Days of Our Lives is my show until the end of time, everyone knows that. But this last week was almost unwatchable and definitely unlikable; there really wasn’t much that I enjoyed. In fact, I count myself as one of the few viewers who was actually offended in various ways watching some of the material. Dena Higley’s current stories are an assault on beloved Salem characters as well as viewers who hold them dear – and this will continue on through July! In a perfect world, DAYS would scrap most of what’s to come and air re-runs until Ron Carlivati had enough material in the can to jump into. But that perfect world is not where we live…
I want to write about my favorite soap opera but doing so is hard when you don’t really want to watch. There really was not much that I liked about the show this last week, but hopefully with my gripes as well as those from other soap journalists and fans alike, the showrunners at DAYS will finally take note as to why so many of us are dissatisfied with the show at the moment. I don’t want this article to be about bashing or badmouthing or even whining, but honestly things have got to change. DAYS fans are very realistic with their expectations, I’ve found. You don’t see a huge number of them flooding all channels with impossible requests like other soaps’ fans; they just want the show to be a cohesive and solid unit. All in all, we all know it’s going to be a long, long road to July!
Week in Review for Days of Our Lives episodes airing March 6th – 10th.
The First Offense
I have no idea why soap operas have seemingly become allergic to long storylines in recent years. One might argue the change in viewership, citing that people want to see quick moving storylines instead of slow burners like back in the 90’s and while that may be true to an extent – the story has to be good regardless. There was a lot of potential for a great story involving Valerie and Eli Grant and Julie Williams but instead of stretching out the story, giving us time to learn the new characters and re-learn the past characters, Eli’s paternity reveal was rushed. And this is after not having him on screen for days at a time! We didn’t need weeks of him poking around corners spying on his grandmother Julie at hospital fundraisers but we did not deserve a climax so anti-climactic either.
The arrival of a mixed race Horton was a hot topic among soap opera fans, many of us were excited to see such a historic family take an exciting new turn. And let’s be honest, our stateside soap operas are still far too white. Bringing back Valerie Grant made race a hot button issue with her steamy interracial romance with David Banning in the 70s was a smart move. Not just because Salem desperately needed more color but because Salem also needed a good character. With all of our favorite justice upholding police officers murdering elderly men and covering up crimes, Valerie came onto the scene as a sort of burst of light energy. There’s still a lot we have to learn about her, namely why she kept such a huge secret quiet for decades but from what we’ve seen of her, I doubt there was any ill intent behind it. This storyline may be a huge stretch with a lot of pit falls that lead up to it but the potential to actually have emotional impact was sky high when instead; the climax came in two weeks in Eli’s second scene total. Why the rush?
The cynic in me makes me wonder if the showrunners were still afraid to tell an interracial story after facing backlash from some DAYS fans in the 70s regarding Valerie and David; makes me wonder if they’re speeding things up in order to never even touch on the issue of race. For once, I believe this is an instance where color should matter. Imagine being a seventy-something white woman in a family full of people that look like you and suddenly you find that you have a half-black secret grandson? That would be an emotional atom bomb for anyone, especially drama queen Julie Williams.
Though I do have my complaints, there’s no doubt that the scenes between Eli, Valerie and Julie were the highlights of the dim week. Eli digging into his mother at the Brady Pub for answers as to why she kept him from his father stood out for me this last week. Many DAYS fans were hesitant about Lamon Archey, citing his performance on The Young & the Restless as a bit lacking but I must say I’ve been impressed by him from the beginning of his stint in Salem. I never saw him in Genoa City so I cannot speak on that but he feels natural in Salem and his chemistry with Vanessa A. Williams is smooth. But who wouldn’t work well with Ms Williams? Williams plays Valerie’s guilt so well, teetering in between fragility and strength with ease. You can see how hard it is for her to remain strong in the face of all her lies crumbling around her and it just feels real. I miss being able to see and feel emotion with soap characters. Then when Julie strolled into the pub and was approached by Eli, Valerie’s whole self-constructed world truly crumbled to bits. After giving his condolences for the loss of David, Eli revealed himself as the man’s son to a surprised Julie – who of course turned on Valerie in a heartbeat for keeping her grandson away.
Julie and Eli immediately embracing each other was beautiful but oh so anti-climactic. And unrealistic as well. I just do not think a newly found member of the family with a different skin color and no credible ties to said family would be welcomed so easily, so fluidly. It doesn’t have to be a racism issue, Julie wouldn’t be racist for questioning Eli’s paternity but it’d definitely be a race issue which is new territory for the Horton family. There was no jaw dropping or even a time for her to adjust to the idea that her grandson was black. It’s nice to think that our Salemites are color blind but we all know the real world isn’t, the soap world should mirror that a bit.
Ideally, I would have loved to see Eli and Valerie’s dynamic develop more over the weeks as he pushed her to spill the beans until he ultimately did. But instead of Julie welcoming him openly, she wants a paternity test done, she just wants to make sure he’s really David’s son but she feels guilty for doing so. Eli wonders if it’s because of his skin color while Julie denies it while ultimately knowing that’s the reason. Much like the newly liberated era that was the 70s, race and race relations are a hot button issues all around the world right now. DAYS truly missed a beat to tell an important and relevant story that could tie into all of that.
The thing is none of the Horton family members were ever written to have a problem with David and Valerie’s relationship because of race. It was actually Valerie’s own mother that didn’t want them together because of their race. Unfortunately, TPTB chose not to bring Helen back for this story. It would’ve been interesting to find out that it was Helen Grant who manipulated Valerie into keeping quiet about Eli’s paternity and marrying another man and claiming said man as Eli’s father and it would’ve been even better if David was still alive.
Archey has improved leaps and bounds since his time on Y&R! I’m very proud of him! He openly admitted to not being the best actor and said he went to work the moment he left Y&R and it shows! And one thing that he has kept consistent in his acting though he’s gotten much better is that he still feels very natural. I haven’t enjoyed a Days newbie this much since Kyler Pettis as Theo. But I agree with you about the rushed revealed. There was no need to do it. Eli should’ve come to town knowing nothing and showed at the funeral to support his mom only. The stakes would’ve been higher if Eli and Julie were bonding and not realizing why and Val could’ve been doing everything she could to keep them apart or get her son out of town.
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