- April is heavily idealized, yet her parents treat her as The Un Favourite because Michael can't picture them actually treating one of their children well, thanks to his own shoddy childhood. The best he can come up with is having them ignore her.
- Similarly, he doesn't recognize that the way he treats his "ideal family" is less than ideal because that's what he grew up with. He's merely taking what he learned to its natural conclusion. Deanna doesn't protest because she's nothing more than a fantasy of the "perfect wife". The kids are bratty for the sake of being bratty because that's what Elly always claimed he and his sisters were.
- His own Purity Sueness is how he'd like his life to have gone; even the setbacks all "pay off" for him in the long run.
Fortunately for Therese, since Good People sit around and wait for opportunities to be handed to them on a silver platter, Anthony was still patiently waiting for a suitably hardened criminal to drop into his lap before making the arrangements. As a result, eviiiil Therese beat him to the punch by hitting him with divorce papers and taking off on her own, having the sheer nerve to stay alive instead of dying for her 'sins'. The cheek of that woman—!
- Reverse the gender roles, and this is the plot of Michael's book Stone Season: an abused wife sitting around until her husband is killed through no effort on her part.
Both of the Patterson parents have this problem, but it's far more prevalent in Elly than it is in John. Also, because the strip focuses on her, the audience is meant to feel sorry for her while deriding John for the same flaws. Elly is a poor, put-upon housewife because she doesn't understand John or the kids; John and the kids are horrible because they don't understand her. If we were meant to see Anthony as being similar to John, then he'd be unsympathetic. Since we're meant to praise him, the parallel with Elly is stronger.
Elly actually manages to pick up on this, making Anthony a rarity — a guy that she understands. That makes him perfect for her daughter, because she can actually comprehend somewhat why he acts the way he does. (This is also the cause of John's disturbing No Yay vibe with Anthony; of course they seem to connect — he's just like his wife! Only male and not a strange, strange female!)
- Consider also: in Real Life, Lynn was divorced and had a son when she met her second husband, who became the basis for John Patterson. She's also stated that the courtship of Liz and Anthony was based on their relationship... so Anthony could very well have become another stand-in for Lynn, just Gender Flipped! Anthony maps to Lynn, Therese becomes her demonized ex, Francoise is her young child, and Liz becomes her "ideal mate" — someone who (unlike her second ex-husband) is willing to give up everything in a heartbeat just for the privilege of being with 'her'.
And who's to blame for the accident? Certainly not herself — no, it must be that ungrateful, horrible brat April! She never forgave April for that horrible embarrassment, viewing her from that point on as the troublemaking little snot that damaged her reputation.
- April, for her part, picked up on this at an early age, though she didn't understand why her mom disliked her. She acted like a Deliberately Cute Child for years after she should have grown out of that stage out of a need to please her mother, thinking that she preferred cutesy childish antics to a kid's regular behavior. However, she eventually realized she could never please Elly decided to focus on doing what she liked instead, not trying to gain her mother's favor. Ironically, in making this realization, she managed to "out-mature" her older siblings, and ultimately escaped her parents' meddling influence.
- Meta version: April became The Un-Favourite in the strip due to someone calling out Lynn Johnston on this In Real Life. If I remember rightly, April's near-drowning happened back when Johnston was only getting snail mail, not email from her readers, so I don't know how the fans, or even a later exec at her publishing company, reacted to this. I do remember reading in the author's notes of the collection where this arc turns up: Johnston basically created it to give Farley a Heroic sendoff. A vet friend she consulted with told her that Farley's breed didn't often live beyond 12, so she had to kill him off because of the strip running in real time. Said friend told her that she'd better give Farley a hero's death, and specifically mentioned that creek running at the back of the property. Who knows how that friend reacted to being given 'the credit' for the arc?
