The Alex North Memorial Awards: Worst of DAYS 2023

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It's performance review time, and these are the ones we put off. Which character needs a tune-up? Which character didn't receive a warm welcome? And which character got far too little screen time? Let's discuss it all in the 17th annual Alex North Memorial Awards: The Worst of DAYS 2023.

Welcome, welcome, welcome, DAYS fans! We hope that you've all picked the confetti out of your hair from the Bistro's New Year's Eve celebration. We had a lot happen in Salem over the past two weeks, and Tony will be back to cover it all next week.

But for today, we bookend last week's Golden Donuts with some tough love. We call them the Alex North Memorial Awards to commemorate one of the truly terrible soap characters DAYS has produced. The rules are pretty simple -- we agree not to pick the same "winner" for each category. And no character can win more than one individual award from either of us. So, Clyde, you can send a thank you basket our way that you're only walking away with one individual scolding this year. Actually, don't send us anything. Bad things happen when you contact people.

With that, let's dive into the worst of Salem's best this year.

WORST DEBUT: New to the show or newly returned, they made a less-than-stellar entrance

Laurisa: Talia Hunter
If nothing else, Talia proved that Jada received every good gene in that pool. Goodness, Jada was saddled with an absolute clunker of a sister. The Colin/Talia abuse scenes were painful to watch -- but that's not on Talia. What is on her is how she behaved like Chanel broke her heart after deciding not to go on a second date with Talia. Then, to solidify that she had no grip on decency, she slept with her lawyer's husband! That's not to absolve Shawn of any responsibility whatsoever. But there was enough blame to go around here, and Talia was a completely insensitive idiot to Belle. At least we can say Talia was the most consistent character of 2023.

Tony: Colin Bedford
This tremendous tool won the lite version of this award during "The 2023 Mini-Me Alex North Memorial Awards" back in August, and since he was such a spectacular failure of a character, he's now the winner of an official, full-flavored ANMA! I mean, really. How could he not be? The dude was a non-compelling, cringy creeper, with an often inconsistent, sometimes confusing backstory. From hurting Abe to tormenting Talia to pursuing revenge against Paulina, this one-trick pony was a forgettable, flaming asshat. Let's hope Statesville swallows him forever.

WORST SPECIAL GUEST/RECURRING CHARACTER

Laurisa: Clyde Weston
I just can't with this deep-fried nonsense. Clyde killed Abigail. He was the one who had Susan swiped. He ordered Tripp stabbed. He arranged for Gabi's leg to be broken. He's strong-arming Stefano DiMera -- Vivian Alamain's son. He's blackmailing a mafia princess. And he's doing all this from inside jail for no motivation other than he's a Bad Guy. The handful of scenes he does have lend no more insight into his actions; instead we just get to hear him threaten people and chuckle like a hillbilly don.

Tony: Konstantin Meleounis
Of all the many, many, many people Victor's burned over the years, we have to deal with this guy coming back for comeuppance? He was fine as the restaurateur who called Hope "the Beautiful American," or something schmaltzy like that, but as a big baddie and Theresa's coconspirator, he leaves a lot to be desired. The DiMeras. Ernesto Toscano (or one of his kin). Jan Spears, even. Any or all of Vic's fiery ex-wives like Kate, Nicole, Carly, or Vivian (for a longer stay). An estranged, irate ex-henchman like Nico or Damon *wink* -- ANY of those choices would have been more solid, yet Konstantin is the one that landed a prolonged stay in Salem? I do not know how they say that in Greek, Muh-gee, but in English, we'd call this *raspberry sound.

WORST OF SALEM'S BEST: An established character who needs a tune-up

Laurisa: Kristen DiMera
Say what you will about Kristen, but she's never been afraid to get her hands dirty. So, it's baffling that this year, she was given hand-wrapped wins that just fell into her lap. She had the orchid. Her criminal record wasn't admissible in court. She whoops-ied onto the knowledge that Dimitri was in line for a fortune. By the end of the year, she was just being spiteful by forbidding Brady and anyone from his side of the family to see Rach3l. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Rach3l being off-screen. But Brady loves the little monster, and it would be nice to hear that Kristen isn't treating her like Lucy treats Charlie Brown's football.

