Has your year been bold and beautiful? Did you serve time in an invisible jail? Did you decide to be the sucker who's born every minute? Did you come back and take an entire show hostage? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Spectra-Avant-Barber-Buckingham clan in 2019!
Wow, 2019 went by fast, Scoopers! Myself, I turned 50 this year, which is a plot development I'm still getting used to. But what's up with B&B? We're basically still in the fallout of what happened during its 8000th episode a year ago, aided and abetted by a certain formerly non-crazy character who keeps coming back like Freddy Krueger. He's sure turned me into a doubting Thomas!
Like another soap opera playing out in real time, we seem to be stuck with a villain we just can't get rid of. Yet, as I am reminded, nothing is permanent. So, there's always "hope for the future", har har. It was a wildly uneven year for all who are bold and beautiful, and I'm back to once again tell it like it is with my own year-end review -- inspired, as always, by the Soap Opera Digest model.
Full disclosure: I have not perused said digest for my picks, nor have I even glanced at Chanel's best/worst column, which "aired" last week. Nope. It's just me, my rapidly aging laptop, and Soap Central's recaps to remind me what the hell happened in 2019, because I had a little trouble remembering...um...what are we talking about again? Oh! The year-end goodness! So, if you're ready, let's Two Scoop it Best & Worst style!
Is the third time really the charm? Katie should have never given rat bastard Bill, who cheated on her twice, anywhere close to another chance. But after Thorne bailed and Will played Cupid, Katie rethought the Dollah and delighted when he resisted the set-up advances of ex-flame Shauna. Bill not only reunited Will with his parents but stood by Katie when a failing kidney almost made him a widower. It's odd that Batie bonded in May and still haven't remarried, but whatever works. Who knew Katie and Bill would end up being the most stable pairing on the show!
You might say theirs was a case of getting what they deserved. Wyatt rebounded with Flo at the speed of light, having just ditched Sally over Sally keeping one single secret. Flo was Wyatt's high school sweetheart but also the play-the-victim baby-switching accomplice who was letting Wyatt's brother think his daughter had died. Match made in heaven, right? Or someplace. This gave "Flyatt" zero rooting value, and nobody shed a tear when Flo was forced to come clean and Wyatt gave her the heave-ho for Sally. They say you can never recapture your first love...and Flo and Wyatt gave us an extreme example why.
She was the enemy-tasering secret-keeper, and he was the furious father figure determined to see her hang for hurting his family. Add one ounce of gratitude from the mom whose daughter he helped set free and at least one bottle of booze, and bam! Shauna was crushing hard on Ridge, to whom she'd given a sweet kiss while he was passed out. Amazingly, Ridge softened on Shauna after Flo donated a kidney to Katie, and soon the kisses were happening while Ridge was conscious. Shauna may never replace "destiny" Brooke, but Ridge's amused fascination with the Vegas vixen may give her a running start.
When Douglas was whisked away to live in the Big Apple, he was an infant with no real rememberability. That changed fast when Henry Joseph Samiri took over the role! Of course, soaps (and Hollywood in general) are rife with cute kids who look good on camera. But this six-year-old stole hearts with his natural talent, being able to take Douglas through not just the whimsical moments but the intensely serious. And that's not something you can force. Douglas may have a crappy family, but he's got a great little actor standing in his sneakers!
Let's be clear: Matthew Atkinson is a fine performer. He can basically handle any script handed him. The problem is, he will always be associated with a version of Thomas Forrester who's a relentless nutcase and the product of plot-driven character assassination. Both Drew Tyler Bell and Adam Gregory's Thomases were a little creepy, but that seemed to fade under Pierson Fodé's tenure -- now Thomas doesn't just have a seat on the crazy train; he's driving the whole thing. So, it's hard to not have a bias against Atkinson, who's just doing his job...it's just too bad it's such a dirty job.
"Thirsty" is the dictionary definition of Shauna Fulton. She tries on Forrester originals without permission and positions her daughter in elegant situations where the cash will surely trickle down. Forcing Flo to keep Beth's existence a secret threatened to turn her into a basic bitch, but then the show gave her something unexpected: a sense of fun. Her humor has both edge and a tendency to read beads. What's more, Shauna has an intriguing vulnerability streak that makes you want to cheer for her whether you like her or not. It's cool that what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas!
