They were daytime’s first African-American super couple and now All My Children has reunited one of soaps’ most popular pairs after 20 years apart.
As a longtime fan, I’m thrilled to see these wonderful and talented actors back on AMC. But wait, didn’t Jesse (Darnell Williams) die with Angie (Debbi Morgan) at his bedside, having taken a bullet meant for John Remington, a slick hottie that Angie later dated? Jesse took his last breaths while Angie cried her heart out beside him.
I was watching that episode in a St. Louis ad agency conference room as I ate lunch with my co-workers 20-plus years ago. I sobbed like I had during no other TV scene before or since. Since that day, Jesse has returned to AMC several times, but as a ghost. I’m happy he’s back…but how?
We soap fans know that we often have to suspend our disbelief, sometimes to outrageous extremes. This is definitely one of those cases, but I really don’t hear anyone complaining. Every fan I’ve talked to, as well as countless blogs I’ve read, all echo one sentiment: “It’s great to have Jesse and Angie back, and back TOGETHER.”
All My Children definitely gave us a reunion to remember. First, Angie returned to Pine Valley, called in by the venerable Dr. Joe Martin to diagnose and cure two patients, Greenlee and Quentin, who both had a mysterious respiratory illness. Angie’s always been a doctor, but I found it interesting that suddenly she’s a renowned infectious diseases specialist, on par with Dr. Greg House, who can resolve medical mysteries that no one else can. Of course, she succeeded in curing them both, and on the way we learned that “Quentin” is actually Frankie, Angie’s son with Jesse.
While Frankie was ailing in Pine Valley Hospital, he swore several times he had seen his father appear before him. At first, everyone dismissed these visions as the dreams of a very sick young man who might be about to pass over to the other side. But before too long, Angie saw Jesse too, when she went to visit his grave in Pine Valley cemetery. She passed out from the shock and when she came to in the hospital (Jesse called 911, then split) she was convinced she had to have been dreaming.
Jesse and Angie were high school sweethearts, the classic story of the well-to-do good girl falling for the hood from the wrong side of the tracks. They married early, had Frankie soon after, and were parted by “death” way too soon. Their love story was one for the soap opera ages and helped to firmly place and keep AMC near the top in the ratings during most of the years they were first featured on the show (1981–1988). AMC’s ratings began to tumble soon after Jesse and Angie left and currently the show is No. 7 among eight daytime soaps with just under 2,700,000 viewers, less than half that of the No. 1 soap, The Young and the Restless.
Can the return of Jesse and Angie help AMC climb back to the top? Viewing habits have changed dramatically since they left. There are fewer of us watching “our shows” live, and many more of us time-shifting to the evening or on the weekends via TiVo or SoapNet.
One thing is for certain. I was glued to each episode that led up to and culminated in their reunion. When would they actually see each other for the first time? How touching will that first meeting be?
And where has Jesse BEEN ALL THIS TIME? Now that we know, sort of, I’m interested in seeing how this whole mess gets sorted out. Tad, Krystal, Frankie and Angie are determined to stick together and get Jesse out of danger, and to bring back to the Hubbard family the kind of happy togetherness we had always wanted them to have. I plan to hang out with them and watch it all unfold. I fear, just as I’m sure that AMC hopes, that while doing that, I’ll get attached enough to their other storylines that I become a daily viewer again. Me and a couple million other viewers, that is….We’ll see!