To whom it may concern:
I would just like to, sincerely, proclaim my disappointment with the turn that the Dr. Reid Oliver storyline has taken. I promise that this isn't a rant about how terrible of an ending this is. I believe that it is and that the story should not have ended this way. I have, however, come to accept the ending and was even hoping to be satisfied with this choice by the end of today's episode. I am not a long time watcher of the show. I did watch several episodes of Luke's story when Van Hansis joined the cast of the show. I also watched some episodes when Jake Silbermann/Noah joined the show, but I personally was not drawn to him and stopped watching soon after.
In May of this year I came across a blog post on AfterElton.com regarding Luke's story and that of one Dr. Reid Oliver. This was around the time that Luke and Reid had gone to Texas to fight Reid's lawsuit. This post contained a video of the clips of the Luke and Reid scenes from said episode, including the first ever Luke/Reid kiss. I watched this and I was blown away by the fantastic chemistry that Van Hansis and Eric Sheffer Stevens fueled into their characters. I was immediately drawn to Reid's character and I was so affected by these scenes that I went on Youtube and began to watch Luke and Luke/Reid scenes since January 19th, which was Reid's first episode. I made it through all five months in one sitting and anxiously awaited more. I watched that same amount of television, about six hours at that point, again the very next day. I'd fallen in love with the character and the amazing way in which he'd been written. This had re-fueled my faith in soap opera writers.
I don't recall whether it was before then or after that I came to find out that the show was being cancelled and would have it's final episode in September. I'd not cared about soap operas in the past, but I could honestly say that I was then disappionted that the show was ending, if only because of the character of Reid Oliver. I was also pleased because, in my mind, this cancellation meant that there was nothing stopping potentially great writing. I know that in the past I'd been disappointed by the Luke and Noah story becasue I hadn't found the writing quite up to par. I believed that the writers understood that many in their target audience may have been long-time, conservative views of the show that would react negatively to a homosexual storyline and thereby bring rating down. I was angry at the double standard that was put in place for Luke and Noah, but I understood where it was coming from. That is why, in part, I believed that the cancellation could do wonders for Luke's storyline. Because the show would have absolutely nothing to lose, I had the unwavering belief that the show would step up it's game and not play into the double standard that it had build around its homosexuals. I believed that with Luke and Reid we would get a fantastic storyline and that we would get sex that would amount to more than jumping up and down on a bed or implied sex that started with a make-out session and ended with almost fully-clothed men coming out of the shower and going to eat ice cream with one of their grandmothers. I fully believed that, because the show had hit rock-bottom in terms of cancellation, had no further to fall, and that the writers would have the courage to show a sex scene at least close to those that the straight couples got. I held onto that belief every week until last Friday's episode, when Luke and Reid parted so that Reid could drive to Bay City to pick up a heart. My faith in the show ended with the last episode that had Reid Oliver alive and well, the episode that should have focused on the final happy moments between the most functional couple on the show, the episode that should have had more to it than an "I love you" and a kiss in the car park outside a hospital. Granted, I enjoyed Reid's "I love you," because it was perfectly in character. It did anger me, however, that even with no ratings pressure, the show couldn't lift it's double standard for two perfectly healthy, loving gay men when it could pair a man with his half-brother's mother in holy matrimony.
I feel compelled to write this email today because of the combination of the last two episodes to air. I had very high expectations for those episodes, despite myself. But in the end, I was completely underwhelmed. The episode from September 3: I was expecting an emotional rollercoaster, which the show has aptly proven that it can provide. I expected Luke and Reid to have more than one tiny scene together that wasn't about Chris; I was expecting Reid to tell Luke that he was in love with him and for their tender moment to amount to more than a less-than-passionate kiss in the parking lot. I expected a scene outside of the hospital before Reid drove off to his death. I expected a death scene (if at all shown) that would leave me heartbroken, devastated, and in tears. But, honestly, throughout the entire episode I was bored and, when it ended, I was infuriated. I was angry because Reid's final living episode was all about Chris Hughes, who was acting like he did not deserve to, nor did he want to live. I'm afraid I have no sympathy for the character of Chris, nor his relationship with Katie. I think both Daniel Cosgrove and Terri Colombino are fantastic actors, but I do not believe in their relationship, nor do I find myself hoping to see them ride off into the sunset, and they certainly do not light up my heart and my screen in the way that Luke and Reid do. I could not believe that Reid was being sacrificed, proclaimed a hero, for a man for whom I have no sympathy and for a relationship that I do not believe. And when the scene of Reid's accident played, I was angered even more, especially because of how much Reid's character had to be ruined in order for the scene to come about in the first place. The Reid that I have come to love and know over the past nine months would have never tried to make it across the train tracks when he knew a train was coming; he wouldn't have sat in his car, trying to start it when he knew a train was coming; he would have been able to work a seatbelt, even through the panic and potential claustrophobia that he may have been feeling. I should have been crying during this scene--instead, I found myself laughing because of how terribly it had been put together.
