Soap on a Trope: Love Romance? Try Daytime!

I’ve loved soaps and romance for as long as I can remember. Honestly, they go together like peanut butter and chocolate, strawberries and cream, Jeremy Renner and me…wait, where was I? Ahem. Yes. With only four daytime soap operas currently on air (sniffle!), it’s easier than ever to find the one that works for you. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction, romance novels and erotic romance, then here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet to hook you up with an appropriate daytime drama!



The Italian Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress

If you devour category romances by the armful, then Days of our Lives is the show for you. Salem has both Harlequin Presents’ alphaholes and tycoons and honorable blue-collar heroes lifted straight from the pages of a Harlequin SuperRomance. And secret babies. ALL the secret babies.



A Shot in the Dark

Love pulse-pounding romantic suspense, dark and dangerous men, skullduggery and a flash of humor? Pair up with Port Charles, where General Hospital excels in both bullets and blade-sharp wit. Fans of J.M. Darhower or Karina Halle might love Sonny Corinthos.



Beautifully Broken

If steamy billionaire erotica is your bag, then you can’t go wrong with The Bold and the Beautiful, where Dollar Bill Spencer burns up the sheets with half the ladies of Los Angeles. This is also where you’ll find some angsty New Adult storylines akin to J. Lynn, Abbi Glines, etc.



Small Town, Big Business

Virgin River. Fool’s Gold. Genoa City. If you like a charming small town brimming with drama, The Young and the Restless is where it’s at. High school sweethearts still carry torches, boardrooms are as hot as bedrooms and Victor Newman makes Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life look like a saint.

Canon fodder: back story and missing scenes

I have this habit of making up characters’ back story or motivation in my head, and then watching their shows with that filter in place. I can’t help it. It sticks. A great example of viewers who have done this in the past would be X-Files Mulder/Scully ‘shippers who speculated that the duo canoodled in the elevator scene in “Paper Clip” during season three. It was completely plausible; we just never saw it!

Here are five similar scenarios that I have lodged in my noggin:


1. GH’s Jax and Carly are Morgan’s biological parents; they just don’t remember, or refuse to acknowledge, the possibility. It’s totally feasible, since the 2003 scene in which Carly went to tell Jax she saw Brenda and Sonny kissing on the pier was never shown. All we know is that Carly was later drugged by Faith Rosco’s stooge and woke up in bed with Ric. Who’s to say that she and Jax didn’t get totally plastered and have a little revenge sex they never talk about?

2. Y&R’s Rafe puts up with Billy’s shenanigans because they’ve slept together. Rafe and Billy have a great friendship, proving that a gay guy and a straight guy can be BFFs. But I can’t help it: Considering what a manwhore Billy is, I just picture them drinking a lot of Jaeger their junior year in college and experimenting a little. Billy sleeps with everything that moves, and I think Rafe wouldn’t judge if he wanted to give it a try! And it was years ago, they’ve both gotten past it, but it’s always there as this thing that keeps Rafe loyal to his baby-buying train wreck of a pal.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

“Jill tried not to think about Katherine, but it was impossible. The picture of Katherine striding into the hospital and claiming her child pushed aside everything else.” Thus begins the back cover blurb of Private Yearnings, a book I picked up at a thrift store. Written in 1986 by Angelica Aimes, it’s the fifth in a series of Y&R tie-ins released under a “Soaps & Serials” banner. And, dude, I gotta tell you: It’s awesome.

It takes place in 1976, telling the story of newlywed — and newly widowed — Jill, who is battling the manipulative Katherine in court, for control of Phillip’s fortune. Not that Jill, at nineteen, is all that innocent. While her mother Liz, embittered by husband Bill’s battle with cancer and her brother Bruce’s success as a Chicago doctor, is benefiting from Jill’s new status, Jill’s brother Snapper is worried. He wonders if his sweet sister has vanished inside this mercenarial woman she’s becoming. And considering how Jill really resents being hugely pregnant with Phillip III, I think he’s right to be concerned!

In addition to the Foster/Chancellor story, Private Yearnings is also dealing with the forbidden love affair between Bruce and his long-ago sweetheart, Jennifer. They’re both married — Bruce to Regina and Jennifer to Stuart Brooks — and have children, but they can’t stay away from one another. Steamy!

