Best & Worst of 2016:
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLYHow do My Team and I decide the top Best & Worst of 2016 of the
Soap operas? There are plenty of ways to determine what makes a soap great – the storylines, the characters, the history – but there’s always that “X-Factor,” the thing that makes us tune in every day, or remember a soap from yesterday with a particular fondness.
General Hospital’s Hayden. When con artist Hayden fell into a coma last year, no one in town really cared and neither did the viewers other than to think what a waste of Rebecca Budig’s talent. Hayden wasn’t connected to anyone, but she’s come a long way since then and in her recent life or death struggle we did care. The actress and the writers have done such a good job adding layers to her character, building depth, we’ve learned so much about her through her interactions with her withholding mother, with the way she fought for Tracy and Finn’s health, and her grudging sisterhood with Elizabeth. All of these relationships have made her motivations clearer and her heart more apparent without losing any of her snark.
Something Old, Something Blue, Something Borrowed, But Hardly Ever NewThe Bold and The Beautiful. The CEO merry-go-round. The Liam triangle. The Brooke Triangle. The same things happening over and over again, it feels as though B&B plagiarize themselves. One of the great joys of daytime soaps is it rarely repeats, yet one of the sorrows of watching B&B is how often it feels like a repeat. There are plenty of characters on this show, and plenty of territory for each of them that has yet to be explored, so explore it already, quit giving us the same old.
Most Welcome BondsI don’t know which was more enjoyable, tender, and surprisingly believable to watch, Days of Our Lives’ Victor embracing teary Theresa on her way out of town, or Kate, who has notoriously hated all her sons’ love interests, encouraging and helping Adrienne through her cancer treatments. This is what makes for a compelling villain, someone who is capable of nastiness, yet also capable of these human heartfelt moments.
Shock ValueWhile unimpressed by The Bold and The Beautiful’s repetitive nature, they do one thing better than most and that’s deliver shocks. When a doctor blackmailed Ridge did you expect a truck to mow the guy down? Quinn may be a certified psychopath, but pushing Deacon off a cliff? This is stuff I never saw coming when otherwise, you see everything coming on B&B, this is B&B at it’s most unpredictable and exciting, basically everything a Liam triangle is not. They need more of this.
Worst VillainsDays was never worse this year than whenever it gave over screen time to Ava, Summer, Clyde, Orpheous, Xander, and depending on the moment, Deimos (I’m on the fence about him, love the actor, don’t think the character is fully conceived yet). Their motivations were murky, as was their endgame, it was just a whole bunch of action-oriented nonsense that I didn’t care about. Putting characters in emotional danger makes for much better drama, just look at Adrienne’s cancer, or Chad and Jennifer’s self-destructive grief over Abby.
Most ImprovedWhile still not everything it could be, the changes behind the scenes at Y&R has brought some very positive changes on-screen. The show is much richer visually, with Katherine’s mansion looking more like itself, so many outdoor scenes, and the houses having dining room tables. You wouldn’t think tables would be an exciting turn of events, yet it really is because it’s conducive to conversation and family, and those are areas where Y&R has really excelled of late, Thanksgiving and Christmas, those were brilliant, character-driven affairs, full of squabbles and warmth, like an invitation into someone’s home. It’s early days for this producing and writing team, with some areas that still need improving, but this is as promising as Y&R has been in a long while.
- B&B - The moment Katie broke up with Bill and Brooke – The moment Julius’ secrets blew up in his face – Nicole refusing Zende’s proposal. - Pam’s lemon bars – If Pam’s lemon bars feels like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel for highlights, well, yeah, can we all admit this was not a stellar year for B&B? I mean, what were there, like five storylines that spanned the entire year?
- DAYS - Hernandez family meals - Nicole coaxing a mournful Parker out of his makeshift cave – Eric was actually punished for his crime - Theo overwhelmed during the blackout/breakout while tasked with minding the kids – Shawn brings a drunk Belle home and they finally really talk and reunite.
- GH - Robin and Patrick’s small wedding – Liz and Franco’s odd, awkward courtship – Every moment of Morgan, and all the grief following his death – Chatty little Avery who prompts her adult co-stars to improv - Ava and all the terrible things she does like messing with Morgan’s pills and Julian’s trial, and yet you still feel kind of bad for her when she’s mourning Morgan alone or being shunned by her daughter.
