Hey, remember when ONE LIFE TO LIVE was must-watch soap and every day had you on the edge of your seat? Yeah, it was a long time ago. I thought things would be different this year, but so far, 2011 has not been kind to my favorite show. There are plenty things going wrong right now - the continued focus on the Ford family, the dumbing down of characters for plot purposes, recycled plot devices - but the thing that's disappointing me the most is the complete ruination of one of my favorite characters, Charlie Banks.
Back in 2007, OLTL was focused on revitalizing the iconic Viki Lord and the results were nothing short of magical. Viki found herself waiting tables in small town Paris, TX, becoming a mother figure to Gigi Morasco and most importantly, falling in love with fellow lost soul Charlie B. Free of the baggage left behind in Llanview, Viki was able to start anew with Charlie, who was also looking for redemption by searching for the son he abandoned when his alcoholism was at its worst. The early Viki/Charlie scenes were some of the most romantic scenes I've ever seen on a soap. (Watch the above clip to see what I mean) Eventually, Viki and Charlie found their way back to Llanview and, despite some rocky moments, have remained in love and there for each other.
Thanksgiving 2008 was my favorite Viki and Charlie moment of all time. As Viki broke down at her evil father's grave blaming him for her family's constant struggles with mental illness and abuse, Charlie rushed in and promises her things would change and that he'd never leave her or hurt her the way so many others had in the past. He solidified his promise by showing her the redesigned diner in Angel Square, now identical to the diner where they met in Texas. Beautiful stuff...
...Which is why I'm SO upset with how pathetic Charlie's become. Losing his son Jared after only a few happy years with him devastated Charlie and sent him back to the bottle. After finally letting himself grieve the healthy way, he and Viki reconciled and things looked to be back to normal. Unfortunately, the writers seem to love using Charlie as the show's resident victim and put him through the wringer thinking Rex was his son, only to learn Clint had set it all up. His constant emotional flirtation with former drinking buddy Echo DiSavoy was completely out of character. That he actually SLEPT WITH ECHO SOBER was absolute character assassination, and spoilers indicate that things are about to get much worse in Charlie and Viki's marriage, with Charlie doing something completely unforgivable in the coming days and weeks.
Those of you who frequent twitter and the other soap websites know that the fantastic Brian Kerwin has been let go from the show. This comes as no surprise, but why do the writers insist on ruining of all their male characters before shipping them out of town (think Schuyler, Eli and Cole)? If it was time to end the beautiful love story of Charlie and Viki, why do it this way? And why ignore all the great buildup and payoff the characters have had over the past four years? It's such a shame, and unfortunately other stories on OLTL seem to be headed in the same, odd (mis)direction.