggest the writers didn’t understand their gay characters. (See under: All My Children consistently having lesbians sleep with men.)

Many fans aren’t sure what to think or who to trust. It may be “just a story,” but it’s one we were deeply involved with, and many viewers feel betrayed at what happened.

It doesn’t help that there have been many changes to the last months and weeks of GL; those changes have unfortunately fostered more distrust from devoted Otalia fans. GL pretaped Otalia scenes and Natalia will only be gone for a month! (Well, she was gone for 6 weeks.)  Liv tells Josh she’s in love with Natalia! (She eventually did, but it was cut from the episode it was first promoted as being a part of.)

I have to admit, I’ve been avoiding this topic for a while. I knew many viewers were heartbroken at what happened during the Bauer Barbeque, but I was taking my extended vacation from the soap blogosphere at that time and just couldn’t wade into the flood of controversy.

Others have been eloquent about their thoughts, particularly my soap twin Lana over at Superhero Lunchbox. Lana was kicking ass and taking names this week, and I completely understand her point of view and her frustrations.

Here’s my two cents.

Jessca Leccia, Frank DicopoulosThe pregnancy storyline? Out of a hundred ideas, I’m not sure that I’d pick that one. But you know what? If GL was continuing on for years to come, I’d understand it, and perhaps it would be the most dramatic story. It does, after all, make things messy and soapy.

Having a baby with Frank connects the formerly islanded Otalia to the canvas in a stronger way. It reflects the reality of many women I know who have fallen in love with other women – and who have had children and raised them with their partners. Olivia and Natalia raising Baby Otalia with Frank is a quiet but loving representation of what some families look like.

I’d be OK with all of the above, and enjoy all of the drama, twists and turns……if Olivia and Natalia would just frakkin’ KISS already.

THAT, my friends, is where my anger is centered.

(Well……that, and the fact that I’d really like Rafe to accidentally fall under a moving truck.)

It’s the nature of soap operas to take star-crossed lovers, put a huge obstacle between them, and watch them yearn and burn with desire. That’s Soap 101, and I’m completely down with it.

The thing is, for any other couple, that yearning would be because they developed such a strong connection……AND because they kissed. Those couples have kissed a deep soul kiss, one that keeps them connected through death (real or faked), divorce, mental illness or murder trials.

It’s just offensive to me that we haven’t seen them kiss yet. (And no, the “let-me-show-you-what-they-meant” kiss doesn’t count. A kiss that ended with Natalia recoiling in fear wasn’t a loving soul kiss.)

What happened? I don’t know how the story will end, but I’m guessing that once GL was axed, someone made the decision that seeing THAT kiss – or seeing Otalia happy – was a beat they wanted to save until the end of the show.

Literally.

After all, you can’t argue that a same-sex kiss will chase fans away when the show in question ceases to exist and fades into broadcast history.

Perhaps I’m being too picky or petty about a story that has, overall, been a delight to watch. And perhaps I’ll find the ultimate conclusion to this story satisfying. But no matter how high of a grade Otalia earns as a story overall, the fact remains that like the other daytime representations of LGBT life, the ball has been fumbled along the way.

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5 thoughts on “The curious case of Otalia

  1. Too picky? too petty? My friend, you have gone out of your way to be polite and diplomatic, while speaking the truth. You’re definitely the Vicky to my Marley, and I say that with love.

    ITA that the baby would have been an awesome plot development if there were more time. And, unlike a lot of fans, I think it’s not only logical, but completely reasonable and fair that Frank be int he picture. No matter what anyone says about Frank (most people hate him these days, but I don’t and never have) he is NOT someone who walks away from his family or his commitments. The idea of Natalia having a baby with Frank and NOT having him be a father would have ridiculous. If there were a few more years for this show, that would have been interesting: a totally new kind of family for daytime tv.

    Remember a short while ago, when Edmund was “killed?” The impromptu memorial in the park was a great episode, because it brought almost allof Springfield together. It made us believe that Olivia would actually be involved in something outside of Otalia, with other people. That was so promising! And then it just…fell apart. She went from being the key witness who could place Reva with Edmund moments before his death, to having absolutely nothing to do with the the Edmund story line (which has, itself, turned into a stupid mess.)