Tony: Ava Vitali
I cannot watch her wring her hands and worry about Clyde Frickin' Weston. C'mon. You. Are. Ava. Vitali. I know you're trying to protect Tripp and turn over a new leaf, but lordy, lady, it hurts my Ava-loving heart to watch Pa Weston get the best of you. Call Cousin Angelo. Let him do the dirty work, or work with the popo. You got options, but none of them should be a forced team-up with Stefan. He's the DiMera dud. Toss a wig on a broomstick and distract him. Set him up to take the fall. There. Another option. You're welcome, paisano.

THICK AS A BRICK AWARD: A typically smart character acting kinda stupid!

Laurisa: Maggie Kiriakis
We know Maggie is grieving. But her blind trust of Konstantin is flat-out baffling -- especially since her grief isn't blinding her from calling out Alex and Vivian's respective shenanigans immediately upon encounter. Worst of all, Maggie's trust is kind of her superpower. When applied to characters like Melanie, Victor, or Xander, she's exposed a hidden positive character trait. Thus, her kindness has never been looked at as a weakness, the way it's completely played for here.

Tony: Dr. Kayla Brady-Johnson
This is pure tough love for one of my favorite Salemites, but it must be said: Sweetness, straighten up that mess at Salem University Hospital. We don't like what Seth Burns says when he lampoons you, but is all of it untrue? From openly discussing someone else's records to handing a baby to someone not on staff to bring to a patient, to, well, being the chief of staff during multiple abductions from the facility you reign over, security breaches such as altered records, and so on, methinks it wouldn't hurt to forge a new plan -- or simply a plan -- to ensure these types of things don't happen as often or, you know, again. Maybe talk to a security specialist. Like, one you're married to, or reach out to Billie Reed, who used to be the head of Titan security in the UK. We know HIPAA doesn't seem to exist in Salem, but more common sense from the sweetest and usually one of the sharpest Salemites wouldn't hurt.

SWING-AND-A-MISS AWARD: The writers kept trying, but kept striking out!

Laurisa: Wendy Shin
She had such a bright future as a tech wiz who didn't have time for Johnson boys to quarrel over her. She had an inner strength that not only didn't need a fella but seemed refreshingly annoyed by one that would slow her down. So, I have no idea why the show decided to water her down and engage in a "Wendy and Her Merry Men" bachelorette game where Wendy suddenly couldn't make up her mind. They threw her a couple of bones when she had meaningful conversations with Li or Melinda. But for most of the year, she was a huge, giant miss. Sadly, Wendy held on to her mid-year award to finish out the year with this same dishonor.

Tony: Alex Kiriakis nee Kiriakis
I know we're all in on the joke. Alex really is Justin's son, not Victor's. We can all thank Theresa for that rib-tickler. Still, my sole sympathy stays with Justin. I don't feel a fleck bad that a privileged pudding head got to become an even more privileged piece of -- well, you've seen how he treats service industry workers, his take on spreading Christmas cheer toward his employees, his handling of loved ones, and the list goes on. He's a douche canoe. I've got zero time for the forced "Poor Alex" narrative. His learning curve lasted about as long as it took him to take on and off his glasses during dinner with Melinda. So, go back to therapy and wash your bed sheets, Alex, and do not collect $200 or take off your eyewear when you pass "Go."

BROKEN RECORD AWARD: In case you didn't hear it the first five thousand times...

Laurisa: Eric's Fatherhood Yearning
Did you know Eric's always wanted to be a father? Always. So much. Wasn't that evident when he took a life-long vow of celibacy, promising never to have kids? I mean, everyone who aches to start a family does that, right? And if you're not sure about it, just ask Roman, Marlena, Nicole, Sloan, Brady, or John. They'll tell you about Eric's life-long wish to be a Father father.

Tony: DiMera Stock Stagnancy and Shut Up, Gabi Haters!
While it's always nostalgic to hear the laundry list of off-screen DiMeras like Peter, Theo, Steven Hawk, and so on named during one of those stock scheming sessions, ermahgerd! Can we not for a while. Like, a long while.

If even one of these Greedy McGreedersons had something epic to bring to the table, I'd get behind them. Like some revolutionary "MacGuffin" that would get the audience excited and scream, "Yes! Society needs this. Put 'So-And-So' in charge to make it happen." That type of trailblazer would get my vote (Spoiler: I have DE stock), my investment, and maybe something sweet from Sweet Bits as an extra yummy reward. Alas, everyone vying for this merry-go-round, once prominent position purely wants to proclaim a He-Man-like, "I have the powerrr!"

