It was a difficult decision I grappled with when I decided to write this post. You might have noticed that updates of screencaps have been a little sporadic, if not lacking and I truly have to apologize for that lapse. The reason is because I’m really having a difficult time with Tamara’s return to DAYS OF OUR LIVES in her Emmy Winning role of Ava Vitali. That difficulty has been not with Tamara’s work, but with the story line in general. When word came last July that Tamara was coming back to the show, I was so overjoyed. Considering what happened to me earlier in the year, the death of my mother, being able to see Tamara again was that salve I needed for a wounded soul. So like I know most of you I waited patiently for her December return date. I admit I was a little dismayed at the lack of press for her return. There was once a time when a big return like this would get the full court press and all the remaining soap publications would feature a return article. There was one major interview in SOAP OPERA DIGEST, but for the most part they all have been pretty thin in terms of any excitement. Certainly with the waning interest in soap operas in general, one would have hoped that there would be some modicum of interest given how much Tamara is respected within that community, or that her Emmy win would be reason enough to warrant a few articles instead of just one major one. But then comes this article on Daytime Confidential‘s website about DAYS being told to shut down writing until a deal can be reached.
Days of Our Lives writers, put down your pens, er, keyboards. I’ve learned the team led by Josh Griffith and Dena Higley has been told to stop writing until a new deal is reached between NBC, Sony and Corday Productions. The 50-year-old sudser has been written through September 2016.
Last month, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt and Entertainment President Jennifer Salke told TVLine they were happy with the soap ahead of starting negotiations this month to keep DAYS on the Peacock network. Here’s hoping a new pact can be reached soon.
Despite the positive hope for renewal there is little to be hopeful for from the message boards I’ve visited and or post(ed) to daily. Some are saying the show is done, and I really can’t say I care. With the exception of the actors, stage hands, and other crew who would be out of work, I have to say with the absolute unoriginality of the current stories as well as the lack of coherency of many of the characters and their motivations, most acting out of character I’m not surprised.
I belonged to the Soapcentral message board until today. After five days of debating whether Ava raped Steve (Stephen Nichols), I’m left with a profound state of ennui. Yes they’re calling it rape. Apparently according to many of the posters most of them Steve and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) fans, they believe that Ava raped Steve. This fills me with both anger and something akin to confusion as to what direction Ava’s return was to go in. Given her previous run as Ava (February 8 2008 – August 04 2008) I was hoping for something for Tamara that would push Ava into a bit of human conflict in who she’d be this time around. With Tamara’s run as Taylor in 2011 and how much that story line fizzled with unfulfilled promises and again from 2008, I had hoped the powers that be at DAYS, NBC and Sony would have realized the gold they have in Tamara and the possibility of an Ava and Steve pairing enough to dare to break up the iconic Steve and Kayla in order to bring together two amazing talents who’d be capable of shaking the show up. Instead was I was given was a sham yet again and a huge sense of disappointment at the end of today’s episode. The utter lack of concern from Steve for Ava and the devastation Ava felt at finding out their son was dead. While Tamara killed it, as she always does, I felt a break in me that has left me feeling very disillusioned.
I said that I belonged to Soapcentral up until today. Well the reason is because apparently for some reason of which I’m totally shocked at, I was banned until May.
As you can see it was for “poster bashing, baiting and fighting”. It was with a rabid fan of Steve and Kayla who seemed to believe that Ava was nothing more than a crazy, repulsive, and unstable bitch. Apparently the brainwashing of the writers worked like a charm. Everyone is believing it. This one poster as well as many others on that board sincerely believe that what happened between Steve and Ava was rape. When I tried to counter that it was what I term hate sex, I was summarily told that it was rape and that if I didn’t believe it, there was something wrong with me. However, when I told them that I myself had been raped, they seemed to think that what I had to offer wasn’t relevant. When others braved the many to say they didn’t believe it was rape either, they were shouted down by the pitchfork carrying villagers who don’t want to listen to reason. They just want their way. End of story. A poll that was taken on the site was quite shocking in light of Steve telling Ava it “was just sex”.
