Shelf Love

The Bold and the Beautiful (Tell Me About)


Short Description

I now pronounce you man and...horse? Kissing mannequins, will Taylor stay dead this time, is Sheila Carter the best Supervillain, and favorite Super Couples (seemingly always love triangles?): when I asked Dr. Jodi McAlister to Tell Me About The Bold and the Beautiful, I had no idea how wild the ride would be!

Tell Me About is a series that introduces me and you to new genres and sub genres of romantic stories across media. Novelist, academic, and Soap Superfan Dr. Jodi McAlister share how soap opera's structure explores romantic love, what audiences expect from the love stories, and how these stories make her feel.


Show Notes

Jodi McAlister: [00:00:00] The Bold and the Beautiful was the first show that started filming post the sort of first wave of the pandemic last year.

And they did some really interesting stuff, you can't do a soap opera without kissing. And so they came up with these work arounds. They would use mannequins, including the mannequin that played the dead body of Taylor when she was presumed dead after Sheila Carter shot her.

Andrea Martucci: hello and welcome to Shelf love a podcast and community that critically examines the meaning and structure of romantic love stories in pop culture.

I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, Dr. Jodi McAlister is here to tell me about The Bold and the Beautiful This episode is also available on YouTube. So check out Shelf Love's YouTube channel, if you'd prefer to watch this conversation. Jodi Thank you so much for joining me. Would you please share a little bit about yourself?

Jodi McAlister: Well, First of all, hello, I'm so excited to be here on Shelf Love, longtime listener, first-time caller..

So I am a lecturer in writing literature in culture at Deakin University in Melbourne Australia. So I work on representations of love in popular culture, which means I do a lot of work on romance novels as well as on things like. So proper as we'll talk about today and The Bachelor.

And I'm also an author. So I've written the young adult paranormal romance, trilogy, Valentine. I've written an academic monograph called The Consummate Virgin: Female Virginity Loss and Love in Anglophone Popular Literatures, which is very hard to say. It was once upon a time, my PhD, and I've got a new little book coming out in a couple of months called New Adult Fiction, which is about, surprise, new adult fiction.

And then I've got a couple of rom-coms coming out next year. So they're called Here for the Right Reasons. And Can I Steal You for a Second? And anyone who's ever watched reality TV will be able to guess what they're about very easily.

Andrea Martucci: So Tell Me About is a new series that introduces me and you to new genres and sub genres of romantic stories across media. New to me and maybe new to you, the listener, the watcher. My guest will share how the genre's structure explores romantic love, what audiences expect from the love stories, and how these stories make us feel.

Jodi, can you tell me about The Bold and the Beautiful?

Jodi McAlister: I can. And you are going to regret that you asked this question because I can talk about The Bold and the Beautiful for a very long time. But to give you a brief overview of what it is in case you have somehow missed hearing its name in the world.

The Bold and the Beautiful is an American soap opera that's been running since 1987 and it follows the lives, loves, marriages, divorces, fights and reconciliations of three key families. The Forresters, the Logans, and the Spencer's. And it's set in the world of high fashion in Los Angeles. And yeah, it's very dramatic.

It's actually the youngest of the four [00:03:00] remaining daytime soaps that are still on television. So I think General Hospital began in 1963, Days of Our Lives in 1965, and Young and the Restless in the seventies at some point. So at nearly 35 years old, The Bold and the Beautiful is a spring chicken. As far as soap opera is concerned.

Andrea Martucci: The Bold and the Beautiful is as old as I am, basically. Yeah.

Jodi McAlister: Yeah. It's about the same age as me as well.

Andrea Martucci: Jodi, what was your first? What is the story of how you got introduced to The Bold and the Beautiful?

Jodi McAlister: So I think my origin story as a soap opera viewer is very similar to a lot of people in that it was through my mom.

So in Australia, when the soaps showin in the nineties, when I was growing up, Days of Our Lives and Young, and The Restless would be on in the middle of the day. So I used to watch them with my mom occasionally on school holidays once I was old enough to understand what was going on. We didn't really get General Hospital here, so that wasn't a big deal, but The Bold and the Beautiful was on then and still is now at 4:30 in the afternoon.

