When the writers say it’s not.
I’m not talking about Margo’s rape on As The World Turns, where we saw two masked criminals shove Margo in the back of a van to “teach this cop a lesson” and heard her scream “NO!” Or Marty’s violent gang rape on One Life To Live, led by disturbed frat boy Todd Manning. Or when Michael Cambias forced himself on sweet Bianca on All My Children.
I’m talking about the murky dance that writers script for love interests who wind up together after one has forced himself on the other – like DAYS’s Sami and EJ when she slept with him in a car to save an injured Lucas from freezing to death. Sami removed her own clothing and warned that EJ was “only getting her body” in exchange for his promise to lift a beam off Lucas’s legs, which is not technically rape. Sami agreed to the deal. EJ, being the gross pig that he was at the time, promptly reneged on it once the deed was done.
Sami: “You promised you’d help me!”
EJ: “Pillow talk, sweetheart.”
I bring this up now because of the fan uproar about how EJ “raping” Sami was much worse than his more recent infidelity with Abigail. That would be true if the writers hadn’t backed off that incident, had Sami forgive EJ, and then scripted a twisted love story that included EJ hiring a felon to impersonate Rafe (to sleep with Sami) and Sami shooting EJ in the head.
Before you start furiously writing angry responses to my hypothesis here, let me be clear: In real life, “no” means “no.” EVERY time.
But on soap operas, “no” means “no” only until the writers revise the “no” into a “maybe,” and then have the two people fall in love.
The most famous example of this, of course, is GH’s Luke and Laura. Thinking he was about to be killed, Luke forced himself on the married Laura (whom he loved) as Laura clearly cried out, “No.” But those scenes were later re-termed a “seduction” when GH realized how popular Luke’s portrayer Anthony Geary had become. Two years later, 30 million people watched them get married, and they remain Daytime’s most famous couple to this day. Did the controversy help propel them into superstars? Probably.
Death isn’t forever on Daytime, either. Shows routinely rewrite characters’ deaths when the actor wants to come back, storyline dictates, or even just for the shock value. In a medium where hitting 10,000 episodes is the norm, stories have to constantly shift to sustain momentum. If moving forward means “un-raping” or “un-killing” a character, so be it. We’ve certainly seen plenty of “un-vasectomies,” “un-comas” and “un-heart transplants.” B&B’s Katie, DAYS’s Jennifer, GH’s Maxie and Y&R’s Victor don’t even have scars on their chests or take anti-rejection medication! It’s a damn miracle.
Soap operas are fiction. They’re entertainment. Holding a grudge against a show for a crime a character committed 3,000 episodes ago is counterintuitive to watching and enjoying that show for 30-40-50 years – especially when the writers downgrade that crime into misdemeanor. Or, sorry, a consensual act.
Besides, who’s to say Sami won’t ultimately get revenge for EVERYTHING that EJ did to her? She may say she put him in jail and took his company because he cheated on her with Abigail, but we know that it’s also because of the awful thing he did to her that snowy night in the car.