There were a lot of good things that happened in daytime in 2010. Really, there were. Ratings may have declined, but the mainstream visibility of soaps rose. From James Franco’s role on “General Hospital,” to Neil Patrick Harris’s Twitter fight with Eric Braeden, the media remembered that soaps exist. Several beloved actors returned to their daytime roles. Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo got all the hype, but Tricia Cast and Kim Zimmer delivered the goods. As angry as viewers get with their shows when they fail to live up to their potential, every soap had moments of greatness this year.
The Resurgence of Nikki Newman: “The Young & the Restless”
Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) has been Y&R’s leading lady since the 1980s, reigning over the Newman Ranch, disapproving of her children’s love interests, falling in and out of love with Victor, and enduring numerous tragedies. But for the past couple years, she was largely relegated to the sidelines. She and Victor reunited with little fanfare after his marriage to Ashley fell apart. That all changed when crazy Meggie (Sean Young) set her sights on Victor, and decided knocking Nikki off the wagon was the best way to accomplish her goal. Drunk Nikki was a revitalized Nikki: ballsy, hilarious and heartbreaking. Her affair with the younger Deacon (Sean Kanan) was originally part of Meggie’s scheme, but now they are the hottest couple on the show. Welcome back, Nikki. You will always be the queen of Genoa City.
Oliver and Brooke Sex: “The Bold & the Beautiful”
For months, “The Bold & the Beautiful”s Oliver (Zack Conroy ) and Hope (Kimberly Matula) seemed like they were in the midst of a standard issue young love triangle, as bad girl Steffie (Jacqueline Wood) seemed to have her sights set on stealing Oliver away from the virginal Hope. That all changed when, at a wild masquerade party, a double case of mistaken identity led to Oliver sleeping with Hope’s mother, Brooke. It was one of the most surprising plot twists of the year, thanks to B&B’s savvy decision not to let any spoilers leak. It also led to numerous hilarious, albeit low-brow, scenes of Oliver and Brooke slowly realizing that they have cheated on their significant others than attempting to talk their way out of the situation. It may not have been high art, but in a year full of dark soap storylines, the wacky hijinks were a breath of fresh air.
Victor and Maggie’s Relationship: “Days of Our Lives”
In a year of warp speed romances, “Days of Our Lives“ struck gold with the slow-burn flirtation of the most unlikely of potential couples, magnificent bastard Victor (John Aniston) and morally upright matriarch Maggie (Suzanne Rogers). The two have it all: witty repartee, character-driven conflict, and chemistry that puts most of the show’s younger couples to shame. Their connection began to build soon after Maggie’s husband, Mickey died. Though the senior citizens have far more reason to rush things than Salem’s twenty and thirty somethings who rushed to the altar, the storyline is playing out at an old-school, relaxed pace. Maggie had been wary of Victor’s intentions since day one, and now cannot bring herself to forgive him for the role he played in burying Vivian in a sarcophagus. Though he has declared his love, the two have yet to get to second base. I wish that Maggie would realize she does not need to beware of the Greek bearing the gift of love, but I am thrilled that the show has taken the time to show me why these characters belong together and let their romance evolve at a realistic real-life pace.
The Slow Rebirth of the Quartermaines: “General Hospital”
This may be holiday optimism, but in an overall disappointing year, “General Hospital” has done one thing right. They have started to bring back the Quartermaines. Yes, they are still on the backburner. But, in 2010, Brooklyn (Adrianne Leon) returned to the show. Maya (Annie Ilonzeh), a brand new Quartermaine, came to town. Someday soon, perhaps the writers will remember that her little sister Zoe was supposed to soon follow. Edward (John Ingle), has his first storyline in eons, as he attempts to bribe Maya and Ethan to stay married to each other. Best of all, at Christmas, Jason (Steve Burton) and Michael (Chad Duell) recently actually acknowledged that they are, in fact Quartermaines, and treated their blood relatives with a modicum of respect. Maybe Monica (Leslie Charleson) will reappear soon. Who knows whether there will be any follow-through in 2011, but I would like to believe that the show has finally realized that writing stories about a core family that the audience loves is a good idea.
Overall Structural Excellence: “One Life To Live”
“One Life To Live” was not always good in 2010. Low points include writing off Kish, Schuyler learning he was Roxie’s son on his way to prison, the months where the show was entirely devoted to the teens, the Ford family taking up a disproportionate amount of airtime, and Eli the omnipotent villain. Yet, despite these flaws, it is still the show I most consistently find myself looking forward to watching every day. The reason is that OLTL knows how to structure a story. Even when I don’t enjoy a story, I enjoy it’s ripple effects. The pacing is tight. There are multiple payoffs to umbrella storylines. The plotlines weave together, with what happens in one storyline impacting characters in another. That used to be Soap Writing 101. Today, it’s a rarity.
Angie’s Blindness: “All My Children”
There is no bigger soap cliche than a heroine enduring a physical calamity. These storylines usually have minimal impact because the audience knows that there will always be a miraculous cure. I don’t think any soap character has ever remained in a wheelchair for longer than six months. On paper, Angie’s (Debbi Morgan) blindness on “All My Children” is nothing special. She discovered she was losing her sight at the same time she learned she was pregnant. Faced with two horrible choices, she opted not to undergo treatment in order to save her baby. Thanks to Morgan’s powerful performance, routine writing has been elevated into something both poignant and inspirational. When she inevitably regains her sight and sees her baby for the first time, I am sure I will be bawling.
The Renewals of “Days of Our Lives,” “Bold & the Beautiful,” and “The Young & the Restless”
When “As The World Turns” cancellation was announced in early 2010, it seemed like the final nail in daytime’s coffin. Fans assumed the rest of the remaining soaps were soon to follow. It was a pleasant surprise that the final two months of the year brought multi-year renewals for “The Young & the Restless,” “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold & the Beautiful.” It turns out that networks still do have some use for daytime dramas.
What were your favorite daytime moments this year?