Talk It Out

You guys know the Bechdel test? It measures whether a film or television show features a conversation between two female characters about anything other than a man. And it’s alarming how many shows and movies fail this simple-sounding test. As I watched Monday’s episode of Days, it occurred to me that maybe we need a Bechdel-ish test for this show, too.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.03.17 AM

I noticed that we went from a scene in which Rafe, Eduardo, and Justin argued over the merits and drawbacks of offering a reward for Chad’s capture to a scene in which Kayla, Roman, and Victor debated whether it’s smart or safe to try an experimental therapy on Caroline. And I was transfixed by the episode. It was really solid, engaging material — and people were having real discussions about real things, not just carrying on about True Love and various schemes to break it apart. Which is not to say that romance doesn’t have a place here; it’s a staple of the genre, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s so nice to have people discussing interesting issues instead of just racing from one bed-hopping plot twist to the next.

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For the first time in forever, I’d even give Josh Taylor as Roman a “pretty good” for his performance. It’s become a joke how irrelevant Roman is, but I loved using him as a strong voice in the debate over Caroline’s care. Who would’ve guessed? And Kayla’s mini-arc, from being completely opposed to the drug to coming around after that heartbreaking scene in which Caroline again didn’t recognize her, was very well defined. I love that this is all tying in with Steve’s search for Bo, too. Everything just feels so much less hollow, and it’s such a change from six months ago that I can hardly believe it. Despite some jarring shifts — the incredibly reduced airtime for Daniel and Will, the fast removal of several characters, the sudden frontburner-ing of Kayla and Steve — it actually doesn’t feel like a different show to me so much as the same show, now utilizing its strengths in much smarter and more interesting ways.

By the way, that was totally a chemistry test between JJ and Gabi, right? I didn’t hate it, and I definitely don’t hate the idea of shifting JJ up into the young adult storylines.

I promise to bitch about and/or make fun of something very soon. In the meantime, though, it’s a nice change to want to praise “my” show.

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20 Comments on “Talk It Out”

  1. underyourwing Says:

    where the hell IS daniel these days?? i love how somehow is just gone but we don’t know why…….yeah, this was a testosterone fueled show. there is something about ed(wardo) that bugs the crap out of me, tho….he must not have very strong genetics considering anyone related to him doesn’t have 1 tiny bit of his look at all……or maybe i am just picking a nit.

  2. marypickford Says:

    Excellent points as always. I really am enjoying how people have nuanced conversations about things other than True Love.

    The pacing issues seem to be evening out a little. At least for the episodes this week, our Salemites seemed to be operating in roughly the same space-time continuum. We’ll see if it lasts.

    Considering that the cast changes are coming fast and furious, and will continue to do so, it’s amazing to me how it feels pretty seamless. I’m not happy with Eric and Nicole disappearing, but there seems to be a plan for them now, so I’m more relaxed about it. Daniel can stay on the backburner, though — I can live with that. 🙂

    Love how, on Days, the Bechdel test applies to both sexes!

    • mykleraus Says:

      I do think they’re going to circle back to Eric and Nicole. The Basic Black stuff seems to be setting that up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them more frontburner come the winter.

      The pacing is definitely less INSANE. I’ve noticed a few blips, but none of the “Why is it night in one setting and morning in the other?” business of a few weeks back.

      • marypickford Says:

        I think they’ll circle back to Eric and Nicole too. I think the Basic Black story is clearly being set up to be bigger down the line.

        I think you and I are similar in that generally we like to evaluate what the show does give us instead of second guessing what they they SHOULD be doing. But every once in a while I have to complain. 🙂

      • mykleraus Says:

        I’m usually pretty good about that. The only time I get like that tends to be when I can see a missed opportunity, and what we’re given instead is something that doesn’t work at all. Otherwise, I’m happy to go on a ride as long as it entertains me.

  3. Dan Says:

    Funny, I found Monday’s episode a chore to sit through so I went grocery shopping instead. I saw a bit of the beginning and a bit of the end, but I was pretty bored with the beginning bits. I will admit I felt like I had missed something by the end, but I’m not all that concerned.

