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'Jericho' star disputes soaps' handling of rape

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post for the EW Community lamenting soap operas’ troubling tendency to reform bad girls into good girls via rape. A reader took offense with my interpretation; anyone who writes for a living is used to that.

But this particular reader happened to be actress Alicia Coppola, who won a Soap Opera Digest Award for playing Another World’s Lorna, one of the characters I name-checked in my piece.

Alicia e-mailed me to give us her own take on the story. Here, in her own words, is her response:

ALICIA COPPOLA: The scene where Lorna tells Felicia (Linda Dano) that she was raped is very memorable for me. I remember feeling that there was no way to really prepare for those scenes. In the days coming up to filming, my mind, my spirit, if you will, was flooded with memories of my own sexual mistreatment. It is not something I want to go into or make a meal of. Not to dismiss, diminish, or disrespect anyone who has lived through this unfortunate experience, but for me, it was what it was and it is what it is. I can’t change it. I cannot erase it. It is part of who I am.

I am, unfortunately, of the thinking that I could throw a stone and hit a number of women who have been sexually mistreated … I am not special. I am not alone.

What I wanted to come across, what I wanted to discover, was the feeling of being hunted like a wild, wounded animal: that feeling of being trapped at the mouth of the lion’s den, backed into a corner with nowhere to go and no one to hear you scream; of being completely isolated in panic and fear. Like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, every way you turn is danger and pain and terror. This is how I felt Lorna silently lived most of her life. On the outside, she was a beautiful, Azzadine Alaia–clad, tough warrior, soldiering on, giving as good as she gets, unafraid of anything and anyone. But inside was the antithesis. I wanted Lorna to appear as wounded and wild outside as she was inside.

I remember staring at myself in the mirror in Felicia’s hallway outside her apartment before I entered. What I saw scared me. I looked like I felt: like I had felt for years but never had the courage to feel openly, to display, to reveal. I realized in that moment how very similar Lorna and I were. In these scenes, I was able to unleash and release much of my own pain, anger, and sadness.

Linda was unbelievable in these scenes. She did not know what I was going to do, how I was going to play this moment. We were both utterly in the moment. Linda, being the extreme empath that she is, felt everything I was feeling and then some. I think in those moments, our bond as mother/daughter was born, and has never been broken. Linda took care of me in those scenes. Her gentility and sensitivity safely guided me. Linda gave me courage.

This courage carried into the complete rape storyline. I wanted Lorna to pick herself up and not let the experience define her. It could inform her character, but never define her. I just couldn’t let Lorna give up her power to the violence and degradation—much in the same way I did in my own life. I allowed my childhood with my father’s illness and the shadow of his cancer that shrouded my every move to inform me, but never to define me. I needed us both to buck up and carry on.

Which is why I perhaps disagree with you, Alina. You wrote about the female characters, Lorna included, who were “bad girls” and then were “baptized” in the rape to be reborn pure, clean, accepted, and, dare I say, loveable “good girls.”

As you said: “Only a year earlier, on Another World, Lorna Devon’s crimes of blackmail, extortion, and borderline child pornography were also wiped away following a rape, and she was warmly welcomed into Bay City society. What kind of a message was that supposed to send? To get people to love and forgive you, run out and get sexually assaulted?

I played Lorna Devon. I know two things for sure:

  1. She posed nude for Carl Hutchins, who held those photos over her head. He extorted her. She never was involved in child pornography. (Ed. note: The borderline child pornography referred to Lorna making it look like her teenage sister, Jenna, had appeared in a porn movie.)
  2. Lorna was NEVER fully accepted into Bay City Society, either before or after the rape. She was never given the red-carpet treatment by anyone, regardless of the rape and its aftermath. People still didn’t like her or trust her, and very few either before or after the rape cared to get to know the real Lorna at all. In every one of her relationships—be they personal (such as with her mother, Felicia), with her lovers, Kevin Anderson (James Goodwin) and Victor Rodriguez (Carlos Sanz), or professional, with Dean Frame (Ricky Paull Goldin) and Carl Hutchins (the GREAT Charles Keating)—she became even more self-protective, more hardened, in order to retain and maintain through sheer f—ing will and fortitude, her inner strength, grit, integrity, and pride.

You go on to write at the end of your article: “You’d think being brutally violated would make a person harder, not softer. That it would prompt them to lash out at the world rather than suddenly make them embrace it (especially when they hadn’t before).”

Well, that is what Lorna did and that is who Lorna was. She did not become a “good girl.” She was not softened and redeemed. She was a human being struggling to survive. By the way, a “good girl” would bore the sh-t out of Lorna. She was the “O.G.” of daytime—a title I hold dear.

I was incredibly fortunate to have the entire Another World family have my back during this storyline. I still carry that love and support with me today.

From the rape scenes, I was given a gift I don’t think most actors are blessed with. I lived on the Upper West Side of New York City during that time. I was walking down Broadway and through the front of Lincoln Center. I heard my name being called. I turned around, and there was a young woman holding out her hand. She introduced herself and told me she had prayed that one day she would meet me, and had kept a little gold angel necklace in her purse to give to me in the event she ever did. She gave me the angel necklace and shared her own rape experience with me. This young woman told me that in watching Lorna’s journey, she was able to find the strength and the grit, the grace and the peace, the love in her heart, and the lift in her spirit to move on. I still have that angel necklace. It means the world to me.


Read more by Alicia in her 2013 book, Gracefully Gone, a decade-long dialogue between Alicia and her father, Matt. Written in journal format, her father tells the story of his diagnosis through to his remission. Meanwhile, 10 years later, as he lay dying, Alicia chronicles her pursuit of life and all the bitter and amusingly confusing angst that accompanies being a 21-year-old girl during the last six months of her father’s struggle toward death.

And to find out what Linda Dano, as well as dozens of other actors, consider their own best scenes, see Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments here.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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