Just the Basics

Since most of Salem is spending New Year’s Eve at a fashion show, it only seems appropriate to spend some time on a sartorial critique of our own.

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I was going to begin by asking what in gay gladiator hell Nicole is wearing, but honestly, it’s one of her least tacky looks of the year, and her hair finally looks nice, so I’m gonna let this one slide.

It’s good to see that Kate, the ostensible head of a fashion house, opted for that classic look: “Abominable Snowman Going to a Dinner Party at Liberace’s.”

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It was nearly impossible to get a good shot of the full thing, but that white fur is spilling out from under her blazer, too. It’s insane.

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I’ve seen a lot of people ragging on the set for this event, but I actually like it. The lighting is interesting, and the space feels full. Yeah, the runway is a little tight, but honestly, this is what a lot of the smaller shows at the various Fashion Weeks wind up being. They’re trying some different production techniques — camera moves, angles, etc. — that I appreciate, and this at least looks like an actual event, as opposed to the time Hope and Aiden fundraised for a “gala” that took place offscreen while they hung out in the broom closet. It seems smart to use the soundstage the way they have been, because it’s a larger, open space and gives us something to look at besides the damn Town Square and Club TBD.

I’m also enjoying seeing people doing work and being invested in it, even if the execution is a little wonky. Theresa is supposed to be this underdog, and Kate is the Big Bad Bitch who’s trying to screw her over, but everything is a little too black-and-white — and yet muddled. Spoiler-Free Days has a great post articulating some of what’s off here: Theresa is supposed to be this scrappy aspiring designer, but she went home to watch a movie with Brady, while other people fought her battles for her. Kate wasn’t wrong about the technical construction aspects, as evidenced by how Nicole had to bring in other seamstresses to get things in shape, but I would’ve loved to see Theresa take that criticism to heart, bust her ass all night fixing things, and then sabotage or connive her way into getting her designs on that runway. Instead, we sort of got Nicole, Brady, and Anne pulling strings for her, and then she showed up and had to deal with some catty models, and then the show happened and that was that. It all feels too flat and easy. Also, God bless Lauren Koslow for getting through that painful phone conversation with “Donatella.” I was embarrassed for her, but she was, as always, a trooper and sold it as best she could. And yes, everything in that fashion show looked like it came from Zara, but then again, that’s probably Basic Black’s actual market.

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I don’t even know what to say about this lime taffeta (?!) nightmare that Kayla is wearing. She has an unfortunate habit of winding up looking like Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, and this is up there with some of her most hideous hits. I know she said she was going to get ready in 15 minutes, but really? This was what she had waiting in the closet?

That aside, I loved Ava’s entrance with Fynn, and that awkward conversation between them and Kayla and Joey, and how John and Marlena both registered Ava’s presence. And they remembered Nicole and Ava’s friendship! Also, what I wouldn’t give for Ava to at least be like, “Hey, Nicole — how’s that sister of yours?”

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And Joey’s jealousy over Ava feels so fun and oddly fresh. I should not be this engaged with this story, but something about it is clicking for me. James Lastovic also seems to be settling in; his acting during Wednesday’s episode felt genuine and not stiff at all. The way they’re putting him in scenes with the heavy hitters, instead of islanding him with a bunch of newbies, seems to be helping.

I love, love, love these kinds of soapy parties where everyone is floating around and interacting. Things still feel uneven, but at least there are more people on besides Hope, Rafe, Kayla, Steve, Abigail, and Chad, and there are some different dynamics at play now. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come in 2016.

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20 Comments on “Just the Basics”

  1. Dan Says:

    Great, great comments.

    I’m surprised by how engaged I have been in the fashion show stuff, but it has a very personal feel. There have been so many littel quiet moments that have just popped up that have worked so well.

    The flaws you point out in terms of Kate / Nicole / Theresa are the reasons the writing works for me. Theresa and Nicole may think Kate is some lunatic, but Theresa did mess up. Not only did she mess up the construction, but she also drank during the show. That could have been a much bigger issue if the show had played it. Kate has never been one to receive “the kindness of strangers.” She’s always had to do it on her own. Her comments to Theresa were honest and she isn’t going to flatter Sami Brady’s cousin wiht praise. And Koslow is playing it straight rather than going for the more outrageous, which she does beautifully.

    On the other hand, Theresa’s self confidence, or lack there of, is a running theme. She usually appears to be a jaded bitch, but Lilley plays it as if it is all an act to hide the fact that Theresa doesn’t really like herself all that much. I could see her not accepting failure well. And Brady has always had a white knight complex so he is certainly falling into line.

