Savoring Soaps: Angie and Jesse Save "All My Children"

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  All My Children’s newly revived characters Angie and Jesse are causing me pain. At the end of every scene, I start to hurt, because I have to watch so many scenes of the rest of the storylines on AMC until I see them again.

These characters, played by Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams, are so good and so real and so what soap opera used to be all about--love, romance, authentic human beings experiencing authentic human emotions--that they blot out the rest of the show.
Did you see Jesse and Angie's clinch during the reunion episode? Specially shot outdoors trackside near a train station, with some very interesting camera angles by guest director Andrew Lee, the sequence was really terrific! A moment full of joy, full of the release of years of buried pain, full of love. Marlena was blubbering so much I finally stopped shouting, "It's modeled after Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton's famous trackside reunion embrace in the film Reds!” (It takes a lot to shut Marlena up in the middle of making a movie reference during a soap.)
Since there is little magic these days happening on daytime soaps, you can bet the PTB upstairs are analyzing what has made the Angie and Jesse return so special. Is it the actors? Certainly, that's the huge part of it. Morgan and Williams, Emmy winners both, have always been extraordinary actors and AMC should thank its lucky stars that they were available. Both are seasoned by years of movies, TV movies, series and theater, and their maturity as human beings is glowingly evident, making Angie and Jesse as long separated lovers all the more layered and all the more poignant to us. Finally on a daytime soap opera, a couple that has been allowed to age as much and as richly as we viewers have over the years!
Twenty-one years--that's how long Angie and Jesse were separated. Do you even remember who you were going out with in 1987? I don't! That was a long, long time ago.
And so, the characters have thankfully been reunited in scenes that bespeak who they are, not with the titillation that sweeps months are supposed to require nowadays. Today's sex scenes on soaps are usually a jumble of lingerie and pecs. Jesse and Angie's sexual reunion was beautifully staged in a cabin (how soapy! I love it!) and the last thing we saw before the camera went to black was Jesse's outstretched hand beckoning Angie towards him. Angie followed.
For the first time in a long time, someone backstage at ABC Daytime or at AMC is not asleep at the wheel. The writing for Jesse and Angie so far has been very classic soap opera and very good. Due to the Writer's Strike, I have no idea who's doing it. In my fantasy--let me reiterate, Marlena's fantasy--this is all being written by Agnes Nixon (who is now 80 and retired.) Agnes created Jesse and Angie more than two decades ago from her progressive mind and her loving heart. No one was ever better at writing classic soap opera with a contemporary edge than she. She is the other ingredient which made the characters of Angie and Jesse such a success. Agnes is what is missing from the funny, sophisticated always intelligent, multi-layered All My Children we fell in love with decades ago.   Forgive moi if I enjoy my fantasy that Agnes has returned to Pine Valley along with Jesse and Angie.
And this is only the beginning for the newly returned Angie and Jesse. It seems that a tortured Jesse has been on the run for all these years from some evil source. Please don't let Jesse and Angie's pain continue in improbable gimmicks and empty plot twists. That is to say, in the awful manner in which the show has been written of late by writers with little heart, who only know how to stage shallow imitation soap opera. This old and once very ardent All My Children fan really can't stand the pain of all that.
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