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« The Llanview Lladies are Bringin' the Heat | Main | Ode to Joy and Natalie Banks »

December 31, 2011

Serial Drama's Best and Worst of 2011

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--"
"NO!"
"What about Best Hair?"
"CANCELED!"

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. 

Divider

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

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

Adam

Smg

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.

Toddmanningreturns

Twotodds


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?!

Greenleo
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.

 

Worst Couple: Ford and Jess/Tess, One Life to Live

While OLTL did offer up a lot of great heat this year, none was found between Ford and Jess/Tess, the year’s Worst Couple. It appears to be an ill-advised attempt to repeat the love story of Jess and Nash, but they missed a few key points. Nash fell in love with Tess without knowing she was an alter. Ford fell in love with Tess, who he’d met before because the sex he was having with Teen Jess was so traumatic that she had to summon an alter to finish the deed (how romantic!). Somehow Jessica doesn’t seem bothered that Ford slept with the teen version of her and with her most spiteful alter and kept her from getting psychological help, forcing her to miss out on the first few months of her son’s life, and is now falling for him. As is usually the case with soaps, white hot chemistry might make this disturbing and tasteless history a little easier to overlook, but it’s just not there. Not even when Ford's in his hot dog suit. Really not even then.


Most Tasteless (And Yet...Hilarious) Story: Boinkberry, The Bold & The Beautiful

The year’s Most Tasteless and Somehow Hilarious Storyline was what affectionately became known as the “boinkberry” debacle on B&B, in which Brooke and her stepson Thomas were stranded on a desert island and could only survive by eating hallucinogenic berries (which Taylor later ate and had horrific delusions of Ridge walking slowly toward her in Speedos).

Ridgespeedo
Run, Taylor, run!

Stephanie convinced her grandson to tell everyone he and his stepmother Brooke had gotten it on while tripping on the berries and she’d just forgotten about it, thus ending Ridge and Brooke’s marriage and culminating in a pretty fabulous reveal at Ridge and Taylor’s quickie wedding. Sure, the ick factor was high, but those endless flashbacks to the island hallucinations made the hilarity factor even higher.

Most Heartbreaking (Temporarily) Storyline: Jake's Death, General Hospital

Bherbst

What is more horrifying than the death of a small child in a senseless accident? When General Hospital decided to kill off Jake, it was truly heartwrenching watching his mother, his adoptive father and his biological father grapple with his death, and Rebecca Herbst, Jonathan Jackson and Steve Burton delivered truly phenomenal performances in the aftermath. And then it all went to hell, because the show decided that such a powerful story shouldn't stand alone. No, it should be filled with gimmicks and plot twists. In an effort to replicate the story of BJ's death without any sort of planning or writing talent, the show dreamed up an insta-illness for Josslyn, who went from run-of-the-mill sick to organ failure in about twelve minutes. Then they decided to muddy the story up further by crafting a distressing whodunit regarding the hit-and-run driver, which ultimately led to the complete decimation of the show's most famous character, who we can barely stand to look at even more (and who, it has to be said, faced absolutely zero repercussions for his part in this tragedy). And then, because the story hadn't gone off the rails quite enough, the show told us that the moral of this story was that the mob lifestyle isn't dangerous for children at all. You know what IS dangerous? Doors! Doors are dangerous; guns are not.

The "Be Careful What You Wish For" Award: The Firing of Bob Guza

The year’s most cautionary tale? The "Be Careful What You Wish For" Award: the firing of GH headwriter Bob Guza. We realize it’s in poor form to celebrate someone losing his job in the pages of a national publication, but we have to admit that we were thrilled at the prospect of a new headwriter making some sweeping changes in Port Charles. But in the following months, there was a strange and depressing sense of deja vu, as Port Charles was still filled with violence, relentless grimness and the systematic destruction of once-loved characters. So this time, we'll make our wish for 2012 very specific: PLEASE, Ron Carlivati! We want good writing and intentional entertainment in the new year. We're begging you!

 Most Inappropriate Familial Interest in the Sex Lives of Youngsters: The Bold and the Beautiful

We all sat there for what must have been two months listening to all the adults in Hope and Liam's lives talk about Hope's virginity and when the two of them may or may not get around to doing the deed. In graphic detail. Graphic. Stop. It.

 Best Exit: Dorian, One Life to Live

Of course we'd prefer that Dorian not leave at all, but her departure story emphasized and celebrated two key ingredients of her character: her love for the Cramer girls and her complicated history with Viki. Plus, there was a cake with her face! Face cake!

 Worst Exit: Marty, OLTL

It's not that Susan Haskell didn't make a delicious meal out of Marty's breakdown; she did. She entertained the crap out of us as she quickly lost her grip on reality.