    The only character who I feel has changed a bit is Nicole, who was never a huge Theresa fan. I can see Nicole investing in Theresa’s talent and wanting to believe in her like others (i.e. Eric and Brady) have believed in Nicole. It will be interesting to see wherethis all goes.

    Fynn and Ava was a nice distraction. I’m not looking forward to Joey . Ava, but I admit it is more understandable. Joey’s pool of love interests right now include two female cousins, a budding arsonist, and his autistic childhood friend. I’m curious how far they will go with Ava and Joey or how quickly Joey celebrates his 18th birthday. The Ava / Nicole interaction was nice, and I did like John and Marlena commenting on Ava. I do have to wonder why John felt safe at the fashion show but not going out on Christmas Eve.

    It’s amazing how quickly Chad and Abigail have become one of the weakest parts of the show. I would have backburnered them for at least a month. The Thomas reveal is poorly timed. Chad and Belle makes no sense. To be fair, Belle is a mess.

    What are we suppose to think of Belle? She’s been around for a month. In that time, we learn she has cheated on Shawn, her husband, she’s been having a heavy flirtation with Chad Dimera, who is at least a good decade younger. Belle’s relationship with Claire is terrible. Her relationship with Phillip is odd, at best. The quintessential moment of insanity for me was watching Belle curl upon the couch with her parents while her teen daughter hangs wither her husband’s family. Belle is messy messy messy.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I don’t think I articulated myself properly, but I think the Basic Black stuff would’ve been much improved if they’d simply let Kate be right. It felt to me like the show was telling us that she was being irrational and “wrong,” even if she made some valid points about the garments themselves. I think it would’ve worked better if Kate had been onboard with giving Theresa a shot until she saw the actual clothes and pointed out construction problems, rather than announcing she was pulling the clothes because of a personal power struggle with Theresa (and Anne). Like so much of what’s going on these days, several of the pieces worked, but they didn’t quite line up properly for me.

      They went out of their way to name Joey as being 16 two weeks ago, so I suspect that won’t change while Ava is around. If anything, I think we’re supposed to see her as something of a predator — or, at least, an older woman playing upon his naïveté to manipulate the whole family. I’m not sure they will actually hook up, but even if they do, it’s not like Ava is a long-term character they want to salvage. They can have her be a statutory rapist and continue to use her as a villain or toss her out a window like they did Kristen.

      I agree that the Abigail/Chad conflict came too quickly, though I also see why having them be together for a month or two before the brainwashing would’ve made it even less plausible. But I’m getting whiplash from how fast things are moving, and the baby’s paternity is definitely coming out too quickly. That said, I’m (ducking) not hating the Chad/Belle scenes; the dynamic is fun and kind of different, and it’s the only place her bitchy attitude really works.

      Belle makes almost zero sense to me, though. I can’t tell what’s intentional and what isn’t. She’s coming off as a major bitch, a bad mother, short-tempered, and unable to take any responsibility for her own actions. Why does Philip want to be with this woman who cheated on him, had another man’s baby, and then cheated on THAT man with Philip? I really don’t get what they’re going for here.

      • Dan Says:

        Regarding Kate / Theresa, I get what you are saying. There is an attempt to paint black and white on the situation by having Theresa come out a hero and Kate refusing to eat crow. Am I imagining this, but didn’t Kate also mention that Theresa may have been a success tonight but that doesn’t necessarily translate long term? Because in that case, Theresa only won a battle, not completely winning the war.

        The brainwashing doesn’t work for me on any level. If the Belle and Chad scenes are taken completely out of any context this show has produced, they aren’t badly written. But when trying to construct story, continuity, and meaning, everything gets lost. It reminds me of something MarDar would write. I feel like Thomas’ paternity reveal is being used to prevent Belle / Chad rather than uniting Chad / Abby, which is such a bizarre set of priorities.

        In terms of Belle individually, I think they are aiming for combination Carrie Brady / Sami Brady. There are times I feel like they want her to be this smart manipulator who can play games with the best of them and at times she is the sweetest little thing that needs to be saved from the big bad Dimera. Ultimately, the Last Blast Crew was never given much identity outside of who they were paired with which is why they were dumped so easily.

      • mykleraus Says:

        Yeah, Kate did say that, and I hope they follow through on it. That’s a strong, legitimate criticism, and it’s so much more interesting than Theresa becoming some overnight success based on a six-outfit fashion show.

