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You Be Me and I'll Be You

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | February 20, 2010 |

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | February 20, 2010 |

A couple weeks ago Dustin put up a Trade News post about Sarah Chalke in which he referred to her as Becky No. 2 and “the superior Becky.” I seldom watched the show because I thought Roseanne Barr was a loudmouthed load and her voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard (see what I did there?), but still I recognized this as a reference to “Roseanne” and the fact they switched Beckys in midseries.

I was trying to think of other shows that changed the actor playing a prominent character, because that kind of thing creeps me out. The character looks different but nobody on the show acknowledges it. Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird?

Mrs. Tater watches a couple soap operas, and they do this kind of thing routinely. In fact, they do such weird shit that I think the soaps should be labeled science fiction.

For instance: On “General Hospital,” Sarah Browne, who I think was already replacing someone who played the character Carly (I get this stuff mainly from osmosis, I might be reading while Mrs. Tater has it on), left the show, so they had to get a third Carly, a horseface whose name doesn’t matter because eventually Sarah Browne came back to the show under the name Claudia. Sometimes the old Carly and the new Carly are in scenes together (and often those scenes are close to catfights, RAWR). And, of course, NOBODY in Port Charles seemed to notice there was anything odd about this. NOBODY said, “Gee, Claudia, you look kinda familiar, did you used to live around here?”

Not that I saw, anyway.

Not long ago the same show pulled one of my favorites, the one Stephen King called “The Kid Trick.” It happened with the character Michael, Sonny’s son (yes, I know way more about this than I should). One month Michael was, I dunno, 10 or 12, and then he disappeared for awhile, and when “Michael” came back like the next month he was maybe 18. And NOBODY in Port Charles thought this was weird at all. (King wrote that he wouldn’t have dared try to pull that off in a novel.)

Mrs. Tater also watches “One Life to Live,” where the character Jessica has multiple personality disorder, which seems to run in the family. (Because of course it does.) Not long ago one of her other personalities held her sister captive in the basement and had a bomb set to go off to kill her, and kidnapped a baby as well. When this all got sorted out, everything went right back to the way it was. I kept asking Mrs. Tater when her family was going to have Jessica locked up in a hospital for the criminally insane, but turns out that because it wasn’t really her, it was this OTHER personality, well, everyone’s fine with having this highly unstable psycho attempted-homicide babynapping bitch right back under the same roof, and life just goes on …

I’m sort of rambling here. Pajiba pays no attention to the soaps whatsoever, which seems about right since they’re going the way of the dodo, so maybe nobody here watches them.

But I bet some of you do. More of us than probably want to admit it.

So, to finally get to the point of the diversion, of which there are several:

1. Who here watches soaps? ‘Fess up.

2. What are the best/worst soap tropes? I didn’t even scratch the surface of the insanity so there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit for you.

3. What other shows switched actors playing a major character, and was it for better or worse?


4. As a viewer, where do you draw the line at such shenanigans?

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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