Crazymarty

It's just that it was so depressing. And while it's true that the obsession with John McBain was a symptom rather than the cause of her madness, it was still just embarrassing to watch her run around town clutching a paternity test and hissing at anyone who breathed near the brooding detective. This was the departure story for the only actress not named Slezak who has won this show an acting Emmy this century? This seemed a fair send-off to a character who was at the center of one of OLTL's most iconic storylines? Hardly.

 Worst Return: Still Brenda! General Hospital

As tone deaf as the former General Hospital show-runners typically were ("What do you MEAN, people don't like the mob? No one is saying that. Actually, they LOVE it!"), we thought that the universal disdain for Brenda's return to Port Charles would have given even them some serious pause. But their vision for one of GH's most popular character was as random and uninteresting in 2011 as it had been in 2010. And, technically, we shouldn't even call it a "vision", since that implies that there was some prior planning going on; in reality it was more like, "Sonny and Brenda will get married and then she'll be kidnapped and then BALKAN and why is Adrienne Barbeau hanging around the set so often? Oh, right, she's on the show. Um...secret child is alive! And then she will leave town, forever." It was all random plot twists and a glacial pace and such a huge waste of Vanessa Marcil-Giovinazzo's talent that we were hardly sad when she decided to leave the show.

Worst Rewrite of History: It's unanimous in Port Charles! Luke and Laura were toxic and horrible and she ruined his life and true love is just the worst, General Hospital

Perhaps forgetting that many of us watched Luke and Laura's epic relationship unfold, either as it happened or thanks to the archivists on YouTube, GH has decided that it was destructive and toxic and destroyed poor Luke's life. It's not that they didn't love each other, it's that love is usually bad. At first it seemed like this might just be the revisionist history that one or two characters came up for self-serving purposes, but by now it's been echoed by almost the entire canvas (including a few choice people who have no freaking clue what they're talking about) and GH has somehow tried to distinguish itself as the daytime soap opera in which true love never works and always sucks. A soap that's super-cynical about love? Sounds like a good time, where can we sign up new viewers?

Worst Lightning-Fast Breakups and Unions: The Bold & the Beautiful

A lot of the blink-and-you-missed it unions and breakups that happened on B&B this year were not exactly front-burner material, but perhaps they should have been. Characters would literally show up out of nowhere just break up or get together. Stephen and Pam didn't even end their engagement onscreen, it just happened. Whip and Taylor went kaput with no fanfare, Justin and Donna announced a divorce out of nowhere, Jackie magnanimously "released" Owen over the course of two episodes even though we'd never seen any indication that he wanted or needed to be released. Donna and Nick magically started dating, Dayzee and Marcus got together five seconds after she kicked Thomas to the curb, and this is all just for starters. The story that we spend most of the year subjected to gave us an ended engagement and a new proposal all in the course of a half hour.

 Worst New Robot: Dolores, General Hospital

Police officers in Port Charles tend to either be so obsessed with Sonny and Jason that their blind hatred prevents them from doing their job or utterly inept and incapable of solving crimes. So we're all for seeing a smart, no-nonsense police officer come to town! It's just that GH opted to cast a lifelike piece of machinery programmed to say things like "Let's go down to the station". It's hard to watch her be a professional and actually try to solve crimes when we're nervous that someone will spill coffee around her and cause her to short circuit.

Most Pointless Whodunit (because there's no way in hell it wasn't self-defense or justifiable homicide): Who Is Lisa's Killer, General Hospital

Siobhan just got murdered in her hospital bed with a pillow, but the PCPD has decided not to investigate but instead to self-righteously accuse everyone they see of having murdered Lisa in cold blood. Lisa, who had already killed people moments before and was chasing after others with a syringe on a boat. On a boat! We're so sure it was pre-meditated murder. No mitigating circumstances possible. Great murder mystery, GH! 

Best Wedding: Tina and Cord, One Life to Live

Y'all! Cord and Tina came back and got married!

Tinacordwedding

It was as if the folks over at OLTL finally realized how badly they botched Tina's last return and decided to make up for it with the greatest visit ever! She mended fences with her sister Viki, her brother Todd, and even her niece Natalie. Her dog Princess David Vickers ran around town saving lives and chatting up babies, and Cord finally remembered the side of her he did love and respect. They got married in an impromptu ceremony (the validity of it brokered by Dorian, of all people!) and everyone was just beaming. We don't know what was in the water over there that made the writers think soap viewers actually enjoy happy weddings, but whatever it was, we should probably pump that into the water supply of a few other daytime writers' rooms.

  
Most Disturbing Recurring Plot: Possible rapes, General Hospital

We use this word a lot and it's probably lost a lot of its meaning because of that, especially since one of us is incapable of saying it out loud without stretching it to at least two syllables, but: GROSS. What on earth is this show's new fixation on ambiguous sexual assaults? Much like Michael's prison last year turned into a "Was he or wasn't he?" mystery, Sam's honeymoon came a nightmarish end when she was drugged and violated; now viewers are left to wonder if she was raped by the show's Oscar-nominated guest star. Actually, viewers are left to wonder why on earth a group of writers is so enamored of this concept that they feel the need to go back to this upsetting, exploitative well so often.

