The (Last Edition of) the Best and Worst of AWZ, 2011

Yo. It's the weekend and I have nothing to do. Naturally this would be ideal conditions to go do something productive such as work on Perfect Combination edits or write something for the AWZ femmeslash ficathon (I do have ideas, I swear I do!), but after careful consideration I have decided that that would be, you know, creative and useful and entertaining and might actually shake me out of my current obstinate mopey mood AND WE CAN'T HAVE THAT, CAN WE.

No, no, we can't. So instead I decided to do one final round-up of the Best and Worst of AWZ, because... fuck me if I know why, really, but it sounded like some twisted version of fun. I might actually need to be committed.

Best Storyline:
I'm not gonna lie: When I first heard that Roman was going to die of a brain tumour, I did a lot of eye-rolling and bitching about the ridiculous triteness and convenience and perceived offensiveness of this development. I am not at all, in principle, a proponent of the GAY CHARACTERS MUST NEVER EVER DIE OMG EVIL PERSECUTION line of thought - I think if you truly want to see an equal treatment of gay characters on screen, then that has absolutely got to include unsympathetic gay characters, cheating bastard gay characters, and dying-for-contrived-reasons gay characters. I think it's ridiculous when people get upset and whine about discrimination because gay characters cheat, or lie, or act like horrible people, or die. (Dudes, that isn't discrimination. THAT IS EQUAL TREATMENT. Because astoundingly enough gay people are not cuddly rainbow-pooping paragons of eternal love and spotless virtue. They are Just Folks, and hence as eminently capable of utter suck as anyone else. Raaaaaaaa soz, pet peeve.)

BUT. What with the previous recent developments on AWZ, it did awfully smack of political crapitude and a handy way to degay what had once been a casually and awesomely progressive production but had since deteriorated into the worst kind of crowd-pleasing muck. I did not have high hopes. At all.

BUT. They did it. Somehow they actually pulled this off. Somehow (and I know how - because everyone who had once cared took it upon themselves to care once more; because battles were fought and Things That Mattered were stood up for, and the right people gave a shit) this turned out not only not offensive, but poignant, beautiful, and so real it hurt. And still hurts. Somewhere between the first mention of the word "brain tumour" and one final, forlorn cry of seagulls on screen, this storyline became one of the best ones AWZ has ever done. It transcended cliché. It transcended soap. It became, almost immediately, a storyline not about death, not about trite goodbyes or laughable melodrama or even political considerations, but simply a story about two people who loved each other, facing the hardest thing they'd ever had to face. And there was no false heroism or Hollywoodesque pathos. There was humour, and tenderness, and despair, and truth, and through it all these two people shone, even in the darkest place. There are a few fictional characters about whose demise I cared as much as Roman Wild's, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand, and if I had to rank them, his death would definitely make it to the top three.

Fuck that - I think he might even take the gold.

Worst Storyline:
LOL, DO YOU HAVE A WEEK? I don't even. Can I just say "everything apart from the above"? Because that's how bad this year has been. And yeah, I stopped watching over a month ago, but seriously, apart from Roman's death and a brief period of Lena/Florian, Everything Sucked.

But okay, if I absolutely had to pick the five worst ones, then in no particular order:

-Dr. Hooker and 1) Show's insistence that her and Marian's relationship was anything but a fucked-up offensive piece of grief-management-turned-stalkerism; as well as 2) WTF-ever they thought they were doing with her and Deniz.
-Ben's "suddenly deaf" plot, although it did an unintentionally poignant job of highlighting just what made DeRo something real and meaningful and BeKa a stale-biscuit cardboard-cutout soap melodrama.
-Tom/Vanessa. Complete waste of a wealth of potential and two very talented actors.
-Katja's container plot. Yes, stalwart plucky heroines can easily survive in a locked room with nothing but a bottle of wine for two weeks and still emerge alive and tragically beautiful enough to be immediately kissed. (At least she didn't really get shipped here, though. TRUST ME, NEW ZEALAND DOES NOT WANT HER!)
-The transition to the dance school and the introduction of Marco and Sarah. Clumsy, ham-fisted, humourless and reusing every single one of AWZ's most boring OTP staples. Not even bad enough to rant at, just devoid of all interest.

Best Actor:
Dennis pulled out all the stops and stole my breath at times, but I think I have to hand it to Igor, for that scene in the locker room and that final one on the beach. That ended AWZ for me.

Best Actress:
Ania Niedieck, because no matter how two-dimensional her character was written and how many clichés they threw at her, she still made me feel more for Isabelle than I ever did for Katja and all her contrived hardships. And I think the Isabelle/Max storyline was the last one that I remotely enjoyed watching.

Actor or Actress Most In Need Of Acting Lessons:
Salvatore Greco. He's so wooden he barely registers, which is a bit of a problem in a supposed male romantic lead. He was fleetingly pretty to watch when dancing but that wore off fast.

