Soap reACTION: Filling the Void, Missed Opportunities and the Rise of an Empire

Let’s Have A Kiki…Or Not

It was recently announced that Alderson would be departing from GH. The Emmy winner, who made a name for herself on cancelled soap One Life To Live, played the role of mob princess Lauren “Kiki” Jerome after legal reasons made it impossible for her to continue in her former OLTL role. Though I’m a fan of Alderson’s, Kiki never manage to make an impact on the canvas and I won’t miss the character. It’s unfortunate because Kiki had potential.

Kiki wasn’t so much a bad character as much as a non-character. Free of ambition, a defined identity, clear wants and needs, etc. made it hard for the audience to connect to her. She became the wallpaper in the background of the Corinthos brothers’ romper room, the “Smurfette” of the young adult set.

Alderson is talented and my criticism of the character of Kiki has nothing to do with her capabilities as an actress. It’s really a writing/story line issue. Kiki first came ontoScreenshot 2014-12-01 20.00.06 the GH canvas like a bat out of hell. She was Grease’s Rizzo in a petit soap opera form, a feisty bad girl who liked to cheat at gambling and nicknamed her boyfriend after booze. I liked her that way. This persona was compatible with her femme fatale mother Ava Jerome (Maura West) and her father at the time, homicidal artist Franco (Roger Howarth). Unfortunately this did not last long.

Instead of taking this new character and tapping into the tons of potential story line her sexy, rebellious nature would have generated, the show opted to go a much less entertaining route. They took everything that was interesting about her away. This was done by killing off her connections to the characters in her story and turning her bitchiness into teenybopper angst. The end result was not pretty.

While saying that Kiki was being written a lot like Starr Manning that other character is an accurate statement, the reason a starry-eyed Kiki didn’t work as much as the original is because of the lack of relationships and strong familiar connections that were so important to that character. Perhaps the writers and/or actress still felt a particular attachment to that other character but they should have let it go and moved on.

Just like in the real world, people in the soap universe need others to survive. For example, would the highly entertaining Spencer Casssadine (Nicolas J. Bechtel) be as enjoyable if we never saw his friendship with Britt (Kelly Theibaud), his precocious pinning for Emma (Brooklyn Rae Silzer), or his interaction with his exasperated father Nik (Tyler Christopher)? Kiki had a lot of family on canvas but interacted with very few of them. Her interaction with family was confined to her parents and therein lies the rub.

While Kiki’s interaction with her murderous mother was great, her relationship with her newly discovered daddy, stoic doctor Silas Clay (Michael Easton), was nothing to endure. Alderson and Easton have acted together before so one would expect the chemistry to be easy to muster up but it was surprisingly absent. This could possibly be blamed on lack of interaction. After the big reveal that Kiki was Silas’ daughter the audience wasn’t given any time to see the characters connect in their new found relationship. This all happened off screen in favor of Silas’ romance with Sam and Kiki’s romance with Michael, two pairings that ended up not working out despite being heavily promoted.  It was hard to connect Silas and Kiki as father and daughter because we never saw the characters actually make that connection themselves.

miki2Recently, Kiki and Silas have been interacting more but it’s too little too late now, especially since there still isn’t any chemistry. Folks, let’s all just be honest. She worked better as Franco’s daughter. Now I hate it when the paternity switch trope gets overused just as much as the next person but I would have been more than okay with Kiki’s paternity being switched back to where it belonged. As faux father/daughter, Howarth and Alderson just have it. They always have. Why fight against it? It also always made more sense that the love of Ava’s life would be the sexy killer artist rather than the quiet judgmental doctor. There was a lot more story with Kiki having a rambunctious, morally challenged father than there was with having her pouting with Silas. I’m not sure why the family unit of Silas, Ava and Kiki still exists other than the fact that it’s now the only story line that Silas has left.

As far as non-familiar connections go, Kiki managed to keep it in family by bouncing back and forth between brothers Michael (Chad Duell) and Morgan (Bryan Craig). Neither option had gain much in way of fanfare. If Kiki had stayed the snarky bad girl she once was rather than becoming Diet Starr, seeing her devilishly pit two brothers against each other would have been amusing. Having them fight over an aimless “girl” lacked believability. It made her not only look awful but she became a bit of an annoyance.

There had been whisperings of a possible recast for Kiki. I have mixed feelings about this. The character isn’t essential to GH but given a different direction she could be. Sometimes recasts can reboot a character and it would be nice if Ava and Franco still had a daughter to interact with. A new actress could also alleviated the temptation to write Kiki as a watered-down version of that other character we can’t mention. I do wish Alderson would have had more opportunity to shine in the role herself but I’m sure she’ll do well in her future endeavors.