The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue was delievered with a great deal of sarcasm on April's part, mocking how her family expected everything to be wrapped up neatly forever and ever after the wedding. While the events are true in Broad Strokes, the details aren't so pretty when she focuses on them in further therapy sessions; for instance, their parents starting on longer trips afterwards indicates their further abadonment of the family as things started going to hell behind the mask of marital bliss.
The new-runs come about from Elly entering therapy, as she begins recounting her past. Elly is an even worse Unreliable Narrator, as she keeps forgetting or mixing up details and insists that she was the most martyred and put-upon and unappreciated housewife EVER in the history of homemaking. The amount of bile directed towards John indicates that he may have something to do with her entering therapy in the first place; the pair may finally have divorced, or he simply bullied her into it, unable to put up with her passive-aggressive crap any longer. He may have even passed away; given how much Elly relied on his support, it makes sense that she'd lose it after he left and resent him for "abandoning her".
- Actually that scarily links up with Lynn herself. And that makes sense: Anthony probably broke up with Therese and wasn't as to blame and Michael would never put his family at risk to go after something he had a backup of, those were just April's hatred of them: Anthony was Elizabeth 'settling' and Michael was always the favorite.
Rather than face reality and make any effort to repair things or just make a decent life for herself, Elly became mired in self-pity and blaming everyone but herself for what happened. Over the years, she constructed an elaborate fantasy — one where she could continue to "suffer" through martyring herself raising a family and insulting her own appearance, while at the same time convincing herself that all the agony was worth it and she was the Best Mom Ever. A massive contradiction, to be certain, but this theory isn't based on the imagining of a woman in fine mental health.
Hence, we have Michael fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer, with a girl she very dimly remembers Michael maybe having his first crush on serving as his "ideal" wife. We have Anthony, the only man she felt that she really understood, raised up as Elizabeth's True Love. His marriage to Therese was Elly's way of dealing with John's "betrayal", while the chain of events leading to his finding his way back to Liz was cribbed from cheesy romantic novels and daytime soaps. April becomes The Un-Favourite and a whiny brat to assauge her guilt over losing her youngest child in such a horrible fashion.
The new-runs come from her entering therapy even as she sinks further into denial; she relates a very unreliable view of events, including projecting her own thoughts and bias into the thoughts of everyone in her elaborately constructed fantasy. On some subconscious level, she recognizes her failures, but can't bring herself to admit that she screwed up.Real Life. Thus, April was created as a bit of Wish Fulfillment... and perhaps to help convince her husband by showing him how cute another baby could be. But as the years went by and she still couldn't convince him, she instead began trying to convince herself that another kid would be more trouble than they were worth. She's trying to convince herself not to regret having that third child she wanted so much.
- Alternately, they used Jim's ailing health and the 'modification' to hide that it's a shotgun wedding. Liz got knocked up, and she was just beginning to show, hence the dress being changed. (Presumably, they assumed that Jim would not realize that it hadn't been nine months since the wedding when James Allen was born.)
The strip also established that he was having Elly read over his manuscript as he wrote it. While she enjoyed the torture his female lead went through, finding it "appropriate" since she views herself as a martyr, it eventually sunk in that Michael might be aiming for a Downer Ending that took her torment to a logical conclusion with her eventual demise or, worse, being stuck with her husband forever. Elly impressed upon him the need for the story to have a "happy ending", leading to the Deus ex Machina he eventually came up with.
- April broke the masquerade when her aunt slipped up as April worked on her farm. Or April stumbled across camera people. The reason Elizabeth didn't break the masquerade is because the people behind the show deliberately arranged for her to teach at a secluded spot that was like a mini-act, and then manipulated events so she'd go back home anyway.
- The new-runs are DVD extras.
- So the series' decline was due to Seasonal Rot? Anthony's status as Creator's Pet could also be explained by him knowing the writers; perhaps he actually fell for Elizabeth and pulled strings to get them together. Fan reaction to this led to a Broken Base and massive controversy; message boards lighting up with intense debates... this could even tie into April breaking the masquerade by finding out about it on the internet, and the show being canceled after the wedding.