So it was perfect. I come home from school. I put down my bag, oh, the TV's on. I'm going to watch The Bold and the Beautiful. And I started when I was 12, probably watching in a serious sustained way. And I um, didn't stop ever.Now here. I am many years later.

Andrea Martucci: So tell me your favorite romantic story from The Bold and the Beautiful. I did not even know it took place in Los Angeles , so I'm like, oh, okay. Like I'm starting to get the vibe here. So what is your favorite romantic arc or couple or I don't know. I literally don't even know.

Jodi McAlister: I'm going to give you couple, I think, because it's really hard to boil it down to just one.

So in soap opera, there's a phenomenon called the "super couple", which is a couple that breaks up and gets back together and breaks up and gets back together. But they're just inexorably intertwined for decades and decades. And so the Bold and the Beautiful has two classic ones in Ridge and Brooke and Ridge and Taylor. Sort of two, there's a love triangle at the heart.

Andrea Martucci: Ridge?

Jodi McAlister: Ridge. Ridge Forrester.

Andrea Martucci: Is that short for something?

Jodi McAlister: Nope. That's his name. You learn to just accept and roll with a lot of things in soap operas. Like his brother's name is Thorne. Thorne Forrester.

Okay.

Andrea Martucci: So these are very like rugged American masculine names? I guess.

Jodi McAlister: Yes for these two fashion designers, the most notoriously rugged masculine field that there is.

Andrea Martucci: Right.

Jodi McAlister: Ridge and Brooke and Ridge and Taylor have never been like my favorite couples. I think when I started watching in the late nineties, I gravitated strangely enough to the younger characters and there was another love triangle going on there, when I started watching, between Rick Forrester, who is the son of Eric Forrester, who is Ridge's dad, and Brooke, Ridge's girlfriend. Don't think about that too hard. And he was in the love triangle with Amber from the wrong side of the tracks and Kimberly, [00:06:00] who was a scion of the rival fashion, dynasty, the Spectra's. And Rick and Kimberly really wanted to be together, but it looks like Rick has oops, accidentally impregnated Amber. So he has to marry her.

And it was just a lot teenage feelings and drama. And it led into this kind of epic probably went for about five years in total, this saga of Rick and Amber's baby, which that baby died, I think, but that Amber, because she wanted to keep Rick, stole a cousin's baby, who she was giving it up for adoption.

And then that baby's mom, Becky, wanted the baby back as did the baby's father, Deacon. And then Amber and Deacon started sleeping together. And that baby had about seven parents in the end. And it was just this epic, like a hot potato situation over this baby. Couldn't look away. That was what I watched all through my high school years was what's going on with this baby? Little Eric, the baby was called.

But if we move into the 2010s we've got two new super couples now. Hope and Liam and Steffy and Liam. And hope is Brooke's daughter with Deacon and Steffy is Ridge and Taylor's daughter. And of course, they are rivals. They are, their mothers made a new and they're fighting over this terrible man. Honestly, Liam, who's such a wet blanket.

But Steffy, who is my favorite, you kind of declare allegiance to who your favorite is, has also had some really compelling other relationships. And she's got a new husband right now called Finn, and I'm very on board with Steffy and Finn, but it's just been revealed that his mother, his birth mother is notorious super villain Sheila Carter.

Who once shot Steffy's mother. And then Steffy's mother was presumed dead for three years. Cause the actress left the show. Yeah, so much drama afoot there. That was a very long answer to that question. I'm sorry, but soap opera is really complicated.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Especially given how long the storylines go on.

I'm very curious about this because I have literally never watched a soap opera in my life. I have not watched one episode. And so I imagine that if I ever tried to explain like a long running series of romance novels and the characters and how they're intermingled, it would sound something like what you just explained with all of these characters where you're like, I cannot keep track, like what happened, excuse me.

And it's so interconnected, but you're along for the story. And so it's, never like that recitation of things all in one go, it's just episodic. So, it's, is it like a half hour show every day? Five days a week.