There's something so wimpy about Shauna's daughter, it's hard to believe this apple fell from that tree. Sure, being asked to pose as Phoebeth's mother for Reese would make any honest person uncomfortable. But as time went on, she kept crowing about telling Hope her baby was alive, only to fold like a flower at the slightest intimidation. Flo only 'fessed up because she was forced to -- then, she was practically elevated to sainthood for giving Katie a kidney. A noble gesture, yes, but not enough to redeem Flo -- or make her interesting.
What made the Thope nuptials so soapy was its extenuating circumstances. Horny groom speeding up the ceremony to get to the honeymoon, frigid bride who looked like she'd rather throw up than say, "I do." And the entire bride's family telling her not to. It would only have been a shotgun wedding without the shotgun had baby "Phoebe" not crawled up to Hope and yelled, "Mama!" Steffy thought her daughter was being cute, but talk about out of the mouths of babes. Sometimes it's not the perfect matches that make the best soap weddings, but the train wrecks.
A year ago, Maya Avant Forrester returned to Los Angeles with baby Lizzy in tow, reporting that she and Rick were divorcing. Maya shared no details, but promised her parents that she would soon fill them in. Only thing is, she never did! Despite both having been rotten people at one point, Rick and Maya were once the most enduring couple on the show, and for them to split with no explanation is a disservice to them and their fans. Even worse, Maya isn't even shown at family events. What was the point of bringing her back and ripping apart Raya?
Soap children are often nothing but plot devices -- kids who keep couples apart or unravel family trees until they outlive their usefulness and come back a few years later as rebellious teenagers. And that may end up being true of Phoebe Forrester/Beth Spencer, but who cares when the babies are as cute as Madeline Valdez and River Davison, who have played the tyke since May? (Shows usually cast twins as children; interesting choice here.) The kiddos light up the screen and consistently steal the spotlight from their grown-up counterparts. But Beth will be 18 before you know it, so enjoy it while you can!
Taylor earned this superlative in 2018, but this year, the "honor" gets passed to her firstborn. Almost immediately after arriving, nuThomas faked photos and letters to get Hope's attention, and when that didn't work, he drugged Liam and heartlessly manipulated his own son to have his plans come to fruition. Thomas' deeds have become so dastardly, there's very little that can be done to redeem him, and the stain will remain even if Thomas one day gets well. Worst of all, there was really no good reason why Tridge's only son careened down this dark a path. It's a shame.
2018's Worst Return has unfortunately earned this title for 2019, not due to Courtney Hope's always effervescent portrayal of Sally Spectra 2.0 but because of the show continually not knowing what to do with her. She finally gets Spectra back (under the Spencer Fashions name) only to suddenly give it up for an athletic line at Forrester that never materialized. She gets done over by Wyatt, only to take him back after he dumped Flo as quickly. Now she's supposedly stuck on Liam. The original Grand Diva Sally never lacked for decent story. This one shouldn't, either.
Flo and Wyatt almost gave new meaning to the term "keeping it in the family" when Flo's mama showed up from Vegas and revealed that the childhood sweethearts probably had the same daddy! Flyatt had already done some virginity-losing in between classes back in the '90s. AWK-waaaaard! Fortunately for all involved, it turned out that Bill had not fathered both Wyatt and Flo and that Shauna had played a bit of musical beds in her time. The near-sibs moment was reminiscent of Y&R's Cole and Victoria, and Flyatt was only too glad to get caught in this "storm."
Soap secrets are naturally slow to make their way to the main finder-outer, getting more than a few people hip along the way. But Phoebe's existence went through some painful permutations. It wasn't that people like Zoe, Xander, Thomas, and Shauna got wise. It's that they had constant circular conversations about it. Tell Hope! Don't tell Hope! Almost tell Hope! And on we went for seven months. That's not how to write a secret keep -- that's how to put viewers to sleep. When Douglas finally spilled the tea, it was a wonder someone hadn't popped in the tea bag long before.
The Tay-Tay's still-unstable heart was in the right place when she (possibly illegally) fast-tracked an adoption for Steffy. But where was she when the walls caved in? Steffy had to weather giving up the baby Taylor introduced her to all alone while the shrink ran around Africa. Then, when Thomas followed in Taylor's freaky footsteps, it was only mentioned that Taylor was (unethically!) offering her son counsel off-screen. Taylor should have come home to deal with the fallout of the adoption she set in motion. And been mentally healthy again into the bargain. Was Hunter Tylo that unavailable?
