Elaine’s Makeup Table Speech

There are many highlights in Soap; naturally we all have our favorites. But anyone looking to get to the heart of what Susan Harris is so good at should go back to Season 2, Episode 7 (2.7). In it, Danny (Ted Wass) tells Elaine(Dinah Manoff) that he’s giving up trying to change her rotten ways — this following what seemed to be a subtle truce the pair had reached last episode thanks to the help of Burt and Mary.

Yesterday I had occasion to watch this episode again as I make my way through the series one more time. This whole scene still tugs at the heartstrings, with Harris alternating between humor. As assistant/associate producer Marsha Posner Williams remembered it, “When we did the runthrough for the first time for the producers, we were sitting there watching the scene, sobbing, and the next day just before we had a runthrough of that scene again, the prop guys came out and handed everybody Kleenex before they started the scene.”

For those who don’t have access to that episode, here is the text. But really, you need to watch this one again.

Elaine: It’s that awful, huh? It’s that awful being with me.

Danny: It sure has been. And the thing is that there was a time when I had the feeling that it didn’t have to be. Once I think you had a day when you were nice. Just a nice normal lady and I really enjoyed you. In fact I thought we had great possibilities. But then the next day you were spitting food at me and calling me “yutz.”

Elaine: I don’t hate you, Danny.

Danny: Well you sure give the best damn impression of it I’ve ever seen.

Elaine: I know.

Danny: Well why do you do that Elaine? Why do you treat people that way?

Elaine: It’s a long story.

Danny: I got time.

Elaine: I had a sister once, a couple of years older than me. Her name was Diana. She was bright and beautiful and good and kind. She was one of those people who made everybody around her feel good. When she was 16 she was killed in a car accident. On the night she died, my father in his grief said to me, “Why wasn’t it you?” So, uh, my mother was dead and my sister was dead and my father, who I loved more than anyone else in this world, wished I was dead. And I got angry. I got angry, and cold, and mean, and I decided then never to love anybody ever again.

Danny: Oh Elaine, I didn’t know.

Elaine: I love you Danny. And maybe someday if it’s not already too late, you’ll love me?

 

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6 comments on “Elaine’s Makeup Table Speech

  1. Definitely, Jim. And remember, too, that this is the same episode that has the famous roundtable discussion by Jessica, Mary, Corinne and Eunice discussing sex while tearing into the cake Mary made for Chester, AND Burt explaining to Mary that he needs to work so hard because he doesn’t want to be like his poor father who never “made it.” Just an all around brilliant episode.

  2. Jeepers, I got goosebumps reading the dialogue! As has been said before, ‘Soap’ could get away with zaniness because the characters had so much heart. I wish Danny and Elaine could have continued far longer.

  3. This episode as a whole is one of my favorites because of the two scenes that you mentioned. As I recall, this was also the episode that included Jodie meeting Carol’s SOB father and Sally hilariously coming on to Burt.

    Susan Harris is such a brilliant writer. Reading the scene above also emphasizes how good the actors on this show were. In the hands of lesser performers, that scene could have been forgettable. Instead, it’s a scene that everybody remembers.

    For me, one of the best examples of the comedy/drama switch came a few episodes later when Elaine returned to Danny after being kidnapped. One minute you’re laughing at Chuck & Bob’s blindfold gag and the next, you’re crying as Elaine dies in Danny’s arms. The camera slowly pulls back and all we hear is an ambulance siren getting closer. On a sitcom? Wow.

    • Well said, Trevor. And though this may be a bit obscure, the end of that scene with Carol’s father — “Carol: Well daddy, if that’s the way you feel then why did you say the things you did?/ ‘Boomer’ David: Well a person has to be civil.” — always reminds me of Dave Berg’s “The Lighter Side of…” series in Mad magazine for some reason. I think episodes 2.6 and 2.7 may be the strongest of the series.

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