    The Caroline story is the most bizarre. There are some trademark Higley points (Victor / Caroline’s closeness, Kayla choosing to give the shot), but we again enter JER territory when we start are talking experimental drugs with foreign doctors that cure people who were misdiagnosed with Alzheimers. The interactions are fairly solid, but I wish we had Kim here. Patsy Pease would have come back and she could have hit Paige’s funeral, been involved in this Caroline story (which would add more to the Victor / Brady girls conflict), and then had her stop by to see her grandson Tate and resolve some issues with Theresa.

    I don’t care much about Rafe’s current situation. When Rafe has been featured, it has always been grounded in a relationship with a woman (a lover, his sister, his surrogate daughter). GG doesn’t do well opposite males. This police stuff doesn’t engage me and his issues with his father don’t do much for me either. Rafe has been backburner for most of the year.

    On the otherhand, the Gabi / J.J. pairing is god damn genius. O’Brien and Banus share a physical resemblance, they were half-sisters, and Gabi’s history with the Horton family is very rich. I’ve considered her the Trish Clayton of this generation. Bringing in Eve, who I would have bond with Gabi, this could make this entire situation very complicated given Eve / Justin / Adrienne / Lucas with J.J. becoming involved with Gabi and Ari, who’s custody I imagine will be up for debate soon.

    I didn’t find the show hollow under Tomsell. I thought Xander was well developed, but critically misused. I thought the situation with Chad, Abigail, and Ben was ripe with potential based on all their past antics. I thought Paul was well developed but lacking a strong counterpart to play off given Smith’s impending exit. In my opinion, the show was more rudderless, which I still feel is the case.

    I don’t disagree it isn’t a completely different show, but we are only in the beginning stages of a massive overhaul and I’m not seeing the stability in what’s being laid out to keep me watching towards the end. None of the A-stories work for me, other than Abigail, Ben, and Chad, but I think the B-stories are solid. Let’s see what happens once the Neck Tie Killer is resolved, the Bo-Hope-Aiden situation is settled, and Kayla and Steve have to carry a story for the first time this decade.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Ha. I was just SO tired of that lifeless TomSell show by the last few months. Days on end of Serena talking to herself, Daniel and Nicole squabbling over her worthlessness, Theresa’s overly complicated plotting, Will being horrible in a way that didn’t even make sense, etc. There was almost nothing I was enjoying by about May or June. It definitely picked up over the summer, though it’s hard to tell how much of that was the beginning of transition. But the first half of 2015 was truly the least interested I’ve been in the show since Higley’s first tenure. I still don’t know how things got SO off-track.

      I’m not minding Rafe right now, but I don’t think he needs to be so prominent. He mostly works for me as, like you said, Sami or Kate’s lover, playing supporting even when he’s on a lot. I don’t mind him as the face of the Salem PD during this investigation, but we could accomplish the same thing with 50% less of him. I like the Eduardo stuff for what it is, but I’m way more interested in the Eduardo/Eve dynamic with Rafe and Gabi’s relationships with him as background.

      I still don’t get why Kim wasn’t brought back for this Caroline arc. She’d be such a natural fit, and they’re so return-happy anyway. Maybe her scheduling didn’t work out and that’s why they brought her in earlier this year. Or maybe they completely overlooked it, as they are wont to do. I’m really enjoying Kayla in her role as daughter/doctor. I know you’re really not into Kayla/Steve as a pairing — I enjoy them but don’t NEED them — but I do think it would’ve been smart to see Steve first as part of this Bo thing, and then have him reluctantly come back to Salem because of that. It felt like a very inorganic “Hey, new story!!!!” move to have him and Joey just pop up and have lots of scenes about his and Kayla’s split all of a sudden. But I love MBE being on more.

      I’m still trying to figure out what’s up with MR/Jennifer. She must’ve taken a reduced guarantee, but she’s barely on the show, and she’s isolated completely to scenes with JJ, Abigail, and Clyde. It’s weird. At least they got her to the funeral on Friday, but I sort of forget she’s on the show now.

      • Dan Says:

        While I maintain my belief, I admit you have a point. Yet, I thought the Eric / Nicole death situation (while certainly a rerun) was well done and the play out around that was very well done. This was all June and part of July, if I remember. That said, it’s hard to follow and invest when the show goes through a transition like this.

        I agree regarding Rafe as I feel the potential is Kate / Eduardo / Eve with a lot of interaction with other stories.

