I don’t usually talk about soap operas – on any of my blogs. I think I’ve reached a turning point with this one. I kind of have to talk about it, especially since it’ll be gone soon. I’ve been watching As the World Turns for six years now, so I’ve had the opportunity to watch Van Hansis grow his character Luke from a confused, sometimes troubled boy to a kind, emotionally mature man. I love what the writers have done for his character. For Luke’s relationships? Not so much.

Yeah, okay. I know soaps are supposed to be dramatic, but Luke’s relationship with Noah had issues from the beginning. First, Noah was in denial about being gay – he was self-hating to the point of sleeping with one of Luke’s friends (Maddie) to “prove” to himself and Luke (and his father) that he was straight. Then Colonel Mayer attacked Luke and Noah ran at the first sign of conflict (grand summarizing here – there was a great deal of back and forth from breaking up to friendship to an in-between state). Eventually, they got it together.

Then (by virtue of some angry people threatening to boycott the show’s sponsors), any affection they had – kissing, etc. – always seemed to be quickly followed by fighting over inconsequential things and what felt like the show’s insistence that, no matter what, it would always be an uphill battle for them. There are ways (as shown by Luke’s relationship with Reid later) to show two people as a loving couple without having to sacrifice screen time or doing silly things like diverting the camera when they kiss or putting off moments that are quick to come in heterosexual relationships – like sleeping together.

I understand that a lot of issues covered by the show are those that real men and boys go through, I just wish Noah had come out more mature and together for everything he and Luke both had to go through.

I know some people might say that going through all those trials would make the relationship work in the end, but I feel differently. At some point, after all of the stuff with Noah’s father and Luke doing things that weren’t entirely morally appropriate, they should’ve come to some kind of understanding. They should have reached a place where they accepted each other as they were, settled down and just been happy. Rare, but it does happen in soapland. Luke and Noah? Well, Noah has an accident, blames Luke (it was about ten percent his fault), Luke happily shoulders the blame and the rest is history. Why do I say the accident was only ten percent his fault? Because Noah had no business screwing around with fireworks or rushing to finish his student film. If he’d taken the time to have someone who knew what they were doing fix it, he would’ve been fine. So what if his project would’ve been finished late? It was a senseless accident.

It was around this point that Noah/Luke began to lose its luster for me. I couldn’t root for them anymore. After all the crap they went through, this is what broke them up for the third time? Luke basically turned his life upside down – keeping vigil in the hospital, getting his parents to adopt Noah so they could pay his hospital bills, railroading/blackmailing a doctor to come to town to perform his surgery – just to make up for an accident that was hardly his fault. He was desperately trying to hold on to something that wasn’t working anymore, that had never worked for very long anyway. Not everything he did was perfect, but for the longest time Noah’s reaction to everything Luke did on his behalf was to be resentful and pouty. No one needs to have their love shoved back in there face that way. Luke served his heart up on a platter and got nothing but further disappointment and eventually a broken heart for his trouble.

This is where I drew the line. During the past year, Luke did something Noah probably won’t have time to do before the show is over. He grew up. Through all of the craziness with how he met Reid and the things he did to show Noah how much he cared, he became a man who would sacrifice anything for his lover, even if he had been shown through past experience that his efforts might come to nothing. I’m sure my views may seem extreme to some, but I’m trying to look at the overall picture. Luke always seemed more invested in their relationship, but the payoff wasn’t worth all of his effort.
The reason I like the idea of Luke/Reid is that this is an adult relationship. Yes, they began under strange circumstances. In retrospect, I think Reid pushing Luke away (refusing to treat Noah if he was around) was a telling act. He lost focus, and sometimes his temper, when Luke was around because no one had been able to get under his skin that way. It’s refreshing to see a man who is bold and honest with Luke about how he feels and what he wants. He doesn’t apologize for wanting him, shy away from flirting or play games. This is exactly what Luke needs after the drama of the last few years. Someone who can love him without condition and doesn’t judge his every action through a narrow set of values.

In addition to this, the two actors have a level of chemistry that steams up the screen no matter what is happening in the scene. While I felt next to nothing the few times that Luke and Noah got close, all he and Reid have to do is look at each other across a room and it feels like no one exists but them – it’s a world I love to visit. They make hand holding look like an erotic act. Well, as erotic as possible given the general conservative nature of the show.

After I finally, finally got used to the idea that Luke could find some happiness, the writers threw cold water all over those smoldering coals. I’m not sure if it was reactionary or just desperation on his part, but the minute Noah got the impression Luke might be moving on, might even (gasp!) have someone else in his life, he freaked out. Never mind that he went on a date less than a week after their last official breakup, Noah’s reaction to Luke even spending time with someone else was to suddenly declare that he’d never stopped loving him, was sorry for being a pouty jerk for months and wanted to get back together. What in the emotionally manipulative codependent hell?!

I’m so glad Luke didn’t fall for that. Though the past few months (and spoilery rumors) have given me questions, I think Luke and Reid are finally getting on the same page. (They might even maybe possibly talk about having sex today. Imagine that. In less than two years.) Mutual respect, attraction and affection doesn’t have to be hidden, doesn’t inspire shame and doesn’t feel like the slightest change in the wind will bring it all tumbling down. I have high hopes for these two. I just hope the show doesn’t disappoint.