Jane (Scotland): This storyline is simply unique. I can’t remember when a same-sex love story was told with such care and developed over a long time. The writing and acting are extraordinarily good, not just “for a soap” but for any genre of television. The show is consistently good and the actresses – well, they’re wonderful; the pairing is perfect and they fill every scene with truth. It’s great to watch.
Rita (Ireland): First, as I am unable to view the complete show through the CBS site, due the fact that I live outside of the United States, I can only really comment on the Otalia storyline. Whilst I now reside in Ireland, I have lived in England, Germany and Austria, and I have to say, that this is without doubt, the best written love story that I have ever seen on TV daytime or otherwise. The incredible care and dedication that has been given to this story by both the writers and the actors involved is clearly evident. The writing in my opinion has been flawless to date, and the two main actresses, Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, have given Emmy award winning performances.
When it was first suggested that they were going to tell a non-gendered specific love story, I was fairly skeptical that they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. But I’m more than happy to say that I was wrong on this occasion. The slow burn of this blossoming romance between Olivia and Natalia has been a privilege to watch. The pace has been perfect as both characters deal with their feelings and with their own “baggage”.
What the writers have succeeded in doing with this storyline is groundbreaking, and history in the making. Not only is this a non-gendered specific love story, but it is a love story that is totally believable.
EM: Do you think everyone involved has a responsibility to the gay and lesbian community when telling this story and if so are they succeeded with that responsibility?
Siobhan (Wales): I would rather that the writers and actors of Guiding Light didn’t over-think their responsibility for fear that it would effect what they are already doing. I don’t want it to feel forced, I want them to write what’s true for the characters.
Ordinarily I would never say this. Too many TV shows have showed too little respect for their audience in the name of apparent “creativity”, but these writers have managed to show nothing but respect to their LGBT audience by staying true to their characters and their vision. I have complete faith that they will continue to do so; nothing so far has made me think otherwise.
Bonnie (England): I don’t think feelings of responsibility should really come into it. They shouldn’t have to worry about that as they’re telling a love story, plain and simple, and it’s playing out in a true-to-life, very realistic way. I do think, however, that visibility is important, and showing two women in this particular kind of loving, happy relationship, which is what we will hopefully see eventually, can only be a good thing for the gay and lesbian community. This soap seems to have a lot of long time viewers who won’t have seen anything like this in the history of the show. The storyline has been handled with a huge amount of respect. This has never been done before, at least as far as I can remember, and certainly not in this way. I find it completely believable, and I trust the writers and actresses to do this well. I don’t think people, particularly those the LGBT community; need to be worried about what they’re doing with this.
Jane (Scotland): I may be in the minority here, but I do think a certain responsibility comes with telling a “girl on girl” love story. I wish it wasn’t the case, and it may not be some years down the line, but presently, same-sex romances on TV are still “an issue”. How they’re portrayed directly influences the opinion of people who have little or no experience of homosexual relationships. I think the GL producers, writers and actors are doing an amazing job with the Otalia storyline. The slow-build helps in this, but the whole approach has been one of care and respect – it’s not a “ratings grabber” or a scandalous exercise aimed at titillation. The actors are portraying the relationship as a simple love story – of course their obvious chemistry helps – but it’s their focus on love, romance and family that makes the burgeoning relationship so believable.
Rita (Ireland): The Otalia storyline has been put forward as a non-gendered specific love story. I think that as the storyline is being told in such a positive way, that it can only have a positive impact on the LGBT community. I think the writers have a duty to continue telling this love story in the way that they have been, and that that should be their priority.
EM: How is this different from other shows in the United States and UK?
Siobhan (Wales): For me, the main difference at the moment is the quality of the writing for the Otalia story line. It’s been so realistic and well thought out. I can’t think of another example from either side of the pond. No one takes the time to invest in and develop their characters any more. I hope other shows learn from this story; this is how you do it!
Bonnie (England): Guiding Light is the only US soap I have ever watched, so I can’t really compare it to others, but it is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It took me a while to get used to the style of it; though that was more down to the way it was filmed than the storylines or the acting. The first time I saw an outdoors scene on Guiding Light after a few hours of watching indoors scenes was refreshing. I like the outdoors scenes; most of our soaps in the UK have a lot of outdoors scenes and not so many indoors scenes. I can’t think of anything we have in the UK which is quite the same sort of style as Guiding Light. Our soap operas tend to be shown during the evening, after dinner, and daytime soap operas aren’t really that popular here. British soaps are generally quite gritty, particularly Eastenders, and there are a lot of close-ups of people looking really, really rough. No soft tone filters here!
Jane (Scotland): As I mentioned before, just the slow pace of the storytelling sets it apart. I can’t think of comparable example on TV at the moment; that and the consistently good writing and acting.
Rita (Ireland): The main difference that this storyline has over other storylines that I know of in the UK or Ireland; is the length of time that has been given over to developing it. This storyline started back in early 2008 and it has been built up slowly and steadily since then. On the other hand, Home & Away, which is an Australian soap, is currently running a lesbian storyline, has shown them in a space of a few weeks, kiss and declare their undying love for each other!
One thing that I have noticed from reading comments is that some people were unhappy about the fact that the writers allowed things to get as far as the wedding day before Natalia came to her senses. And whilst, I would secretly have liked that too, I think because the writing is so good, we forget temporarily that it is a SOAP that we are watching, and therefore there has to be some elements of “soapness” involved so in that aspect, it is similar to our soaps here on this side of the pond. If something major is going to happen, you can be sure it will be at a wedding, funeral, or christening!