Jodi McAlister: Yeah. So The Bold and the Beautiful is half hour. It airs here Monday to Friday, 4:30 in the afternoon.

Uh, But the other soaps, I don't know about General Hospital because that's never aired here, so I've never seen it, but Days of Our Lives and Young and the Restless, they're both an hour long which probably says something about my capacity to engage with them. There's too much. I [00:09:00] can't do five hours a week, two and a half hours that I can do.

Andrea Martucci: There are literally the constraints of production, where if you have an hour to fill and you have to do this every day, that then you just have more characters and more storylines , because you can't spend too much time with one character because there's just not enough time to film it.

Jodi McAlister: And on constraints, actually, The Bold and the Beautiful was the first show that started filming post the sort of first wave of the pandemic last year.

And they did some really interesting stuff where obviously they couldn't be within like six feet of each other for social distancing reasons, but you can't do a soap opera without kissing. And so they came up with these work arounds one, if they need to do a kissing scene and they could bring in the actors' actual partner to be a body double, they would do that. Or if they couldn't do that, they would use mannequins, including the mannequin that played the dead body of Taylor when she was presumed dead after Sheila Carter shot her. And now she looked at her is Finn's mother and drama.

Yeah

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I think I saw something. You probably shared it on social media, which is why I saw it. Because they would do the back of the head. So you can't tell it to mannequin, that kind of situation. Then they switch and there's another mannequin on the other side.

Jodi McAlister: Yeah, I think my favorite instance of it was The Bold and the Beautiful Twitter account, clearly a few months in, was like, eh, we're getting away with this.

And so they'll, put up gifs every now and again, and they put up a gif that was just so clearly a mannequin kiss because. Still like, so still in like, oh, did you, you giffed Paul Lawrence St. Victor kissing this mannequin. That's going to follow him around the internet forever.

Andrea Martucci: Passion! So what are the essential ingredients that define a soap opera? Kind of genre writ large. What do audiences expect from a love story in a soap opera?

Jodi McAlister: Yeah. So often I think in the outside world, beyond the informed audience of Shelf Love, people tend to group romance novels and soap opera together because they're like, eh, they're both for, for women in scare quotes. They're both about love stories. They're kind of the same thing.

But structurally, they are incredibly different because as we all know with romance novels, you're moving towards an ending the whole time you're moving towards a happy ending, which is why when we get romance series, it's typically a different couple in each book because you've moved to that end point.

Soap opera on the other hand, evades ending. Like Bold and the Beautiful. It's been going for 35 years. You can't have an ending if you want your show to keep going. So the plot is very, cyclical. I read an article once and I've never been able to find it again. So sorry to whoever I am not citing here and if someone knows that, please send it to me, but it essentially argued that structurally soap operas, musicals, and porn are all really similar because they moved to little climaxes and then they keep going. It goes you know, peak valley peak valley peak valley. And you evade endings. So when a couple gets together, you can be really, really, happy [00:12:00] about it but you know they're not going to be happy for long because the story has to keep going.

And so that really shapes the expectations of a love story. You're like, okay, my couple is together. But now I'm sorry, just say you're a big Ridge Brooke shipper. You're like, okay. Bridge together. Finally, That is their couple name. Brooke has a daughter called Bridget that she named that when she thought it was Ridge's child, but it's actually the child of Eric, who is Ridge's dad. Don't think about it too hard.

Andrea Martucci: Breric. Breric isn't as good as Bridget. So

Jodi McAlister: it's not as good. And certainly not as good as a name. Sorry to anyone out there called Breric.

Taylor (BatB): Who is it?

Ridge (BatB): Ridge. . (dramatic music)

I don't really want to bother you. I, um, I couldn't go home. I tried and it's just too empty there. So hard to believe that this is even happening.

Guess that's why I had to rub my face in it.

Taylor (BatB): What do you mean?

Ridge (BatB): I was watching them today. Yeah, dad and Bridget. They were swimming together up at the pool. I should be glad. Grateful that Bridget has someone to take care of her and to give her all those things that she deserves. But I'm not, I'm angry. I know dad is trying to include me and I know this isn't his fault, but I see him taking my place in her life. I hate it.

