Opinions Soaps

Soap reACTION: Filling the Void, Missed Opportunities and the Rise of an Empire

Screenshot 2014-11-30 17.40.31

This edition of Soap reACTION takes a look at the very different ways that the exit of major stars were handled on two shows. While The Bold and the Beautiful has made a seemingly effortless shift of story after the exit of Hope Logan, Days of our Lives is struggling to find new focus with the absence of its supercouple.

Soap reACTION will also take a look at the soon to depart General Hospital character Kiki Jerome played by Emmy winner Kristen Alderson. Why did Kiki fail to connect with audiences and should the role be recast? Fox has scored a new hit with primetime drama Empire by embracing classic soap opera characters and story line. Is there something daytime can learn from its success? Feel free to leave your comments. Reader feedback is important at TVSource Magazine, especially as we experiment with new features.

Bold Stays Beautiful After Hope

Hope Logan (Kim Matula) has been front and center in B&B story lines for years, mostly as a corner of a triangle. Simply having her disappear from canvas could have left a void. Brad Bell is much too smart to not plan ahead though. The show is currently looking for a another actress to fill Hope’s fashionable high heels but it’s not going to wait for the character’s return to tell a good story. This is how the best quad currently on television came to be.

Screenshot 2015-01-17 16.30.15Rather than stay in limbo while waiting for Hope’s return, B&B made good use of its already amazing cast by giving the established character of Caroline Spencer (played to perfection by Linsey Godfrey) some major romantic woes. Caroline turned her world upside down when she locked lips with hubby Rick’s (Jacob Young) brother and rival Ridge (Thorsten Kaye). Those forbidden kisses set off a brilliant chain of events that have turned the daytime drama into the soapiest soap currently on daytime.

Not only has Ridge lost Katie (Heather Tom), but Caroline’s marriage has been shattered and her betrayed husband is out for revenge! Rick has taken power of the family business Forrester Creations and quickly taken ambitious model Maya Avant (Karla Mosley) to bed. To ensure that Ridge and Caroline truly know he’s purposefully planning to make them suffer, he even moved Maya into the family home and hung her picture on the wall where Stephanie’s portrait used to be.

Hope is still missed but her absence isn’t weighing on the show. B&B is doing more than fine without her by taking full advantage of its other assets. With story dripping in sin, lust, romance, betrayal, revenge, jealousy and greed, viewers have had no reason to tune out.

Days’d and Confused

Like B&B, Days was also put in the position of filling a void when the actors who played the show’s main supercouple exited. Days took a very different approach to solving this problem and unfortunately that approach hasn’t really worked out so far.

Days knew in advance that it was losing Sami (Alison Sweeney) and EJ (James Scott) yet seems to be very reactionary rather than proactive in coping with the loss. I don’t think that Days didn’t have something in mind for its new direction when these actors left. I suspect that there was probably a plan in place but that plan isn’t working. For starters, the choice to bring in new characters rather than highlight the talent they already have is a bit of a head scratcher. There is nothing wrong with new characters but why not play up an existing fan favorite as well?

Sliding Nicole Walker (Ari Zucker) into Sami’s now vacate leading lady spot seemed to many fans and critics to have been the obvious solution. However, Days Nicole meets with her mysterious source, who gives her a tip about Serena.has not only decided not to do this but they have continue to abuse the heck out of this compelling anti-heroine. The choice seems almost like an insult. Days had a good thing going when they spent roughly a year leading up to Eric (Greg Vaughn) and Nicole’s romance only to have it fizzle due to poor story choices. If planned right this pairing could have been the show’s new “it” couple.

Of course Nicole isn’t the only neglected character that could have been given a juicy story line. But instead of more Lucas, Kayla, Marlena and John, Days has opted to bring in new characters all at once. So far none of the new Salem residents have been able to instantly captivate the audience. The character of Jordan (Chrishell Stause) moved to Salem well before Sami and EJ left. Stause is a likable actress and if given more consistent writing and a real connection to more of the show’s established characters, fans may have taken to her. Instead her story stalled and meandered aimlessly for months until viewers no longer cared about her big secret. Paige is a romantically challenged teenager like Sami was when Sweeney began at Days but she’s dull and weak. Paige’s mother Eve (Kassie DePaiva) came with built-in ties to the canvas but failed to find story of her own and has become oddly attached to an ill-received teenage love triangle. Theresa (Jen Lilley) has spunk but needs some deeper story telling and a stronger romance.

Recently Days made a bold move when Sami’s son Will (Guy Wilson) cheated on husband Sonny (Freddie Smith) with closeted baseball player Paul (Christopher Sean). Will and Sonny had become too domesticated and Wilson has struggled to find his footing in his new role. This landed the pairing on TVSource’s Worst Couple list for 2014. Now that things have gotten a bit messy, we’re more optimistic. The shake up was needed. Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and a less well-behaved Will could be the edge that Days needs right now. If Will and Sonny’s marriage becomes complex and turbulent, it could get a lot of people talking and perhaps watching.

About the author

Jenn Bishop

Jenn Bishop is TVSource Magazine's Soap Editor. She's a thirty-something fan girl of soapy television and anything involving Joss Whedon. She began sharing her views on daytime soaps in 2012 with her blog Save Our Suds. A former philosophy major, she loves discussing different view points with fellow TV addicts and aficionados. When not watching television, she enjoys art, live music, exploring the Midwest food scene, and drinking too many lattes. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceJenn.