Tainted Dreams has everything one would want in an online soap or any soap for that matter. The sudsy webseries is full of sex, scandal, mystery, and intrigue. The brainchild of Emmy-winning producer/director Sonia Blangiardo is all about the sexy outlandish happenings behind the cameras of the fictional New York soap Painted Dreams.
Not only does it include some of the genre’s favorite actors but it provides its audience with a nice tongue in cheek peek at what it may or may not be like on the set of a soap opera. The concept of a soap about a soap works because of the knowledgeable writing and acting. Blangiardo’s creation doesn’t over indulge in pretense. While there are several nods to the real soap industry, Blangiardo clearly understands that the soap fans are her target audience.
Alicia Minshew is terrific as Tainted Dream‘s humble narrator Angelica, the senior producer of Painted Dreams. While playboy Executive Producer Adam (Grant Aleksander) is out of town rushing into a quickie marriage with young ingénue Peyton (Marnie Schulenburg), Angelica is trying her best to keep the set under control. I get the impression that Angelica is used to doing most of the work regardless of Adam’s presence.
Things get complicated when soap diva Veronica (Kelley Hensley) catches her on and off screen husband Gregory (Walt Willey) in bed with onscreen daughter Liza (Natalia Livingston). Though Angelica does her best to kept everyone happy she seems a little in over her head. As the President of Daytime TV Ethan (Nathan Purdee) tells her, “You’re too nice. People like you but I honestly don’t think they respect you.”
While dealing with all the backstage drama, Angelica has some real life issues of her own. Her shallow boyfriend Max (Austin Peck) is a cheater and she’s carrying a torch for leading man Jordan (Michael Lowry). Angelica and Jordan had a previous relationship and still seem to care for each other very much. The audience isn’t told right away why their relationship ended but I wonder if Angelica’s inability to have children may have had an impact. I’m interested in learning all the sordid details.
Network Vice President of Daytime Courtney (Bobbie Eakes) drops by the set to lend a hand with the latest backstage scandal. Or she may just be there to watch and say I told you so. After pulling Veronica into a comforting hug, she whispers, “Karma’s a bitch isn’t it?” Sounds like there is some bad blood between the two ladies.
The third episode ends with some intriguing cliff hangers and hints at future story. Who is Dylan and why is Veronica bailing him out of jail? Did Adam and Liza once have a relationship? Did someone just get murdered?
My one criticism of Tainted Dreams is it feels like viewers are plopped right into an unknown environment. A lot happens in each episode at a pretty steady pace so it could be easy to get a little lost. A little bit of exposition at the beginning may have been helpful to set the initial stage of the series. I’m not a big fan of exposition but sometimes it is necessary and when done right can really add to the viewing experience. If a viewer is already familiar with the premise, it’s easy to navigate the story line so this is a minor complaint.
Here are a few of my favorite things:
Angelica – Angelica is a great leading character. I found her very relatable. Despite the fact that she works in an over the top environment and is dating a hunky soap star, she seems more down to earth than her surroundings. Watching her try to juggle both her career and personal life makes the character seem very real. She is someone I would want to be friends with.
Her major flaw is the desire to please everyone. She wants her bosses, the cast, and crew of Painted Dreams to be happy but takes little time for herself. She barely has time to even check her own mail. Hopefully we’ll get to see her overcome this obstacle through the course of the series.
Austin Peck – Austin Peck has mastered the art of playing the himbo. Even though not much is really learned about Peck’s character Max, he managed to be one of my favorites because of the actor’s performance. I think this may be his best role so far.
Max is a vain jerk who would rather look at himself in the mirror than make his girlfriend feel better after a rough day of work. Yet I can’t hate the character because of his boyish charm. He’s not a bad guy, just not a very bright one. Peck executes this very well.
The R Rating – Without network constraints, I’m sure it can be tempting to go a little overboard with sex and cursing. Tainted Dreams has plenty of sex and swear words without pushing the envelope into uncomfortable territory. The bad language is used when it makes sense and as a result barely noticeable.
The sex scenes are steamier and racier than what one would normally see on daytime television. The love scenes are tastefully done, managing to be somewhat risque without being raunchy. If the first three episodes are any indication, viewers will be getting plenty love in the anytime.
The New York Soap Scene – I loved that the series is set in the now extinct New York soap industry. While I enjoy the west coast sudsers, there was always something about the east coast soaps that drew me. I’m not really sure what it was but the acting, the lighting, and the story lines all just seemed different. I always found them to be angstier and edgier than their sunny Los Angeles counterparts. I like that Tainted Dreams is keeping this alive.
It was fun to see several glimpses at the New York soap life. My favorite was seeing the cast and crew unwinding at Blondies after a long day of filming. The New York City sports bar is where the cast of One Life to Live gathered to watch the ABC finale of their show together. It’s also Soap Opera Digest columnist Carolyn Hinsey’s favorite waterhole. I can only imagine the fascinating interviews that took place at the locale.
The all soap star cast also includes Terri Ivens, Jessie Godderz, Anthony Wilkinson, Dina Manzo, James, DePaiva, Colleen Zenk, Ilene Kristen, Larkin Malloy, Carolyn Hinsey, Tonja Walker, and Lisa Marie Varon.
Watch the first three webisodes of Tainted Dreams on the series website http://tainteddreamstheseries.com/sneak-peek/ and hit the comments to share your thoughts!