Has your year been bold and beautiful? Did you go back to your very beginnings? Did you make yourself roadkill so your best friend could be a lady-killer? Did you discover that it's hard to not be hard? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Walton-Fulton-Buckingham-Finnegan clan in 2021!
Holy time warp, Scoopers! 2021 is next to done already? I guess it's true what my dad used to say: "Life is like a roll of toilet paper -- the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes." And B&B's year went fast, though sometimes it didn't feel like it. We had stories that skipped over details and some that weren't detailed enough, seeming like they were unfolding anything but fast.
Plus, with all the stuff going on in our real lives, on top of two major elephants in the room of our American consciousness (one's a virus, the other's just folks acting like they're infected by a virus), it can be easy to forget all the ups and downs and nuances happening in a fictional, alternate reality town called Los Angeles, where betrayal is king, and logic often flies out the window.
That's why I'm here, to catch you all up! Now, as always with my Best & Worst columns, I offer you the fullest of disclosure: I have not yet read Chanel's year-end column (although you should!), as I don't want to be influenced by it, nor have I greedily inhaled Soap Opera Digest's selections as I do every year, though my formatting here continues to be heavily inspired by them.
So, if you're ready, let's hunker down together with this warm and cozy look at what was the boldest and beautifulest on our soap of choice, at least according to me. See how my picks shape up next to your impressions -- and if they're completely different, good! If we've learned anything recently, it's that everyone's entitled to an opinion...except when it defies common sense. But never mind that! Time to Two Scoop it Best & Worst style!
These dark-haired darlings went home with Best New Couple last year, but in 2021 they endured as B&B's baes to beat. They weathered another predictable Liam/Steffy bed romp over a mannequin and ensuing paternity snafu, then the double whammy of Finn's adoption reveal and the wedding present of Sheila Carter being Finn's biomom! Though they've hit some bumps, disagreeing over the care and handling of Sheila, Finn ultimately kept Steffy's barrier in place with her, and Steffy offered stability and comfort as Finn learned that his adoptive father was the real thing. Even Liam can't come between these two!
At least they're consistent? "Flatt" earned this trophy in 2019 and 2020, as well. The coupling should work, considering the affability of portrayers Darin Brooks and Katrina Bowden. It's just that there's no getting past Flo and her felonies. She probably still has that 50 thou she banked from Reese for aiding in the illegal adoption of Beth, who's only the daughter of Wyatt's own half-brother. Eww. And let's not forget how many times Wyatt did Sally wrong to reunite with Flo. "Flatt" is so flat, they got engaged in March, and even the show seems to have forgotten about them. Time to take the hint?
Way back in February, Bill came sniffing around Katie, rolling out his "you make me a better man" line, trying to entice Katie back. One jail term and a Carter later, Bill returned in October, running the same game! Rich, virile Dollar Bill must have locked his cojones in a safety deposit box! All of this is what makes the fact that Katie won't take him back so delicious. There was a time the once acne-stricken romantic would have put up with Bill no matter what, or who, he did. Now, Katie wants a man who only wants her. Hallelujah. Stick to your guns, Katie!
The suave fashion designer and the perky social worker are likable enough in and of themselves. But together, they don't quite spark. Perhaps it's because their love is written so inconsistently. Zende wanted Paris to move in with him, then turned on a dime and asked to slow things down. Paris moved in with Steffy and Finn instead and proceeded to crush on Finn so hard that even Zende noticed. Then Zende started getting territorial when Thomas took a shine to his girl with the colorful coifs. It's hard to invest in a pairing when they don't seem to know where they're going themselves.
Daddy's back! Sean Kanan didn't miss a beat when he swaggered onto B&B's set, even with old rival Ridge and first daughter Hope sporting different faces. And those Breacon flashbacks! But papa's got a brand-new bag as he tries to build a relationship with Hope -- unlike his early years, Deacon is earnest in his bid for a second chance. He deftly avoided getting snared into one of Sheila's schemes, which is not easy to do! It doesn't hurt that Freaky Deaky is still hot as hell; no wonder Ridge is so threatened by him. Everybody's crazy 'bout a Sharpe-dressed man!