I hate that this is even happening. It makes me furious. Who I blame? Brooke? Dr. Peters? God? Fate? It doesn't make any difference.

It's not going to change anything. It's still going to lose my daughter.

Jodi McAlister: I think in romance, we tend to think if couples get married, for instance, we're like, look, they're not going to get divorced.

That's not how romance works. Brooke and Ridge have been married at least 10 times legally. And more times than that, if you count the ones that were technically illegal, because he was technically still married to Taylor, but she was presumed dead um, which has happened twice. Relationships are cyclical, a couple will part and get back together and part and get back together and move on with other people, maybe have children with other people, and then get back together.

They, flow together and apart in a very, different way to what we see in romance fiction.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Do you. Viewers ever stop watching after the couple they like gets together because they're like, I don't want to watch them fall apart.

Or is that unheard of because I would imagine [00:15:00] the audience knows what they're getting into. Are they there for the together, break up, together, breakup. Do they ever really kind of crave that uh, conclusion or resolution.

Jodi McAlister: Judging, purely by kind of the discourse of fans like writing Facebook comment threads, and Twitter threads.

People threaten to stop watching all the time. They're like, oh, Hope and Liam are together. Just let them be happy. Whether or not they actually do stop watching is another matter. I think people stop watching and then you can drift back into soap opera very easily, because it's very expository the form, you can always pick up what's happening quite easily.

But I think they drift away more so when it gets boring, than when you know, their particular couple is breaking up. This is anecdata not actual data, but soap operas work in cycles. So you're building to climaxes. And I think once the big climactic event has happened and uh, oh, Hope and Liam have been reunited with their baby. That was kidnapped. Then you go into a lull. And I think sometimes in those lull periods where they're generating new storylines, people tend to drift away a little bit then and come back at the peaks.

But as far as I'm aware, it's not so much to do with the couples breaking up and getting back together because you knew if they break up, they will get back together. Sometimes that's just the way it works.

Andrea Martucci: Right. It almost seems like the times that seem like happy for now are the most boring.

Jodi McAlister: Yeah. Kind of. And so I think the longest soap opera marriage, as in two characters actually being married, I've ever witnessed is between Eric Forrester, who's kind of the patriarch of the Forrester family, and his current wife Quinn. They've been married for four years in screen time, but in that time she had it as uh, made out a little bit with his son Ridge um, much to the chagrin of his then fiance Brooke. I think that's what point they were out of their relationship at that point. And now she's having a scandalous affair with the Forrester Creations' COO, Carter Walton. Who's this hot younger man. And I support her because it's a great plot line, but yeah, marriages don't last long, but the connections between characters like Ridge and Brooke are always talking about their epic love story, failing to mention that they've broken up, like at least 20 times,

Andrea Martucci: So why do you love The Bold and the Beautiful in particular, like what do you love about how it explores romantic love or do you, do you love it despite how it explores romantic love?

Jodi McAlister: I liked it for different reasons than I like romance novels. Put it that way. I don't watch The Bold and the Beautiful for a happily ever after, because I know that's not what I'm in for. But, Uh, there are a few reasons I like this. And one is just for the act of sitting down at 4:30 and watching it.

So we don't tend to watch television now, the way that soaps have traditionally been watched, which is [00:18:00] why soaps are in an enormous downturn. So the last soap that was created was Passions, which premiered in 1999. So we're talking more than 20 years ago now. In the heyday of soaps in the seventies and eighties, I think there were many as 19 soaps and now only four are left on air. So this is a mode of viewing that's dying out.

But for me, for the last more than 20 years, sitting down at four 30 to watch The Bold and the Beautiful was a sacred half hour when I could just like, not care about anything else. I could turn my brain off to an extent, because they will always explain to you what's happening. If you miss an episode, you can catch up very easily.

For example, when I was doing my PhD uh, and I was writing my first novel, this guy Valentine at the same time. So I was just working constantly all the time, but at four 30 every day, I knew I could sit down for half an hour I could watch the Bold the Beautiful.