I firmly believe that to end this storyline in this way and to proclaim it a heroic deed is an insult, not only to the fans but to the very character of Reid Oliver. I am not at all opposed to making Reid into a hero. What I am opposed to is the necessity to go to such lenghts, to even believe it necessary to make him a "hero" in such a way. To me and to countless others, Reid Oliver was already a hero. He was the world's greatest neurosurgeon, he saved lives and performed miracles on a daily basis, he was an out-and-proud gay man, unafraid to live his life the way it was meant to be lived. He was a voice of the people, taking the character of Luke Snyder, beaten down by a relationship that had turned toxic, and told him what was what and matured him, turned him into a man. And when he was met with love, a love that he did not understand, he embraced it and changed for the better. He was a hero to many. There was no need to make him a hero though his storyline because he already was one. And this story doesn't do him justice. I believe that this story and this accident are in no way hero-building--they only worked to make Reid a victim of circumstance and of a freak accident, stripping him of a status that he had already built himself. And that, in my humble opinion, is the worst and most insulting thing they could possibly do to Reid and it saddens me that the very writers who killed him were the ones who created him. It breaks my heart that they couldn't see that they had already made Reid into a hero.
I mainly felt the necessity to write this after what I experienced during today's episode. I was a preview photo of Reid as he was being wheeled into the hospital and I started to cry--I'm normally a tough girl and I don't cry easily, but this did it for me. But then the episode started and, I'm sorry, but I was simply disappointed and underwhelmed. I couldn't bring myself to feel any emotion. Van Hansis knocked the ball out of the park today and I fully expect him to do so for the remainder of the show's run. Every scene with him in it, from seeing Reid wheeled in, to the scene with him and Reid in the ER, to the kiss when Reid died, to the emptiness in his face, to the way he broke down when he was talking to Katie, to his monologues with a deceased Reid, to the final scene of the episode where he just walked into the empty ER after they'd wheeled Reid away to transplant his heart into Chris and he just stood there, broken and crying. Van was absolutely fantastic and I applaud him. The remainder of the episode, however, was a terrible let-down. I was expecting (I'd even go so far as to say I was hoping) to cry buckets today because of the emotion presented with Reid's death and . . . I shed tears during Van's and some of Terri's scenes, but other than that I was simply angry.
It disappointed me that the episode where Reid dies can't even be well-written. I mean, I know perfectly well that this show's writers can put together fantastic material when they put their minds to it. I know this because of the fact that they invented Reid in the first place and gave him so many great lines and scenes. They are fully capable, so why they fall short is just beyond me. I was completely underwhelmed. Even in the episode where they decide to end Reid's life, the focus isn't entirely on him--it is on Chris Hughes. And we didn't even make it halfway through the episode before Reid died. The life of a great man ends and that is all they can muster? I was disappointed with the reactions of the entire Hughes family. They were sickeningly out of character. Bob Hughes, who has developed a mentor/student, father/son relationship with Reid throughout this entire nine-month run, could not muster up any remorse that Reid had died. I was angered by this, especially when Margo, who barely knew Reid, was devastated when she delivered the news. This fact alone made me furious at John Dixon, whose only concern was the potential lack of a heart when he was informed of Reid's accident. No one seemed to even take a moment to care for Luke's sake--Casey and Alison are his close friends; and where was his family throughout this ordeal? I feel only Kim, who wasn't at all fond of Reid, showed the proper amount of emotion.
I also should have been overwhelmed by emotion during the obligatory deathbed scene, but the entire concept of Reid's death was so rushed. I felt the scene was too short and Tom rushing Luke to sign the power of attorney to be insensitive and inappropriate.
I think what bothers me the most is that the writers can't take five minutes to sit down at a computer and just Google facts to make the story at least plausible. First of all, Reid had to drive to Bay City. That's six hours and twelve minutes away from my house, so it's safe to assume that it's that same distance from Oakdale (I live about 30/40 minutes from Chicago and Oakdale is supposedly the same distance). When Reid got into the accident he was 10 minutes from Bay City, so six hours had passed since he'd left. Then Margo gets a call from the Bay City police--for reasons which I cannot entirely fathom--and she and Tom arrive at the scene of the accident--that's another six hours of driving. And then they transport Reid, a man who got into a train accident and miraculously survived (how did this happen, when he was hit from the driver's side by a train that was presumably going at full speed?), back to Oakdale(add another six hours to that, folks) instead of taking him to the local, Bay City hospital, ten minutes away, where they maybe could have saved his life (I'm 100% certain they would have put much more effort into it than Bob and all the other doctors in Memorial did). Because, really, Reid, the man who got hit by a train, could really survive a six hour ambulance ride back to Illinois. And because the paramedics are so unprofessional that they would even agree to that. So that's at least eighteen wasted hours, not counting the time it took for people to become aware of the accident, for the fire department and paramedics to get there and to get Reid out of his car. And we still think this story could be the least bit plausible.
And don't even get me started on the donor system/power of attorney stuff. I am a pre-med student at Princeton. I'm not a doctor (not yet, anyway), nor am I a lawyer, but I know the donor system stuff was completely incorrect, especially due to the fact that Reid is a gay man and can't donate blood, let alone bodily organs. I write in my free time and I'm the type of person that does so much research about the most minor things (the other week I was looking up average temperatures in December in San Francisco to see if I could legitimately place my characters outside), so it just bothers me so much that people who write professionally can't even take the effort to make their writing believable, soap opera or not.
I suppose my only hope rests in the fact that I have complete faith in Van Hansis's acting abilities to get me through the remainder of this show's episodes.