Oh! Oh, Sheila. Her return was a surprise, but the diabolical downslide from her 2017-2018 stint continues. Sheila said she had changed, but clearly hasn't. Okay, but then Sheila did something she never used to do -- talked a good game but lacked action. Sheila's best move was scowling and staring at photos of her retconned kid, Finn. The old Sheila would have gotten Steffy re-hooked on her pills by now. And Sheila gave away her only leverage with Jack by encouraging him to spill the very secret she was holding over him! After 31 years, could the Sheila saga finally be out of gas?
B&B's rather been the hot mess it has been for so long now, it's easy to forget there was once a time where details mattered, stories were character-driven and not plot-driven, and they didn't whizz by so fast they caused whiplash. Enter the soap's first season, which it started posting on YouTube in September. Not only is it fascinating to revisit the show's humble beginnings (Ridge a playboy d**k? Brooke respecting engagements?), it's intriguing to watch and think what today's landscape would look like if the show studied its own old playbook. At any rate, catch the daily postings, which are now up to 1988!
In said premiere episodes, Donna Logan was a teenaged force to be reckoned with. Deemed the family rebel, Donna moved in with her boyfriend and soon ran headlong into the world of modeling. What happened to that Donna of yesteryear? In 2021, Donna did nothing but dress to the nines, share co-receptionist duties with Pam, and pine over Eric. Donna's only rise to front-burner status happened when Donna got a rise out of ED-afflicted Eric. This with Jennifer Gareis being back on contract for three years! Isn't it time Donna returned to the spotlight, where she began? (Jack Finnegan looks to be available soon...)
Like Jennifer Gareis, Aaron D. Spears has been on contract for years but has been given no story. Justin only came in when Bill needed something; he didn't even launch an investigation into the sketchy circumstances surrounding the death of his supposedly beloved niece, Emma. It's like B&B knew it, because suddenly, Justin was back with a major axe to grind! He was sick of being taken advantage of by Bill, who only ever promoted his sons. And we only found that out because Justin kidnapped Thomas so Bill could stay in jail! Justin slinked back into the shadows after that, but man, what a ride.
Diamond White does her best to make the youngest Buckingham endearing. But when Zoe left the canvas, it left Paris rudderless, and B&B clearly didn't know what to do with her. Paris was elevated to busybody status before following in Zoe's footsteps and feeling the desire to try out other men despite having a boyfriend. Making it worse, something about Paris' milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. First, Thomas became smitten with her; now, Carter seems poised to do the same. And all the while, characters far and wide sing Paris' praises. Paris feels forced, which is why the Force is not with her.
Steffy looked to remain as hung up on Liam as her mother was on Ridge, constantly and wistfully staring at a giant photo Steffy had framed of her and Liam with Kelly. Even after Steffy met Finn, the portrait stayed up, and poor Finn was left scratching his head as to what he had gotten himself into. Finally, one day, Steffy decided to put Liam in the past and did so no more concretely than taking the albatross on her wall down and relegating it to the past where it belonged. You could almost hear the audience cheering, the move was so long-awaited.
First Zoe was psycho, then she wasn't. She had a British accent, then she didn't. Perhaps it was fitting that her departure was as uneven, but it was still disappointing. On her way to the airport for a modeling gig overseas, Zoe learned from sister Paris that her fiancÚ, Carter, had been getting his groove on with Zoe's supposed bestie, Quinn. Did Zoe barge into Quinn's office and rip her a new one? Make Carter quake in his suits? Nope. Zoe just walked out the door. An apparent breakup call happened off-screen. Zoe -- and we -- deserved more.
Ted King already hadn't been afraid to take characters to the dark side on Loving, General Hospital, and One Life to Live. In B&B's latest Jack (after Taylor's father and Taylor/Brooke's baby), King brought out something else: a wonderful vulnerability. Jack's love for wife Li and son Finn are obvious; his only real crime was Finn being born out of an affair with Sheila Carter (and shaving his mustache). Jack was devastated when his family rejected him, but he can go toe to toe with Sheila, too; it's not hard to imagine him forcing Sheila to give up all claims to their baby. Don't hit the road, Jack!