 Best Montages: All My Children

Beautifully weaving flashbacks with present day closure for much-loved characters, All My Children's finale episodes gave us montage done right. We'd say more, but we have something in our eyes*.


*TEARS. And LOTS OF THEM. In case we were being too subtle.

Most Tearjerking Scene of the Year: The Cold Open of the All My Children finale

Angie: One day, our family and friends will die and they won't be back. One day, they'll be gone for good. What if that day were today?

If that day were September 23, Angie...everyone would weep.

That cold open was four minutes of pure soap beauty, as the show took its title literally and showed us several generations of Pine Valley residents who had entertained us so over the years. The Kane women and their broods, Jake and Amanda with adorable baby Trevor, all intercut with flashbacks to the births of these very characters? Goosebumps! And such a heartbreaking reminder of how long All My Children aired for and how many hours of pure entertainment it provided. From the second Erica Kane was born, we were teary and we just about melted when Marian and Stuart were reunited. Just typing this has made us teary-eyed again (and, of course, sent us down the YouTube wormhole in search of classic clips). Such a beautiful start to a devastating episode.

 Best Use of Adorable Children and Pets: One Life to Live 

Liam! Sam! Ryder! Hope! Princess David Vickers! This was the Year of Cute over at OLTL. It really was an embarrassment of riches, and fortunately gave us something to fixate on when storylines were dragging.

Sam

Liamseal

Pdv

It just never gets old.

 

 Most Hilarious Meme: TERROR IN A GONDOLA!, Bold and the Beautiful

The event itself was hysterical enough: Steffy made sure Hope was trapped in a hanging gondola on her way up a mountain is Aspen so that Steffy could get to Liam first... and marry him. This led to weeks upon weeks of characters talking about the abject trauma of poor Hope being trapped in a gondola and being forced to watch her beloved marry her former stepsister. She's scared of elevators now, you guys!

Gondola

As Steffy finally put it the other day, "Oh gondola schmondola."

 Best Smackdown: Natalie/Brody/Jess after Jess was integrated, One Life to Live

One of the things that was so infuriating about this year's Adventures with D.I.D. storyline was that Jessica re-emerged and was on a warpath. They've always been a little fuzzy about how much control she has over the alters -- we know she can't control what they actually do, but she's said on more than one occasion that she doesn't bother to fight their emergence sometimes because she's too upset or hurt. (When you know that one of your alters gets a little murder-y sometimes, you should probably keep a lid on her.) Normally she comes back and is absolutely mortified to learn what "she's" been up to. This time? Not even a little bit.  So while, sure, Natalie and Brody did give her some fuel for her fire, it was a real treat when they opted not to treat her like Princess Jessica and instead delivered some satisfying truths.


 Worst Exodus: General Hospital

We'll give General Hospital some credit--the minimal amount, to be specific: retracting Rebecca Herbst's firing was a wise decision. The woman is connected to everyone in Port Charles and has decades worth of storyline potential. It bewilders us that they seriously considered cutting her loose.

But we have to take away that credit, and then some, for some of their other casting moves. The show got rid of Ingo Rademacher and Tyler Christopher. In the minds of the General Hospital powers-that-be, Jasper Jacks and Nikolas Cassadine are less essential in Port Charles than freaking Spinelli. Newsflash, Walter Cronkite: they're not. Especially since the show continued to tell stories that should, by all rights, feature them prominently; wouldn't it be more compelling to watch Carly and Shawn heat up if it were a triangle with Jax? And how the hell can you tell a story about Wyndemere and Cassadine mythology without Nikolas, the Cassadine prince? It is mind boggling.

Then there were the exits that, while voluntary, hurt just as badly. In 2011, Jonathan Jackson and Kimberly McCullough both chose to leave the show and the powers-that-be didn't move Heaven and Earth to get them to change their minds. It feels like we only just got Jonathan Jackson back, only for him to leave again after being saddled with all sorts of depressing storylines. And we'd only just recovered from that news when McCullough announced that she, too, would be leaving the show in early 2012, taking her iconic character with her. In just a few weeks, we'll be watching a GH with no Lucky Spencer and no Robin Scorpio, and that hurts us.


Best Scene from a Rivalry: One Life to Live, Natalie abducts Marty with a shotgun in her wedding dress and boots

Natalie and Marty's rivalry wore a little thin because so much of it was about John, which seemed silly because John pretty much just goes along with whichever woman seems like the best idea at the time (usually the one in the most peril), but Melissa Archer and Susan Haskell brought the heated hate and made their battles a blast to watch. Especially when Marty tried to intercept Natalie's wedding. It didn't end well for Marty. Don't mess with a Buchanan bitch, she'll get you in her boots with a shotgun, preggers in a wedding dress or not.