Best Supporting Character:
Lena, hands down. I was completely unprepared for the level of involvement she got in Roman's death storyline, and equally did not expect to be so invested in her relationship with Florian. The range of unselfish strength to support and warmth to playful sexiness and humour, to quiet, stunned grief she got to express was beautiful to watch, and such a welcome buoy to cling to in those moments when the things Deniz and Roman had to face just got too much.

Worst Supporting Character:
Annette. I used to love Annette, but this character has been destroyed beyond redemption. From what was once an overly impulsive and loud-mouthed but deeply supportive and warm personality, occasionally exasperating with her meddling ways but never less than lovable, she has been turned into a judgemental harridan, brash and appallingly selfish. From her outright stupidity during the "oh no, I'm pregnant by Tom" storyline (another candidate for Worst Storyline, lol) to her blatant ignoring of Roman for months, culminating in her unforgivable behaviour after his death, there's simply nothing left of what once made her wonderful, and she didn't deserve (yes, I used the D-word) BFF status on the strength of former glory alone.

Best Friendship:
Briefly, amazingly, Roman and Ingo. It was lovely to see a spark of the old Roman/Ingo bromance, but it was so short that I don't know if I can call it the best friendship for the whole year, lol. And it's sad that there aren't more candidates, because once upon a time AWZ was so good at depicting friendships. I think I'm most inclined to go with the whole five years and actually hand it to Deniz and Roman, because whenever either of them most needed a friend, it wasn't very often their so-called best friends who stepped in. Most often it would be each other, even if they weren't together, even if they weren't talking. I don't remember many other friends on this show doing that, not so consistently, not whenever it mattered.

Worst Friendship:
Roman and Annette. See above.

Biggest Missed Opportunity:
Tom/Vanessa. What was that? Why was that so bad? OMG, by the end of it I just wanted both of them off my screen. It was such a promising pairing once!

Best Chemistry:
DeRo (and a big fat bollocks to everyone who whined for smoochies or a deathbed shag). Lena/Florian because they were sparky and light-hearted and fun and so smitten you just wanted to squish them both. Isabelle/Maximilian because hello angst and betrayal and unlikely feelings-you-can-feel developing!

Biggest WTF? Moment:
Annette laying into Deniz over Roman's death. Sarah's intro scene (which I'm just going to point out to the next person who wants to berate actors for "not fighting hard enough" or whatever. HERE'S A BEE COSTUME. WEAR IT AND WAVE YOUR BUTTSTINGER AT THE CAMERA. NOW DO IT AGAIN. THIS IS THE POWER THAT ACTORS HAVE). Sarah sleeping in Deniz' room, because ugh ugh ugh wtf.

Biggest Waste Of Time (character or storyline):
Dancing "plot." Sarah. Marco. Richard's ridiculous island adventure with the same two frames of ocean-gazing cut into every single episode for two months.

Best Song Moment:
Anna Ternheim's "Tribute to Lynn" for Deniz' final journey/moment on the beach. Less Than Jake's "The Rest of My Life" for Roman's Right, Bitch, Let's Do This Thing montage.

Worst Song Use:
Selig's "Wir werden uns wiedersehen" for Marian and Dr. Hooker (!!!????!!!!) of all fucking pairings. I know I need a life, but I was so offended by that. (ROMARC SONG, ROMARC SONG, NOT THAT I'M BITTER OR ANYTHING.)

Best Storyline Twist:
Don't know if this is even major enough for a twist, but I loved that it was Isabelle who found Deniz and Roman on the ice. I loved her reaction. I loved how she immediately went into uncompromising support mode, (probably) making the necessary arrangements, calling people, holding Deniz as he lost it. She did everything right without making anything about herself. And Axel coming to see Deniz after was both unexpected and completely devastating. And brilliantly acted. Gah.

Worst Storyline Twist:
Ben goes deaf? Tom showers Vanessa with roses because he's been deeply in love with her for three minutes? Deniz gets taken hostage and it's completely boring? Richard has yet another son-except-dude's-probably-just-his-nephew? Isabelle orchestrates Tom's fake cheating incident? Deniz's WTF-are-you-doing lame fake public apology on the ice? Roman's memorial at the lake that hardly anyone came to? Take your pick.

Best New Character:
Uhmmm. I haven't been really taken with any new additions since Flo, to be honest. If I absolutely had to pick someone from this year, I'd probably go with Melanie - I don't feel particularly strongly about her one way or the other but she's at least added some occasional humour and snark, and she has girlslash potential. Plus I think the actress does a decent job with the crap material.

Worst New Character:
Sarah & Marco. I'd rather watch Norman Kalle do chewing gum ads on loop.

Best Line/Dialogue:
"Ich will hier sein, mit dir. Und den Moment genießen." Actually that whole bit, but I can't look it up to quote it properly because no way am I watching that right now, lol. And Deniz's locker room rant, especially the "stop pulling your death card on me" bit.

Worst Line/Dialogue:
Everything out of Tom's mouth to or about Vanessa. Embarrassment squick! Ditto every bit of dialogue between Simone and Vanessa where they talked to each other like a pair of 5-year-olds playing with their dolls.

Most Shocking Moment:
IDK if shocking is the right word, but the Deniz/Jessica humping was just... gross.