As you can see 67% believed what happened on screen was rape. This is coupled with the many posts starting back in December shortly after Tamara’s return that Ava was looking to bed Joey (James Lastovic). After the New Year’s Eve episode and the one where Ava was being playful with Joey to the episode where Joey was forceful and kissed Ava, the call was that Ava was a rapist and a pedophile even before a kiss was seen. They’d already made up their minds that Ava was something of a monster, who according to many was way worse than anything seen on this show. When I cited Stefano (Joseph Mascolo) and even Victor (John Aniston) I was told it wasn’t the same. See it seems like everyone else on this show are paragons of virtue, but Ava is somehow this debauched and disgusting wretch of a thing undeserving of any care or compassion even after finding out her child was dead. The collective cheer went up when Steve turned and left Ava crumpled on the floor crying over the photo of their child. I find this very disturbing because again they’ve been told to feel this way by the characters engaged in the story and by the silence from DAYS and the writers and producers. Usually after a bomb like this is dropped they usually come out with some kind of an explanation of what we just saw, but there’s been nothing. When I tweeted @Greg Meng, @Dena Higley, @DaysOfOurLives, @NBCDays and @OfficialNichols about needing some clarification on what happened and what they’re terming it, I got nothing. This made me make a follow up:
I know I’m done the moment Tamara’s last scene airs. I have my Stephen Nichols site that I’ve been posting daily screencaps to, but I’m really considering mothballing that site. After today’s episode I just can’t say I like the character of Steve Johnson anymore. It seems that it’s perfectly fine for Steve to have the revulsion and hate for Ava, however, when I pointed out on Soapcentral that I felt Steve’s aggression towards Ava was a bit alarming in how he would grab her, shake her, and was quite abusive to her, that was ignored. One person told me that Ava deserved it. Deserved all that? How? It also seems that her father’s actions are being excused as if it’s okay for Martino (Joe Penny) to have kept Ava drugged up. And this leads me to think about how repetitive the writing has been.
I had hoped for some progression in Ava’s character. Considering where she was when she left Salem back in August 2008, there was a lot of speculation as to where she might be now. I had posited that perhaps she might have had a child and that I thought it would be interesting if DAYS tore a few pages from GENERAL HOSPITAL‘s playbook. What I said was that I was hoping Ava had been pregnant by Steve either back when they were together while Steve had amnesia, or she became pregnant due to the scenes at Ava’s house when she held everyone hostage. I posited I thought it would be interesting if Joey was the Lucky Spencer (Jonathan Jackson) and Ava’s son would be the Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) in the story. I said that I would love to see Ava as mama bear and she and Steve would perhaps bury the hatchet and find some sort of middle ground so he could get to know his son. I was told that the only children Steve should have are those with Kayla. It’s as if these two characters are protected by this force field where nothing can come into it and nothing will tear it asunder. I was also told that nothing could come between “Patch” and his “Sweetness” because this was a golden couple, an iconic supercouple that will not be broken up. It was as if I was some child who needed scolding. I was told that Ava should have come back for John (Drake Hogestyn) since that’s who she was with when she left. When I tried to explain that according to both Tamara and Stephen Nichols in the article The Dynamic Effect (scans can be found here THE DYNAMIC EFFECT in the gallery) it had been premature to move Ava onto John and away from Steve. I said I felt that what was happening this time around the writers were trying to finish the story they couldn’t tell the first time around. But the only comments I received were that they should never have brought Ava back to begin with, as if they had the right to make that call. Apparently it doesn’t matter that Tamara has her own fans who have been following her since her GENERAL HOSPITAL days, we are somehow aberrations. Posts praising Tamara’s work and general appreciation threads are deleted and or purged within hours of them being posted. And I have no idea why. Some have said they admire Tamara’s work, but still continue to state that Ava wasn’t needed and that the character either needs to die now or just go away and never come back. It’s really perplexing and disturbing.
I have to say this, Tamara once said that soap opera viewers are smart and intelligent. I have to say that some are. The ones who actually get it. However, I have to say from my experience from posting with some of those fans I can truly state it’s not true. While I do understand the escapist element of these shows is both enticing and at times compelling, the overall story telling has gone in the crapper. Ava’s return could have been more considering Tamara’s profile within that community, but I have a feeling they (NBC, DAYS, et al) just wanted our viewership and not our trust. Trust they’d give her a good story and not resort to doing what ALL MY CHILDREN and DAYS itself did in 2008 and 2011 with giving us worthless lip service. There was a time an actress like Tamara would generate huge press and story potential. Now it’s just a series of scenes with no connective sinew to carry it. We have vignettes, not a fitting arc that can be considered in any way fulfilling. I’ve been reading for a while that the soap genre has to change or die on the vine. That is to say that Ava’s return could have marked a shift in the what is known as the “classic” soap opera paradigm. As I said before, why not have had Ava return and she and Steve find some sort of peace and have Kayla still reticent to reunite? With all the bitchiness Kayla showed Steve when he returned to find Bo (Peter Reckell) she was pretty much cold to him, until he brought Bo home to Salem. It’s as if in one instant all had been forgiven and suddenly Kayla was back to sleeping with him and then offering up a key to the new home all without even giving us a fitting reunion. It was too easy, but the agenda I feel was to assuage the Steve and Kayla fans to let them know “it’s okay kids, we know you want Mom and Dad back together again so we won’t make you wait.” But since Tamara’s return we’ve been told constantly that Ava is unstable, a bitch, crazy, delusional and the last one now a rapist and the coup de grace, a pedophile. The brainwashing has taken hold because all those monikers have been acknowledged and accepted as if like mind controlled idiots, they can go off and spread the word. And most have. I’ve seen at least three or four of them on different message boards posting the same things as Steve, Kayla, Joey, Roman, John, Marlena, et al have said about her. It’s like a huge psychological experiment going awry. The pedophile and rapist monikker is the hardest to take because no where in the story did we see Ava act in any way inappropriate with Joey, yet here it is. And that was without provocation from the story. It was all self generated and propelled.