Natalieshotgun

Then again, it didn't end so well for Natalie either. Having to have your child delivered prematurely by your worst rival is no picnic, as all of us certainly know. (This happens to everyone, right?)

 Most Torturous Not-Really-A-Reunion-But-Almost: Todd and Blair, One Life to Live

It's wonderful to see them sharing a screen again, but how many almost-kisses can two people have? And then just when it finally looks like Todd and Blair might be finding their way back to each other, Tomas happens. Love triangles were not OLTL's strong suit this year, as they seemed to really work overtime to make sure there was never any real competition (case in point: did anyone really think Brody and Natalie would end up together?). They did a nice job with the slow burn toward Tomas and Blair earlier in the year, but that was totally jettisoned once Todd returned... so naturally they had to exploit that drastically-reduced chemistry and have Blair finally consummate her relationship with Tomas, leading Todd to (in his very Todd-ian way) commit a series of dastardly deeds against Tomas that makes any potential of a Todd and Blair reunion seem probable to blow sky-high in a millisecond. So why must they shove all that chemistry in our faces?

Tnb

Cruelty, that's why!

 Least Interesting Story Revisit: Sonny and Kate deal with his childhood, General Hospital

You may not have heard, but Sonny had an abusive stepfather. He was a cop. His name was Deke. Only Kate can understand why Sonny is an abusive, murderous, thuggish, mumbling adult because she can see that injured little boy. And if we re-cast Kate with a different actress, we can totally re-tread that entire story again and no one will notice, right?

 Worst "New" Character: Spinelli morphs into Jackal PI, General Hospital

Someone thought to himself, "Spinelli's awesome, but you know what would be even more awesome? Reckless, noir-talking Spinelli. Yeah, that's the ticket. Emmy, here I come!". That someone then collected a paycheck for that patently horrible idea. Our ears are still bleeding.

Worst Villain: Ricky, All My Children

Rickyevil

In the blink of an eye, Ricky Torres went from the supportive minister who was a shoulder for Kendall to cry on following Zach's death to a criminal mastermind responsible for Zach's death and other nefarious dealings including more murders, kidnappings, and a near-rape of Kendall, who he became so pathologically obsessed with that it was never really clear if he loved her or wanted to skin her and walk around Pine Valley in a Kendall costume. It was the worst kind of storyline whiplash, especially since incarnation as the living evil was so half-assed by the writers ("Who killed Zach? And let's make sure the reveal as painful for Kendall as possible?" "How about the guy with the collar?" "SOLD!") and his bad side came out in the most stereotypical way. For a man with a lengthy rap sheet under his belt, he was pretty terrible at hiding his true intentions. He was all evil grins and dramatic public monologues where he detailed his evil plans like a Bond villain with terrible hair. 

 Saddest Soap Trend: Dead babies in Pine Valley

There is little in the world more legitimately upsetting than the death of an infant, and All My Children piled on the tragedy this year with the deaths of little Ellie Hubbard and Sarah Lavery. AMC was always quick to put all its children in horrendous life-or-death situations, but it seemed needlessly cruel to return to this story so many times in its final months. Yes, it gave Darnell Williams, Stephanie Gatschet and Cameron Mathison (yes! Even him!) an opportunity to blow us away with their portrayals of grief, but it reeked of sensationalism and a way for the writers to get a reaction from the audience with a minimal amount of effort.

Best Show: One Life to Live 

It sometimes doesn't seem fair to have a "Best Show" category because we usually mean "the one that was the least infuriating" or, to be cute, "the one we don't watch." But at the risk of damning with faint praise, OLTL really was not that bad this year. And at times? It was downright great. Here's a trick: review the year quickly in your mind, and hypnotize yourself into forgetting the Ford Family Invasion. Now trick yourself into forgetting Jessica's multiple personalities. See? A lot of not-that-bad, a lot of good, and even some great. There's no pretending the year started well (remember the ubiquity of Inez? Wait! We forgot the Fords, they never happened!), and maybe it's just sentiment over the impending loss of the show, or gratitude over that fabulous satire-of-a-soap-within-a-dream-within-a-soap they just gave us, but while OLTL had its fair share of low lows this year, they also handed out a good number of highs. Major cliffhangers on days not named Friday, legitimate soapy surprises (for those of us who steered clear of spoilers), some major storylines that centered around the show's wonderful vets, and heck of a lot of gooey, fun trips down memory lane. A lot of folks came back to the show this year and were pleasantly surprised by what they found and, let's face it, that hasn't happened in a while. There's about to be a big One Life to Live-sized hole in our hearts, but we're grateful our hearts are full for now!

