Top 10 Reasons Why These Are The Best of DAYS

DAYS OF OUR LIVES has been shining for over six months now, proving creatively and ratings-wise that daytime television can still thrive.  For those who have missed out, or for the lapsed viewers who have tuned out, here are the Top 10 Reasons why these are the Best DAYS of the past 20 years:

10. Intelligent and sharp writing.  Since 1993, DAYS has been guilty of treating both its characters and its audience like idiots.  Now the characters are pensive, complex, and witty in their dialogue.  What other soap uses the word "schadenfreude"?

9. Relationships between friends and family. This daytime staple went the way of Blondie's about 21 years ago.  But every day on DAYS you will find simple conversations between two adults.  This past week spotlighted the relationships between Sami and Brady, Caroline and Bo, Melanie and Arianna, Bo and Phillip, Brady and Daniel.  There was not major plot development in these scenes, just moments of friendship, and this is what helps builds viewer loyalty and devotion.

8. New dimensions for old characters. Thanks to the attention and interest of the current writers, we are seeing new psychological dimensions to familiar characters.  Hope is angry and vengeful. Justin is lonely and insecure.  Sami is a heroine, Stefano is a saddened patriarch.  And Carly is a klutz disliked by half the people in town.  These are not drastic character departures, they are simply new layers to people we thought we knew well.

7. Salem feels like a cohesive community.  The characters are all mixing with each other, as opposed to keeping 3-4 characters interacting in separate corners.  When Mickey Horton died, everyone was affected.  The whole community is impacted by Sydney's kidnapping.  Carly manages to have a connection to nearly everyone in town.  When one watches DAYS they feel a familiar sense of home and connection to the whole town, not just a few people.

6. Good balance of generations.  In the past DAYS had an unfortunate habit of segregating the young 'uns and giving them an unbalanced amount of airtime.  Now women and men of all ages are seen daily.  Melanie interacts with Kate and Vivian, Mia and Nate interact with Maggie, Phillip fights with Victor. The teens-only scenes are kept to the minimum, as the vets are allowed to shine with the intelligent and witty dialogue mentioned in #10.

5. Consistent use of humor.  Who knew John Aniston had it in him?  After 25 years, Aniston has never been more adept and skilled at throwing out hysterical one-liners.  Throw in comic relief by Louise Sorel and Molly Burnett and you have a show that can make you smile and cry at the same time.

4. Unexpected plot twists based in character.  In a day and age where most soaps favor tornadoes, mobsters, and pile-up car crashes in order to throw their characters into chaos, DAYS has taken a more refreshingly subtle and rewarding stance.  EJ and Anna kidnapping Sydney, Melanie as Carly (and Daniel's?) daughter, Sierra watching Bo and Carly get busy on the computer—these are plot based twists that are organic to the characters, not the other way around.

3. Excellent use of history.  Details from past stories impact the conflicts and situations today.  Vivian burying Carly alive, Maggie's alcoholism, Carly's marriage to Victor, Anna's thirst for money, Vivian stealing Kate's embryo, all significantly impact stories now playing out.  As an added bonus, aspects of history are frequently acknowledged, such as Carly raising Shawn-Douglas when Hope was "dead," Kate trying to kill Victor, Caroline lying about Victor being Bo's father, Hope's expertise with puzzle boxes, even Addie Horton's death!  The mentioning of these details reward long term viewers and add therefore increase loyalty to the show.

2. Character motivations remain consistent.  On some shows, the character's emotions, goals, and love interests change so frequently that it remains hard to care one iota about whether they are happy or not.  Not the case in Salem.  Kate wants to win back the love of her sons.  Vivian wants revenge.  Carly wants to protect Melanie.  Arianna wants her freedom.  Sami wants her daughter.  Rafe wants to make Sami happy.  See what I mean? The characters may grow and evolve, but they do not wake up one day going "crazy" or madly declaring their love for someone different from yesterday.  When the character's drives remain consistent, it deepens the viewer's emotional investment.

1. Maggie, Maggie, Maggie!  It has been 26 years since Suzanne Rogers has been given the chance to demonstrate her Emmy winning acting skills as a lead in her own story.  In the past month we have witnessed Maggie Horton process through grief, anger, sadness, regret, depression, and temptation to break her 30-year-sobriety, often all in the same scene!  She is one of the most compelling talents currently working on daytime, or anytime for that matter.  Thank God Gary Tomlin and company have finally seen fit to give her a platform deserving of her range and mastery.

