As howtheduck said yesterday, Lynn made a grave error in keeping Mike’s supporting cast hanging around after he got married; at best, they should have been trotted out at special occasions such as weddings to remind us of the characters’ past. On the occasions when Mike and Deanna did appear (which, by rights, should have been every six months or so and that for about two or three weeks), we’d have seen that Mike and Deanna’s pool of friends would have been drawn from colleagues. We’d have a Ted-, Steve-, Keith- and Greg-analog for him and a Connie-, Annie- and Carol-analog for her and Lawrence- and Dawn-substitutes for their children. When the strip came to the conclusion I thought appropriate (the Pattersons getting together for Jim’s memorial service), the two of them would be living in a nice house on the Escarpment; Mike would make vague noises about maybe writing a novel after he retired from Portrait and Deanna would idly wonder if the nanny is exaggerating about how awful Meredith treats Robin and that would be about it for them. Any Strip of Destiny should have depicted Mike and Deanna as taking early retirement at fifty-five; he’d have written a mildly-fictionalized version of his childhood that met with moderate success while her purpose would be to volunteer at a free clinic. The reason I mention this is that at one point, Lynn seemed to doing that with Liz’s supporting cast. Let’s first examine the people she left and then talk about the people she’d met along the way:
- Dawn: As you know, she was one of Liz’s first real friends; despite an unforgivable tendency towards following the party line when it came to talking about Therese and her sort of waffling way of dealing with Candice, she seemed to be the more anchored.
- Paula: She was more or less the Candace of her day owing to her being the Voice of Peer Pressure; she, for instance, caused the Pattermanse to be haunted by the grim spectre of seven-year-olds wearing nylons and getting pierced ears. Given that the Pattersons substitute stodginess, evasion and insane overreaction for a proper concern for the ‘safety’ of their children when it comes to roadside-type activities, she was as bad as the person who eventually replaced her.
- Candace: Before she became what might be considered Liz’s own personal Connie, she was the sort of ‘monster’ character that was redeemed by exposure to the Pattersons. This acceptance afforded her the dispensation to state that a marriage licence is just a piece of paper.
- Shawna-Marie: As you know, she’s Liz’s token Latina friend and, as such, highlights Lynn’s inability to think too hard about life South of the Rio Grande. Given her more forceful nature and lack of experience with real life, it’s obvious that she felt no shame in maligning a woman she never met to back up a friend
- Anthony: He started out as Liz’s on-again-off-again love interest in high school and by all rights should have stayed that way; his real destiny should have been to be the bad example called “This is what happens when you think that Fate will provide instead of making your own luck.”
- Eric: Another love interest that should have joined Anthony in obscurity; his function would be to epitomize the cheating, emotionally-abusive idiot boyfriend
- Warren: He started out as Mr Rebound; once Liz ‘learned to love again’, he could and should have faded into the mists of time.
The interesting thing is that when Liz moved up North, it looked as if all of Liz’s old cast were about to join the Enjos in that Valhalla for forgotten characters I’d mentioned; the reason they didn’t was, of course, that Liz yelled “WAIT” at a computer monitor and moved South to marry her stalker. This is a shame because we should have had to deal with the supporting cast that lived in Mtigwaki. The final destiny I myself would have assigned her would be to be a glorified walk-on like Phil; she’d talk about her friends the Cranes, her fellow teacher Susan and how she and the policeman that Elly tried to fix her up with should get with the program and pair off and slyly allude to a handsome doctor who lived in the area. This is, of course, because the strip should have been “John, Elly and their wacky teenager”, not a teal-and-lavender horror show.