Least Shocking Moment:

Favorite Kiss:
No. Favourite non-kiss: The heart scene. There was cuddling and heart-shaped arms, how the fuck did that work?? Should have been über-cheesy. Somehow was tuggy and lovely and gaaaah, moving on, ok?

Most Enjoyable Show:
For the first time, I can say with absolute conviction that AWZ was not it. I mean, that 3-month storyline was amazing and heart-stopping, but I wouldn't call it "enjoyable" as such (ow, paincake!), and the rest was shite. Actually, I really enjoyed my GTST marathon, though. Some excellent stuff there.

Most Disappointing Show: ...

What do you hope for in 2011 for your favorite pairs:
That's an amusing notion (if by "amusing", you mean "bitter and stabby", and I do).


Oh Aldi, so much love for your recap of this year's AWZ. I couldn't agree more to the points you made here, especially about Isabelle (Isamax could have been the best thing ever, if done right, and I would so have enjoyed her as Roman's new evil best friend and partner in crime), Annette (just one big WTF, and buckets of tears because she was one of my favourite characters on the show from the very beginning) and Dero, especially that thing about them being best friends. I think that was what moved and touched me most about those two, the caring and being there for each other whatever the circumstances. Misty eyes again, soz.
So it's over now. And I haven't watched for weeks and have no intention of doing so in the future (purple bunny had been the final straw for me). And I'm ok with that, it was a beautiful ending, and I will keep AWZ and Dero in my heart the way they were...

Then again, and I will take the stick for this, just now, with Christmas on the horizon, and me not being in a particular festive mood this year, I would give my left knee (which nobody wants, because it's useless, and hurts all the time, and is one of the reason for my morose attitude lately) for a DeRo/LeFlo Christmas preparations plot (and that could even include Alexander, see this is how far down I have sunk).

Anyway, thanks for this. I needed that in my life right now, a reminder that not all the past is gross, that people can achieve beautiful things if they set their mind to it.

Gold! Not only for Roman, but for you too! <3333
I do love this, even its sombre note of finality. And since it's the last ever, I feel the need to rout my apathy and dive right in.

SO AGREE about the best storyline, and you know I was right there with you bemoaning how this was supposed to be a "progressive" move. (Thanks, Tom.) What I liked about it turned out not to be that it was anything progressive, or regressive for that matter, but that they made it so human. So achingly real. And yes, what you said so much better: Somewhere between the first mention of the word "brain tumour" and one final, forlorn cry of seagulls on screen, this storyline became one of the best ones AWZ has ever done. It transcended cliché. It transcended soap. It became, almost immediately, a storyline not about death, not about trite goodbyes or laughable melodrama or even political considerations, but simply a story about two people who loved each other, facing the hardest thing they'd ever had to face.

I do have to disagree though (BRAINTHIRD DISSENSION) over the best actor award. Dennis gets my vote, no contest, if only for that dry run of telling Flo about his tumour. But it's not an if only - there were also all the scenes of his half-smiles while trying to be brave alone, all the longing when he realised he couldn't, and all those moments on their road trip when he somehow pulled off living in the moment with a dire undercurrent of what was to come. It was some of the best acting I've seen from him, indeed some of the best acting I've ever seen full stop.

As for the worst storyline, can I also nominate Junkyard Dog Rescue and subsequent Annette/Tom/Vanessa triangle? That happened this year, didn't it? (Truthfully, it all blurs.) But OMG that was such a ridiculous idea, and you could tell all the actors agreed. Sheesh.

Also I have to add to the Best Song, because the final soundtrack was just exceptional. In a stabby heartbreaking way (yup, I'm still not able to listen to Tribute to Linn). Damn Sunny Jim still breaks my heart too. And Mimi's The Fire and The Cab's I'll Run and Eels' Beautiful Freak... yeah, they pulled out all the stops.

(Of course, there was also the WTF moment at Roman's memorial where we learned that Er gehört zu mir wasn't his favourite song after all. And that his biggest character trait was liking sweet cocktails. Sigh.)

Oi, it has been a year, hasn't it?
Oh god, I had brainbleached Junkyard Dog Rescue! Worst set-up for any romance ever. Well, almost as bad as "we share dead people."

Re: best acting - you're right of course, Dennis did some incredible stuff. I think in general I tend to take it too much for granted how good he is because he's almost *always* good even when he's working with crap, whereas with Igor you can tell the difference whether he gave it his all or mostly just rattled off his lines, which tends to give his exceptional moments more contrast. During the best storylines they had together, it's nearly impossible to choose anyway, so it's a good thing there's two of us so two EKP awards can get handed out, lol.
Aw man, Flo/Lena didn't last? I'm not surprised - it is a soap, after all - but I am definitely bummed. They were great.

It's too bad about Katja, too. I am not even remotely caught up yet, but I do remember how excited you were when she first showed up (mostly because you posted a whole bunch of pictures and she has such an excellent face, not to mention HAIR), so it sucks that she apparently turned out to be so awful.

February 2018



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