Listen to me reading from the first chapter here.

And in the interest of cultural notation, guess what drink Jill orders a few pages later? A vodka Collins! You certainly would not see that happening onscreen now…


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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

I know Y&R’s Billy and Victoria are supposed to be Genoa City’s root-for young couple, but I’ve fallen for J.T. and Mac! And, believe me, it’s a little strange to be saying that…considering that during their last go-round, from 2005-2006, I found them coma-inducing. Rachel Kimsey was Mac at the time, and I spent more time hoping Mac would get together with Kevin than paying one whit of attention to her relationship with J.T.

Four years later, how the worm doth turn! I think Mac and J.T. might just be my favorite GC duo! Since splitting from Victoria, J.T. has regained his edge. He’s not the good little Newman house husband anymore, and his tart one-liners at reckless Victoria’s expense are hilarious. (His reaction to her tramp stamp tattoo? Priceless!) And Mac, whom the show tried to paint as a preachy saint for much of Clementine Ford‘s tenure, has been allowed to come off that pedestal and be human. Together, Ford and Thad Luckinbill have a sweetness and maturity, and a playful sexiness that speaks more profoundly than a dozen rounds of beer pong or games at the arcade. I think I’m just at an age now where that kind of earnest connection affects me more than the gimmicks that Billy and Victoria have been privy to.

J.T. and Mac actually enjoying spending time with Reed, and their playing around coming from those experiences, feels organic. They feel like a family. Billy and Victoria constantly acting like giggly children and then moaning about how watching their kids for the night is SO HARD…? That floored me. As did the fact that they were about to have sex in the living room couch with three kids right upstairs and then seemed irritated at being interrupted to get a glass of water for one tot and take another to the bathroom. God forbid they have to be the mature ones, huh? Also? You have a bedroom with a lock on the door. Use it! I’m over them. (To be fair, I think I was only “under” them for a grand total of five minutes.) The ribald banter, the childish selfishness…it’s better suited to a pair of teens than characters who have been married several times apiece. Conversely, J.T. and Mac feel like a comfortable pair who really talk to each other and understand one another… and their love scene yesterday was sexy without being overt, much like their first time together after she gave birth to the twins.

I frequently joke to my friends that finding my soul mate involves looking for someone who will kill spiders, change light bulbs and reach things on high shelves. That’s the kind of people J.T. and Mac are together. They had a really cute scene a few weeks ago where he bought her towels…and then they had an offscreen sex romp in the shower. That’s proof, right there, that domesticity can be romantic! You don’t have to go chasing after your lost youth to share love and laughs.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

Is it YOUNG AND RESTLESS’s intention to make me want to punch Billy in the face this week? Somehow, I’m thinkin’ no. We’re supposed to root for him as he worries about his pregnant bride, Victoria, and her tyrant of a father who’s scheming against them. The problem…? This is also the week that Billy’s nephew, Chance, was brutally cut down in a drug bust gone awry…and Billy’s been about as affected by it as if he saw some stranger’s death reported on the news. 

I don’t blame actor Billy Miller in the least. I know he’s perfectly capable of pulling off deeper emotions, as is his playboy character. This is more of a scripting and direction issue! Why were we seeing Cane, who is not even related to Chance by blood, taking Jill and Phillip in his arms to comfort them, while Billy made distancing, casual mentions about how his ex-wife, Chloe, is taking the death so hard? And the blocking of Billy’s scenes had Miller standing apart from everyone; his body language aloof. I’m not a director, but I was sitting there, watching, and silently willing him to move closer to his loved ones…to at least muster up a sheen of tears on behalf of Jill’s grief! I know Chance and Billy were romantic rivals and didn’t get along, but they’re still related. At the least, Chance was Delia’s stepfather figure, and meant a whole heck of a lot to Jill and Katherine, you know? This kind of “islanding” of characters, forgetting their basic family ties, is really jarring. Billy should be more invested in these family scenes! Instead, he went off with Victoria to get wedding rings tattooed on their fingers. Apparently Y&R wants us to think Billy considers ink thicker than blood? 

