Marland Monday: Andy Drinks a Little

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons
5 min readApr 18, 2022

Hi there! Have you done your taxes? Well if you have, you can enjoy today and read…

Marland Monday!

Each Monday I look back at the career of Douglas Marland, who was the head writer of five soap operas. What will we remember today? Let’s find out…

Thirty-two years ago this week, an accident occurred in Oakdale. It shouldn’t have happened. We knew something terrible was going to happen, but we didn’t know when. Finally, it happened, and it affected Our Corner of Oakdale.

First, we need to back up to 1987. Andrew (known to friends and family as Andy) Dixon (Scott DeFreitas, who played Andy off and on for fifteen years) had adjusted a lot. First, his mother Kim married Dr. Bob Hughes. That was okay, he liked Bob. Plus he found himself an unofficial Hughes (when he called Nancy (Helen Wagner) “Mrs. Hughes” he was hushed and she firmly said, “You call me Grandma!” Then Nancy and her husband Chris (Don MacLaughlin) moved in, which took some adjusting to, but he formed a close bond with Chris and they played chess games. Then his mom was kidnapped, found, then charged with murder. Oh, she was pregnant. Yeah, that was stressful, but Kim was cleared of the charges, so it turned out. She also gave birth to a baby boy, Chris the Second. His dad John Dixon (Larry Bryggman) was dating Emma Snyder (Kathleen Widdoes) which was good, but he was crushing on Meg Snyder (Jennifer Ashe)

Andy has sandy blonde hair, wearing a red T-shirt and a plaid button down. In the background is white roses.
Andy in 1985

Then in one month, everything turned upside down. He found out his mom and Bob had a baby years before that was taken from them, so Andy had a new sister, Sabrina. Who looked like his cousin/stepsister, Frannie. A journalist asked him about it at school, prompting his dad to confront the journalist’s boss, Lucinda Walsh. Suddenly “Mrs. Walsh” was his stepmother, and Andy had two new stepsisters, Sierra and Lily. His parents were fighting. Bob tried to get John fired from the hospital. He was also worried about his cousin/best friend Paul (Andrew Kavovit) who was keeping his own secrets. So one day, when no one was looking, Andy snuck a beer from the fridge.

Andy has sandy blonde hair and wearing a blue shirt.
Andy is beginning to have issues

It was only one beer. It was just to take the edge off. Everybody experiments with alcohol, right? But it wasn’t just one beer. It became a habit. It went on for a while, then he was found out. He made promises. Yes, he would stop. It was just one beer, one drink. But he couldn’t stop. One night he was found drunk at the Walsh estate. Another night he spiked punch at a party, then let his newfound brother Duke (John’s son, just to add more confusion) take the blame. A girl he liked moved. He fell for another woman, Julie (Susan Marie Snyder) but that was on/off. He started to steal alcohol from other people’s houses. Why were people so upset? They were rich, they wouldn’t miss a bottle of brandy, a carafe of whiskey.

Andy is wearing an ugly light blue sweater and jeans. His mom Kim is wearing a beige shirt and an oversized brown jacket with black pants. Andy is leaning against a grand piano that has a vase of yellow flowers in it.
“I have no bottles in my sweater, Mom! Honest!”

His parents confronted him repeatedly. John knew Andy was on a bad bumpy road; John was a recovering alcoholic. Kim felt horribly guilty and angry-she tried to be a good mother, but life had become so unpredictable. Kim and John became closer and went to Al-Anon meetings. They learned that they couldn’t make Andy stop drinking. Someday he was going to hit bottom.

Andy is wearing a orange sweatshirt and is on the phone.
Andy is having problems, operator.

That’s what happened one April night. He had stolen Duke’s van, nicknamed Rosie. He didn’t have that much to drink, he would be okay. Then everything happened so fast. He was in a police station. He was told he had hit a car. The woman he hurt was at the hospital, they removed her spleen. He soon found out it was Lien Hughes.

Andy is changing the radio stations. He’s wearing a leather jacket and jeans. An open bottle of alcohol is right below his hand.
Andy can drive. That bottle of booze will help him drive!

Well, his parents would be there for him. Wrong. They told him he would have to face the music. They weren’t bailing him out, they weren’t getting him a lawyer, they were done. He tried to tell them he wanted to go to rehab, A.A. But they were tired and couldn’t take his drama anymore. He had to accept responsibility.

What amazed me about the storyline was it really took years to let it build. I don’t think it would happen today. Three years to get this kid sober? Are you serious? We don’t have three years, dude. We might have three weeks, but not three years. Andy’s actions also affected all the characters. John and Kim were a given. But it also affected Dr. Casey Peretti. Casey was confined to a wheelchair, so Duke would drive Casey back and forth to the hospital in Rosie the Van, but when Rosie became twisted metal, Casey had no way to get to the hospital. Julie had just married Caleb Snyder and was torn between her new husband and old love. It affected Lucinda Walsh-she couldn’t understand what was going on. It wasn’t something she could throw money at and it would be okay. And Bob, feeling lonely and left out, turned to Susan Stewart, who used to be Kim’s enemy. Yep, it’s a soap opera.

Andy is wearing a plaid shirt. In the background is cell bars.
Andy’s in the jailhouse now

But what was brave about it was it wasn’t a Very Special Storyline. It didn’t have a tidy ending. Andy went through rehab. but he had to regain his family’s trust. He had a codependent relationship with Julie for several years. He had several relapses. What made it compelling was the writing, of course. But also Scott DeFreitas’ portrayal of Andy was so good. You wanted to smack him at one minute, then another minute escort him to an A.A. meeting, and believe him when he said never again. It was hard to watch. But necessary. Because we all know someone like Andy Dixon. And we want to believe them when they say to us, never again.

Tune in next week…