Saturday, October 15, 2011


Soap operas are educational. There, I said it. Sure, the stories are often far-fetched and utterly ridiculous (especially the doppelgänger ones, because every sane person knows you cannot get plastic surgery to look exactly like someone else), but when they flirt with reality, they can resonate. And despite some boring talky scenes with Jennifer and Jack over the last couple of days -- I'm still stifling a yawn, but maybe because it's right now 5.40am Bangkok time, and I can't sleep -- Days of Our Lives has hit an emotional bullseye with the Daniel/Jennifer/Jack triangle.

Here is the gist of the story: Jack Devereaux left his wife Jennifer and two kids to go on a walkabout in Australia (another nice soap shout out to one of my recent stomping grounds). For months, the only contact they had with him was through his blog, in which he detailed his exploits without once mentioning the family he left behind. Meanwhile, back in Salem, Jennifer fumed.

Eventually, she fell for Dr. Daniel Jonas after he saved her life. Here's the gist of that story: In trying to help her cousin Hope Brady, who was in prison at the time for assaulting all of the leading men of Salem and trying to kill her husband Bo (she was sleep-bashing, under the influence of some powerful sleeping pills), Jennifer ended up on the operating table after her heart was removed by one of Hope's evil inmates. Ticker back in place, thanks to Dr. Jonas's surgical skill, Jennifer and Daniel started dating. Carly Manning's drug problem threatened the new union for a few weeks, but in the end, love conquered all.

Yes, love. Do I sound cynical? If I do, it's because those declarations of love seemed to happen way too quickly for a man who had only recently divorced the previous love of his life and a woman who had just detached herself from her husband of decades. I know a rebound when I see one. I also know a good-bye when I hear one, and Dan is probably about to get his. You see, Jack is back, and boy does he know how to make a grand re-entrance! He did it by falling onto a giant cake just as Daniel was about to ask Jennifer to move in with him.

Here's the twist: It turns out that Jack never went on that walkabout at all. He didn't write the blog either. He was on assignment, investigating some bad guys in Afghanistan and ended up being captured and imprisoned for months. We haven't really found out who hatched the walkabout tale and the blog, but why quibble with minor details? The dramatic crux of the story is that Jack is back, and he wants back in with his family. In true soap-opera style, Jennifer is torn.

Part of the story is far-fetched. Not the one Jack is telling (I believe him) but the one Days is. Having your heart removed and living to die another day simply does not happen. And don't get me started on pill-popping Hope, enjoyable though she was.

But beyond the impossibility of it all, there's a lesson here: Rebounding is risky business. I'm not talking from personal experience because I've never been the rebounder nor the reboundee. Like pornography, I know it when I see it, and I always try to look the other way at someone whose heart is not still tied to someone else's.

When one romance ends, the last thing I need to do is to jump right into another one. I tend to remedy my sorrows by drowning them in shots of tequila. Any guy I encounter might be game for a one-nighter, but not love and marriage. That might not be any healthier than rebounding, but at least no one's heart is on the line. (I wish I could say the same for that other vital organ, my liver.)

Jennifer should not have declared her love to Daniel before resolving her feelings for Jack. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should reveal that Daniel was rebounding, too, after Chloe broke his heart, but she won't be a problem since Nadia Bjorlin has left the show and is actually getting meatier material now on E!'s Dirty Soap than she ever had on Days. That meddling Persian mom of hers deserves a spin-off of her own!

But getting back to Jennifer, had she really been over her ex-husband when she declared her forever love to Daniel, she wouldn't even be considering returning to Jack because she thinks she owes her family another chance. Was Jack so loyal to the idea of family when he chose an assignment over his wife and kids? Poor Dan. He may be a reformed man-whore who's done his share of cheating and deserves a lesson in leavin'. But it shouldn't be from Jennifer.

(SPOILER ALERT: In next Monday's, episode, Daniel will suggest that Jennifer date both of them before choosing, which sounds like a season of The Bachelorette that will not end with Daniel getting the final rose -- or whatever the guys get on The Bachelorette. I hope no hot tubs are involved!)

By having Jennifer be the one to school Daniel in heartbreak, Days would be doing the previously unthinkable -- ruining a character whose character I once thought it was impossible to destroy. (Plus Jennifer and Jack are DULL.) But at least in the process, it would be teaching us an important lesson about the danger of rebound romance. Don't try it at home.
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