Most Disappointing Show: General Hospital

This effing show. When it's not boring us to tears, it's doing things like decimating daytime icons or killing off legacy characters or continuing to have the world's most warped sense of morality. "Disappointing" is an understatement; possibly the world's biggest understatement! We sound like broken records because we ARE broken records and we ARE broken records, because this show is a broken record. General Hospital is the place where creativity (and continuity) (and respect for the soap genre) (and good writing) (and happiness) goes to die. It's a MESS and it needn't be: this show has no right to be as depressing and terrible as it is, with the stellar cast, outstanding characters and rich history it has at its fingertips. We're hoping against hope that the new powers-that-be remember that the aim of television is to entertain and attempt to fix the mistakes made by the previous negligent, terrible regime. The eighteen or so remaining viewers deserve at least that!

Best Actress: Erika Slezak, One Life to Live

Slezak

It's pretty simple. Queen Victoria still reigns supreme. And it wasn't just the flashy stuff like her 40th Anniversary episode (though that was great fun). Erika Slezak really lifts up everyone around her; while OLTL has a lot of talent on their roster, none of the actors are as good as they are when they share a screen with her. She just engages them all in a way no other can. And 2011 really gave Viki her own stories again -- instead of just serving as support for her family, she got her own drama. Our hearts broke with hers when she caught Charlie cheating, we cheered her on when she finally had it out with Echo, and we geeked out when Viki and Dorian joined forces. Soap Mom rules!

Best Actor: Darnell Williams, All My Children


There was a distressingly long stretch of time when the only thing Jesse Hubbard did was comically overact to David Hayward's shenanigans, and it was SUCH a waste of Darnell Williams's talents, because when the writing is good, the man is a revelation. Throughout 2011, he was able to remind audiences of just how freaking stellar he is, as he lost his daughter and participated in a baby switch that terrified is in concept, but floored us in execution. He gave us heartbreak, devastation, desperation, terror, and love and every single beat was so perfect that just thinking about it gives us goosebumps.

Best Soap Tribute: Oprah's Tribute to Soap Stars 

When you want something done right, have Oprah do it. Her February episode featuring some of daytime's best loved stars (and an intimate tour of Susan Lucci's estate!) was a hit from start to finish. She reunited Erica Kane's husbands and got Genie Francis to dish about the, let's say...problematic writing Laura has received over the past few years on General Hospital, and was all sorts of enthusiastic, genuinely interested, and downright charming. Who knew that there were powerful people in the world who actually love soap operas?! 

 Worst Soap Tribute: The Daytime Emmys

The Daytime Emmys were, and we think you'll agree that this is, if anything, an understatement, the worst awards show to ever be televised. There were Elvis impersonators, a Celine Dion tribute to Oprah with mandatory audience participation, and more plugs for the little-known rustic getaway of Las Vegas than we can even count. Soaps weren't even an afterthought--they were basically shunned, cast aside like they're offensive. Which sometimes they ARE, but what's more daytime: soaps or Elvis impersonators dancing on all fours?

Worst Soap Luck: Daniel Cosgrove

Daniel Cosgrove is ADORABLE. The man radiates charm and has been consistently entertaining for over a decade, whether in Pine Valley, Springfield and Oakdale, New York City or Beverly Hills (okay, even we'll admit that he wasn't entertaining during his time on 90210, but was anyone in those later years? We think not). So it seems especially unfair that he keeps landing jobs on soaps that get the axe: Guiding Light, As The World Turns, All My Children...it's sort of tragic! He deserves a steady paycheck and we deserve the pleasure of watching him be charismatic for more than a few months at a time.


Best Soap Child: Emma, All My Children

Emma

In a shocking upset, little Emma Lavery steals the title from the assorted moppets in Port Charles! A nod in the Serial Drama Best & Worsts of the year is the least of what this child deserves on the heels of a dramatic 2011 that saw her temporarily but passionately denounce the reviled Ryan and Greenlee relationship at every opportunity. Let's relive her hatred!


Emma: I don't believe you, Daddy. I hate you. I HATE YOU.

Emma: My mommy told me not to trust you because you do a lot of bad things. You lie all the time. Daddy should've never married you.

Greenlee: Listen. I would never, ever try to come between you and your mommy. You love her, and she loves you.
Emma: I hope Daddy finds out what a horrible person you are and leaves you forever.

Emma: I don't want you here.

Like a warm blanket and a gingerbread latte on a cold day, this youthful display of truth warmed our hearts and made us cheer. Ryan hatred will never not be amazing.

Best Hair: Kendall Hart, All My Children

L

Glossy, shiny, perfect curls? It's just not fair!

 

Best Wardrobe: Kristina Corinthos Davis, General Hospital

Krissycardi

CATV8_20110502_14417-vi

SO MANY CARDIGANS!

Worst Wardrobe: Steffy Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful

In fairness, you'd expect a lot of frightening hair and outfits from a show that deals mostly with people who work in the fashion industry. High fashion is not really about nice outfits, it's about bold designs and things we haven't seen before, and the risks don't always work. It's not about what we'd wear to a nice Friday dinner. But considering the "high fashions" we see on B&B mostly consist of what would be a lovely dress to wear to a Bat Mitzvah, it's hard to be forgiving with Steffy's endless experiments in hair and fashion. And we will never, ever forgive that wedding ensemble.