This year, we found out Quinn had yet one more secret in her past -- a bestie! Yes, Quinn and Shauna had kept Las Vegas hoppin', apparently, until Quinn sneaked Wyatt out under the cover of night. But the red-hot mamas wasted no time catching up...at least until Quinn found out Flo's daughter had pretended Wyatt's niece was dead. Oops. But what's a baby switch between friends? Quauna (Shinn?) was back at it soon after, dishing on Ridge, with whom they both share(d) a fascination. Quinn the Impaler and the Slut from the Desert shouldn't work...but they do.
Ridge Forrester has always been hardheaded, but this year, he poured industrial-strength cement into his noggin. When Thomas first started pulling diabolical shenanigans, it was only right for Ridge to not want to believe the worst of his son. But after Ridge learned Thomas had used his son to win Hope and left Emma to die after running her off the road, Ridge dug in his heels and insisted to Brooke that Thomas just needed forgiveness and was getting better. The Dressmaker even divorced his Logan rather than face the truth about Thomas. Can you say "denial," boys and girls? I knew you could.
Usually, when a new character commits a crime on a soap, said character slinks around for a while before getting caught and shipped off. B&B went the other way this year and awarded Phoebe's fake mom Flo an entire family! Certainly, this would be confirmed with a DNA test or some other verification. Nope -- we got an ancestry web site saying Flo had a 52% chance of being Storm's daughter! Which means there's a 48% chance she isn't! It seems being a donor match for Katie silently linked the Logans, but in this case, the family tree has root rot.
And a little child shall lead them! Despite losing his mom, getting shuttled from New York to L.A., being yelled at by his dad, and getting spooked by a ghost (perpetrated by same dad), little Douglas Forrester had more integrity and, yes, balls than any of his adult counterparts. Overhearing that Phoebe was really Beth, Douglas considered his father's threats for two seconds then ran to tell Liam and Steffy the news, symbolically flipping Thomas the bird while he was at it! Hope et al may have taken gushing that Douglas was a hero to Hallmark Channel levels -- but they weren't wrong.
There seems to be a vortex spinning around B&B that causes logic to vanish into thin air. Hope accepted Reese's explanation of "placental abruption" without getting confirmation from her own doctor. Half the ish Thomas pulled, no one even knows about. For that matter, Thomas is crazy for no particular reason. Characters move away then suddenly come back. Nobody ever learned Flo collected $50K for fobbing off Phoebe. People switch jobs and paramours at the speed of light. And the list goes on. Here's a reminder of Soap 101: don't put it on the screen if the follow-through's gonna be lean.
At first, it seemed like a silly plot to give B characters something to do -- someone set Bill and Katie up on multiple romantic dates. Donna, Justin, Wyatt, and Sally all suspected each other. But who should have better matchmaking skills than eHarmony? Will, who wanted his parents back together. Dollar Bill Jr. spared no expense -- literally, as he managed to charge everything to Bill's credit card. And instead of punishing the child, Batie aw-shucksed the gesture because hey! Wasn't it just something the Dollah's son would do? Yep, and you can take that twist to the bank.
Of course, Hope wasn't going to be able to think straight while mourning Beth. It's just that Hope missed so many obvious clues that meant she had no reason to mourn. Usually, when Flo tried to come clean about the baby, Hope prattled on about either her loss or her delight that Flo was a relative. Hope caught Flo and Zoe arguing about Beth yet believed their unconvincing explanation. After Beth came home, Hope went into clueless mode about Thomas even after he proved to be a lying snake! Hope's more naïve now than she was when she was first SORASed!
In this current world where people get away with dastardly deeds scot-free, it was nice to see at least one fictional character facing some justice in 2019. Despite being a fall girl of sorts, Flo cooled off in the cooler for a while after her part in Beth's kidnapping and adoption came to light. And she was actually behind bars for a few weeks! It all came to an abrupt end because she assisted another case and Ridge wanted to keep the heat off Thomas, but, on a show where prices are rarely paid, Flo did walk up to the register.
B&B likely made history this year by having a character break the law before our eyes but keeping us from enjoying his comeuppance. Reese stole Beth from Hope, got Flo to handle the baby's adoption, then took off. Okay, he came back a couple of times to keep Zoe quiet. But when the baby switch was exposed, Ridge had Reese arrested off-screen, where his sentencing also happened. Sorry, but you don't put a perp on our monitors only to deprive us of watching his punishment. We needed to see Hope flame Reese! Surely Wayne Brady could have returned for that.
