Beautiful, Sheila's return proves that the very bad 90s are still with us

Beautiful, Sheila's return proves that the very bad 90s are still with us


Like it or not, Beautiful is still one of the pillars of our custom: millions of people around the world continue to follow with punctuality and concern the American soap that, since the nineties, has managed to continuously and completely renew its plots, its own cast and also some faces of the early actors, always remaining central. Just consider that even during Covid-19, the soap was one of the few productions that continued undaunted to shoot, using mannequins in the scenes where the performers had to kiss, hug or even more often slap each other. We have returned to talk of an unexpected relevance in these days when even social networks have been invaded by videos that testify to yet another comeback on the scene: the return of Sheila Carter, in fact.

Note to fans of the first now as one of the pivotal women in the dynamics of Forrester & co. , Sheila (played by the immortal Kimberly Brown) was believed to have disappeared but once again she (literally) emerged from behind a plant to interrupt the marriage between Steffy, daughter of Ridge and Taylor, and the doctor Finn. In a Star Wars move, Sheila exclaims, "I'm your mother," revealing herself as Finn's long-lost mother. Brooke drops a glass of champagne to the floor, Steffy tries with all her botox an astonished expression and the camera skilfully zooms in on a portrait of the late Stephanie, certainly very frowning in the soap paradise she is in. It is a masterful scene for this type of television, and its absurd pathos has also conquered the web (in the USA already at the end of the year, but here the soap - all shredded and invaded by telepromotions of mattresses and escalators for the elderly - wave with weeks and weeks of delay).

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It is difficult to explain the relevance of a character like Sheila Carter, but here is a brief summary for use by gen Z: Sheila makes her appearance in 1990 in The Young and the Restless, the soap of which The Beautiful or rather The Bold and the Beautiful is essentially a spin-off), a nurse who already stands out immediately for drugging the doctor she fell in love with (but who is already with another one), spend a night with him and get pregnant. After a couple of years - in which kidnappings, fires, violence and grim looks are wasted - he switches to Beautiful (between the two series there have been continuous crossovers over the years), immediately becoming a rival to both Brooke and Stephanie Forrester, in essence antagonizing half of the Forresters while mating with the other half. Here too pandemonium happens: fictitious pregnancies, kidnappings, even the attempted murder of Stephanie herself and then the murder of Taylor (then she too revived). And obviously many other grim looks.

Sheila and consequently Brown herself treat Beautiful like a revolving door of a hotel: she leaves in 1998, but then returns from 2002 to 2006 and again in 2017 but only for one year, until its last and most recent comeback. She is probably one of the most evil women who have ever crossed the American soap, but also the one who with the most stubbornness and imagination managed to return from the world of the dead. Now it is difficult to know how long her umpteenth cathodic life will last, even if the latest developments (she who discovers that after all her son Finn still loves her and therefore decides to recover the relationship with him) portend a prolonged stay. Until the next shooting, the next fire, or the next profitable contract offered by another network (Brown is known for moving from production and TV network chasing the highest bidder).

But there is a broader subtext welcoming the return of Sheila, a wicked woman who doesn't think twice about throwing people off the stairs, forging birth certificates or ruining marriages. Despite her wavering television presence, Sheila colonized the nineties imagery like few other characters: yes Brooke easily passed from one member of the Forrester family to another and certainly Taylor died and resurrected every new Arab sheikh who promised her cryogenesis, but it is Sheila who has enchanted with her distilled and pure evil. Because after all, with her unscrupulous attitude and her desire for revenge, above all socio-economic, Sheila Carter was the nineties.

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And that decade is coming back with arrogance. The TV series, forerunners of all kinds of media nostalgia, have already thought about it for some time: The Prince of Bel Air, Pappa e ciccia, Bayside School, Walker Texas Ranger, Beverly Hills, Beavis and Butthead and even the Animaniacs are just some of the symbolic titles of that era which, with more or less luck, have been removed from the freezer and re-proposed in various sauces (often darkening them, it must be said). And if the latest fashion catwalks tell us that the fashion world is already launching itself to recover the ugly 2000s (thongs that come out of cargo pants, I say to you), in the meantime we are invaded by oversized jeans, tie-dye t-shirts, shirts flannel, dungarees, crop tops, slip dresses and bandanas. Everything that we had dismissed as tacky in the 1990s now sparks on Vinted.

But that's not all. Everything cries out for a recovery of the worst aspects of that decade which, let's face it, Spice Girls aside has almost exclusively given us depression, recession and bad taste. The Balkan wars are now being re-proposed to us as a new war that is no longer so cold but neo-nuclear on the borders of Ukraine. The annus horribilis of Queen Elizabeth pace-all-anima (1992) now risks becoming for England the tempus horribilis of Charles III and the disastrous Truss. The customs clearance of the tricolor flame, which began with Berlusconi taking Fini to the government in 1994, will in a few days lead to an uber-nostalgic government and has already placed the "patriots" in the highest positions of the state. Real estate crisis, energy disaster and galloping inflation make us delude that the most tempting and comfortable prospect of life is to convert the A-team van into an eco-friendly five-star mini-resort on wheels (but with the shower outside). At least thirty years ago there was the white-collar myth of Bret Easton Ellis, but today there seems to be only the psycho left of American Psycho (but luckily we have mental health influencers).

In short, three decades later, we find ourselves at the same point as before, in fact made worse: a worse remake of The Mummy by Tom Cruise (while Brendan Fraser, not surprisingly, lives a well-deserved professional rebirth). Yet that age continues to exert a kind of perverse fascination on us. A part of us regrets the rollerblades, the Tamagochi and the Power Rangers, and also regrets that wickedness not filtered by the risk of media pillories or fascist regurgitation. Reviewing Sheila Carter today awakens a nostalgia for a world where drives and divisions were somehow less ideological and less toxic, today we live immersed in a world where we carry out our wickedness in social hatred, conspiracies and disproportionate outbursts of violence more or less concrete. Those, after all, were just grim looks.

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