The same thing happened for me watching yesterday’s AS THE WORLD TURNS, when the extended Snyder clan was skipping around merrily, plotting Carly and Jack’s latest reunion and discussing Liberty’s college plans. Do they just not care that Lily and Holden’s son just experienced a gut-wrenching loss? That Jack’s former sister-in-law (and ex-girlfriend!), Katie, nearly lost another lover when Chris’ condition took a turn for the worse? It was as if the scenes were taking place in an alternate version of Oakdale, where nobody talks to each other! It was Dusty, of all people, who acknowledged last week’s story arc, when he asked John, in passing, how Chris was doing. WTH, dude? 

It reminds me of how no one on GENERAL HOSPITAL acknowledged the vampires and werewolves running around on PORT CHARLES…and that’s not a good reminder, since both ATWT and Y&R are complete shows, not a parent and its spin-off.

originally posted on

Daytime’s true colors aren’t shining through

Yesterday, for the first time in years, we had a black leading man highlighted on daytime: U.S. President Barack Obama, on The View. Yes, folks, in order to have a full hour devoted to a black man in daytime programming, to have a voice and tell a story on the front burner, he has to be the most powerful elected official in our country. “Post-racial,” my ass!

This was the absurd series of thoughts that was running through my head this morning…that soaps are a truly fascinating microcosm of society and yet, the seven shows we have on air do not represent current American society in the least. A genre that helped women realize they had places outside the home and validity outside the traditional two-parent household, that featured integration and AIDS education and cancer awareness…has fallen behind in mirroring what this nation has become. We have one significant leading man of color: Maurice Benard as General Hospital‘s Sonny. One. And his half-Cuban (God forbid he be wholly Cuban!) character is an unrepentant mobster. Um…whoo-hoo? Yay? All My Children‘s Hubbard family, The Young and the Restless‘ Winters and Days of our Lives’ Carvers barely rate airtime unless they’re in scenes with white characters. Latin characters are few and far between as well: Days‘ Hernandez family will soon be losing a member, when Arianna is written off; AMC jettisoned the Santoses, and Y&R‘s Rafe holds the trifecta of being Latin, gay and seldom seen. And Asians…? Please. In the 32 years I’ve been watching soaps, there has been one contract Indian character on soaps…Dr. Saira Batra, and she was on GH: Night Shift. Can you imagine CNN telling Sanjay Gupta he could only have a significant role after 11 PM? GH‘s Kelly Lee is a glorified dayplayer. Y&R‘s Ji Min Kim was killed off. I mean, I could go on and on listing the examples of diversity fail…but listing it does no good. Someone has to change it.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

Is the Daytime Emmy Awards broadcast already upon us Gasp! That means it’s time for my 3rd Annual Mala’s Made-Up Awards. For those just tuning in to my blog, this is where I totally punk out of making Emmy predictions, because I have no ability to pick winners! Making up awards instead is much more up my alley! (Check Aug. 28, 2009, for last year’s, and June 20 for 2008’s!) 

