Trying to list soapdom's Best and Worst of 2011 was a task that we can only describe as impossible, possibly because we are still dejected over our stories being canceled. It sort of made reminiscing a challenge.
"Was there a Best Story this year?"
"NO, THIS WAS THE YEAR THAT ALL MY CHILDREN AND ONE LIFE TO LIVE WERE CANCELED!"
"What about Best--"
"What about Best Hair?"
But that's not fair, since we do want to highlight the best of soaps this year. Stop laughing, there totally were some! They were completely overshadowed by the year's many, indescribable lowlights, but they happened! So even though it took us a while and we constantly interrupted ourselves by tearing up, we did compile an official list. Because there is nothing in the world more therapeutic than writing a list.
Before we begin, we'd like to name some of the most notable Bests of the Year: Best Editor, of course, goes to the ever-fabulous Stephanie Sloane (now the editor-in-chief at Soap Opera Digest!) who has been nothing but supportive of our loquacious hypercriticism. And Best Audience? You! We thank you so much for reading, linking, commenting, emailing, Facebooking, commiserating and making us smile with your fantasticness. We hope you all have a 2012 that's nothing but wonderful (and that wish, of course, extends to the state of soaps as well. Please be wonderful, shows!)
And our usual disclaimer: the following picks are only our opinions and we are sure that many---possibly even most!--of you will disagree with everything we've listed here. Dispute away and nominate your own Bests and Worsts in the comment section! And with that, we list away.
The Year's Worst Everything: ABC's Cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live
Gutted. Heartbroken. Angry. For two lifelong soap fans, hearing that AMC and OLTL had been canceled was upsetting on all sorts of levels and...the worst. It was just the worst. Saying goodbye to two iconic shows? The worst. Not knowing what Erica Kane and Dorian Lord are up to? The worst. Hearing that the shows have been canceled following weeks of reassurance from ABC Daytime that they were safe? The worst. Learning that they would be replaced by two insipid hours of television called The Chew and The Revolution? The worst.
The Year's Second Worst Everything: Prospect Park is a No Go
Hey, remember how The Year's Worst Everything was the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live? And then how we got a reprieve because a company called Prospect Park "saved" the shows and started working toward developing both of them for an online network? And then both of our shows got canceled... again? The worst.
Daytime’s Greatest Treasure: Susan Lucci
Onscreen, Susan Lucci was so damn delightful that it was impossible not to enjoy every scene she was in, especially when she was hamming it up as Erica and Jane, who had surgery to copy Ms. Kane's face and engineered a kidnapping to steal her life. What started out as a legitimately chilling story turned...well, it turned ridiculous, but La Lucci was clearly having a ball with the dual roles that it was seriously impossible not to be giddy along with her. And offscreen, she publicly derided ABC's decision to cancel All My Children and had some unkind words for Brian Frons, whose reliably terrible and regrettably long tenure as the head of ABC Daytime oversaw the systematic destruction of the show. She said everything we've been thinking--namely, that ABC is foolish and shortsighted and that Charles Pratt should be legally barred from television writing, but she said it with the panache and sass that only a daytime legend can. We toss our hair over our shoulders in honor of you, Ms. Lucci!
Best Cameos: The Returns By AMC's Roster of Former Favorites
The brief visits from some of our favorite former residents of Pine Valley were bittersweet, but so fantastic. Eva LaRue stopped by and reminded us of the show's 90s epicness. Cady McClain brought Dixie back from the dead and reunited with Tad. Sarah Michelle Gellar made us howl with laughter as a psych patient who imagined that she had family ties with Erica Kane and was obsessed with vampires way before Twilight. We were even excited when Justin Bruening returned, and since when did anyone really care about Jamie? David Canary and Julia Barr came back to give Adam and Brooke a much-deserved happy ending, and Josh Duhamel made us swoon. It was so nice to see our old friends! If only they had returned under less depressing circumstances.
Best Return: Roger Howarth Returns As Todd Manning
They began with the unfortunately overused soap trope of bringing a beloved actor back by starting with months of the character lurking around town (though they smartly used Howarth's skill at working in scenes with little kids) to build anticipation for the big reveal, but what a reveal it was! His beloved daughter, his embittered son, both of his ex-wives, the man who handed him over to his captors all those years ago, and the man who’d been known as Todd Manning for the past eight years were all there. And with that “I dare you to forget me” kiss he planted on Blair, we got the year’s best kiss and an angsty, legendary supercouple was revived.
The scenes between Roger Howarth and Trevor St. John were soapy fire, and it’s only a shame that nobody seemed to see that The Two Todds was a goldmine of a scenario that could have yielded great drama (and comedy) until the very end.
Best Couple: Greenlee and Leo, All My Children
It seems like it's cheating (mainly because it is) to include a couple that was paired up only in Greenlee's (and our!) dreams, but we dare you to find a pair that exhibited the same chemistry, banter, and romance that Greenlee and Leo did in their August reunion and we dare you to find something more swoon-worthy than Leo's "Shh. I just want to look at you". Do you know how hard it was to type that line when our hands were flailing so?!
Josh Duhamel's return was handled by the AMC writers brilliantly--they didn't bring him back from the dead (more's the pity), but they did gift viewers with callbacks to Greenlee and Leo's love affair, from their wedding vows to their special place of Bhutan and, coupled with the still-sparkling chemistry between Duhamel and Rebecca Budig, that counts for a lot.