        The thing about the brainwashing that really makes it not work for me is that Andre’s underlying scheme doesn’t even make sense. Couldn’t he just steal Belle’s phone and text Sami from it? It’s so convoluted that he has to brainwash Chad to not want Abigail, and to want Belle, so that he’ll get together with Belle and she’ll reveal family information that she knows is incredibly sensitive. I can’t even suspend my disbelief because the plan makes so little sense.

        There’s definitely more Sami in Belle this time, but it’s weird — they also do seem to have set her up as an alternative to Carrie. It feels really choppy, and we’re sort of getting the worst of both sisters instead of an interesting mix.

  2. marypickford Says:

    I really enjoyed the fashion show. I love events where everyone gets decked out and we see them all together. I’m sure that many viewers are complaining about this or that, and I have my criticisms too, but I am a sucker for stuff like this.

    I agree that Joey/Ava is working, and probably working better than it should given that they haven’t really given us much to explain it — from either side. But James L is doing really well (under)playing the teen dazzled by a sexy older woman.

    I am baffled as to why they did the “Chad is the father” reveal the way they did. It feels anticlimactic. I still love Chad and Abby (though I am enjoying Chad with Belle quite a bit), but this story is just not that great.

    • mykleraus Says:

      The reveal is really weird and rushed. It feels incredibly anticlimactic. I don’t know if this is because they got into the brainwashing story and then wanted to get out of it fast or WHAT, but it’s strange.

      I love the fact that people are mingling and dressed up and all in one room. That can get me to watch a full episode even when the stories are kind of iffy.

    • Denise Says:

      For some reason I feel like they went forward with the brain-washing thing, then decided it wasn’t working and re-wrote. Can that even happen? It just seems like too quick of a switcheroo. I’m glad, because I didn’t like the brainwashing thing, but the baby reveal DOES seem rushed, like they needed SOMETHING to bring Chad out of his Andre-induced coma ASAP.

      Belle does seem all over the place. I like MM, but I don’t like when women need to have a man to cement their own identity. Far more interesting to me is her being thrown into the middle of the Sami/Dimera debacle. I was actually kind of hoping Andre was going to try and seduce her. Kind of ick, but much more fun!

      • mykleraus Says:

        I thought it was clever to throw Belle into the DiMera story — if, for whatever reason, they felt they had to do that story at all — but it’s sort of like they are trying to toss her all over and see what sticks.

        I’m wondering if the brainwashing thing is quickly being undone, too. We’ll see, but the pacing is odd.

  3. underyourwing Says:

    The ‘fashion show’ : Theresa is overflowing with glitter, puppies,rainbows & unicorns because “The entire fashion world” will finally get to view her incredible artistry with ….material, thread and zippers……I am sorry but I thought the venue kinda stunk….besides all those invisible important fashion world people there, we were mainly treated to views of the usual suspects of Salem, then a bunch of unknowns here and there…..

    and don’t get me started on ANNE,,,,,,,WTFashion??? When the heil did she become the snap to it bitch of the place? did not work for me. at all. in any way….

    joey! oh! the 5th gradeness of it all!! You wanna come by and see the motorcycle my dad gave me? I can’t ride it yet but……. Joey needs to GO. sorry. (but yes, he did play the man are my balls blue part really well re: Ava. That bitch.)

    agree totally on the belle critique……again, N O . maybe she should try having a relationship with her own self for a while til the remnants of everyone else she has walked on and over try to recover…? i am already tired of her pinched face……all 4 of them.

    • mykleraus Says:

      That’s a good point about all the “fashion elite” who are there, yet JJ is in the second row…

      I’m loving the Joey stuff. I think because he’s supposed to be coming off as clueless, and Ava is playing him, but it’s sort of sweet on his side, and it’s also probably going to result in the sort of trauma that can launch him forward as an adult character.

      Belle is truly ridiculous. Take a night off, lady! Hang out with your daughter! She’s jumping from man to man like an absolute fool, and she doesn’t even seem to like Chad or Philip that much.

  4. Shea Says:

    It’s a little weird. I feel like they have days that are all over the place and then the next day or two feel slow but by the end they settle things out a bit…if that makes any sense at all?