Part of the triumvirate of 2018's Worst Story, Emma Barber looked to have another unremarkable year. Until it turned out to be her last! It only made sense that the HFTF devotee would learn Beth was alive and make a beeline for Hope, not even letting Thomas' menacing stop her! What followed was a suspenseful, cinematic chase up L.A.'s Mulholland Drive, with Emma trying to stay ahead of the tailgating Thomas. Once Emma rolled down a ravine, her body becoming slowly but surely lifeless was realistic and more bone-chilling for it. Emma's first and last scenes both ended with a knockout.
When did Number Two Son Thorne become such a wuss? In 2018, Mr. FAR-ester (as Ingo pronounced it) helped Katie battle Bill for custody of Will, even instigating the suit. This year, Thorne was so butt-hurt that Will invited Bill over for dinner -- with Donna joining them -- that, out of nowhere, Thorne dumped Katie and gave her annulment papers...on Valentine's Day! This is the guy who stood by Macy during her alcoholism and defied his family to be with Brooke, but he couldn't handle one sit-down with the Dollah? Let's bring former Thorne Jeff Trachta or Clayton Norcross back and try again.
Picture this: you're so smokin', you dominated social media as the Sexy CEO. You rock your wardrobe and your nursery. You get asked out by guys most only dream about. What do you do? Sit home and pine over a blown-up picture of your ex, lamely claiming it's for your infant daughter to see. Girl, you only slept with Liam because he was drugged! (Not that you know that.) Why let all that badassery go to waste? Carter's perennially available, and Forrester Creations is crawling with hunks. Steffy says she's starting to date -- how about we see it.
Although Phoebeth's switcheroo led to months of unsatisfying hand-wringing, there's no denying the power of the episode that kicked it off. B&B's 8000th episode saw Hope in labor alone in a Catalina clinic, with only Reese to help her deliver while Liam fought travel delays and high winds to get to her. Hope passed out, waking up to find the unusually stoic Liam at her side. Hope was horrified to learn her baby Beth hadn't made it! Everything was pitch perfect, from the underscore to the lighting to Annika Noelle's haunting performance as the bereaved mother. Here's to another humdinger for 9,000!
When exes Zoe and Xander arrived in L.A. last year from England, they got their drama on in appropriate British accents. In 2019, in the middle of keeping her father's baby-switching a secret, Zoe agreed to Xander's bizarre bet over which one could Americanize their voices the longest. That would have been weird enough, except these two continued the charade even while discussing the most serious subjects! What is it with this show sanitizing accents? First Ivy, now Xander and Zoe. Sending the message that only American counts in our current climate is a sticky wicket, indeed.
Thomas is the new Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going. After causing all kinds of mayhem, Thomas fell over a cliff, thanks to Brooke, emerging relatively unscathed. But not only did Tom's cliff dive do nothing to redeem him, his attempt to grant Hope custody of Douglas in exchange for sex ended with him plunging into a vat of hydrofluoric acid! Surprise! It was only green smoky water (?), and Thomas let Hope think he was dead so she'd know what it was like to keep a dark secret! There's suspension of disbelief, and then there's this.
Killing off a major character off-screen -- even with his/her portrayer committed to another show -- never quite tracks. Caroline 2.0 met the Grim Reaper this year simply to inflict a touched Thomas on us. Caroline vacillated wildly between saintly and scheming, but she deserved better than dying of a mystery ailment after pretending she was dying of a mystery ailment. Karma? Maybe, but the last time we saw Caroline in 2018, she tried to strangle Bill! Wouldn't suicide have been a more logical endgame? Or accidental death via Thomas, which would explain his madness? This isn't how a Caroline Spencer is supposed to die.
Xander was never the most compelling character, going from playful to romantic to kissing his ex behind his current bae's back. None of that required any particular acting chops. But chops is what Adain Bradley showed us when Xander finally got some meat in his storyline! Finding out Beth was alive -- and that Zoe knew -- Bradley took the young Avant from near-tears horrified to angry to uncharacteristically determined as Xander tried to get some much-needed justice for Emma. It was quite the exit arc that allowed Bradley to leave B&B while displaying as much versatility as his costars.