Damon's Top 5 suggestions for improvement:

5. More use of history. Remember Kate slept with Carly's son, and Carly competed with Kate's daughter for Bo's affection.  Sami herself was kidnapped by Stefano when she was around Sydney's age.  Hope's sister Julie was in competition with Carly for Victor's affection for a short time in 1991. These are more details that can enrich the current stories.
4. Bring back the Carvers.  With Faye coming in and out of town, wouldn't it be reasonable for her to pay her ex-lover Abe a visit?
3. Where is Marlena? I know Deidre Hall isn't coming back, but it doesn't make sense that Marlena isn't even mentioned in the midst of Sami's crisis and Maggie's grief.
2. Clarify Stefano's purpose.  Does he still hate the Brady's? Is he still angry at Victor? He's more reactive than active now, and the character of Stefano is much more plausible with a plan of action. 
1. Give Maggie a new love interest.  Couldn't Victor help her through some of these tough times? Don't Rafe and Arianna have a hot father somewhere?  Did Don Craig ever return from the post office? Giving Maggie a new man could breathe even more life to this rediscovered treasure.

What do YOU think?  Comments welcome below!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.

21 comments:

  1. I agree with everything you have said but I also want to add that they need to keep Anna on the show. Give her a major s/l with anyone or bring Tony back alive. She is one of the best actresses around and she is an interesting character with a lot of history on the show.

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  2. I Grew up watching Days. OLTL is now my soap of choice after finding everything on this list on that wonderful show, but I think you've convinced me to take a second look. Guess the DVR is gonna get even more crowded!

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  3. I love the revitalation of older characters and the intro of new ones like, Rafe a very different type of character for Days

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  4. I watch 5 soaps and no other soap comes close to Days. Story-wise, draw or heart. No other soap is like this one. I'm so glad i've watched for 15 years.

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  5. Dare I say this, but it has gotten better since Marlena and John left the canvas. It seems to have opened up time for other characters, ie Maggie, plus there seems to be less stupid plot points, ie./ who is John really? (answer, it seemed to change so often I didn't care!)

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  6. I also agree with everything in the article...I have been a diehard fan for 30 yrs and I am soooo happy with what they have done with the show especially in the last couple of years, minus the firings of 2 of my favorite supercouples. Anna needs to stick around and get away from EJ, maybe a hook up with Roman again. I love how they remind people of the past and something was said about the Kate sleeping with Nikki, I think that should be forgotten and they should bring him back in late 20's age and hook him up with all those younger cast. Age Mia up a bit or Nicole. Think he would liven it up. If they brought him back now, he would be the same age as his mom after his SORAS...Just saying...Days at its Best 2010!!!

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  7. I've watched Days since the second year it was on. You are absolutely right about most of what you say. One of the things that drives me nuts is that they don't have Sami even get a phone call from her mother! Marlena would never totally ignore the pain that Sami is going through.
    As for Maggie getting another man in her life - give it a little time! She was married to Mickey for decades and needs some time to grieve. No woman would immediately jump into another relationship after losing the love of her life!

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  8. Nice analysis. I agree with most everything said. The show is far better than it's been in years. Seems to be on stable ground for once, something I haven't been able to say in over a decade.

    I especially like the way they're using history, causally incorporating it into dialogue, like people do in real life. Feels like a nice reward for watching the show for all these years.

    But I was disappointed about some of the historical oversights surrounding Mickey's funeral.

    Mike Horton believed Mickey was his father for the first 16 years of his life. Shouldn't Mike have come back for the funeral? Or at least have been mentioned in some way?

    Similarly, Laura Horton was married to Mickey for over a decade. Coudln't she have at least sent flowers?

    Where was Jennifer? A phone call from her would have gone a long way.

    And Lucas didn't even show up at the funeral! And Lucas is still on the canvas!

    But it was nice to see Melissa back for the funeral, even though she didn't have any scenes with her best friend Hope.

    And great to have the flashback scenes of Mickey and Maggie's romance. Wish there had been more. Lots more!

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  9. It's a shame that the Carvers don't have a storyline, but that's Days. After all, of the 3 Latino characters, 2 are played by non-Latins.