Steffydress

Ever.

Boldest Fashion Choice: Zach Slater's Snuggie, All My Children

Zach

This was, frankly, one of 2011's most amazing moments. You don't even need the slightest bit of context to fully appreciate this epic fashion statement.

Duh Face of the Year: Ryan Lavery, All My Children

Ryan

Another shocking upset! For the first time in Serial Drama history, Sonny Corinthos is no longer the reigning king of DUH. That honor goes to the late, unlamented Ryan Lavery, who is pictured here in a great moment of confusion, where you can actually see his brain cells fleeing through his eyeballs. 

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 And with that, we move on to 2012! Happy New Year, all!

Comments

What a perfect way to enter into the new year! Thank you for this fitting recap of the year, and much appreciation for compiling the screencaps and letting us relive the highs (and lows) of the year. Thank you for taking the time to write for the soap fans. Best wishes in the New Year!

Thank you for that. It was perfectly said, all of it. I of course watched the videos and sobbed all over again.

Loved TK in the snuggie. You are also right about Lish's hair. Ryan with his blank stare has always been an amazing thing to see. Many great snappies of that blank frankenstare.

I only watch two soaps which are B&B and GH so I can only refer to these two soaps with this list. Can we have a nomination for Best Storyline That Never Really Came To Be and I would like to nominate B&B Thorne's takeover of Forrester Creations. It had a great concept of Thorne being tired of Ridge's superiority, would Eric side with Thorne because Ridge's interference with Jackie, would Taylor finally get tired of playing second choice and actually turn against Ridge, would Steffy and Thomas go against Ridge because they were tired of him siding with Brooke and Hope. All that build up for nothing.

For me my worst couple, boring couple, or couple that a show is desperate to sale because this couple fits all these monikers. It has to go with Jason and Sam on GH. My reasons are these: They go months having the same conversations about the same topic. We have had to endure months of listening to the will they or won't they have a baby convos, we had to go through months of do they or do they not want to get married convos. Jake was killed because really it was no other reason for this child to be killed in order for it to make it alright for them to have a baby when they so choose. Four couples on this show this year alone got married (Brenda/Sonny, Lulu/Dante, Lucky/Siobhan, and Jason/Sam) and out of these four couples only Jason and Sam got almost a two month long boring honeymoon that audience had to endure with Wii game, surfing, and dominos. Four couples on this show got married this year but media blitz of countless televisions interviews (16 to be exact because Steve Burton tweeted it), weeks of promo, magazine article after magazine article was put to one couple which was Jason and Sam. Not saying that there wasn't articles about the other couples weddings but I don't remember them getting big as of a media blitz as they gave the Jason and Sam wedding.

Best Wardrobe for me when they get her out of the scrubs has to go to Elizabeth Webber on GH. I love almost all the tops they put her in.

Worst Wardrobe for me has to go to Kate Howard on GH. I don't know if the wardrobe people are also upset with the recasting but they dress and style Kelly Sullivan's Kate way worse then they ever dressed and styled Megan Ward's Kate.

And I must disgree about Worst Villain. I'm not quite sure if Ricky from All My Children is worse then this person but I really can't picture any villain being worse than him. And my worst villain is Franco because...just why. It's so confusing. The first appearance he studied all about the Alkazar murder trial Jason was in and not once did it ever cross his mind that Jake could be Jason's son which if a person studied that trial that should come to their mind simply because Jason jumped bail to rescue a kid that wasn't his and as we all know by the time Franco arrived Jake was starting to look a lot like Jason. The second time around, he put a woman named Jane Morgan to work at the hospital. Why? We don't know. He took Aiden, Elizabeth's child, not because Jason and Elizabeth have had a friendship/relationship for over a decade but because a number on a door just to give to his mother in which he made it easy to find his mother and you're left with what? Also him being in Brenda's room in Europe. Why? We don't know. Now we're with round three of his return and we're going to end up with a why? and what? when he departs this time around because we are already why? and what? now.

And I might be of a minority because I never wanted Guza gone before Frons left because I never thought it was so much Guza being the problem as it was Frons and I like that MVJ is tweeting about how Guza fought for storylines but he eventually just got tired of fighting for what he wanted to write. I like that they are showing 2006 now moving over into 2007 eppys of GH on Soapnet late at night because I think he gets a bum wrap about just being about mob considering those eppys show Lulu trying to figure out who killed Rick Webber, Monica trying to stop her from finding out, Patrick dealing with possibly getting HIV while trying to set up an apartment with Robin, Ric trying to get custody of Molly from Alexis who is battling cancer because he has delusions of him and Elizabeth getting back together, Elizabeth dealing with telling Jason he's the father, Nikolas and Emily trying to find crazy nanny that kidnapped Spencer, and Sonny shooting Alcazar in self defense. All different stories. Not all of them at all about mob. But after writer's strike, that's when we stopped having the many, many different storylines. And now Guza is gone, the show has gotten worse becaues Frons was still there.