        My problem with Steve and Kayla is I don’t know who they are. Kayla is a bit more grounded because of the mini-arcs they have given her (the online dating / the rape / her sparring with Hope), but it doesn’t necessarily make me want to see her jump back into bed with her roguish ex-husband or deal with her sullen son. If these parts weren’t being played by “legacy” roles,the back lash would be more severe online. When watching, I’m more engaged in story and conflict potential than strong acting or powerful chemistry. I just don’t see anything unique about the situation at the moment that couldn’t be done with another couple.

        I wonder if MR asked to take a cut after the backlash she got for supporting Dannifer. People were incredibly nasty, and personal. MR seems like a fairly sane person who probably is disappointed with the direction of her story and asked to stay on to support her kids college tuition. Otherwise, she probably would have left last fall.

      • mykleraus Says:

        The Eric/Nicole near-death thing was great, as was the fallout and the ensuing mini-triangle with Daniel. That was when stuff started firing for me. (That was also right around the time Abigail found out she was pregnant, I think.) I still find it weird how they’ve essentially tabled that storyline, though some of it might be wanting to get Nicole situated with Basic Black, plus Shawn Christian was off filming a movie when the current episodes were shot.

        I get your point about Steve and Kayla. I don’t think Steve’s return was organic in any real way — they just slammed him onscreen and went right for the relationship drama. I do think part of it is that the ratings really bottomed out in the last year, and they’re trying to shore up lapsed viewers, not really please people who have been invested in the last year or two of the show. So even though Steve hasn’t been on since 2009, he’s a familiar face. I still maintain that if they’d eased Kayla back into prominence through this Caroline arc (and had teen Joey around, with a little bit of drama integrated on that front), they could’ve woven Steve in a few weeks afterward through the Bo story and built from there.

        I was wondering if MR had been cut back because she was being blamed for all the Dannifer backlash, but maybe you’re on to something that she decided to take a step back. Higley seemed eager to write for Jennifer last go-round, and the stuff she HAS had, with JJ and Clyde, has been strong, so I’m hopeful they’ll find a good spot for her.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Oh, and the super sci-fi stuff with Caroline “seeing” Bo, etc., is very hokey to me. I don’t think we need it, though I guess they want to beat us over the head with the fact that these threads are connected. I actually don’t want them to CURE Caroline — a drug that keeps her disorder under control would be enough, and it’s less crazy sci-fi then.

      • underyourwing Says:

        how about when she called ghost sean a banshee (in the mirror)….

      • mykleraus Says:

        Her freakout was so over-the-top. It’s probably strangely true to what happens when people are having delusions like that, but parts of it cracked me up.

  4. ML Says:

    I’m just here to see if anyone else thinks Judi Evans (Adrienne) went to see Clyde’s plastic surgeon… she’s also sporting fresher eyes these days!

    Great post, btw. 👍🏼

  5. Dylan Says:

    I have to say, Will’s death = LAME. He was having so much fun throwing crumpled paper into the trash can that he.. felt the need to dig all the way down into it and pull random things out? Meanwhile Ben seems like seriously the most boring serial killer ever.. Ugh

    • mykleraus Says:

      I actually thought the murder itself was well done, but the setup was ridiculous. Why would Ben shove that tie in a see-through trashcan in the studio apartment he shares with his fiancée? Walk it to the damn dumpster!

      • Dylan Says:

        Oh no I didn’t mean the murder itself, but I’m absolutely furious that he’s dead! What a waste of a character! I agree with your earlier post about it being a big mistake, now we have one gay character who’s barely been onscreen, and a young character who could have gone in many different interesting directions.. gone! I just can’t stand it.

        This also guarantees (more or less) the permanent exit of Sonny. Why would he ever come back after the funeral? Now Paul’s connection to Will can’t be utilised for future story either. This was a BIG mistake.

        The crazy thing is that other than this, the show has actually been quite good! The Nicole/Theresa/Kate dynamic is cool, the Eve/Eduardo storyline is very interesting and Kassie DePaiva has been doing a great job, JJ’s storyline is picking up. What were they thinking?!

      • mykleraus Says:

        It’s such a waste, in the long run. It’s the kind of thing that I’m not even sure we’ll feel the impact of for years and years. Deaths like this tend to leave a weird hole in shows. The P&G soaps got really bad about that in their final years.

        I read some rumors/possible spoilers about plans for Paul and Sonny, so we’ll see if those come to fruition. I don’t think killing Will was homophobic, the way a lot of people are alleging — I think it was just a dumb way of handling a bad recast.

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