Oh. And it's rather rich, as it were, that Gabi's been labeled a "gold digger." Sorry, Gabi haters and Stefano's sons, but only one person positioning themselves for the role of DiMera Enterprises CEO has the experience of building a successful company -- a brand, even -- from the ground up. That's Gabi. Not "Gold Digger" Gabi. Just single mom Gabi, who created it from scratch and who's been fighting to get her company back ever since it was stolen from her by, well, the DiMeras.

Former racecar driver, black-gloved goon, and dreamy, but dangerous E.J. was handed the company. Vivian and Andre did all the heavy lifting for Stefan, who never seemed to score a deal but did score some "Isn't He Special" points for drooling all over a mentally ill woman in a wig whom he eventually raped. That's two for two in the "Not Really THAT Qualified" category.

On the other hand, Gabi? She got her hands dirty doing hard work and did her own heavy lifting to create Gabi Chic. I hated that she was labeled a gold digger, and the writers chose to lean into her greed rather than her gumption and actual skill set. Still, if I were investing with any of those selfish snobs, I'd at least pick the one who worked hard for her money. Sing with me, "So hard for it, honey...so you better treat her right." Or at least better in 2024!

MOST REGRESSED AWARD: Things were going so well and then...

Laurisa: Gwen Rizczech and Leo Stark
I've never been a fan of either character individually. But something nice happens when they're together. They feel more catty fun than dangerously deceptive. Maybe if Dimitri had stayed around Salem, I'd have gotten behind their rift. But watching Leo take his bestie's man and her being completely oblivious to it the whole time (excuse me, the whole time until she walked in on them and then brilliantly uncovered the truth) was a serious regression.

Tony: Stephanie Johnson
Ms. Johnson the PR wiz is pure shine. She's great. The career part of her life is on fire, and we'd love to see her and Jada hang out more. Jada makes things better! Unfortunately, her love life is more of a Dumpster fire, and we've seen this from Stephanie before. We have "sunroof" and "hot tub" era receipts, and witnesses like Nathan and a lot of the other "Stephanexes." It all makes me wonder if Stephanie is even ready for that ring she quite often covets, or if her true love is just attention.

MOST MISUSED: Too much or too little of anything is a bad thing.

Tony: Megan DiMera
For fudge sakes, we get Miranda Wilson and her epic villainous laugh back on the show, and we can't keep her around? If this was Miranda's choice, I completely respect that, but there was so much more for this mad maven to do in Salem (and beyond).

Tony: Kate Roberts-Brady
Lauren Koslow's a dazzling actor who sets the screen on fire, so to not let Kate burn brightly front and center is a crime. Why isn't Ms. Roberts helming her own upstart or partnering with Paulina to take over Salem's real estate empire? Why isn't she knee-deep in a design firm with Anna (or at least invited to her mah jong and wine festivities)? Why isn't she Titan's CEO? Or at least co-CEO along with Vivian, Maggie, or Alex? Why isn't she fighting to get her DiMera Enterprises stock back to stick it to Megan, E.J., Stefan, and the lot? Why isn't she struggling with her angel and devil sides while doing some of these things? We love that she loves Roman and wants to do right by him, but she shouldn't lose her spectacular spark and snark along the way. May 2024 see Kate's fire reignited, because a Salem without her flawed fabulousness flaming away is rather dim.

THE ROMAN BRADY "WHAT DA HELL!?" MOMENT

Laurisa: Where There's a Wig, There's No Way... (Gweneresa)
This bonkers move is up there with some of the most baffling soap moves ever. But the show waited a whole five seconds between Gwen walking onto a plane and Gweneresa walking off in a terrible wig and different voice. Emily O'Brien got the major short end of the stick here, which she's handling with impeccable grace. And bless Rob Scott Wilson and Eric Martsolf for their masterful support here. But the change was so jarring and immediate that Gweneresa feels like a completely different character (Muppet?) than the one we watched at Victor's funeral.

Tony: Briefcase Buffoonery
Bloody hell, Shane! You're supposed to be the best of the best of the absolute bestestesses of Salemites, and you give Victor's briefcase to Jeannie-T!? What part of that buffoonery seemed like a grand idea? Daughter or not, Theresa's past troublemaking was joked about by everyone, even you, dear sir, so why, oh why was that handed to her? Now all the chickens are dead or deeply annoyed because you put the fox in charge of the henhouse. That's clucking ridiculous.