Happy New Year!

I can see Guza fighting for his stories, but Frons obviously new better which is why GH is in such bad shape.

OLTL was the bomb in 2011! The Ford stuff made me want to stab him in the eye with a rusty fork. Blech.

Here's hoping that RC/FV are able to fix GH, because otherwise I will not have any soaps to watch in 2012! B&B is too incestuous for my taste any more, I rarely watch Y&R, and I have never really cared for DOOL.

Lord knows there was a lot of suckage, but I've got to ask: not a peep about anything from The Young and the Restless? I'd have thought at least one of Victor Newman or Phyllis Summers' miscellaneous misdeeds would have rated a mention/wince/frowny-face...

This was a great recap of the 2011 soaps. I enjoyed reading it.

++++For the first time in Serial Drama history, Sonny Corinthos is no longer the reigning king of DUH. That honor goes to the late, unlamented Ryan Lavery, who is pictured here in a great moment of confusion, where you can actually see his brain cells fleeing through his eyeballs.++++

Ain't it the truth?? Ryass Lavery ruined more storylines on AMC than anything else. Frons fav = show disaster.

hilarious list! I definitely think that best wedding goes to Jason and Sam. I know a lot of people who come to this site dislike them, but I love them! & I think that even if you hate them, you can see that their wedding was uniquely them. Their vows were beautiful and the use of the Quatermaines rings added a touch of history that the show has been missing for a long time! Happy New Year1

Meh. The Jason Morgan that I watched from his car accident until winter of 2008, wouldn't marry Sam if his butt was on fire. Kudo's to Brian Frons for gutting Jason Morgan to death in order to make his need to see Sam paired with the man who threatened to kill her and the woman that terrorized a three month old baby twice so kind of a hero. Blech. There is a reason GH is in the toilet and it has to do with Brian Frons destroying GH.

I just discovered serial drama two months ago and read the postings avidly. This best and worst list is so on point, especially about GH but I follow all the soaps. The only one missing, though, is Days of our lives? Is that never covered? But GH, hands down the worst soap. I am so glad to see that there is a community calling for change. And OLTL, I will miss it so much.

Thanks for this - it was a fun read and all too true. I only wish you would watch "Days of Our Lives" because I think you would have a few more options for the "Best" category. Except for specific points in time, I pretty much stayed away from "Days" because it was the cartoon soap - way over the top, flashy, no depth. Only, some where along the way, it actually became a quality show that features multi-generational families, has a great mix of old and new characters, and actually seems to respect the history of the show (they even talk about about characters who aren't on the show, but - as any family would - would naturally be talked about during the holidays and family emergencies).

And really, GH - that show couldn't get any worse if they hired random strangers off the street to write the thing.

The past couple of years have been totally insane on my end and I just could not watch and write about four shows, so Y&R and Days got put on my backburner. But now with the cancellation of AMC, I've been getting back into them more and coverage for Days, especially, will appear on Serial Drama soon!

I'm sorry but Jason and Sam's wedding was not uniquely them. Outside a gun range. Maybe. Everyone wearing black t-shirt and blue jeans to the wedding. Maybe. But getting married in a chinese restaurant uniquely them. Um no. They eat chinese food. That's it. That's all. Their relationship is not built on anything in the chinese culture at all. So how was a chinese wedding complete with the phoenix/dragon, yin/yang uniquely them simply because it's based on them eating chinese food which by the way Robin and Patrick also eat chinese food. And no the Quartermaine rings given to Jason and Sam did not add a touch of history to it considering Lila never really knew Sam or the kind of person she was and Jason barely tolerated Alan until after the man died and that's when he had some regrets.

Kristina for best wardrobe? Hell no! That girl was supposed to be 19 but borrowed her 12 yr old sister's clothes all the time. Definitely not what the teens in hs school or the freshmen in college are wearing. I saw better wardrobe on Y&R this yr and even AMC.

I'm guessing you guys don't watch Y&R or DAYS?

Great write-up!

Louise, are you still gonna do a 2011 best and worst for OLTL itself?

I enjoyed reading the list, but I thought best hair should have been Kelly Monaco (Sam, GH) and best soap child should have been Jake or Cam from GH. My favorite soap wedding was Sonny and Brenda on GH and the Best couple should have been Billy and Victoria from Y&R.

The outrage for Jason and Sam is actually quite funny. Clearly sour grapes are what this is all about. Clearly the fact that Jason and Sam have stuck it out all these years together and are by far a very popular couple in daytime TV..doesn't sit well. Wonder why? Well..we know why! So sad. Too bad. They are in love and have been for a very long time. Love is a strange thing. It provides a couple with the ability to forgive and go on! Their wedding was unique...just like they are. Their honeymoon was a vehicle for the writers to include James Franco's visit. Clearly the posts indicate that these fans would have rather Franco raped Elizabeth if I'd reading it right...or kidnapped Jake...right? Funny isn't it? Sam being the target just doesn't sit right? Hilarious!