A helpless infant, worst new character? In this case, that's the game of the name. B&B tried to pay homage to grandmother Taylor when Steffy gave birth to a son by dubbing him Hayes -- not surprising when you consider the shrink went by the name "Taylor Hayes" for years. But the show forgot that Taylor's maiden name is Hamilton -- and that the surname Hayes comes from Blake Hayes, Taylor's first, and abusive, husband. B&B had the chance to fix the baby boo-boo when Taylor returned, but so far, no dice. It's bad when the audience knows a soap better than the soap does.
They were literally from different worlds. Carter was the lonely, seldom-seen lawyer who performed everybody else's marriages, and Quinn was the wife who enjoyed Forrester trappings but not her Forrester marriage. Who'd have thought it would take wimpy Zoe to start this Quarter pounding? Quinn and Carter commiserated about their sad sack love lives, then hit the sack -- and, with unexpected chemistry, kicked off an affair that made some groundbreaking twists. Though their claims of love seemed outweighed by a transparent lust, Quarter kept us making change for the better part of 2021, to coin a phrase.
What? B&B's "destiny" earning this title? Bridge has always seemed endgame, but this year, they made watching paint dry exciting by forgetting the heat that made them memorable and falling into the geriatric roles of inveterate meddlers. Mostly, Brooke and Ridge couldn't keep out of Eric's business, but the nosiness extended to others' relationships as well. Ridge was annoyed that Brooke couldn't trust Thomas. Ridge was annoyed that Brooke warmed up to Deacon. Bridge doesn't need Taylor to break them up -- they can do that by themselves if they don't get their own story and remind viewers why they were must-see TV for decades.
Most primary pals are willing to fall on the figurative sword, but Shauna Fulton (in really her only act this year) was willing to fall on the literal bed for bestie Quinn. Quinn and Carter were secretly bumping uglies, and Quinn was careless enough to wear the jacket Zoe found on Carter's bedroom floor to work the next day. Before you could say "Who ever wears the same outfit twice on this show?", Shauna stepped in and claimed the jacket as her own, leading everyone to believe that she was the one burning up the sheets with Carter instead. Now that's dedication.
There ain't enough Windex in the world for Flo to clean the glass house she lives in. When Y&R's Summer Newman came to town, looking for info on L.A. expat Sally Spectra, Flo couldn't wait to dish Sally's dirt to Summer, even crossing over to Genoa City to do so. Flo gleefully squealed about how Sally had kidnapped her after faking a terminal diagnosis to steal Wyatt, but Flo has no room to talk. Would Summer have taken Flo's word if she had known that Flo had actually done time for helping Reese sell Beth to Steffy? Take a stadium full of seats, Flo.
We hadn't known Finn's father, Jack, for long, but we knew Papa Finnegan was keeping some sort of secret from Finn. Enter Finn's wedding, where Jack repeatedly eyed the room in anticipation of something wicked this way coming. Suddenly, a woman in an ornate gown and an even more ornate veil stepped carefully into the venue. Jack demanded the woman remove her veil...and it was Pam! Ms. Lemon Bars had been AWOL for some time (likely because of the death of Alley Mills's husband, Orson Bean), which made the unmasking all the more tasty. Pam managed to out-Sheila Sheila!
If B&B just hadn't termed it a "murder mystery." That's how it was promoted, but we soon discovered there was no murder, since Vinny was accidentally hit by a car, and no mystery, because Liam had been behind the wheel. Much hand-wringing ensued as Liam went to jail. Thomas vowed to avenge his friend's death but did nothing. Then, we learned that Vinny threw himself in front of Liam's car to frame Liam so that Thomas could have Hope. Gloriously macabre, but Vinny couldn't have known that Liam just happened to be driving Bill's car. Where's Agatha Christie when you need her?
In late 2020, B&B brought Erica Pelosini Leeman on board as the show's executive fashion consultant. Almost immediately afterwards, characters fans love and love to hate appeared in colors and patterns the likes of which they'd never appeared in before. Considering that the soap is centered around the fashion industry, the upgrade in style made sense. But social media sure filled up quickly with complaints about the new costumes, which ranged from innovative to outlandish. By the fall, B&B's closets were scaled back, but, for a while, what was on those hangers caused more reaction from viewers than the latest triangle.
