Hollyoaks has never been a soap opera to shy away from gay storylines nor have they been the type to only give gimmicky stories to gay characters. Its Pride month worldwide and this last week, most of the village’s LGBT inhabitants took front and center in major storylines dealing with – pride, in a sense. Characters were either too proud of themselves for others, were faking that pride, were hiding it away or ignoring it for someone else. There was so much goodness on screen this last week that it truly was difficult to pick out the bad. I was just overall impressed with the storytelling, usage of peripheral and main characters in the stories as well as just the general pacing of it all. This show doesn’t just aim to be shocking or dramatic or wild or relevant – it does it all at once, effortlessly, with charm and purpose behind it all.
Let’s check out some of my picks and pans from this last week on Hollyoaks!
Picks of the Week
Give Me One Reason
I never thought Scott Drinkwell would be the soap opera character that I’d connect with most, but after this last week I can honestly say that he is. As a more or less longtime soap fan, I’ve seen all kinds of storylines that have struck chords within me but they were always just that – chords. I’ve never seen a lot of myself in one certain character or identified with one issue directly until Scott attempted to take his own life this last week. Now, don’t be alarmed! I’ve never had those same suicidal feelings but you better believe I’ve felt that same pain. He and I just deal with that fluctuating pain differently, just like every other person does.
When you’re the life of every party, everyone expects you to always be on. But it’s impossible to be that way 24/7, not with so many different stresses and expectations in the world these days. Scott came onto the scene as a gag character, nosy and abrasive but ultimately the butt of every joke. But he was also the comic relief, so the verbal abuse of him was always the best punchline to keep spirits up. I never liked him as character and constantly wished he’d just disappear, up and leave the village with no word much like his cousin had before him. But he stayed. And now we’re only half way into 2017 and keeping those spirits up have been a trial for Scott. Not only did he learn his mother wasn’t his birth mother but his father’s mistress, he learned that his whole family knew and that his birth mother didn’t even want him. Then or now.
To say the least, keeping cheerful has been a lot of hard work for the village clown.
Scott went ahead and organized this awesome fundraiser for multiple sclerosis to help friend Nancy Osborne, but no one else seemed to take it seriously. There was a time capsule component where he went around interviewing different villagers but everyone turned him away, caught up in their own issues. And while yeah, Scott can’t expect everyone to want to open up to his camera lens he’s shoving in their faces, everyone seemed to have only the worst things to say to get him to go away. I can’t count all the times he was called an idiot.
It’s only after Scott is rushed to Dee Valley Hospital after his suicide attempt do we learn the whole truth. Mercedes McQueen and Diane Hutchinson find his video camera and watch every clip, every rejection and insult thrown his way and the final blow. He’d given his birth mother a call to invite her to his fundraiser, knowing full well she wasn’t interested in a relationship with him because she’d never wanted him. Instead of his birth mother answering, her son answers and he figures that she did want a son, just not a son like him.
There’s this incredible moment that Ross Adam sort of dissociates, going from that usual chipper Scott to something so raw and dark in just a split second. It’s kind of terrifying to see but so engrossing too. He goes on a tirade about not being the right kind of gay for everyone, even for gays and that’s when I found my connection there. When you don’t fit in with the general public, you expect and hope you’d fit in with people like you too but oftentimes that doesn’t happen. And it really sucks! The hashtag Hollyoaks is using to promote the show and awareness to this issue is #dontfilterfeelings, the most fitting summary of everything. After the attempt, you see everyone trying to deal with it in their own way. Diane is such a down home girl, she never gets it, always runs into these dark issues with her family blindly thinking it can all be fixed with just a trip back home. But it’s so much deeper than that.
While Diane thinks Scott is just being selfish and attention seeking, his psychologist can see right through him. New character Dr. Farrah Maalik sympathizes with him, even opening up a bit about how she has to struggle daily with being a Muslim lesbian. After listening to Scott’s desires to just stop it all, she breaks down outside of his hospital room but brings it together to let the family know he needs further treatment. That bit only lasted but a few seconds but it easily became a highlight to me. This last week showed a lot of ways that the LGBT community can be so disjointed, so bad for itself but then this little flash shows that we’re still connected to. Pain travels, when one of our brothers is hurt then so is one of our sisters because we’ve been there before.
Telling this story so honestly and bravely is deserving of so much applause. I am so happy that a soap opera still has the gall to still teach these tough lessons. And Hollyoaks does that while not being preachy or sounding like an after school special either. Scott needs serious help, his issues don’t get glossed over in two episodes nor does he get a magical cure from the Amazon for depression. At the end of the week he gets carted off to a treatment facility in hopes that he can get better and become his true self. Faking it is exhausting, we all know that. But what everyone needs to realize is that it’s also okay to be the real you all the time, not just sometimes.
In a surprise side scene, James Nightingale confides in a moody Mercedes McQueen about his past struggles with depression. For anyone that watches Hollyoaks, we all know that James is a character so rigid and stoic that he might as well be a statue. Showing emotion is the hardest part of every day for him and over time, we learned it all stemmed from abuse he suffered at the hands of his tyrant father Mac Nightingale. But that was all we’d known for a long time.
Mercedes is the type of person that doesn’t deal well with feelings, for her it’s usually all or nothing no matter what. So her struggling to address Scott’s issues and how to deal with them are very true to her nature but surprising was seeing her connect with James. Both of them opened up about not being able to emote well then James dropped the bomb.
See, James was probably the biggest offender when it came to Scott’s mistreatment. There were always snide comments, really cruel jokes and humiliating pranks played upon the flamboyant man. Why? Because he’s flamboyant. James grew having to hide his own tendencies because his father beat the idea that men had to be masculine into his head. Mercedes asked a really great question that people outside of the LGBT world wouldn’t truly understand; she wondered why so many gay men avoid the loud and flamboyant when it wasn’t a bad thing. And to that, James masterfully answered that the flamboyant ones make it hard for everyone. There’s this (wrong) notion that being out and proud is okay as long as you’re not flashy about it. But then what about people who are just naturally flashy? They get shunned, pushed away and made to feel less than. Much like Scott.
This little conversation not only touched upon a real world issue very poignantly, but it also explained exactly why James was the way he was. All that repressed personality and pent up anger sitting just beneath that cold surface, that’s no way to live. And James knows that but unfortunately the PTSD from all that past trauma holds him back. I don’t think he’ll be able to move forward any time soon.
I’d love to see him connect with Scott once he returns to the village. James confessed that he always tore into Scott a little harder than the rest because the latter reminded him of himself. Or at least what he could have been if he’d been able to be more honest.