WORST LOVE LIFE

Laurisa: Paulina Price-Carver
I have a feeling it will all be okay in the end, but sheesh! For a good chunk of 2023, Paulina had to love from afar thanks to Abe's extended amnesia. She's so close to having him back, yet he's still so far away. We're all rooting for you, Madame Mayor!

Tony: Gwen Rizczech
Ms. Rizzy-chick might not have been the cherry on top of a sundae for most Salemites, but, hot damn, cupid was out for her blood. From second choice to being a beard, Gwen's nasty karma came back to her in a big way. Still, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. Or Gwen. Maybe she'll find a new fella in Alamainia! Maybe.

WORST COUPLE

Laurisa: Chad DiMera and Stephanie Johnson
Both Billy Flynn and Abigail Klein were phenomenal this year. And I was rooting for Chad and Stephanie initially -- or at least was relieved that she wasn't entertaining a relationship with Alex anymore. They were sweet.

But then, it became abundantly clear that the two of them weren't on the same page, and we began the painful slog to their inevitable breakup. I cringed when they decided to move in together. Couples move fast on soaps. But it's hard to not notice the screaming, red "BAD IDEA" sign, considering this couple centered around two very young kids who recently played into a monumental storyline.

There was the absolutely cringing moment where Steve told Chad that he better make an honest woman out of Steve's daughter. (Gah! What is this? 1940? Steve!) Chad picked right up on that neanderthal attitude and went and threw his big money at the problem to get Everett fired. Taking relationship advice from E.J. is always a questionable move, Chadsworth. You should know and do better.

We did get Blake Berris out of the deal, which is never a bad thing. But Everett's arrival also meant the return of the know-it-all sunroof Steph that we never missed. It was unrealistic of her to expect that Chad would be cool with Everett's presence (and Alex's presence before him) -- especially when Stephanie saw that Everett was carrying around an engagement ring. Steph should have had a little more respect for her relationship to put some space between her and her exes. Heck, even giving her key to Alex when she moved out was proof that she does keep a little too close a bond with her exes. I don't even know what to say about her encounter with Harris who, pick your poison, 1) is old enough to be her father or 2) tried to blow up her whole family. It's like Steph didn't meet a bad idea she didn't love.

And finally, the move out was painful. Steph was atrocious for what she did to those kids. I'm glad she and Chad talked like adults about it later, but since that move was all Stephanie's choice, she owed those kids more. They are her cousins, after all! She'll see those kids for the rest of her life!

Tony: Xander Cook and Sarah Horton
I love the chemistry between both brilliant actors, but, oh, boy -- well, oh, girl, technically. Either way, wowza. These two were tedious with one another for most of the year. True, they weren't a couple-couple, but they always had each other simmering on the back burner. I was burned out by their back and forth, and especially how Sarah mishandled the entire Victoria saga. It's hard to champion a couple when the good one's acting so badly and "the bad one's" being set up to fail.

WORST STORYLINE DIRECTION: Wait...what did this storyline just do?!

Laurisa: The Fall of Sloan's "Girl Power!"
I had my issues with Sloan since she came to town. (Don't you harm one hair on Chanel's head, Sloaney!) But she was always self-assured and strong. I never pegged her as the one who would scheme to keep a man -- least of all the man that we all knew she was keeping around for a fun time, not a long time. If you know what I mean...

To her credit, she needed to scheme. Eric admitted he would have left Sloan if he found out Nicole was carrying his baby. However, Sloan seemed like the kind of gal who would have a baby on her own if that's what she really wanted. Or maybe even swap the baby because she has a beef with Nicole. Vengeance runs strong in her spirit. But to do it all because she doesn't want to lose a man seemed like a hard left turn for what we've known of Sloaney Bologna.

Tony: "Shelle" Gets Shafted
From a tryst with Talia to two troublesome exits, Belle and Shawn not only had their tooshies slammed in the door on the way out by someone, but that same someone must have dug a pit outside that door and filled it with "humiliation" so that they'd fall face first into one last insult to their characters. Even if they weren't the children of two supercouples and surely a super legacy couple, Shawn and Belle not only deserved a better sendoff, but also better storylines when they were in Salem. 'Tink. Sailor Man. I'm sorry on behalf of the Soap Gods. They did you dirty. Filthy, even.

