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!

NBC

-NBC

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.

-ABC

-ABC

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.

Bill-and-Brooke

-CBS

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.

-CBS

-CBS

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.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like EJ DiMera?

-NBC/DAYS

-NBC/DAYS

I’ve recently come back to Days of our Lives after a several-year hiatus. In a sea of new faces, there are still the familiar characters. Jennifer Horton. Hope Brady. Marlena. Sami. My geriatric Greek tycoon boyfriend, Victor Kiriakis. And Elvis “EJ” DiMera. To my dismay, it appears absence has made my heart grow fonder…because I’m having a difficult time holding onto the giant grudge I have against the character.

Make no mistake: I have successfully hated EJ for seven years. Ever since his introduction as a race-car driver/shady character in 2006. It did not matter to me one whit that actor James Scott is tall, dark and handsome. And when EJ raped Sami in a car in exchange for saving Lucas Horton’s life — and then still left Sami and Lucas to die — I was done with him. Of course, the Powers That Be at DAYS were not. And they continued to develop him as the son of legendary villain Stefano DiMera and a leading man…going so far as to have his rape of Sami hand-waved away so the characters could fall in love.

Hell. To. The. No. I’ve said it before: Falling in love with your rapist is a one-trick pony, a gun you only fire once, and daytime’s been there and done that. General Hospital’s Luke and Laura. There is no need to try and recreate that “magic.” EJ and Sami’s “rapemance” is as deplorable as that of OLTL’s Todd and Marty in 2009 and GH’s Carly currently falling in love with the man who engineered her son’s rape and raped her best friend’s wife.  There are some things no amount of retconning (aka “retroactive continuity”) will fix, because viewers don’t forget. You can erase it from the timeline, but you can’t wipe a mind.

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Enjoying the Sonny Weather in DAYS’ Salem

Move over Kurt and Santana, Sonny Kiriakis is in town!

The rest of the TV viewing universe may think Ryan Murphy Glee-fully cornered the market on visible gay youth, but soap fans know that our genre has been trailblazing in this department for years. Another Ryan, Ryan Phillippe, played Billy Douglas on OLTL from 1992-93. And remember AMC’s sweet Kevin Sheffield (Ben Jorgensen)? Then, of course, there was Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel), who rocked both daytime and her legendary mama Erica Kane when she came out in 2000. Six years later, ATWT’s Luke Snyder (Van Hansis) came out to his family and a year after that, he helped the coming out process of another boy, Noah Mayer (Jake Silbermann). Daytime has consistently given gay teens a voice, without resorting to song and dance routines and landing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Now, Days of our Lives, oft considered one of the most conservative sudsers, has joined the chorus.

Freddie Smith‘s out and proud Sonny Kiriakis, the young scion of one of DAYS’ most notorious families, breezed into Salem earlier this year. When most TV shows are still telling formulaic coming out stories, it’s kind of refreshing to have Sonny join the canvas without the requisite angst of such a tale. Most LGBT narratives seemed designed for maximum suffering: as if a character must jump hurdle after hurdle just to be allowed to be. But Sonny, a sports enthusiast, came to Salem having already scaled mountains. His parents, veteran characters Justin and Adrienne, are textbook PFLAG parents, completely supportive, and his cantankerous great-uncle Victor also surprised viewers by responding positively. Of course, because it is a soap, and because people do still need to have their eyes opened, the “teaching moments” are still a huge part of the story. Sonny is definitely a mouthpiece for a message of tolerance. There was an obligatory homophobia arc, and Sonny still spouts educational platitudes that are directly aimed at the audience. (I long for the day when telling a LGBT story doesn’t require such hand-holding.) But there’s an ease to Smith’s line delivery that softens the blow of the 2×4 upside the head. He’s so self-assured that when he’s stumping for acceptance it’s usually with a smile and a shrug.

This takedown of homophobic teen T features Sonny’s trademark wit and the strength of his convictions, as well as Uncle Vic’s badassery. And that’s how the characters roll: delivering life lessons and laughs in turns.

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Toddpocalypse Now (I love the smell of retcons in the morning)

-ABC

Given my fairly public “I hate them with a fiery passion” stance on rapists and rape stories in daytime, you’d think I wouldn’t be compelled by the tale of a serial rapist trying to reclaim “his” life from a sociopath. But OLTL’s “Tale of Two Todds” has been riveting.  The truth is, I don’t have to like, or respect, a character to find their journey interesting. Over the past 18-19 years, Todd Manning has been a great example of that.

From his 1993 rape of Marty Saybrooke onward, Todd was a character to fear and to be disgusted by, but you could not take your eyes from him. How do you make a twisted asshole watchable? Between the writing and Roger Howarth‘s portrayal, OLTL was practically a blueprint. It actually worked too well, considering how popular Todd still is with the audience. When Trevor St. John brought Walker Laurence onto the OLTL canvas in 2003 and we learned that he was now Todd, I actually thought it was a great twist. There was angst, there was struggle. Despite the fact that, 90 percent of the time, I root for Todd to end up in a wood chipper, I rooted for him to reunite with Blair and Starr. I was on board with the recast, full-throttle, and convinced that Todd was getting a fresh start.

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Soap Opera Weekly: Blogging With Mala

I’m not really a huge fan of Freudian or Jungian psychology, but DAYS’ Melanie seems to have one serious Electra Complex! Her hero worship of Daniel is so beyond being a “Daddy’s girl” that it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. That’s not to say that I think there’s anything sexual going on (Come on people, I’m not analyzing it like that!), I just think her attachment is at this overblown, hyper-emotional level, where Daniel has, basically, become a god figure to her. His approval, his emotional safety, is more important to her than her own. He can do no wrong. He’s perfect. Whereas her mother, Carly, is the one who is fallible, flawed, and deserving of constant censure. Chloe, another psychological mother figure, given her status as Melanie’s stepmother, is a “tramp,” while Daniel’s own checkered romantic past is completely ignored.

It actually makes sense, given how Melanie grew up with Trent and he was absolutely awful. Of course she would welcome a better father figure and cling to them. I think she probably looks for a paternal quality in all the men in her life: Daniel, Brady, and, yes, Philip. Philip is older; he offered her security with just a dash of danger. He’s, well, a sugar daddy! But when he betrayed her trust, she turned back to Daniel…ready to align with him, to take Parker away from Philip and Chloe. Essentially creating a new family unit, with this mentality of “We don’t need them, we have each other!” I found that incredibly telling, and more than a bit disconcerting.

Yesterday’s episode almost seemed to reach a crescendo, as Melanie wrung her hands over how to reveal her pregnancy. “I need to know how I’m supposed to tell my dad that I’m having a baby with the man that destroyed his life,” she moaned to Maggie. And, then, when she finally dropped the bombshell, she acted almost as though she were at fault, expecting Daniel to punish her somehow. (Kudos to Molly Burnett for playing Melanie’s Daniel adoration so acutely!)

I think it’s particularly fascinating, because over on B&B, Taylor is constantly spouting off about Thomas’ Oedipus Complex with Brooke. Relationships like Thomas/Brooke and Melanie/Daniel have existed on daytime for years, but we haven’t ever seen someone actually slap a psychological label on it until now. I would love to see Melanie actually seek some therapy to deal with how she deifies Daniel and is constantly looking for parental approval from the males in her life!

 

originally posted on soapoperaweekly.com

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 soapoperaweekly.com