And also it's the point of connection with my mother. Like we watch it together. She lives in a different city to me now. Like I live in Melbourne, she lives in Woolongong. In New South Wales very far away, if you don't know Australian geography, but like we're always texting each other and talking about the fashion and like, Ooh, definitely Sheila is going to kidnap Steffy and Finn's new baby and all that. Could they have made that more obvious?

And also. I'm a messy bitch who loves drama. I love spectacle and The Bold and the Beautiful give you spectacle like no one else. I love plots that are just wild and just completely bananas. And you know, when you've got villainous, secret mothers turning up at the reception of your wedding, then that's going to give you drama.

That's going to give you a spectacle.

Andrea Martucci: Right? Right. You kind of answered this already, but how do you feel when you watch The Bold and the Beautiful? It sounded like you were seeking an escape and sort of like let me drift off into another world. Could you expound on that a little bit more?

Jodi McAlister: So it's for me a reset moment in my day. So currently in Australia, we're in lockdown, for instance, and in Victoria, this is our sixth lockdown. We've been inside for a long time now, more than 200 days.

And so when you know, you work in the place that you live, you need ways to break up your day. And so my workday now goes from 8:30 to 4:30 and at 4:30, I sit down and I watch the Bold of the Beautiful, and that's my reset moment. End of the day.

But It's calming and it's reassuring, even though it's just all about the drama for me, because I know The Bold and the Beautiful is never going to ask anything of me. Put it that way, even though it, for several years, it kind of did because I was recapping it for money for a website, but at least now the Bold and the Beautiful doesn't ask anything with me.

It just gives me pure unadulterated drama. And that is all I want really.

Andrea Martucci: Other people's drama, not your own

Jodi McAlister: Other [00:21:00] people's drama. Yeah. Like I am never going to get involved in a messy corporate showdown where two fashion lines duel on the runway. Um, That's not really my scene, but I love to watch that on The Bold and the Beautiful, give me the fashion jewels,

Andrea Martucci: right. I'm thinking about this question what are your top recommendations and thinking about the structure of soap operas and The Bold and the Beautiful, and it sounds like it's not the kind of thing where you like, go back and start at the beginning and like binge from season one, from when it debuts, it sounds like the kind of thing you jump in midstream. And it catches you up.

Answer this question, in whichever way makes sense for you, but what are your recommendations for people to get started with you know, either the Bold and the Beautiful or with soap operas and where can they find it? Is it the kind of thing where you kind of have to have TV and watch it when it comes out?

Or can you stream it later? Like I literally don't know.

Jodi McAlister: Well, I don't know about in the US, so I assume you can probably stream it via the streaming service of whichever network it's on, I think it's NBC. I could be totally wrong. Sorry. I don't know much about American television, but here, you can definitely stream it. It airs on a channel here called channel 10. You can stream it via their website. And they've got, I think about a year's worth of episodes going back into 2020, but also they've got some classic episodes which can be a good way to kind of dip into some of the most dramatic moments if you know, kind of some exciting plot line.

And some of the classic ones will be on YouTube as well, because they're iconic. So if you want to get started in soap, the best way is just to start watching, honestly, because you will pick it up pretty fast. And you can ask your friend, Jodi, to explain anything to you that you don't understand.

I delight in explaining the plot of the Bold and the Beautiful to people, but if you wanted an iconic episode to watch there's one from, I think 2009, Ridge and Taylor are getting married for the mumble mumble mumble nth time. And Brooke is desperate to interrupt it, to get her man back. And she has to do a dramatic kind of chase to the wedding and she's on a horse.

And she, she rides in on this horse and the uh, the celebrant is just about to declare Ridge and Taylor man and wife. And he says, I now pronounce you man - and then Brooke burst in and he goes, "horse?!".

Jodi McAlister: Yeah, I now declare you man and horse. Is just an iconic uh, Bold and the Beautiful moment. 10 out of 10.

Andrea Martucci: I love it. It sounds like they have a sense of humor. Like This is winking to the audience, right?

