2016 hasn’t been a great year. You’d think that we’d find some comfort with the four remaining daytime soaps, but it hasn’t been the best year for our shows. Things weren’t that bad either, but there was nothing noteworthy to reflect upon. Perhaps I’m just in a different frame of mind?
For this year, I’d like to do things a bit differently. Rather than list my favourite and not-so-favourite soap moments, I’ll be listing a few things that disappointed me but also improvements that I found on The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless. I think that peak TV also played heavily as to why I stopped watching certain shows for periods of time. Did I really want to spend my time watching shows where I could no longer recognize the characters that I grew up with? Or the rehashing of the same triangle over and over again while I could be binging Stranger Things and laughing my ass off with some British imports like Chewing Gum and Raised By Wolves?
The Bold and The Beautiful
I really enjoyed the Avant family on B&B in 2014 and 2015. This year past year, they’ve seemed to disappear. Maya (Karla Mosley) didn’t really get any story. How can you not have any story for a transgender character in 2016? There’s so much to mine from that. Instead, we had Maya and Rick (Jacob Young) ask Nicole (Reign Edwards) to be a surrogate for another child. There could have been so much story from that initial surrogacy like Nicole’s connection to the baby, Maya struggling to be a mother or Rick forming a bond with Nicole.
Instead, B&B focused on the tired Liam (Scott Clifton), Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) and Wyatt (Darin Brooks) triangle. They’ve got some great actors with these three, why not change up the stories?
Also, why drag out Bill (Don Diamont) and Katie’s (Heather Tom) divorce if Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) was just going to choose Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) in the end? Speaking of Katie — please give her something and someone to do… and no, not Eric (John McCook).
I’d say the freshest thing B&B did this year was to give Quinn (Rena Sofer) more story. She married Eric and faced off with the rest of the Forrester’s at Forrester Creations.
Days of our Lives
While I did name Days of our Lives’ 50th anniversary as a ‘best’ moment last year, looking back, I do agree with some other critics that it was very dark. The deaths of Bo (Peter Reckell) and Will (Guy Wilson) weren’t the best decisions. While Kristian Alfonso got some great material getting revenge (on the wrong person) and “killing” Stefano (Joseph Mascolo), we saw her having to choose between Rafe (Galen Gering) and Aiden (Daniel Cosgrove).
While the year started off with many fans rejoicing the death of Daniel Jonas (Shawn Christian) it was at the expense of Eric Brady (Greg Vaughan) going to jail. Seriously? All the crime in Salem that goes unpunished and Roman (Josh Taylor) doesn’t bother to protect his own son? Well, that decision was good news for Vaughan as he got a role on Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar and will be back for a second season and will be returning to DAYS as Eric.
I’m not sure how I feel about the head writing team of Dena Higley and Ryan Quan yet. There were some head-scratching decisions like firing Martha Madison (Belle) and Brandon Beemer (Shawn) only to bring them back (but then lose them again)… They also made Chloe (Nadia Bjorlin) pregnant with Nicole (Arianne Zucker) and Daniel’s baby. Why? Sad to see some cast exits, especially young female leads — Jen Lilley (Theresa) and Kate Mansi (Abigail).
Fans did enjoy the return of the super villains this past fall. It also seems like they are developing an interesting quad with Abigail (Marci Miller), Chad (Billy Flynn), Gabi (Camila Banus) and JJ (Casey Moss). January should prove to be interesting with the returns of Carrie (Christie Clarke), Austin (Austin Peck) and Anna (Leann Hunley) — it’s just a shame that it’s short term.
I know that the fanbase for General Hospital is split. Some enjoy the writing style of Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman while some miss the plot twists of Ron Carlivati. The show boasts an impressive but long cast list and they make sure that the show is generally entertaining. I just don’t feel like there big events in Port Charles anymore. Nothing really changes — just like Carly (Laura Wright) leaving Sonny (Maurice Benard) because of the mob when something bad happens (like Morgan dying) and then going right back to him. Vets like Genie Francis (Laura) and Jackie Zeman (Bobbie) are being featured, so it’s not as bad as the Guza and JFP era, so that’s something to be grateful for.
The show had a big murder mystery this past year but the ending made no sense. It was very telling that they didn’t know who the killer would be when they first started the story. The best stories are usually those where the writer knows the ending (or somewhat) and then writes the beginning and middle. No way do ‘Jelly’ write this way. Paul (Richard Burgi) was the killer?!
I couldn’t understand how contract negotiations between Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) broke down whereas the show has money to hire Michael Easton for yet another character. This is after Christopher won an Emmy.
There’s so much story potential but I feel the show wastes many opportunities. What was the point of making Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and Hayden (Rebecca Budig) sisters? Why not bring back Jeff Webber and finish telling that story? Also, why revisit Liz’s rape when it’s all about Franco (Roger Howarth)?
Also tell me why Maxie (Kirsten Storms) was the non-factor in that story with newbies Nathan (Ryan Peavey), Claudette (Bree Williamson) and Griffin (Matt Cohen)?
They wrote Julian (William de Vry) into a corner earlier this year when he tried to kill Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) but now we’re expected to welcome a re-coupling?
There’s also so much potential with Nelle (Chloe Lanier) but I feel that by the time we find out what her big secret is, no one will care.
I really enjoyed GH leading up to it’s 50th anniversary and the year that followed. It was exciting to tune in every day. Even if a big plot twist didn’t occur, the dialogue was fun and self-aware. The show’s bringing back Tonja Walker, but won’t reveal if she’s playing Olivia Jerome. I guess we’ll see what’s in store. To be honest, I’ve seen the breakdowns for January and I’m not that excited.
The Young and the Restless
I’ve been quite hard on Y&R these past couple of years. I wasn’t the only one though. I’m not going to waste any more copy complaining about Chuck Pratt and Jill Farren Phelps. They’re finally gone. I don’t know why the show had to get as bad as it did for CBS to realize they need to make a change, but I’m glad they finally did. I think that the only story I enjoyed from the pre-miracle Y&R era was Phyllis’ (Gina Tognoni) affair with Billy (Jason Thompson) — because of the family dysfunction played out by the Abbotts. Sad to see Justin Harltey go as Adam, but he’s having great success at This Is Us in primetime.
Mal Young has been a welcomed changed as executive producer. Jill (Jess Walton) storming into the Chancellor Estate and scolding Billy for the remodel “he” did was a liberating moment for all fans who saw the destruction of the iconic set.
The hirings of Sally Sussman Morina as co-executive producer and head writer and Kay Alden as story consultant was the best soap moment of 2016. Characters are finally written in character. Jill, Lauren (Tracey E. Bregman) and Jack (Peter Bergman) being the shining examples. The business story with Fenmore’s and Jabot is very intriguing. Keep an eye on Mishael Morgan (Hilary) — her performance these past couple of episodes has been phenomenal. I got chills when she read Neil (Kristoff St. John). What a success story. She went from watching Y&R each day as a kid in Toronto to slaying her fight scenes with a vet character like Neil, being good friends with Jack Abbott and flirting with The Great Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) at a charity function.
It was also such a great gift when Y&R rebroadcast the 1984 wedding of Victor and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott).
I’m excited at the prospect of what’s to come in 2017 on Y&R. Other shows need to take its lead.