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Soap Reaction: ‘Days of our Lives’ is a Test of One’s Patience

Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios

Watching Days of our Lives on a daily basis is a test of one’s patience. It’s difficult to find a single story that’s “must watch”, even passable at best; then there’s a crop of stories that need to make a swift exit to the cutting room floor and deleted forever. Better yet, delete the entire show as it exists currently and air repeats until August because, just as last year, nothing matters until the creative change. But even then will it truly matter, or will we be back in the same place come summer 2017?

I don’t presume to speak for the mass audience; I only express my feelings as a critic and viewer. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, nor do I operate under the belief that my views hold more weight than anyone else simply because I have a platform. I don’t comment on DAYS a lot, in part because there’s only so many ways to express, “Wow, this show is not good” before I cross the line from criticism to bashing. One can only watch a series out of habit for so long before the habit becomes a chore. Right now, Days of our Lives is a chore. A dark, inconsistently written, reductive, clichéd riddled chore with awful tropes, antiquated creative visions and a falsely sustained belief that its current model is the way to go despite history proving otherwise.

Days of our Lives’ biggest enemy has been and will continue to be its ridiculous production schedule. From a business standpoint it makes sense because they’re able to keep costs down. Creatively, it’s an ongoing disaster (or should I say DAYSaster). Soaps are a continuing medium; one must be able to adjust to the audience’s reaction – positively or negatively – to what is airing. Here’s a tidbit — scenes in episodes airing the week of June 27-July 1 were filmed between January 6 – 13, 2016.

In filming six months in advance of air date and writing further, there is no way to adequately gauge and affect change in a story that’s receiving negative reactions, featuring dull, uninspiring characters that the viewers loathe. With a shorter production schedule, there would be the ability to rework stories and characters, rest them a bit – do something to fix the obvious (and not-so-obvious) problems. Instead, we’re forced to watch these tales play out for months on end with no change in sight.

Photo Credit: © Jill Johnson/JPI Studios
Photo Credit: © Jill Johnson/JPI Studios

Ciara, the daughter of legendary super couple Bo and Hope, gets brutally raped by her stepbrother Chase. Though initially the story appeared to be striking the right tones, Ciara’s recovery has since taken a back seat to her lusting after her best friend’s uncle. Rather than using this as an opportunity to bring the Brady family together and rallying around Ciara, it’s a fractured plot that would rather focus on making excuses for her rapist than devote on-screen time to her recovery with a therapist like Marlena. There always has to be redemption in soaps because it “worked” for rapists Luke Spencer and Jack Deveraux in the 80s and Todd Manning in the 90s, right?

Meanwhile, Hope — who murdered Stefano DiMera and covered up her crime with Rafe — is running around with the not-so-deceased Aiden, who planned to murder her the night of their wedding for insurance money to pay back debts owned by the DiMeras; only he didn’t do it because he changed his mind at the last minute, and was replaced with a doppelgänger who was killed instead. This, even though executive producer Ken Corday said, “From September 1 on, when someone dies, they are dead,” in the “Plan to Save DAYS: 2015 Edition” of Soap Opera Digest last July. A statement made knowing Daniel Cosgrove already wrapped his final episode, only for the show to reverse course and bring Aiden back.

There’s a lot to be said about the damage done to the once promising Aiden character, which I will address at a later time, but how are we supposed to root for Hope and Aiden knowing he was willing to murder her? Oh, he changed his mind, so no harm no foul? Even if one could get past that, the fact that Hope would pal around with the father of her daughter’s rapist is inherently disturbing. Not to mention Hope is once again waffling between men when she’s capable of so much more.

Then there’s Summer aka Cindy, a vapid con-artist that was “psychically” linked to Brady as a result of him receiving Daniel’s heart and is supposedly the retconned biological daughter of Maggie’s given up for adoption, who’s in “love” with Brady, but conned him out of $50K. Okay. Supporting her storyline is Dario, a character with no purpose before the hunky recast that aged him 20 years, and still has no purpose after. There’s more I could bring up: the non-existent storyline for Paul; John and Marlena being backburnered; Lucas and Adrienne being trotted out once every 6-8 weeks or so; breaking up Steve and Kayla, and so much more.

Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios
Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/JPI Studios

It’s 2016, yet the creative brain trusts writing these shows (because believe me, this isn’t a DAYS-only problem) believe doppelgängers, rapist redemption and ignoring history for the sake of retcons is what the audience wants? There’s no semblance of direction or desire to address anything topical or relevant in today’s society. No wonder the ratings are a disaster. Why be bold, fresh and exciting when you can go back to the same stale well that’s been tapped for the last 30 plus years?

The blocks for a great show exist within the framework at DAYS, but there’s no one who seems to able to put the pieces together for a consistent amount of time. I don’t know if that’s a Corday problem or a Sony/NBC problem, but it’s definitely a creative problem. I believed Josh Griffith was the solution to Days of our Lives‘ creative issues. Maybe a solo Griffith tenure as head writer would have been, but we’ll never know. What I do know is the Griffith-Higley era that began in late August 2015 with so much promise was quickly derailed by January 2016, and never truly recovered.

It doesn’t help that the same writers are cycled in, cycled out and recycled all over again a few years later, meanwhile the show sells the changes to the press as, “No, really, they know what they’re doing this time. Trust me. It’ll be good. I’m sure of it.” We’ll find out what happens at the end of August when presumably the material of current co-head writer Dena Higley and new co-head writer Ryan Quan’s material begins. Maybe it will be different this time. But given the repeated disappointments of the last five creative changes , I won’t get my hopes up. Call me a cynic, but Days of our Lives is the abusive ex who says he’ll change and never does.

What are your thoughts on Days of our Lives? Is there any storyline you’re liking or dislike? Tell me in the comment box below. Maybe I’m watching it wrong ™.

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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