    I have a bit of a problem with Belle mainly because she has been nothing but a reactionary character. I feel like I have no clue who Belle truly is. They have had her say that she doesn’t want a divorce and she wanted to work on her marriage and I guess we saw her call and leave one message for Shawn on Christmas Eve. Other than that all I have seen her do is react to Phillip and Chad’s attentions and her daughter’s anger. I just feel like something is missing.

    The Joey/Ava thing is working but it’s still weird that he knows she has a history with his dad and doesn’t care…ick.

    • mykleraus Says:

      You’re right about the pacing and general logic. As soon as I say, “Wait, that’s ridiculous,” they backpedal and stuff kind of straightens out. It’s peculiar.

      That’s always been the problem with Belle — she’s never been developed as anyone but John and Marlena’s daughter and Shawn’s great love. I think these writers are TRYING to do something, but it’s over-the-top, and the actress is playing straight into the writing instead of digging into it, so she comes off as totally unlikable. I still don’t get why she isn’t focused on Claire instead of focusing on these two guys.

  5. Vking Says:

    I wish I had your way with words. Your description of Kate’s outfit—PRICELESS!

  6. ADW Says:

    I loved the fashion show, the music, and the use of space. I was delighted to see the show wasn’t in the park. My only gripe is that it was so dark and the strobes were too excessive and distracting. One thing that I didn’t get was why the hell did BB not hire professional seamstresses for Theresa from the start? Did Theresa exhaust the budget alloted for staff by bringing in Anne as her assistant OR was Kate trying to set Theresa up for failure by making her do everything?
    I just can’t with Abigail, I’m wishing she would just take TJ and go off to Ireland (what ever happened to that) or go stay with Grandma Laura and come back completely different in a couple of years. She’s such an obnoxious, hypocritical, bland character who has her fair share of wrongdoing yet, she still comes out smelling like a rose. I’m sick of this vicious cycle once again of Abigail chasing after Chad as he pushes her away. I never was a “Chabby” fan and feel Chad can do much better.
    I’m disgusted with Belle her snotty, self centered, sour puss attitude. She messed up by cheating on Shawn D (again) and I don’t blame him for not wanting to take that flandering harlot back. Instead of spending time with her family and comforting her daughter, Belle is playing with men. I agree I find her scenes and dynamic with Chad enjoyable though. I think it’s intentional and humorous that hair/make up/wardrobe make Abigail look even more dowdy, mousey, and frumpy than ever; Belle looks more appealing as she’s dressed glamorously and looks radiantly beautiful.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I’m sure we will never hear about The Land In Ireland again.

      The show does seem really dark. It looks good, but it’s genuinely tough to see WTF is going on sometimes (and screenshotting has become much more difficult!).

      Belle is sort of outrageous right now — which is fine so long as she eventually gets called out on her behavior. It makes sense, psychologically. I actually thought she looked terrible in her get-up for the NYE party. She’s looked really good since her return, but they tried a style that totally did not work, and it aged her.

      • Denise Says:

        I thought all the women looked absolutely dreadful at the “fashion show.” Except maybe Theresa, but even her outfit seemed too dull for her (or a fashion designed for that matter!). And Ari’s hair looks great! Her dress? Uh, no. Whoever is outfitting the ladies needs a new prescription for their lenses. I think I actually hated every dress. I thought Belle’s outfit was too matronly, and Marlena was showing off too much of “the girls.” I can’t even comment on poor Kayla’s outfit.

        I kept hoping the Dimeras were hiding Jack (alive and well) on that piece of land in Ireland, for whatever bullshit reason, and it would lead to MA returning…Oh well. Maybe that’s where EJ is LOL.

      • mykleraus Says:

        Yeah, most of it was awful. Nicole actually looked good if you ignored the gold plating on the dress, and uh… Ava looked nice! That’s about it.

  7. Jayme Says:

    All things considered, this could’ve been much worse. When you hear that DAYS has a storyline about the fashion industry, one might think, ‘But there’s already an entire soap devoted to fashion’, or ‘The only store they have in Salem is Janet’s Boutique and all they sell are cardigans, belts and scarves’, or ‘HELL. NO.’

    The clothes were fine, although I suspect those giant hip flowers were an attempt at high fashion creativity (paging Carrie Bradshaw A MILLION YEARS AGO). I totally agree that Theresa should’ve been the one that pulled off getting her shit in the show. I also wish they used some of kids as models since a) they look like models and b) PAUL IS NOT A MODEL. F*ck, even Lani/Loni should’ve somehow made her way into this thing.

    Kayla looked like she was wearing the dress emoji, minus the belt.

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