Jasamfan1, where is anyone posting that they wanted Elizabeth being raped? Where is anyone posting that they wanted Jake kidnapped? Clearly you are not reading right. And I don't care how popular you think they are, people should not have to endure the constant redundant conversation this couple continues to have. Brenda and Sonny's wedding that some of us have been waiting for since the 90s happened but we were cheated out of watching them at least on a two day honeymoon. I don't mind Jason and Sam going on a honeymoon, but almost two month long honeymoon, um no. It was no need of them to have that long of honeymoon as well for us to have to watch it when Franco's part didn't even come in to the last day of it just for us to have to endure countless conversations about the same topic of should they have a baby or not that we have had to endure since January and watch them play Wii, play dominos, and talk about surfing. If you want Sam to be a target for a weak villain that no longer has a point on the show, fine. I myself would rather Franco not be on the show period because he has no true direction and for a man that supposedly has studied all of Jason's life so thoroughly, he is a very limited villain on the many targets in Jason's life (The Q's, Robin, Jake before he was killed, Elizabeth, Sonny). And the only way that wedding was unique was because no other soap would go that cheap and marry someone in a chinese restaurant that has no special meaning to the couple.

Thank you for the 2011 recap - brought back AMC tears, GH screams and OLTL longing as I read on.

The AMC flashbacks and montages were beautiful and a wonderful nod to all the fans. OLTL finally got some fire back with it's final year and we even got some happy endings! I know your not a big Jess/Ford fan, but I loved it! The whole situation was fun to watch. And when Jess re-integrated this time we got a true blend of Jess/Tess, no poor me - FINALLY! GH has been a long time favorite, but this year has really really killed me.

It's as if OLTL got all the hearts and candy and GH was left with the wrappers. Killed Jake. Bye Nikolas. Bye Jax. Jason marries Sam with weeks and weeks of publicity. No storyline for Alexis. Just minutes of the Quatermaines. And we're sopose to be happy that Kate is back with Sonny? I need to lay down.

I just hope... very little hope, but hope still that Sam dies, Jax comes back, Elizabeth finds true love with Jason (or Matt), and Tracey takes PC over as the new Mob Queen - take that Sonny!

I forgot to comment on Worst History Re-write when it comes to Luke and Laura's love. I find it precious and the reason I find it so precious is that while GW's GH is trying to shove down our throats how much Laura's love for Luke is what drove her to her mind deteriorating, you can switch over to Soapnet where they are showing the eppys late at night of Lulu trying to figure out who killed Rick Webber because it's Laura remembering his murder that caused her mind to deteriorate. And part of me wonders if someone on Soapnet decided that 2006-2007 GH needed to be shown so that new viewers and viewers that are what? when they see GW's eppy will see and remember the real reason that Laura went insane vs. GW's version. The other part of me wonders if GW even realizes how much of a fool he comes off looking by pushing Luke/Laura's toxic love causing her to deteriorate when Soapnet is showing the real reason that Laura's mind deteriorated.

Happy new year all! Dear fabulous bloggers: Thank you! I am in general agreement with your choices and how you highlighted the truly best and worst of the soaps you cover (I do think the DAYS' reboot was well done.)

My one exception to your selections is Best Actress. There is no doubt Erika Slezak (Viki on OLTL) is a great actress but I wasn't so impressed with her 40th anniversary episode and that was the only time she was featured for the year. She always delivers but I think the best actress in a soap was Florencia Lozano (Tea on OLTL.) FL was the lead on the soap and her performances throughout the year, especially during 'The Tale of Two Todds' were stellar.

@kermitklein - Brava for great comments on GH over the past year I have been visiting this site.

SPOT ON! I loved it all! I have watched a lot of soap over the course of 32 years, and have mourned the shows we had already lost, but the end of OLTL is really going to hurt the most. I've been mourning GH for the past 3 plus years because watching the crapfest hurts more than the thought of it being canceled.

Clearly most of these comments belong in a Jasam vs. every other couple in GH history. I like them, but a lot of their history (especially over the last four years) makes it hard to believe they would overcome it. However, this is a soap opera and should not be taken so seriously. What difference does it make if they are the last standing couple on this show when it finally goes belly-up? If I thought it'd make any difference I'd whine about possibly kiling off one of the last remaining legacy characters because KM up and decides she never wants to play Robin again. But it won't. As for Jason and Sam, the head writers have their favorites. I may never understand the appeal of Sonny and Kate, Carly and Jax, Steve(n) and Olivia, Maggie, Lucky and Sioban, The Robot, or James Franco wanting to be remembered for such a creepy storyline, but that doesn't mean my opinion matters one iota to TIIC. Love 'em or hate 'em, but if you're still continuing to watch, it's on you.

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