    I’m sad, Patrick, that some things are just so sloppy as GL winds down, while other moments are so damned good. I love it that Lillian is getting air time, and interacting with different characters. I loved the stuff with Philip and Alan. Vanessa and Dinah getting closure? Just wonderful. Ed asking Blake about Holly? A great tease of what’s to come. The Buzz-hits-Manhattan thing? Ugh. (Damn, the afterlife has been good to Jenna Bradshaw. Fiona Hutchison looks great.) Was there even a point to bringng Danny and Michelle back? Reva losing her mind? Who hates Kim Zimmer so much that they’re sending her out like this?

    Of course, the bottom line is…when GL is gone, I’ll be bereft. Some of these folks have been my friends for 30+ years.


    I’m sad too, Lana. If I had to grade what they’ve done, though, I’d say it’s 70 percent excellent and 30 percent WTF-ery. I think they HAVE focused on many things well, but I do wish that four weeks out, they’d stop with the shenanigans and let us get some quality time with these people. We’re about to never see them again. I don’t want to see Cyrus at this point. I don’t want them to further drag out this Jeffrey/Deadmund crap. And…I have an entire blog comin’ up about Reva Shayne.

    I just want my girls to GET. IT. ON.

  2. So, what you’re saying Patrick is, Bitches Make Out. We agree.
    Although, one HUGE thing we disagree on is Rafe. He is so ridiculous right now I think he is more fitting a death by 100 ostriches attacking him or a piano falling on his head or poisoned banana pancakes than he is just a simple trip in fall on a highway type death.


    Liz, if this was a game of “Would You Rather,” and it was a choice between watching Rafe be a whiny doofus vs the licking-peanut-butter-from-a-homeless-person’s-foot thing? Well, I’d have to at least think about it before watching, y’know? LOL.

  3. One thought I had for the “post cancellation notice no Otalia kiss policy” is that TPTB were actively shopping the show to other stations and “wouldn’t want to offend anybody with a same sex kiss between two grown women who both have children, because it would be unseemingly.” Sigh.

  4. I’m with the Bitches make out.

    I’m straight, not that it matters and I would NOT be offended to see Olivia and Natalia kiss on tv. Would I tell my children to leave the room if two people were kissing, depends on the kiss. Affection kiss, ok – but if they;’re getting down and dirty I would not watch in front of my kids. Opposite sex or not. I don’t think a soap opera is really ok for kids to watch, so I don’t while they are up.
    SO if they’re target audience is not for children then why can’t they kiss? The old people? Cause, no one is old and gay? Old people can’t understand love is love? SO what is GL saying about the mature audience?
    They’re worried the rest of the viewers they have left are church going women who would what? Protest GL, hell that would bring more advertising then GL ever put out for their show. The Church women would start making out on Wednesday during their church functions? I no longer use Tide or Pampers because of whom ever it be at GL for not having enough balls to show me a true love story between these two women. It would have stopped a lot more ignorance.
    I wish in the future that my friends who are gay can watch a show that represents them and their families. My five year old son has seen two women kiss on tv and he never made one comment about them being women. I wanted to see his reaction and he had none other than smiled and said their kissing. Same reaction when he see his mom and dad kiss.
    Now, the big question is how the hell do we recover from the Otalia addiction? Is there self help groups? Hopefully Dani and Liz will be there once GL is off the air. I do have to say, GL might have made me a little gay. Cause first of all who is not in love with Crystal Chappell. Who doesn’t sigh and tilt their heads when Jessica smiles and shows her dimples. And I for one have a girl crush on Liz and she knows. Did I protest GL for making me have these fan girl moments> Nope I held tight and now all I look for is Bitches Make Out love stories on youtube.

    So thank you Patrick and Lana for your true words that you post and you make people take notice.

    And if I had to play Would you Rather. I would lick PB and hell maybe some jelly off a homeless man’s foot before I would watch GL show Rafe making out with anyone. So lucky for me I have never seen it and don’t want to. So, GL if your surfing the web and you see this, you suck and everyone else knows it.

  5. Sure, we can blame it on bad writing, but what Natalia did to Olivia was just merciless. No note, no message, no call, no nothing. Olivia has had her heart broken so, so many times…and Natalia knows this. I just find her actions to be so immature, and for her to be so unworthy of Olivia’s love (6 months ago we would’ve thought the reverse, right?). Let Natalia and Frank raise their baby together, unmarried, and let Olivia–know that she knows what TRUE love is–go on to find it with someone else.

    I was a HUGE Otalia fan, but the maternity leave plot-twist ruined it for me.

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