It’s been reported that Robert Wilson who plays Ben and Daniel Cosgrove who played Aiden Jennings are on their way back, the former to likely wrap up Kate Mansi’s (Abigail Devereaux) story. There is a huge fan response in they can’t wait to have these two back. However, they cannot wait for Tamara/Ava to be gone, in fact, no one wanted Tamara back to begin with as Ava, but rather Taylor. When you try to explain to them that Taylor was ill received even with Natalia Livingston playing her, they don’t care. They wanted Taylor because Taylor was safe…and EJ DiMera (James Scott) is nowhere to be seen but bet you if Sami (Allison Sweeney) and EJ were still there, their fans would be gunning for Taylor. But the amount of vitriol aimed at this decision for whatever reason has reached an astronomical level to the point that the common mantra is “get her off of my screen”, as if everything is generated solely to please them inside their little safe snow globe world. Cue the angels ringing their bells.
I hadn’t meant for this post to become as long as it’s become or to be a treatise on human behaviour, but it had to be said. I know the existence of these fansites is to be one of fun and to celebrate our love (and as webmaster) create a space for the fans of the subject to come and find resources you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise in a consolidated place. But conversely I think these fansites can be a place of transformation and change. I’m not sure how to remedy this injustice that has been done to Tamara yet a third time. Had the writers of DAYS the first time out not had Ava responsible for the death of Papa Shawn Brady (Frank Parker) I don’t think the vitriol would be quite so bad, but since the decision was made to make Ava responsible for that, no matter if the writing says it was her father keeping her drugged up, or having her find out her son is dead, there is no redemption for her. The amount of apathy I read on these message boards for Ava’s loss was stunning. With views ranging from “I don’t care her baby’s dead” to “Good, we don’t need a Vitali spawn on our screens… the one we have is worse enough” I feel the fault falls solely in the poisoned pens of the writers who have forced this down our throats and made this happen. Due to them the transference of hate for Ava due to the shoddy writing has now been put squarely on Tamara Braun by the viewers who want their “safe” place to go. However, Hope’s (Kristian Alfonso) outright assassination of Stefano DiMera has been received better in the comments of “she was only defending her family and avenging the death of Bo.” Stefano was sitting in a wheelchair and was infirm, yet what Ava has done is somehow worse? Then having Rafe (Galen Gehring) package up the old man into a bag and carting him off to a building slated to be destroyed…. I don’t know what to say about that except I feel it was too much. But the discussion is all about what crimes and multitude of sins Ava has perpetrated, either perceived or imagined hence the pedophile and rapist comments.
So in closing I’m not sure what to do with all of this confusion and I have to say disgust I feel for this show. I know TAMARA OBSCURA will be here to continue following Tamara into whatever endeavour she puts her huge heart to. That won’t change but if anyone has any suggestions as to what and where to perhaps channel this, this, injustice then please leave them in the comments section. Thanks to you, my visitors and fellow Tamara Braun fans for reading this. I hope we can support our girl and to let her know we value her contribution in anything she does. In closing I wanted to let you know I’m working on a couple of videos I plan on uploading to my Youtube channel. I’ll let you know when those are done so you can see them. One has to do with what the perception of rape is, and the other I’m still working on a theme. I’ll post the links to those when I’m done. And you’ll be able to hear what I sound like. Yeah, that’s a huge moment in your day I know. So for now, take care and be safe. Let’s continue showing our love for Tamara and give her all the positive thoughts we can. Thanks for reading.