Erin Byrne regularly dives into the soapy waters of daytime television and tries to make sense of it all. This week she takes on “As The World Turns.”
“As the World Turns.” The gateway soap. As I’ve said before, for years I watched soaps in fits and starts, but “ATWT” was the first one I was able to binge on.
When I learned that Luke Snyder, son of super-couple Holden and Lily, was gay I decided to take up a new hobby. I was freshly unemployed and surfing a bogus wave of depression. I needed a tonic and Luke Snyder’s cruel smile was just what I was looking for.
Fortunately, there were hours upon hours of YouTube clips to get me into the game. At the time I had a laptop that got super-hot and every night I’d be in bed drunk and sweating.
Luke’s coming-out story was handled well. Right away he fell in love with his best friend Kevin, a golden Adonis. Finally, he couldn’t handle it anymore and Luke came out to his dad when they were together at the farm chopping wood. Obviously, Holden took the news great. Every gay kid in the greater Oakdale area (that includes Pine Valley) should practice coming out to Holden Snyder. He had the rugged beauty of Andy Travis from WKRP and tight jeans; you know, that saddle crotch kind that Favre wears.
Luke’s mother, Lily, was a different story. When Luke came out to her she took a page from the Sami Brady playbook and made it all about herself. She was so upset that she called Luke’s biological father, Damian, in Malta. That’s right; Luke Snyder’s real name was Luciano Eduardo Grimaldi.
Damian blew into town determined to get his son on the straight and narrow. Behind Luke’s back, Damian schemed with Lily to send Luke to gay re-education summer camp, but they had to keep Lily’s part in this a secret because Luke would never forgive her. When Damian brought up the idea Luke was outraged that he would even THINK about such a thing. After all suggesting that a summer full of swimming, three-legged-races, and bunking with other confused young boys would cure the gay was ridiculous.
Luke was out for a while before he got some play. Keep in mind that, as the daytime history timeline goes, Luke was the first out character. He was unique because he belonged to a major family on Oakdale, meaning he wasn’t some pitiful day player there to come in and teach everyone an important lesson on tolerance then disappear into a life of bitterness spend living in an abandoned theater.
Luke met Noah Mayer when they were working together at WOAK, the television station. Luke had a job stacking videotapes and writing on a clipboard. Noah showed up, new in town, and announced he wanted to be a filmmaker. In his pebble brain interning at a small town, WGN affiliate is the way to make this dream come true.
Luke fell for Noah right away and he showed his affection by treating Noah like a little bitch. Looking back at this story shows a great deal of character development for Luke because he continued to be a jerk throughout the rest of the series.
It wasn’t long before Noah started dating Maddie Coleman because they both loved old movies; also because Noah was most definitely not gay, especially when his hard-ass army dad comes to town.
One day at WOAK Noah was in a frenzy, so much so that he was unable to put on a tie. He had to look perfect because he was meeting Maddie and The Colonel for dinner. Seeing his friend’s distress Luke helped him tie a perfect half-windsor. At that point, Noah could no longer contain his secret passions and he planted a kiss on Luke, daytime’s first guy-on-guy kiss. Luke slipped him the tongue and everything.
After that, it was on. The boys were in love and out to Luke’s family and the rest of the town. Things looked even better when Colonel Mayer showed up again wanting to get to know his son’s new boyfriend. He did this by taking the guys on a camping trip which quickly devolved into a “Most Dangerous Game”-type situation.
To make a long story short, Luke got shot in the back and was paralyzed which led to months of sulking on Luke’s part and tough love from Noah. He sure as hell wasn’t going to allow Luke to act like a giant crippled baby for the rest of his life. He had to get his man walking again primarily because they were both gagging to get laid. I swear to Pete, daytime television is the only place you will ever see two teenage boys in love decide they need to take things slowly.
One time before Luke was paralyzed, the guys got close to doing the deed. Alone in the house, Luke and Noah ran to the bedroom, whipped off their shirts, and…began madly jumping on the bed. For once I was happy for the interruption
Once I caught up on all of the YouTube videos I began watching “ATWT” every day. Luke and Noah were my first soap friends and they introduced me to all of their friends, people whose lives I could live instead of my own. Like many depressives, I had cut myself off from those closest to me and did my level best to hide from the world. Luke and Noah were there during a dark period of my mental life, keeping me company while I tried to pull myself back together.
I was gutted when I found out that “ATWT” had been canceled. The show was firing on all cylinders and there was no reason at all that it couldn’t go on forever. When the announcement came Noah’s film teacher, Mason Jarvis had recently kissed Noah (on the forehead.) Luke was so pissed that even though he had recently gotten kicked out of Oakdale University for rigging the student body president election, he used his Grandmother’s money and name to get Mason fired. Noah was livid, so mad that he couldn’t follow proper safety procedures and wound up blinding himself in a fireworks accident.
Noah blamed Luke for everything. Luke begged for forgiveness but that was out of the question. There was no way he could forgive Luke.
Once Luke saw he couldn’t win Noah back the regular way (tears and oral sex) he knew he’d have to get creative. So he did what any spurned lover would do, he blackmailed internationally renowned eye surgeon, Dr. Reid Oliver, into operating on Noah’s Black-Cat-scarred eyes. Little did he know that Reid would win his heart in the end.
Desperate for attention Luke put up the money to build Reid his very own neurosurgery wing at the hospital. Once again Reid refused the bait. He ended up staying in town because he hit Kim Hughes with Luke’s car (she’s fine) and the cops wouldn’t let him leave. I’m still not convinced that Luke didn’t set that whole thing up as a trap to keep Reid in town.
Luke and Reid had crackling chemistry, far better than Luke and Noah; which is why I was so pissed when Reid’s car stalled on the railroad tracks and he was killed. This was all ridiculous excuse to give his heart to stupid old Chris Hughes, just because he’s Bob and Kim’s son. Luke and Reid never even got a chance to jump on the bed together.
After Reid’s death, Noah told Luke he was going to film school in California. The story was left open and I could only hope that those two would eventually get back together, but I wouldn’t be there to see it.
People who don’t watch soaps have a hard time understanding the attachment soap fans have to “their” characters. We see them every day and have so for years, decades even. We live our lives parallel, always finding something of ourselves within such fantastical stories. When the final episode aired I was devastated. Even as the world kept turning my friends were gone.
Erin Byrne can be contacted at email@example.com