By 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.”
But 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.
The 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.
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.