In soaps, it goes with the territory that an ex-love longs luxuriously for the one that got away. It's just that B&B's "longers" are setting records. Bill, who would sooner buy a new car than wash a current one, persists with Katie. Donna keeps honey in her desk drawer after a real-time decade of separation from Eric. The returning Taylor still carries a torch for Ridge after 30-plus years! Then there's Thomas, who switched his crush from Hope to Paris; never mind that neither is available. A little longing is good for the soap soul. But not so much that characters start to look pathetic.
Relationships are defined by an ever-widening range of parameters today. There are couples, throuples, gender fluid pairings, etc. However, soaps mostly act like we're still in the '50s, sticking to the one man, one woman convention outside of the rare LGBT duo. B&B upended that this year by having the ED-afflicted Eric open up his marriage so that Quinn could get her needs satisfied by Carter. Unexpected from a septuagenarian, yes, but wasn't it exactly something a mellow fellow like Eric would do? Many were up in arms against the change from traditional boundaries, but it was as bold as the soap's name implies.
After Bill turned his back on ex-best friend Justin for leaving him to rot in jail during his attempt to take over Spencer Publications, Justin went crawling to Ridge, offering his services. Justin was ready to give Ridge any info he wanted so that Ridge could strike at Bill. Juicy, right? But what did Ridge do? He had Justin trail Quinn and Carter so he could catch them in bed together, and then there was some off-screen tailing of Sheila and/or Deacon. What fun it would have been, watching the Dressmaker finally get one over on the Stallion. Instead, the horse never left the gate.
Hope Logan has had her share of challenges, but she usually comes at them with a placid sort of pacifism. That changed in 2021 when she went up against her family in defense of freed jailbird Deacon. Not since Hope smashed Bill's windows with a golf club had we seen Hope exhibit such moxie -- Hope told Deacon's detractors to back off and even threatened to move out with Liam and the kids if they couldn't handle Deacon being around. The Hope/Deacon relationship was always underplayed, and now it's got Hope letting her inner Sharpe out to play. It's about time!
Ah, sibling rivalry. The joy of blaming your sister for your mistakes. And the exquisite pleasure of doping your sister's smoothie so she'll get the runs during a date with the guy you couldn't have yourself. That was our Zoe Buckingham, who treated Paris like absolute crap simply because she couldn't take responsibility for tanking her own relationship with Carter. We got glimpses of this when Zoe tormented "little Emma" for bagging her ex, Xander, but Emma wasn't family. And stooping to such juvenile tactics made Zoe seem all the more petty. Too bad Zoe didn't let the door hit her on the way out.
Did Bill deserve an orange jumpsuit for getting rid of evidence in the case of Vinny's hit-and-run? Oh, yes. But the Dollah had bars coming for years, and not gold bars. He plotted to kill a pregnant Amber Moore and bribed a warden to break Deacon out of jail. He got into a car crash driving drunk. He had Ridge thrown out of a helicopter. That only takes us to 2014, and all of those acts were crimes. Yet Bill walked around untouchable until Liam's confession about Vinny forced his own. And we thought Rick once locking Bill in a fake cell was satisfying!
It was bad enough when Flo did an online ancestry test and was deemed Storm's daughter despite a paltry 52% result. Flo's donation of a kidney to Katie and kidnapping by Sally were supposed to redeem Flo for aiding Reese's baby-napping, but the stink never quite left Felony Flo. Instead of listening to fans and sending Flo away, this year, B&B went the complete other direction and not only had all Logans but Hope accept her, but they also insisted that Flo take the Logan name. All this when Storm would have been ashamed to have a daughter like her. As with Hayes, get this name changed, quickly.
After virtually making Thomas unredeemable, B&B tried to earn him sympathy points by throwing him off a cliff and excusing his behavior with a brain bleed. Neither quite worked. But there was something about Thomas getting punched out by Justin and locked in a cage that rendered the scales closer to even. For the first time in a long time, Thomas wanted to do the right thing -- by turning in Vinny's confessional snuff film -- but he was imprisoned for his efforts. Thomas deserved at least that much for letting Hope think she killed him and torturing Douglas with a CGI ghost. Aw, yeah, karma. Thanks, Justin!
