‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ Year In Review: A Tale of Two Halves

The Cast of the CBS series THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI
Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI

The Second Half

Let me preface this by saying that I was never a fan of Aly Forrester. The second she showed up I knew she was a character for which I would never be able to relate. Why? Because of the odd way she was written from the beginning. Initially she was a shy recluse who seemed happy just to be with her family again. Then out of nowhere she morphed into an ax wielding, mentally disturbed busybody who took it upon herself to police the sex lives of others. It was bizarre to say the least.  However, none of that warranted her death. When her obsession with Steffy began to turn dark, I said that it would be the perfect opportunity to tell a great and in depth mental health storyline, something the other three soaps were not. Brad Bell & Co. chose not to take that route. Instead they took the easy way out and decided to kill her off for no good reason. At the time I thought this decision was shocking, but maintained that as long as something came of it, it wouldn’t be a disaster. Again, I was wrong.

The fallout from Aly’s death has to be some of the worst material I have seen on a soap this year solely because of where the show was just weeks prior. I am a fan of daring decisions as long at the outcome provides justification. All Aly’s death gave us was a forced and obnoxious rivalry between Steffy and Ivy over Liam with help from an overused video clip. The thing that bothered me the most about Aly’s death was the omission of her own father in the build up and aftermath of the storyline. Thorne was in all of five episodes during this entire time. It’s no secret the treatment of Thorne Forrester has been a running joke among soap fans. Unfortunately, that soon turned into shame when the character wasn’t even allowed to fully mourn the death of his daughter before being ushered off screen again so Liam could take center stage. The follow up to Ally’s death led to months of the quad from hell, on top of the over the top and ridiculous propping of Ivy Forrester in an attempt to shoehorn her into the role of the righteous heroine. I don’t know the reason behind all of her hospital landing mishaps other than trying making her sympathetic to fans while placing all of the blame on Steffy. I have said it time and time again — the more you force a character on the audience, the more the audience rebels. For a genre that’s been going for over 70 years, it’s ridiculous that none of the remaining four soaps have realized this. Maybe they have and don’t care. Either way, 2015 closed with Ivy at the bottom of a flight of stairs and me at the end of my rope with all of the unnecessary shenanigans.

Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI
Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI

You would think while all this was going on that the Avants (who ruled the year) would be the saving grace… not so much. Don’t misunderstand, my complaints for their storyline are a lot fewer but they are still very much present. My problem with the Avants wasn’t too far from my issue with the rest of the show — it all comes down to decision making. If you are going to make a gutsy call, it better be worth it. The call in the Avant storyline turned Nicole into Jane the Virgin. Fresh on the heels of her first real relationship with Zende, the writers decided to halt everything to guilt her into being Maya and Ricks incubator. Then, once that decision was made, it took off at warp speed. She was inseminated and pregnant only two weeks after the favor was asked of her. Ultimately sacrificing one couples’ happiness for the other. But it wasn’t all bad. Mainly because of the once again amazing performances by the actors and the return of the Avant parents. Things got a little basic towards the end with the introduction of Sasha, the secret love child of Julius who came to town to take what was hers and everyone elses. Been there done that and with better results.

Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI
Photo Credit: © Sean Smith/JPI

Lastly and maybe my biggest complaint of the second half of the year was the seeming erasure of a large portion of the cast. I’m not referring to the rarely seen recurring cast, I’m talking about Emmy winners and veterans. After Katie and Bill’s remarriage, they pretty much disappeared for the rest of the year. The possibility of launching a rival fashion house to compete with Forrester was dangled as an enticing carrot for a week or so, only for it to be snatched away and never mentioned again. Yet another missed opportunity to utilize them in a different way and inject some much needed fire into the status quo. It appears as if a course correction is in effect for 2016, as the show has taken Bill, Katie and Brooke off the bench, but unfortunately it’s to default to the tired triangle formula. With zero build up, the forbidden dance between Brooke and Bill was back on in full force. Speaking of Brooke, remember when they turned her into an alcoholic who didn’t know how to function without a man? That wasn’t offensive at all. Maybe that’s why she too took an extended visit to backburner city. I get it, Brooke’s been a center fixture for decades now, but her absence left a noticeable hole in the canvas. Joining Brooke, Katie and Bill on the bench was the quirky Quinn and Deacon. After their nuptials, they took a long vacation off-screen. Though Quinn was trotted out a few times to support Wyatt, Deacon was no where to be found, causing many to wonder if Sean Kanan was still part of the show (which he is for the record). The failure to utilize Deacon and Quinn was a missed opportunity to allow for new story options, and give viewers a much needed “other” option when the main stories aren’t delivering as hoped. The only couple that fared well in the aftermath of their wedding was Ridge and Caroline. Their impromptu vows on the beach was a nice component in their romance, which evolved into keeping the paternity of Caroline’s baby a secret from Thomas after a drunken one night stand. The lie to keep Thomas from discovering the truth made for an interesting, albeit unoriginal shift. Unfortunately that too rode the bench in the later months in favor of Ivy’s mishaps and the never ending quad from hell.

The Postgame Show

Overall, 2015 will go down as one of the strangest years of The Bold and the Beautiful. Stories ranged from acclaimed topical and socially progressive tales one week to floating ghost heads the next. Every time I sought to hold B&B as the blueprint for its contemporaries, I was fed a large plate of crow. While there are many, many lessons the other soaps can and should learn from B&B, the erratic whiplash of ranging plots is not one of them. Injecting new blood into the series with the casting of Reign Edwards, Rome Flynn and Pierson Fodé remains one of the best creative decisions of the year. The loss of Ashlyn Pearce as Aly was an unnecessary gamble that ultimately blew up and led the series down a tumultuous and tedious second half of monotonous regurgitation. 2014 ended so strongly that it gave me hope for what 2015 would bring. What it delivered ultimately has given me a cause for concern. However, there are many bright spots that could easily lead to a bright new season for B&B. As we’ve all seen before, The Bold and the Beautiful has the capability to turn on a dime. It all boils down to the right gameplan. Here’s to a 2016 of creative consistency and forward progress. We’re rooting for you, B&B.

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