By Paula Hendrickson
Like millions of Americans, I’ve been known to follow a soap opera or two. I often watch Days of Our Lives while I have lunch. At some point, I started turning to ABC’s One Life to Live during commercials. Now, I flip back and forth between the two shows so much, I sometimes forget which characters are in Llanview and which live in Salem.
When I heard about E!’s new reality show, Dirty Soap — executive produced by former soap stars Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos — I had to watch. Why? The cast includes several Days actors:
• Brandon Beemer (Owen, CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful; ex-Shawn Douglas Days of Our Lives)
• Nadia Bjorlin (ex-Chloe, Days of Our Lives)
• Farah Fath (Gigi, One Life to Live; ex-Mimi; Days of Our Lives)
• Galen Gering (Rafe, Days of Our Lives)
• John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex, One Life to Live)
• Kelly Monaco (Sam, General Hospital)
• Kirsten Storms (Maxie, General Hospital; ex-Belle, Days of Our Lives)
Storms, Fath and Bjorlin started out together on Days, and form the core of the cast. Beemer and Bjorlin are a real-life couple, as are Fath and Lavoisier. Storms and Monaco work together on GH. The only odd man out is Gering. He’s the only actor still currently on Days (Bjorlin’s final appearance was earlier this month), and he’s the only family man among the cast. Of course, that led to a funny scene when one of his young sons happened to see a scene from Days and asked, “Why is Daddy kissing Ben’s mommy?”
After viewing two episodes, a funny thing happened: my opinions about several of the actors flip-flopped. I never really cared for Bjorlin’s character on Days and assumed Bjorlin would be a high-maintenance diva (after all, she really is an opera singer). She’s not exactly low-maintenance, but she’s a lot funnier and more likable as herself, and unabashedly enjoys food, especially her mother’s cooking.
Fath and Storms seemed fun and self-effacing in past interviews, but come across on Dirty Soap as domineering control freaks. Some people compare Fath’s hair to Kate Gosselin’s old ’do, but their attitudes seem more alike than their hair. To be fair, Fath and Storms both have tender and funny moments on the show, too.
In the second episode, Storms alluded to a fracture within her family (apparently, her brother is the only one she currently speaks with). She said she supported her family as a teen actress, and one day she came home to find her mother had kicked her out. Was I the only one listening to that thinking: “If they were such mooches, why did they kick out the breadwinner? I’d love to hear her mom’s side of the story!” (A future episode, perhaps? “Kirsten Makes Up with Mom.”)
So far, the guys on the show have come across as fairly agreeable. For Lavoisier, it can’t be easy with Fath calling all of the shots: We’re moving to LA. We’re buying a house, whether you like it or not. This is how it’s going to be. Deal with it.
Granted, most “reality shows” are heavily scripted and edited to make everyday conversations seem overly dramatic. Perhaps Fath and Storms are being painted as the villains. Maybe producers are showing Lavoisier being henpecked to build tension until he finally blows. If you want a glimpse at the well-rehearsed “real” lives of these people, or just enjoy mocking so-called celebrities, tune in. If not, save yourself the trouble of watching Dirty Soap.
Dirty Soap airs on E! Sunday nights at 9:30 p.m.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Oct. 12-18, 2011, issue