Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column
By Becca Thomas
Sometimes I issue little challenges to myself. Recent successful examples include: "Go a month without chocolate," "Repair shoes instead of throwing them out as an excuse to buy new ones," and "Try not to be completely negative about soaps." It was almost an across-the-board failure (on reflection the chocolate one, in particular, seems insane), but then DAYS OF OUR LIVES had the gall to get quite good, so I stumbled onto a one-for-three record. In hopes they can build on my modest success, I thought I would extend some challenges to my soaps.
DAYS is truly much improved of late. The pacing is much better than it was even just a few months ag, there are gorgeous men at every turn (why did nobody ever tell me PASSIONS had such a plethora of hotties?), returning favorites like Wally Kurth and Crystal Chappell make me smile even if I'm not sure how well they're ultimately going to be integrated into the canvas, and Victor and Stefano have rightly returned to their positions as chief villains.
But there are still improvements to be made in Salem. I challenge DAYS to make Nicole fun again. Understandably she had to become serious for the whole baby switch storyline, but for me, Nicole is really only entertaining when she's plotting something stupid and wearing lots of metallic clothing. We need more of that. On a somewhat related note, I challenge the show to do something unexpected with the EJ/Sami/Rafe triangle that I assume is coming now that EJ and Sami know that Sydney is theirs. There is the potential for months of soapiness in that if the writing team can restrain themselves from rushing it.
I also challenge DAYS to do something, anything, to make me care at all about the teen storylines. Because as of now? Nap time. Neither the plots nor the performances wow me, and more often than not they make my fast-forwarding finger twitch.
I could set GENERAL HOSPITAL up for failure by challenging it to do something crazy, like reorient main storylines around central families instead of the Mafia, attempt to give a female lead a plot centered around something other than her uterus or come up with a sweeps stunt that doesn't involve killing people. But I will be slightly more generous.
I challenge GH to go a month without any dialogue that refers to a woman as either a "bitch" or some variation on "prostitute." We would be in uncharted waters and it would require a diversity of vocabulary not heard since the 1990s, but I think it's possible! Sonny, in particular, likes to let loos with a string of misogynistic monikers whenever a woman does something he doesn't like. It's truly off-putting.
I further challenge GH to feature an actual slow-burn romance. It seems odd to have to challenge a soap opera to do that, but, seriously, I think it has actually been multiple years since they've done one. I think Dante/Lulu is currently the best contenter, but I would settle for virtually anything at this point.
My Take, Too
By Mallory Harlen
If Starbucks has seen a massive increase in profits lately, they have ALL MY CHILDREN to thank: The show has been so relentlessly bad that I've taken to bribing myself with a latte to make it through an entire episode. And I still wind up fast-forwarding through at least half of the show.
While it's true that AMC has been, let's say, entertainment challenged in recent years, there has been at least one story that had me looking forward to watching: Zach and Kendall's romance, Angie and Jesse's return, and Adam being Adam. But the current regime has managed to take everything likable about this show and ruin it.
In lieu of keeping Kendall and Zach together and happy, AMC has thrown a series of increasingly insane obstacles in heir path to, I guess, liven things up. I thought that we'd seen the worst of it with the Ryan and Liza relationships, but then the show went ahead and had Zach hire a Kendall look-alike who would go to prison in Kendall's place while the real Kendall was hidden in a secret room at the Slaters' house and I realized that the sound I had heard wasn't the barrel's bottom being scraped; I'm pretty sure it was Agnes Nixon weeping at what her show has become.
Angie and Jesse's reunion was my favorite soap moment last year and the show followed it up by refraining from giving them an actual story. "It's Angie and Jesse!" I complained to anyone who would listen. "They aren't made for the back burner!" And the show did listen to me by giving Jesse a huge part in the "Who Killed Stuart?" story. It's just too bad that they had to take away his smarts and integrity in order to do so: His lawbreaking and ethics violations to help out Randi and Kendall are a waste of a great character. Although he is better off than poor Angie, who is stuck providing all of the personality in the Frankie and Randi story.
And there there is Adam, who was oh-so-unsurprisingly revealed as Stuart's killer. How shocking and edgy, and not at all a ploy to make a major character responsible, but not really responsible since he was out of his mind on drugs supplied by David. (What are the odds that Hayward will be rightfully punished? I say slim to non and also laugh at myself for even suggesting that someone in Pine Valley will face consequences for a crime they actually committed. The highlight of this story has, of course, been David Canary (Adam), who has been jaw-droppingly good, even more so than usual. I wish he was capable of giving a poor performance because I don't feel right complimenting any part of this story.
*Mallory would once again like to thank the fabulous folks at zachandkendall.net for the flowers they sent her in response to this column.