I have mixed feelings about the Michael rape story. On the one hand, this show’s recent track record dealing sensitively with rape — and with male rape in particular (not so funny now, is it, Jason?) — is abysmal. And watching it happen to a kid we’ve all seen grow up from a tiny baby into a slightly psychotic tween into one of the most genuinely nice and mature adult characters on the show has been… well, it’s not anywhere on my list of dream plots, you know?
On the other hand, the months of coy “was he/wasn’t he?” have felt a lot like the writers wanted the controversy of a “daring” storyline without the risk of actually having to deal with the consequences. And that was offensive and irresponsible on a social level and just plain sloppy on a narrative level. So despite my misgivings, I’m glad that they’re finally acknowledging the rape outright instead of implying it heavily while refusing to say the word.
What I don’t love? Is this:
MICHAEL: I hate that you were attacked. And I’m not saying there’s a silver lining. Fighting Brandon, making him stop… it’s like something inside of me got released. I don’t feel powerless anymore.
ABBY: That’s a big step.
MICHAEL: Yeah, and I have you to thank for that.
Because yeah, Michael might not be saying there’s a silver lining there, but the writers sure are. Need a man to get over sexual assault? Brutalize a woman to empower him and make the entire story about how brave and awesome he is! Easy peasy, right?
I wonder how Abby is going to be empowered after this. (That is, assuming the writers even bother to give her possible trauma any further thought.) How much you want to bet Michael’s tender love will heal her pain? Because that’s what always happens to female victims on soap operas. But hey, who needs agency when you’ve got a barely legal kid to save you? (My eyes roll forever, seriously.)
I like Michael and Abby together. And Chad Duell is acting the hell out of this story. But the way this reveal has been predicated on building him up by victimizing her really leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Meanwhile, all the trusted adults in Michael’s life have been predictably eager to make his trauma all about them and their guilt. Well, except Carly, who’s been even more predictably quick to immediately make it all about her insane and neverending vendetta against Dante. Oh, Carly. Never change.
Speaking of which, this happened:
CARLY: We don’t have a marriage.
JAX: What are you talking about. Let me get this straight: I’m expected to forgive you every time you feel like sleeping with Sonny, but I lie about helping a friend and that’s a deal breaker?
CARLY: You didn’t forgive me! You throw it up in my face every single time we get in a fight. I sleep with Sonny and that entitles you to lie about anything any time you feel like it?
JAX: Well, maybe I’m entitled to a little bit because I didn’t actually sleep with Brenda. I went to London to help Interpol!
CARLY: I don’t want to stand here and fight about who hurt who more.
No, of course you don’t, Carly. Because you would lose that fight. A thousand times over.
Not that she doesn’t have a point. I mean, if I were Jax, I never would have forgiven her in a million years, but that’s because I am neither an idiot nor a masochist. Jax, on the other hand, made the choice to stay married to this jealous, chronically unfaithful hot mess of a woman, which means he has lost the right to keep harping on her many issues with fidelity whenever he wants a distraction from his own many issues with truthfulness.
Of course, this being roughly the eight thousandth time Jax and Carly have threatened to end their marriage for pretty much the exact same reason (namely: Jax is a liar and Carly is a crazy person), you’ll forgive me if I don’t get too worked up about the possibility that they might actually go through with it.
In fact, I’m surprised that poor Morgan wasn’t able to recite the words of the divorce talk along with Jax by now… kind of the way I can’t help mouthing along with all the dialog in the original Star Wars trilogy, even though it’s incredibly annoying to both myself and anyone else who happens to be in the room. To Aaron Sanders’ credit, he really made me feel as if Morgan wasn’t hearing the “I’m divorcing your mother, not you” speech for the first time. But I have a hard time believing he wouldn’t just shrug at this point. Because he must know as well as you and I that Jax will be back in that house before Spring.
(One day, I fully expect Morgan’s therapy bills to surpass even the impressive debt his siblings are currently racking up. Can you imagine trying to date adult Morgan? Everything he knows about relationships, he learned from watching Carly, Sonny and Jax… that kid is going to be such a trainwreck.)
And on the subject of men who unnecessarily lie about Brenda to the woman they love, I was so over this Dante/Brenda story before it even started, so I’m glad to see the writing has started swinging back around toward emphasizing his love for Lulu over his inexplicable little crush. And his reaction to the breakup has been satisfyingly distraught…
… although his pain would kind of hold more weight is he wasn’t still lying to her about this effing baby that had better not turn out to actually have been his, because oh my God, writers, are you actively TRYING to ruin everything good about my memories of Sonny and Brenda?
For Lulu’s part, I think she’s kind of overreacting with this salted earth breakup policy, but at the same time… damn, girl. Your friends and family suck. Between Lucky and Maxie endlessly cheerleading and making excuses for Dante, I wouldn’t blame her for going a little crazy on all their unsupportive asses.
I hope she sticks to her guns for a while longer, at least. Dante deserves to squirm a little more, even if I can’t entirely fault him for the writers deciding to turn him into a retroactively out of character douche.
But then, for the love of all that is holy, can we please get these two back together and let them have some fun again? Because maybe with Dante not shoehorned into nearly single one of her scenes, Brenda might have time to — oh, I don’t know — meet her oldest friend’s husband and daughter? Visit with her future father-in-law, who she hasn’t seen once since her return, but used to love? Take Lois’ wretched daughter in hand? Build an actually believable romance with Sonny?
… Oh, stop laughing.