- Could be. Or...well, on The Truman Show the director tried to manipulate events so Truman would fall in love with a woman the director chose, and when he fell in love with a different woman, that woman got fired. Could be something similar here, with Anthony being the person the directors arranged for Elizabeth to marry, and all the other men Elizabeth genuinely loved until the directors forced them into being scum so Elizabeth would marry Anthony. This would explain both his Big Damn Heroes moment (make Anthony look heroic so Elizabeth would fall in love with him) and all the shilling by everyone else. This might even explain his marriage to Therese; have him marry someone that makes Elizabeth look good so everyone's glad when he divorces her and marries Elizabeth. That, and they found ratings went down during Michael and Deanna's courtship since it was so boring. (Yes, they arranged Michael's marriage too.)
- Before anyone asks 'well, why didn't they save April when she nearly drowned, then?' One word: ratings. Whether April lived or died, the ratings would go through the roof. And they probably have a non-interference clause in place.
- The London, Ontario bit: They chose to be more open about the cameras, but told Michael it was for a documentary on Canadian education. Michael was never aware the focus was on him, nor that they continued to film him after he went home.
Since Elly is the one retelling what happened, she deliberately picks and chooses to try and paint everyone (especially John) as horribly as possible, in order to make herself into more of a martyr. In the process, she's basically telling Liz "Don't hold your breath: nobody's going to help or appreciate you, especially not Anthony." The reruns will stop/the strip will end when Elizabeth can't take it anymore and stops coming over to listen to her mother's horror stories.
When Elly learned she was pregnant with April, she immediately went into shock, declaring "But I Can't Be Pregnant!" This was because she actually wasn't certain who the baby's father was... but was secretly terrified that it wasn't John. She's never known for certain, because she doesn't have the guts to try and find out. This is why she openly despises and neglects April: she sees her as a constant reminder of her affair, and worries about the truth coming out.
This may even explain why she so criminally neglected April's safety to the point that she nearly drowned in the ravine. On some level, Elly actually wants April to die so that she won't have to deal with her anymore. She doesn't have the nerve to openly dispose of the evidence, so she sits back and hopes nature will take its course. (Plus, if April died, she could bask in the attention and sympathy she'd get for losing a child, which just sweetens the deal for her.)
Whether or not April actually is related to Elly's secret lover is irrelevant. Elly assumes she might be, and that's more than enough for her to justify hating the poor girl for being a reminder of her own mistake. (Even if it ever came out that April is, in fact, John's daughter by blood, Elly would likely twist it around and remain mad at her for "making her fret and fuss for nothing!" Anything would be better than admitting she was wrong.)
- If they even bother to go to her graduation.
- She ends up living in Calgary and becoming friends with the one person that can sympathise with her: April.
John was the one most willing to talk up Anthony to Elizabeth while Anthony was married. Why would someone who appeared happily married advocate an affair with a married man? Even if he thought the Anthony/Therese marriage was a bad idea, advocating an affair that would speed its demise is wrong! But if you're open to affairs, as Johnston's real-life ex-husband obviously was, then it might look acceptable.
It's understandable why such a thing would be difficult to face and admit - after a long marriage, even if it wasn't always happy, it can be difficult to face that one side was unfaithful. Johnston struggled to admit it for years; it came out through the strip.
Perhaps this is why she wanted another child and therefore created April. Babies Make Everything Better, anyone?Alternately, April started out like this, but soon turned into a child Lynn suspected Rod fathered out of wedlock, one that wasn't hers, hence April being treated like the red-headed stepchild.