If there were such a thing as Soap University, surely any female wouldn't graduate without a diploma in crying on cue. That's not all Annika Noelle gave us. Seemingly effortlessly, she infused Hope with gut-wrenching despair -- day after day, week after week -- as Hope grappled with the "loss" of her baby. Hope did make silly decisions (like releasing Liam because she couldn't carry to term), but that was the writing; Noelle never let us forget Hope's emptiness -- or her joy when Beth was finally returned to her. When it comes to make-me-feel-it-too emotions, Annika Noelle goes to the head of the class.
The last decade or so, B&B has had a tendency to showcase one group of characters at the expense of all the others. This year, at least half of the faces in the opening credits went missing except when propping up the other half. Aaron D. Spears is off contract? When did he get a story while he was on? Why haven't Pam and Charlie revisited the idea of a wedding a year after nixing it? Where's Donna, and Carter, and Maya? Katie got a brief turn to shine before she was backburnered again. We need A, B, and C stories, not just A.
It's not like Ridge and Brooke haven't butted heads over their kids before. But now, Bridge is collapsing because Brooke doesn't want Thomas near Hope, and Ridge doesn't want to understand why. Brooke may be taking a Stephanie-esque hard line against her former berry buddy, but look at Thomas' wrongdoing: lying to Hope, bullying Douglas, being complicit in Emma's death -- and that's just the stuff Bridge knows about. Yet Ridge is defending Thomas to the last, despite warning Thomas off the married Hope himself when Thomas came home! Soaps' best marital conflicts come from within; this one, we could have done without.
Wyatt used to offer his ladies (usually Liam's castoffs) reasons why he was more solid and devoted than his waffling brother. That Wyatt is gone. In 2019, Wyatt willingly sank his year-long relationship with Sally because she kept one secret for Thomas -- this while staying mum about smooching Flo behind Sally's back! Wyatt let Sally dangle, then moved Flo in with him. And when Flo proved to be Reese's baby-switching accomplice, Wyatt ran back to Sally, proposing to her (but not marrying her) after she rightly doubted his intentions. Wyatt made Liam look stable this year, and that's saying something.
It was bad enough that Thomas came back threatening anyone who got in his way. Who knew he'd terrorize his own child, as well? Things started innocently, with Thomas having Douglas draw Hope pictures and propose to her on his dad's behalf. But things got ugly when Hope barely reacted -- Thomas traumatized Douglas with a bad CGI ghost to get Hope to move up the wedding then swore he'd abandon the boy if he told Hope that Beth was alive. Afterwards, Thomas laid into Douglas for ratting him out! Child abuse may well be a soap first, but it's nothing to be proud of.
All the dominoes were in place -- Reese swapped Hope's live baby for a dead one and got Steffy to adopt it via Taylor and Flo. Character after character found out about the secret. But then, the saga collapsed, not under its own weight, but for the lack of it. Flo, Zoe, Xander, Shauna, and Thomas argued so much about whether to tell Hope the truth, viewers could mouth the dialogue. Emma, the only one with any fortitude, died before she could spill. Then, when Douglas blew everything open, Zoe and Xander got fired, and Flo served a flimsy sentence while Thomas got a free pass and Reese was nowhere to be found. Taylor would have been mortified to know of her part in things, but she was AWOL, too. And Steffy grieved her unadopted baby off-screen. We needed to see all the dominoes fall to make our investment worth it.
It's not like Katie's never hovered between life and death before, and everyone knows Heather Tom's ability to crush these scenes is legendary. This hospital visit was different, however. Deciding not to give Katie another of her fabled heart attacks, the show took a different route and sent her into kidney failure, not randomly, but as a result of years of taking her antirejection medication -- the very thing that had kept Katie alive was now killing her, which was a brilliant twist. Dubious family member Flo turned out to be the only match, but she chose to donate one of her own kidneys anonymously so Katie wouldn't refuse the organ because of where it came from. The dual surgery scenes were riveting, and Katie being inclined to forgive Flo for hurting her family afterward was an understandable arc. And it put a different character in the spotlight besides Beth!
What do you think, Scoopers? Did my Best & Worst picks align with your own views, or did you see things completely differently? Tie up your 2019 in the Comments section below or on the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could wind up in a future column!
I hope you enjoyed my look back at this year, and I thank you all for sticking with me and my columns over the past decade. Can you believe it's going to be 2020? May it be a year that sees some sense return to both the reel world and the real world. Keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold. Because now, more than ever, no matter color, creed, religion, gender identity, orientation, or nationality, we're all beautiful!
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