Sunday, November 11, 2012

Conservative Religious Hypocrisy (Yes, Here We Go Again!) on "Days of Our Lives"

At this point, I'm not even sure why I bother. Between the cheap sets and the clunky dialogue, the bad acting and the implausible storylines, Days of Our Lives has been borderline unwatchable for years. That said, as long as it stays in the so-bad-it's-still-kind-of-good column, I'll continue to tune in.

Everyone needs a few guilty pleasures in life, and for me Days is guilty pleasure No. 1. There are other benefits of watching: The Melissa Reeves Chick-fil-A fiasco and the WilSon gay storyline, among a few other things, have provided some excellent fodder for blog posts in recent months.

But I'm beginning to lose what's left of my patience. Since Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell returned as the show's head writers, Days has begun to look and sound a lot like Another Life, a soap opera that used to air on the Christian Broadcasting Network in the early '80s. I'm still not sure that anyone other than my grandmother, my Aunt Juliet and myself ever watched Another Life. If they had, it probably would have been declared the No. 1 reason why daytime drama became the laughingstock of TV.

In last week's Days episodes, God was mentioned on so many occasions -- by Kristen DiMera, by John Black, by Rafe Hernandez and various others -- that I lost count. Key scenes took place in a church with Father Day Player pontificating about God and forgiveness. While watching Friday's episode, I half expected the characters to form a prayer circle around Nicole Walker's bed, begging the Lord to deliver her from evil. She could use some divine intervention right about now, and according to spoilers, it's about to come in the form of a returned Eric Brady, previously played by Supernatural's Jensen Ackles, now played by hunky General Hospital alumnus Greg Vaughan, and now a devout priest.

I adore Vaughan, one of the nicest guys in daytime, who was so unceremoniously dumped as Lucky Spencer on GH a few years ago to make room for a returning Jonathan Jackson (equally nice, now off GH, again, and costarring on Nashville) and his crybaby version of Lucky, but I'm dreading this storyline. I know Days has always had a devout Christian following, and it is the place where a major character once was possessed by the devil, but the recent God-centric scripts, which might just be a set-up for the return of Eric Brady, border on overkill. Melissa Reeves, a real life God devotee who plays church-going (as revealed by Nicole last week) Jennifer Horton, must be thrilled.

In a recent episode, Nick Fallon (that's him in the main photo), who was just sprung from prison on parole after serving several years for kidnapping, murder and other assorted crimes, was trying to explain to Gabi Hernandez why he is so uncomfortable around gay couple Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis. Like so many others who have done time, he found God while he was locked up, and God has decreed that being gay is a sin (according to him and the entire religious right).

So regardless of what he would think if he were free to think for himself (and apparently, devout Christians are not), he must uphold the religious status quo. He even pulled out the it's-not-them-it's-me card, the "them" being Will and Sonny. Nick said he doesn't think Will and Sonny are bad people, but he feels how they are living is wrong. He topped off that wildly misguided assertion by saying that being gay is not like being black or Hispanic. Gay people choose to be gay.

Gabi disagreed ("Do you choose to be straight?" she wisely asked), and although she initially walked out on Nick because of his dissenting view, launching their first fight, by the end of the November 1 episode, she had agreed to disagree. Then she made love to him for the first time!

Okay, so let me get this straight. The Bible says that being gay is a sin -- in some mystery passage that nobody has ever actually been able to present to me as Exhibit A. Even if someone did offer me written proof, let's not forget this is the same book that says, "an eye for an eye," while instructing us to turn the other cheek. Let's also not forget the talking serpent, a single man and single woman populating an entire planet, not to mention all of the extreme decrees made throughout by a jealous and vengeful God who's often depicted as being wildly capricious and perhaps a little nuts.

Come on, folks. This is not the word of God. As far as I know, He remains unpublished. It's the word of man, written by men, for, among others, gullible men (and women). One should use it, if one must use it, as a guide, not a blueprint, for living. But if a guy as brilliant as Nick Fallon is going to take those words as God's gospel truth, well, did he forget what God supposedly has to say about premarital sex, in which he was indulging quite frequently with Gabi last week? Oh yeah, it's okay for straight people to stray from what is allegedly His word, but gay people are damned for doing the same. It's a similar argument to the one that claims gay marriage will desecrate an institution that straight people have been desecrating for centuries.

Daytime has long been the playground of the shamelessly hypocritical (which is why most of the characters of The Young and the Restless test my patience so), but it seems egregiously disingenuous for characters who cheat, steal, blackmail and plot murder to be running around town acting holier than thou, or than Adam and Steve. Unfortunately, Nick Fallon is not simply a soap creation. Representative of the way too many people think in real life, he's a reflection of the conservative religious hypocrisy that dominates in Red State, USA, and beyond.

I suspect there is more to this story than meets the eye. I pray (to the soap gods, not to Him, who I'm sure couldn't care less) there is more to it. I have a feeling that it soon will be revealed that Nick Fallon was raped in prison, hence his discomfort around Will and Sonny. What a great story that would be, if the writers dare to go there, and it would make Nick bearable again.

Hopefully, we can get there with more sinning (which is why so many of us tune in to soaps, after all) and less God fearing. There'll be enough of that in church today.

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