During the lead-up to the fancy church wedding meant to placate her, Mira figured out that it was a smoke-screen to hide that Michael and Deanna had eloped behind her back. She didn't want to face that the daughter whom she thought she raised to do the right thing was behind it, and so she staged the most elaborate ceremony possible to force the cheapskate Pattersons who corrupted her youngest to confess if they didn't want to pick up the tab. After they did pick up the tav, Mira hit on the plan of using Lawrence's sexual orientation against the Pattersons out of desperation. She hoped that they would accidentally call Lawrence by the name of Mike's real best man Gordon while trying to stick up for their friendly neighborhood florist.
That would explain why it, in a sane person's opinion, isn't that good, but still has a lot of fans.
This is why he and Deanna live so cheaply even after his "incredible success".
But they failed to take Liz's personality into account. She was upset, yes, but stewed in passive-aggressive silence, unable to bring herself to interrupt. Thus, Anthony suddenly found himself in a marriage he didn't want. So he improvised, deliberately turning his own passive-aggressiveness up full throttle and irritating Therese. He knew how important her career was to her, and that she didn't feel ready to start a family yet — that was why he pressed and cajoled her into having Francoise and acted like he believed she should give it all up to be a stay-at-home mom. He was trying to provoke her into demanding a divorce so he could play the innocent victim.
Therese eventually caught wise to this and confronted him on it. However, he hadn't expected that she could also see why he was treating her this way — Liz may have been oblivious to his feelings for her, but Therese wasn't, accusing him of having an affair and taking him to task for how he'd acted.
The 'going-after' was not part of the plan — rather, it was an in-universe example of Real Life Writes the Plot. Anthony's infamous line about "Guess I never had anything to fight for before now" was his own honest shock at realizing he'd put himself in harm's way for Liz's sake. This also means that none of the rest was planned — he encouraged her not to report the fight and offered to 'drive her home' because he was flying by the seat of his pants, desperate to get her alone and blurt out his feelings.
- I love this theory! It makes a lot of sense and is now my personal canon.
This explains why Anthony was strangely miserable before even marrying Therese, when he first told Liz about her. He could have easily spared everyone the heartache by simply refusing to bow to his father's wishes, but instead chose to drag Therese into a marriage he didn't even want. This may overlap with the above WMG about the failed Operation: Jealousy, if he tried confiding in his father figure John and was encouraged to go along with it.
- This is semi-canon already. The text biography of Anthony that appeared on FBOFW.com around the time of Liz and Anthony's marriage portrays Anthony and Therese's marriage almost as though it were a business merger arranged by their respective fathers.
He and Howard struck up a deal, for him to scare Liz then to set up a situation where he could swoop in and rescue her. Whether Anthony arranged for it to be an attempted rape or not is up for debate. Either way, things went according to plan. Being there for Liz got the ball rolling for their eventual romance.
The reason Howard didn't bring this up at his trial is because he was scared of Anthony. Being roughed up hadn't been a part of their agreement, most likely. That and no one would likely buy the story, seeing as everyone seems to adore Anthony.
- It's been suggested elsewhere that Anthony is just too stupid and-or oblivious to pull something that sinister off. Elly, on the other hand...
Also, consider how much the Pattersons love gossiping and criticizing others — while being horrible about taking any hint of criticism themselves. Deanna's job allowed her to be privy to a part of peoples' lives they likely wouldn't want being spread around — would you be comfortable if you learned your pharmacist was blabbing about your prescriptions?
So Deanna was let go for her unprofessional behavior; rather than admit this, she pretended she quit to pursue her never-before-mentioned dream of opening a sewing school.
- Other things Elly might complain about:
- April and CB living SO FAR AWAY.
- Elly hating CB for any number of reasons, and trying to convince April he's bad and she should divorce him (and then promptly set her up with Gerald or something).
- Any combination of the above.
- The last one, that he's not white, is a favorite direction people take in Fix Fics and Fanon, to have April pair off with someone with a different ancestry or even someone non-Canadian.
- Option C is most likely.
- This was even suggested in the strip by Liz's friend Candace.
- Correction: that's what you know Lynn would make her do. And others would promptly Fix Fic it.