Most Entertaining Show: B&B and DAYS.
Best Surprise Couple: ATWT’s Barbara and Henry, B&B’s Stephen and Pam, and DAYS’ Victor and Maggie.
Best Couple That The Show Reaaaally Wants Us To Like: GH’s Dante and Lulu.
Best New Character: ATWT’s Reid Oliver (like I was going to say anything else?).
Best New Character Played By a Soap Vet: Dahlia Salem as GH’s Claire.
Best Recast:Marcy Rylan as Y&R’s nuAbby.
Guest Appearance I Will Never Get Tired Of: Snoop Dogg being on OLTL.
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: GH’s Ethan. Yes, I actually like him now. Don’t die of shock!
I Think I’m a Clone Now: ATWT’s Gabriel and AMC’s Damon. Seriously, they’re the same character…with the same hair!
Best Love Scene: OLTL’s Kyle and Fish’s New Year’s Eve fireworks!
Most Trauma-inducing Love Scene: B&B’s Oliver and Brooke.
Most Memorable Line of the Year: B&B’s Stephanie and, “Say hello to Beth for me!”
Biggest Jerkface: OLTL’s Ford.
The Miranda Montgomery Cutest Baby Award: DAYS’ Sydney.
Biggest Waste of Potential: OLTL’s Schuyler being made Roxy’s son and then being shipped off canvas!
Best Realization of Potential:Lexi Ainsworth as GH’s Kristina. She has really come into her own.
Most Froth-inducing Storyline: GH’s Sonny shooting an unarmed Dante in the chest, GH’s Michael getting maybe-or-maybe-not-raped in prison.
Best Social Issue Storyline: B&B’s Sandy/Aggie’s rape reveal.
The Paging-Clone-Reva WTH?! Award: ATWT’s Mick Dante.
I Would Watch It On a Loop: OLTL’s Kyle or Fish holding baby Sierra Mist.
Most Missed Veteran: AMC’s David Canary (Adam).
The Chester-the-Molester Skeevy Pairing Award: OLTL’s Langston and Ford.
The Dorian Gray Portrait-in-the-Attic Award: GH’s Jonathan Jackson (Lucky).
The I Want To Give Brody Lovett An Award Award: OLTL’s Brody.
Best Use of History: ATWT’s Bob and Kim’s non-iversary/remarriage, DAYS’ Alice’s death arc and all the family returns during it.
Worst Rewrite of History: ATWT’s Lily, Lucinda and Sierra keeping Craig’s illegitimate son, Gabriel, from him.
Best Death: B&B’s Ann. It was Betty White, dude. Come on.
Worst Death: AS THE WORLD TURNS. Duh.
Best Return: ATWT’s Simon coming back to comfort Katie. (Come baaaaaack, Simon!)
Most Unsurprising Return: Y&R’s Adam.
Worst Return: OLTL’s Mitch Laurence.
Biggest Unsolved Mysteries: Why no one runs into OLTL’s Kyle or Fish at Llanview’s hospital or police station, where ATWT’s Jade has disappeared to and why B&B’s Brooke doesn’t know Ridge’s body intimately after all this time.

originally posted on

Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

After our managing editor, Gabby, interviewed Kevin G. Schmidt (Noah, Y&R) about his new Cartoon Network show, UNNATURAL HISTORY, I was so intrigued I had to tune in for Sunday night’s premiere! Guess what? I’m already hooked!

Schmidt plays headstrong teen Henry, who has been packed off to Smithson High School in Washington DC by his globe-trotting anthropologist parents. Henry’s life lessons have been learned all over the world, and he’s not technologically plugged in or hip to the latest teen lingo. Fortunately, his Indiana Jones-esque smarts and fighting skill are a perfect fit for the weird goings-on at Smithson, affiliated with the Smithsonian museum right next door! As the central character, Schmidt has to carry the show, and he does it with wit and charm. Henry is just so engaging and adorkable. I love that he’s socially awkward, but incredibly savvy in other ways.

Joining Schmidt are Jordan Gavaris as Henry’s cousin, Jasper, Italia Ricci as Maggie (she’s the Hermione Granger to their Harry Potter and Ron Weasley) and Martin Donovan as the school principal and Jasper’s father, Bryan. Together, they make up a fun little ensemble.

It’s not a deep show, it’s a fun, Sunday night indulgence, and I love how it sort of blends elements from other texts. If you like BONES, you might like this. If you like the Harry Potter books, you might like this. If you totally watched YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES, starring Sean Patrick Flanery, in the ’90s you might like this. And this Sunday’s episode deals with a mystery surrounding the Pony Express so, as someone who watched THE YOUNG RIDERS, I’m thinkin’ I definitely might like it…

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Baby I love your way

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that I love soap opera babies. And while I’ve definitely been more vocal about it in the past year, I’ve always enjoyed watching cute kids steal scenes. So, in mostly chronological order, here are ten of my favorite daytime darlings. This is by no means a definitive list, because I could go on and on…

GH’s Lucas. Check him out in 1990, with Tony and Sean, starting around the 4:40 mark. That little face! This story was 20 years ago now, and I still remember this kid. I think he went on to guest star on several sitcoms after his stint on GH.

AMC’s Miranda. Little boys played Bianca’s daughter for as long as the show could justify her not having much hair. They’re definitely on my top five “cutest of all time,” list and I was bereft when AMC recast!