Did its invitation get lost in the mail? Finn and Steffy enjoyed B&B's sole wedding of 2021, supported by friends and family. And new family, in the form of Finn's biomom Sheila. Oops. Steffy didn't like that Finn was thinking about allowing contact with Sheila, so Steffy decided not to file the marriage license she and Finn should have filed a month earlier. Sinn has since made up. But what happened to the license? The show never said, and that leaves Steffy and Finn's marriage invalid. Sheila doesn't have to destroy the union -- B&B did that themselves by dropping this major detail.
As mentioned before, the saga of easily expendable character Vinny and his demise had its problems. But the twist itself that Vinny committed suicide -- and filmed it -- to clear the way for Hope and Thomas was no less than mesmerizing. How dark do you have to be to video your own death just to boost your bestie's love life? Of course, the discovery liberated Liam (though Bill should have remained in the can for obstructing justice); the B&B first was the only true surprise in an otherwise predictable -- and mishyped -- story. What a way to go!
Soaps are built on suspensions of disbelief, but sometimes history rewrites need an explanation. B&B didn't bother with one when Sheila confessed that she had given Finn up for adoption after an affair with Jack. When exactly did this happen? It couldn't have been "30 years ago," as Jack once hinted, because Sheila was on Y&R, stealing Lauren's baby then. The only baby Sheila had during her 1992-1998 B&B stint was Mary. Did it happen before Sheila's 2002 return? One line of dialogue would clarify, but clarity hasn't been the show's bag for a while. Too bad, because enquiring soap fans want to know.
For the first time in a long time, Prince Waffler Liam (the King is Ridge) was settled into a life with Hope, and Steffy had moved on with a new man, Finn. And so it went until Liam got hopped up on tequila and slept with Steffy -- over a mannequin. Considering how Leffy/Lope dominated the 2010s, this was the development nobody wanted to see. Naturally, the once barren Steffy got pregnant. Hope wailed, and Finn was amazingly understanding, even when Steffy's doctored paternity test listed Liam as her baby's father. It's just that there was nothing new under this particular sun. Liam bouncing between Hope and Steffy was old when Obama was president, and adding in a who's-the-daddy arc just made the whole affair even more tired. Thankfully, all was resolved, but hopefully B&B learned that anything Leffy/Lope is a well that is officially dry, and they will dip from it nevermore.
Any storyline that features original cast member John McCook at its center is already golden, but 2021 saw a tale based in the golden years. Though it at first seemed that Eric was rejecting Quinn physically simply because of a lack of trust, B&B grabbed the wheel and swerved, suddenly -- and effectively -- dovetailing Eric's lack of desire for intimacy with a well-placed diagnosis of ED. As a man in his 70s, Eric's plight was both age-appropriate and heartbreaking, as McCook showed all the pain and shame his alter ego felt as a result of not being able to please his wife. Things got a little wonky when it was implied that licking honey off your ex's finger was enough to reverse the malady, but overall, the story proved generational and really gave McCook material worthy of him (if he doesn't win an Emmy, there is no justice in this world).
What do you think, Scoopers? Did my Best & Worst picks for 2021 match up with your own thoughts, or do you see things completely opposite? Agree or beg to differ 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!
Thank you, as always, to those of you who continue to follow my rantings known as columns year after year. And to my new readers, welcome aboard.
I would like to dedicate this column to my mother, Hendrika Arentsen, who passed away December 15. It's quite literally because of her that I'm here on Soap Central -- and not just because she ensured my existence. Mom was the one who got me into soaps. I'll never forget sitting with her while doing my homework as a junior in high school as she watched Dynasty in syndication. I would catch glimpses and think, "This is so stupid."
Then Claudia dropped that baby that was really a doll off that roof, and I was hooked! After graduation, I'd sometimes join Mom as she watched the CBS lineup, and the quartet of The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light grabbed me just as much. I think Mom fell off of soaps somewhere along the line, but obviously, I'm still going strong. Fun fact: even up to this month, I'd call Mom "Sable," as at one time, she very much resembled that character played by Stephanie Beacham on The Colbys and Dynasty. Mom got a kick out of it. And she and I both surely knew how to live soapy lives! R.I.P., Sable.
However you celebrate these holidays -- or if you don't! -- I wish all of you the best. My advice for '22? Keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold. And for soap's sake, get vaccinated! Because protecting yourselves and others from a virus and its variants is always beautiful.
What are your thoughts on The Bold and the Beautiful? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.