- Y&R - Jack gleefully eats Victor’s Thanksgiving pie – Mariah on the camping trip – Victor comforting Faith in the stable, and every time they show how her parents’ squabbling affects a kid – the Sully is Christian reveals – Nick bringing the baby over to visit at Christmas - Tracy’s visits, particularly the Abbott breakfast.
- B&B - Quinn kidnapped/arguably raped amnesiac Liam and somehow served no time whatsoever, just because he’s criminally stupid, doesn’t mean she isn’t a criminal – Brooke and Sasha, who needs enemies if you have either of these two for a sister - Wyatt and Liam who spend so much time stealing each other’s girl that I can’t keep track of which of them is more in the wrong at this point, all I know is maybe one of them should try sex with someone their brother hasn’t slept with/married - Quinn showering in the backyard.
- DAYS - The villains, I really can’t stress that enough – Inventing flashbacks where Daniel and Nicole decided Chloe would carry their baby and they never told anyone, not even Maggie, then to make things even more preposterous, an angry Chloe opts to keep mum about going back for another round of IVF, and apparently she kept so mum that even she forgot since it was a big old shock to her that the baby wasn’t hers. The only good that came of it is that Nicole is finally a mom as she’s desperately wanted to be. - Belle and Shawn finally talked and reunited right when they were leaving the show, instead of when we could have enjoyed them – The return of Daniel Cosgrove as Aiden, I was so hoping for better for him this go round, but since he fell into the villain category and Days mightily struggled with that this year, it’s no wonder it didn’t work out.
- GH - Killing off Sabrina - Wasting the talented Richard Burgi by making Paul the serial killer – Nelle faking that she slept with Sonny, like we haven’t seen that enough times and isn’t he supposed to be street smart if he’s the head of the mafia, it makes him seem kind of stupid that he’s not suspicious of this girl – Somehow, even with Billy Miller playing him, Jason remains incredibly boring, and self-righteous – Claudette, great actress, ill-conceived character – The revival of Crimson held such promise only to become a joke, all their supposedly best-selling ideas (the miss-printed green issue, random non-famous topless mom Olivia on the cover, etc, would never sell in the fashion mag world).
- Y&R - So many prison visits to Victor, I get that he’s a mega-mogul, but surely even mega-moguls would have limits placed on that sort of thing – the Billy/Phyllis affair – GC Buzz, because there is no reason whatsoever for Wisconsin to have TMZ, it’s all a little too Kardashian – The revisionist history where some pool party of Nick’s paralyzed a girl and the first we heard of it is when that girl, now a doctor, decides to hatch an elaborate baby stealing plot, then she’s murdered before we ever do get a full explanation for any of it from her.
New Year’s Wishes
- B&B - A meaningful story for Maya, I’m pretty sure life for transgender people stays complicated even after their secret is known, it feels like B&B just dipped a toe into this subject matter in hopes of Emmy glory, with no intention of digging any deeper, for instance, we’ve barely even seen her with her baby, how do other moms respond to her? - Why are all these Foresters jockeying for one job, why doesn’t one of them break from the fold and start their own company? And not knock-offs like Spectra, but a legit competitor that truly rivals the Forester label.
- DAYS - EJ back from the dead and battling with Chad and Andre for control of DiMera enterprises – An actual office for the Spectator where we see Jennifer working like she used to back in the fun days – Gabi and Abby choose friendship over catfighting for Chad.
- GH - An explanation for Nelle that makes sense and has lasting impact on storyline - Scotty and Lucy, full-time cast members with full-time stories (I feel like I ask for some version of this every year) – Emma moves in with her grandma Anna, I don’t care if they use a totally far-fetched reason, maybe Emma’s attending junior spy school, whatever, I just love their interactions and want more of it- Brenda comes home, just because I love her, and so does Sonny.
- Y&R - We discover Katherine’s will was a fraud, so Devon has to actually do something more interesting than buy things, and the money creates drama and feuds for several characters like it should have in the first place – Mariah and Abby team up together in friendship and business – A really, really careful recast of Adam, someone charismatic and respectful of his castmates – An age appropriate love interest for Neil, something fun and sparky, since he never ever gets to play that.