Jodi McAlister: Oh, a hundred percent. A hundred percent.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, I love it. Well, Jodi that sounds super awesome.

I think sometimes it's easier when you haven't experienced something before to have a nice guide to kind of give you a feel for what it is, and it makes it a little bit easier to take that first step in.

Jodi McAlister: Mm, absolutely. So at the moment, we've just got the return of super villain, Sheila Carter. So if you need me to explain Sheila's list of crimes to [00:24:00] you, I can absolutely do that.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. Oh my gosh. Okay. Wait give me the short list of Sheila's crimes, because now I'm really curious.

Jodi McAlister: Okay. So the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful are actually sister soaps. So Sheila started on the Young and the Restless where she was involved in a dramatic baby switch situation.

So she and another woman, Lauren were both pregnant at the same time. I think Sheila's baby died and she stole Lauren's baby. And it was all very dramatic. Then she went to the Bold and the Beautiful where she worked as a nanny for a little while, but then that was when Brooke and Eric were married. And so she was the nanny for Rick and Bridget who were their two children, but then she got you know, she decided she wanted Eric. And so she tried to seduce him and succeeded to an extent.

She poisoned Stephanie Forrester at one point. And then very dramatically, she shot Taylor and also shot Brooke, and Brooke survived. But Taylor didn't until three years later, when the actress wanted to come back to the show and mysteriously uh, was alive again. Her second presumed death. The first one was a plane crash.

But now Sheila has returned because her long lost son Finn is married to Steffy Forrester. Uh, The daughter of Taylor who Sheila shot and the granddaughter, Stephanie, who she tried to poison. And she's like, ah, finally, I haven't been with the Forrester family cause Steffy and Finn have a new baby Haze, which is a Taylor's maiden name.

And um, yeah. So she's trying to get her hooks into the Forrester family again and whoa, no one's happy about that.

Andrea Martucci: Sheila sounds fun.

Jodi McAlister: Sheila is rad. She's a great supervillain. So I think like we talked about the super couple before. Shows often have their supervillains. So probably the most notorious one is Stefano DiMera on Days Of Our Lives.

Days of our lives isn't full paranormal, but it will kind of play with the mystical and the magical and the really, really, spectacular, a little bit more than The Bold and the Beautiful. So Stefano has done some very, very weird shit in his time. He's kidnapped a lot of people. There's a doppelganger situation.

There was an island where all the doppelgangers lived while there was someone was brainwashed into being a serial killer. I think, I don't know Days of Our Lives as well as I know, Bold and Beautiful, but Stefano an iconic supervillain. And Sheila is the equivalent for the Bold and the Beautiful, she, oh, she's done so many crimes.

Andrea Martucci: Ooh. Okay. I mean, It sounds fun. So Jodi, where can people find you and your work online?

Jodi McAlister: So my website is JodiMcAlister.com.au. So J O D I M C a L I S T E R. You can also find me on Instagram under that handle, but the social media platform I am most active on is Twitter, where I'm at Jodi MCA. So JODIMCA.

And if you ask me there I will explain any plot point of The Bold and the Beautiful you want to you in more detail than you could've ever desired.

Andrea Martucci: So I will add all of the links to find Jodi and her work in the show notes in YouTube or on my website, [00:27:00] ShelfLovePodcast.Com. Thanks so much for spending some time with me today, and don't forget to subscribe to Shelf Love on YouTube to get updates when new episodes are available.

Jodi, thanks so much for being here to tell me about The Bold and the Beautiful.

Jodi McAlister: My pleasure. Anytime.

Andrea Martucci: Hey, thanks so much for spending time with me today and don't forget to subscribe to Shelf Love on YouTube or subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app to get updates when new episodes are available. That's Shelf Love, two words. If you enjoyed this content, you can support Shelf Love on Patreon starting at just $3 a month. And you can check that out at patreon.com/Shelflove. I'd like to thank Shelf Love's $20 a month supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, Frederick Smith, and John Jacobson. Hear your name on the podcast or see your name listed as a Patreon supporter on the Shelf Love website if you join at any level.