Marland Monday: Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons
6 min readJul 4, 2022

TW: this essay mentions incest and abortion.

Happy 4th! It’s on a Monday so you know what that means…

It’s Marland Monday!

If you’re a regular reader, you know what I do here: pay tribute to Douglas Marland, one of the GOATS of daytime. This is one I don’t want to write. In fact, I’ve procrastinated all day on it. I’ve taken out my recycling, went for a walk around the block, and I dusted. I dusted, darling readers. That’s how much I really really didn’t want to write this essay. But with recent events with the Supreme Court, I know I need to write it. If you want to skip this week, I’ll understand. Because I’m going to write about abortion. And how Mr. Marland wrote about it.

Abortion has always been tricky on soaps. Erica Kane had one on All My Children then years later it turned out she didn’t (don’t ask, just don’t) Brooke had one as well on AMC after she was raped.On Another World, Pat Matthews had an illegal abortion. I know Kimberly Harris had one on Ryan’s Hope. Ashley Abbott had one on Young and Restless, then had a nervous breakdown (Eileen Davidson said recently she regretted the latter part of the storyline) In soaps, usually, the woman or girl is conflicted. She makes an appointment, but then someone (usually a man) stops her and convinces her not to go through it.

Douglas Marland wrote about abortion once on Loving, then three times on As The World Turns. I can’t find much information on what happened on Loving. I know it was Lorna Forbes (Susan Walters) a spoiled rich girl who fell in love with a guy named Tony, who was dating good girl Stacey Donovan (Lauren Marie Taylor) Lorna and Tony got married, but then Lorna had an abortion. Tony wanted to go back to Stacey, but she fell for Jack (Perry Stephens) Lorna’s brother. Lorna tried to help Ava (Roya Megnot) who got pregnant but refused. The father? Jack Forbes.Oh, what a soap.

When he went to As the World Turns, three characters had abortions. I’m going to break down the circumstances for each woman.

Little Miss Seattle

Julie Wendell Snyder Snyder: I’ve written here before that God love her, Julie (Susan Marie Snyder) was a mess. Lucinda (Elizabeth Hubbard) paid Julie to come to Oakdale to take away Duke (Michael Louden) Lucinda’s stepson away. Julie took the money, then tried to extort money from Duke by lying she was pregnant. Only she really was pregnant. When they went to the sonogram, Duke realized it wasn’t his. Julie then went to Chicago and had it “taken care of.” She fell for Andy (Scott DeFreitas) who took care of her when she came back to Oakdale. Andy was Duke’s brother. Of course, he was! I don’t see any discussion if this made waves or if Julie was judged by her actions, but it enhanced her reputation as a “bad girl” or as John Dixon called her “Little Miss Seattle.”

Angel Lange Snyder Snyder: Of the three women I write about today, Angel (Alice Haining ) is the most tragic. She fell for Caleb Snyder (then played by Matthew David Morrison) but Caleb didn’t feel the same way for her. It was then revealed she had an abortion-and Caleb was the father. Apparently the abortion left her sterile. I’ve tried to find out how it was done, but not finding any information. This prompted Angel’s brothers to beat Caleb up, then beat up Caleb’s sister Ellie (Renee Props) Holden (Jon Hensley) fell for Angel and they were married off screen. There was one small problem: He was still in love with Lily (Martha Byrne then Heather Rattray)

Angel started doing all these things to keep Holden: she tried to adopt a baby girl named Noelle, but Noelle went back to her parents. She tampered Lily’s brakes. Honestly I was originally disappointed in the storyline; I didn’t think the world needed another Fatal Attraction ripoff. I also was disappointed the abortion left Angel barren.

In January 1991, it started to make sense. Angel and her brother Barclay tried to embezzle money from their father’s company. Her father Henry (James Rehborn) confronted her, then he raped her. Then it came out: Henry had been incesting Angel for years. When Angel got pregnant, he was the one who was the father. Not Caleb. Angel needed a way out, freedom. It would be marriage (Married to Holden meant safety) or money (get the hell away from her father) It all came out, though I felt bad for James Rehborn that he was getting stereotyped being an sexual abuser father figure (He did a similar role on Guiding Light) We did see Angel go through therapy and become functional. Her abortion was shown in gray terms.

Ellie Snyder Anderson: It just hit me the Snyder wives and one Snyder daughter had an abortion. Emma must’ve tsked tsked so much. Ellie was the rebel sister who always ended up with older sister Iva’s (Lisa Brown) rejects. First she fell for Craig Montgomery (Scott Bryce) then Kirk Anderson (Tom Wiggin) both exes of Iva’s. Kirk and Ellie got married. A year later, Ellie found out she was pregnant. When she had an ultrasound, she found out the fetus was deformed. She had an abortion in Chicago. What’s interesting about this is the abortions were never performed in Oakdale. In Chicago. Was there an “No Abortions Allowed” sign at Memorial Hospital?

Anyway, Ellie came back. Lily and Iva were supportive. Other sister Meg (Jennifer Ashe) not so much; she confronted Ellie at the Yacht Club. Kirk was angry, because he felt like he wasn’t part of an important decision. Ellie decided to take a job in New York.

What did the three women have in common, other than by blood or marriage, they were Snyders? Both Meg and Julie were judged pretty harshly for their decisions. Angel was barren because of hers. I’ve tried to find any information how Mr. Marland came to the decisions he did for each character, but haven’t found any information. All three of them had this in common: they didn’t take the decision lightly. Angel truly didn’t have much of a choice. Ellie left because the choice upset her family. Julie kept on making mistakes when it came to men.

I also think of lyrics written by Pete Seeger about Vietnam, but it works here as well:

Well, I’m not going to point any moral,
I’ll leave that for yourself
Maybe you’re still walking, you’re still talking
You’d like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

There are no easy answers. Mr. Marland knew that. He didn’t give us easy answers either. Thirty something years later, we’re still struggling with answers. If you think this issue is resolved, it’s not. We’ll be struggling with this a long long time.

Tune in next week.