Unacceptable Child Abuse on All My Children

I recently had the misfortune to observe some very bad psychological child abuse that I was powerless to stop.  Calling the police would have done no good because the abuse was on a television show, the July 23rd episode of  ABC’s All My Children.

Several adults were ganging up on a little girl, Emma Lavery, trying to  get her to stop saying  she had seen one of them, Kendall Slater, kill someone by mistake.   Worse than that they were attempting to coerce her into saying that she had  seen her mother, Annie, commit the murder instead.  One would talk to the girl than leave so another could continue the ordeal.  By the end of the ordeal the  poor little girl was catatonic.

I debated  writing about  the show because I don’t usually write about  television.   I decided to write because  no one else seems particularly concerned about the incident and because it appears none of the characters will be punished for their crime.

There is no excuse  for such a scene.  If child abuse is going to be dealt with on television, it should happen off camera or be referred to rather than shown.   The purpose should be to deal with the subject rather than to allow adults to use it for some type of dramatic affect.

The incident is part of an effort by the show’s ineffective writers to rescue a poorly  designed story line involving a murder in the May 15 episode.

The episode was a ratings stunt to build sagging ratings by releasing rumors that a long standing character would be killed in the episode.   Then ratings would be maintained by the mystery of who fired the fatal shot — as in who shot JR on Dallas, except on AMC the shot would be fatal.

As far as I know the episode isn’t available online, but if you can find someone who has a copy you might watch it.  The episode was hilarious.  If I didn’t know better I would have thought  it was written and directed by bad horror movie king Ed Wood.   The show featured numerous individuals wondering around a darkened mansion seeking to kill the owner. A few bumped into each other.  Others just missed each other.   In the end someone killed the  identical twin of the owner.  The victim, Stuart Chandler, was the nicest man in town. His  “evil twin” Adam was the object of the would be killers.

The writers managed to establish  that several  had a motive to go to the mansion to kill Adam.  However, they didn’t set up the crime scene so that the killer could have fired from anywhere in the room or through a doorway, including an open patio door instead of patio door that was apparently closed and fired through.      They also should have had the murder weapon with several different sets of fingerprints or perhaps no fingerprints so anyone could have fired it.

Instead of many suspects they quickly ended up with only one, Kendall, who thought her baby had died because of a medical device made by Adam’s firm.   The writers attempted to remedy the situation by making “Crazy Annie” (Emma’s mother) a suspect even though she had no apparent motive and was at the mansion to get her daughter who was visiting Adam’s grandson.

Annie was under treatment for mental illness caused by abusive treatment from her brother.  He eventually pushed  her over the edge and she had killed him with a tire iron.  She escaped from the mental hospital to get her daughter and leave town.   The writers have decided to have the characters blame her for any violent crime and ignore the possibility that one of the town’s leaders might kill.  Considering the way the other characters treated Emma, Annie may now be the sane one.

Recent episodes make the abusive treatment of Emma unnecessary except to pad the storyline.  Kendall, after seeing the ghost of Stuart accusing her of his death, decided to confess.    Incidentally for those not familiar with AMC, Kendall is the daughter of character Erica Kane played since the show’s beginning by the legendary Susan Lucci who holds the record for the most Emmy nominations before winning one.     David Canary who played Candy Canaday on  “Bonanza” began playing Adam Chandler in 1983 and his twin brother Stuart in 1984.   Canary was briefly on a list to replace Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock during a contract dispute involving Nimoy.

I had watched AMC several years ago when I got soapnet with digital cable which ran a week’s episodes on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.  The show had a reputation for dealing with social issues and I liked Lucci’s performance in a version of Dickens’ Christmas Carol,  “Ebbie”.  At that time one of the characters had a teen age daughter who was autistic.  I eventually decided there were other shows I would rather watch.  After I retired I had more time and decided to try the show again. I have a research interest in television and its role in society.

Unfortunately,  the show has been going down hill with the child abuse of Emma indicating the writers have run out of ideas.  Unless the network can find some new writers the network should seriously consider canceling it.   According to the ABC site the network plans to move the production of the show to LA .  The network  should save its money unless the move includes replacing the writers, director and producers responsible for the show’s decline.


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