GH’s Cameron. A few babies played Elizabeth’s tyke, including one many viewers fondly referred to as “Bighead Baby Cam,” but Ashwyn Bagga’s “Desi Cam” was my favorite. (I could build a whole post around how half-Asian babies are the most representation we get on daytime, LOL.) Love his little eyebrows!

ATWT’s Johnny. I only seem to be able to find clips of this kid sleeping, but I swear he did more than that! This footie pajama-clad cutie made a heartbreaking baby switch storyline a little easier to bear.
GL’s Sarah. Not only was she full of personality, but Sarah absolutely looked like Tom Pelphrey (Jonathan) could be her father, and they had a beautiful rapport.

GH’s Emma, with bonus Cameron and Jake. The hair clip! The total chillin’ on Patrick’s lap! The girls who play Emma are just beautiful. I mean, there’s just a whole lotta cute in this scene.

Days’ Sydney. There’s a reason they built an entire story arc around the Sinnema twins. They are total stars. LOL. I also think Sydney has the best suspicious expression in all of daytime. Just look at how she gives new big bro Johnny the stink-eye.

Y&R’s Delia. Genoa City’s littlest fashionista can wrap playboy daddy Billy —and everyone else — around her finger. And, oh my gosh, someone has actually done Delia fan vids. Here is a birthday tribute to the triplets who play her.

Y&R’s Faith. Faith has these big ol’ expressive eyes, and she’s such a talker. Here, she plays with Nick’s tie and his cuffs, while babbling away. I choose to believe she was telling him and Sharon she’d rather watch soaps than baseball.

OLTL’s Sierra Rose. Soda Pop, Sierra Mist, the Guppy…she’s got all kinds of names, and Oliver’s daughter is a total scene stealer, even when she’s sleepy.I love her playing with Fish’s fingers in this clip and how obviously comfortable she is with both guys.

Feel free to share some of your own favorite babies in the comments!

Color me sad

2009 was a shaky year for soap diversity, and with OLTL back-burnering the Evanses, and writing off Kyle, Fish and Rachel, 2010 is off to a rocky start. Sure, GH is about to start featuring Maya and Zoe, tenuous Quartermaines by way of the Wards, but I’m not necessarily holding out any hope for major story. Heck, despite my investing in OLTL last year, the only soap that really gave me hope in terms of reflecting the increasingly diverse makeup of the U.S. was General Hospital: Night Shift. And I still don’t understand why the parent show couldn’t have absorbed those characters after a third season was a no-go.

Kyle and Eric were a great gay love story…and bringing them back in the wake of no Bianca on AMC and a Kish-less Llanview would be a great step. And who’s to say Kyle couldn’t be involved with Lucas, a legacy character? Leo and his jealousy issues were compelling, no matter which Rains brother was playing him. And I couldn’t Robin use a pal like Saira Batra on her side while Lisa is making eyes at Patrick? Azita Ghanizada is beautiful, talented, and I’d even put up with Saira being paired with Sonny just to have someone of my ethnic background represented on my soap! And as for Leyla, Lainey and Kelly, who were part of the parent show…well, Leyla was killed off, and Lainey and Kelly are never on. Maybe they’re off in a supply closet somewhere with Matt Hunter?

I don’t get it.

There are dozens of ways to fit more people of color into soaps. I mean, I’ve said this before, but if you have to go the tokenizing and stereotypical route because it’s the easiest way to diversify, every soap has a hospital. Hospitals = Indian doctors. And Port Charles General Hospital in particular has diversity in its very roots: Steve and Audrey Hardy’s biracial grandson, Tommy. Wouldn’t he be a hot twenty-something by now and a great option for Maxie? And what if B&B’s Prince Omar of Morocco (Kabir Bedi), had a rebellious runaway daughter who fled to L.A. in search of his former wife, Taylor/Princess Leila? And she fell in love with Thomas? Or what if a new hot stranger in Genoa City just happened to be a dashing Latin-American or Indian business rival of Tucker’s? Remember when Y&R brought on Eric Steinberg‘s Ji Min? Alas, Ji Min, we hardly knew ye! He was daytime’s only contract Asian actor and he barely last a year!

Man, now I’m all nostalgic. I’m going to have to bust out my GH: NS season one DVD and scour YouTube for season two clips.