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  10. I cannot agree about the great writing. I'm watching because Crystal is back on but it is a struggle to get through most days. I spend a lot of time fast forwarding. The writing is contrived and has no heart. What ever happened to a slow building love story? I fell in love with Bo and Carly and Steve and Kayla back in the late 80's and early 90's- back when soaps would make you wait!! Now people just fall into bed after talking for a few days. NO heart!!!

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  11. I agree with most of the things you said except it is more plot writing instead of character writing. The dialogue was more witty and clever and it was more character writing under Hogan.
    I really don't like the writing for Sami, they can write her as a heroine but she can stay sassy, strong and a wooden hero like Rafe is really not a match for her. I really would prefer her with somebody who suits her or even better as a single strong mother. We don't see her with her children but always dependent of Rafe, this character does nothing to me (no charisma at all) and the worse he destroys Sami ! Stop this quickly writers.

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  12. I am thrilled to see Maggie get some choice scenes lately, but the reason I came back to DOOL and am enjoying it is to see Crystal Chappell's return as Carly. I love seeing her interact with Bo and Vivian. And it is nice to see her incorporated in the existing storylines so well.

    Welcome back Crystal!

    BBK

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  14. I'm a 3rd generation fan and this is almost the Days I grew up with! All your points were right on target except the one about Maggie getting a new love interest. If they do that they need to wait a bit and if it will bring Jed Allan back I'm all for it!

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  15. It is crazy that Marlena isn't even mentioned while Eric who hasn't been around in years ends up getting mentioned quite a bit. Yeah they could at least have Sami mention a phone call or have her get an email or even a letter.

    Kidnapping seems to be a Brady tradition since so many members of that family have been kidnapped.

    Suzanne has been great and I just love her scenes with Molly. Who wouldn't want an Aunt Maggie around? I know I would. As for John he's been so funny. That would be interesting if Victor and Maggie became friends. Potential for triangle after all he's carried a torch for Caroline all these years.

    I do wish they'd bring Victor Webster back as Nicky. I just wish they'd end this kidnapping storyline since it has been going on too long. Yeah I'd be interested to see Mom And Dad Hernandez. Why not bring Eva on since she did play Galen and Lindsay's mother on Passions.

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  16. Days has always been my favorite soap growing up. It gets hammered for being too campy with its storylines, but you know what, it's a soap and with soaps it's an escape from reality. Plus through it's silliness, Days still has their moments of realism mainly with the recent Mickey Horton death. This show is the heart of my soap viewing and happy to see people are back watching it again.

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  17. Top 10 reasons why these are the best of days :
    1. Crystal Chappell
    2. Crystal Chappell
    3. Crystal Chappell
    4. Crystal Chappell
    5. Crystal Chappell
    6. Crystal Chappell
    7. Crystal Chappell
    8. Crystal Chappell
    9. Crystal Chappell
    10.Crystal Chappell

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  18. I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT ALL CARLEY NEEDS TO BE TRIED FOR THE MURDER AND LET BO AND HOPE GET THEIR STUFF BACK TOGETHER, I LOVE MAGGIE, AND IF SO MANY OF YOU ARE SUCH FANS COULD YOU NOT AT LEAST ACKNOELEDGE THE PASSING OF THE BELOVED MRS. ALICE HORTON....RIP GRANDMA HORTON,,2/3/2010

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  19. I have to admit that the only reason I started watching Days again was the ending of GL and Crystal Chappell returning to the show. Since then the other storylines have drawn me in. I am invested in Rafe and Sami. I want to know where Maggie is going now that Mickey is gone. I like Melanie and Nathan. The whole Carly/Bo/Hope/Justin relationship makes me want to watch everyday.

    I agree that there are many areas that still need improvement but all in all I am hooked. I can get lost in a soap again but not feel like they think the viewer is dumb.

    Keep up the good work Days.

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  20. Stefino does have a purpose: We're learning more about how he loves his family. He's desperate for EJ's affection. Also, I don't want Maggie to love another!

    My suggestion: Quit dragging out Carley telling Mel she's her mother. I've been waiting so long that I don't even care anymore. Really, it's like waiting for Stefino to get caught!

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  21. Days has also been lacking a Supercouple and real romance for quite some time. Bo and Hope was the only remaining supercouple, but their status has fizzled. Any good Soap must have a strong Supercouple/ rooting couple. Sami and Rafe have now filled that void. They are romantic, engaging, and funny. We still need one or two more strong couples such as Melanie and Nathan and love interests that remain constant for a period of time instead of the on again, off again, off forever nature of the love interests that we have seen as of late.

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