WORST STORYLINE RESOLUTION

Laurisa: Gabi Goes to Jail...Ugh-gain!?
In what world does Gabi DiMera, sister of the police commissioner and wife of the DiMera Enterprises CEO, not make bail while she awaits trial? I guess the one where her portrayer opted to not renew her contract, which is Camila Banus' right. But, lordy, couldn't they think of something better to get Gabi out of town? Couldn't she use her sizable resources to flee to Mexico, Alamania, or that secret DiMera island? What if she went underground to solve the murder herself? Whatever the way, Gabi should have been granted the leave Vivian, Megan, and Kristen have received before her -- escape to greatness, not to wait their turn for their time in court.

Tony: Vivian's Lackluster Exit
I know I shouldn't look a gift Vivian in the mouth, but that's it!? That's all we get? I will forever be grateful for any amount of time the legendary Louise Sorel graces our screens, yet there was so much more for Madame to do, and it all certainly shouldn't have ended on a whimper with her hiding out in Alamainia, even if it's more fun than Mexico.

WORST WASTE OF A STORYLINE: What should have been, but never was...

Laurisa: Chad isn't Sloan's long-lost brother
From the second we heard Sloan's last name, long-time viewers wondered if she was perhaps related to another character with the surname "Peterson." That would be Chad -- the son of Madeline Peterson. And the pieces were there, too. With her parents dead and Colin in jail, Sloan declared that she was feeling like she didn't have a family. Chad felt distant from most of his DiMera siblings. Sloan's family is prone to secrets. And imagine the huge upgrade Sloan would experience if she swapped Colin for Chad in the brother department?

Tony: Chelsea's Homecoming
Seeing Rachel Melvin again was epic and made a Golden Donut-Sized impact. There's no negative in that. THAT said, the writers missed a slow-moving groundball by not letting the "Artist Formerly Known as Swamp Baby Georgia" do some of the following things...

One, talk to Shawn. Hello! Chelsea knows guilt and redemption better than any of Bo's children. For her not to reflect on her past and give a rousing boost to big bro Shawn when he was at his absolute worst was a terrible miss. I shudder to think of the sassy yet sweet speech she would have bolstered him with.

Two, met Chad at her original bestie Abigail's gravesite and given him a pep talk, too. Three, met Holly and said, "I once dated your dad." That's just for my personal amusement, but not necessary, of course. Four, used her snarktastic wit, which was handed down straight from Victor, to tell off annoying Salemites like she's at their Comedy Central Roast. Five, okay. Let's just say this list could go on and on. And while these ideas might not be full-fledged storylines, Chelsea's time in Salem could have been much better spent and added so much more to the actual full-fledged ones.

WORST STORYLINE

Laurisa: Clyde's Reign and Ava and Ho-Hum Harris' Storyline
We've covered Clyde's implausible power grip earlier. But to make it worse, the show centered it around Harris and Ava. I don't think the effort to recreate the General Hospital magic works here, mainly because 1) this isn't General Hospital, and 2) Harris Michaels and Ava Vitali are way too close to the characters of a brain damaged hit man and a mafia-connected princess. You know what they say about a photocopy of an original?

But even if I examine it from the lens of a DAYS fan, Harris doesn't make sense here. We have Steve. And John. We're good on brainwashed assassins turned heroes. But, since they've kept Eli and Andrew at a distance, we could have used a genuine good guy who is also the best at their job (sorry, Rafe) to fall for a flawed damsel. Ava's a nuanced character, portrayed by one of the best in the biz. But asking Ava to anchor one-note Clyde and hamstrung Harris is a bit too much. And this storyline suffered for it.

Tony: A Depressing Bope Non-Reunion Reunion!
Congratulations, Bope's Non-Reunion Reunion! You've been upgraded, well, maybe downgraded from the 2023 Mini-Me Alex North Memorial Awards winner for WORST STORYLINE RESOLUTION" to a full-fledged ANMA for "WORST STORYLINE." That takes a special kind of suckage. So, yeah, congrats again.

I feel like I don't need to do a deep dive. The "Mini-Me" review remains true, and, well, we all saw what happened. It was depressing. The jubilation over the very long-awaited return and reunion of this supercouple was sinfully short-lived. This storyline pretty much broke all things "Bope" and then shipped every last member of his lineage off to linger in purgatory with just the occasional update to let us know things still suck for Bo and the gang.

In a year in which Victor's death played such an integral part of the entire show, combined with the fact that the ever pitch-perfect Peter Reckell was back in the Salem sandbox, willing to play, well, to think of what things would have been like if Bo was awake makes me sad. Really, really, exceedingly sad. Sad instead of happy like "Bope" on-screen and recovering. Or happy like a reluctant Bo being placed in charge of Titan. Or happy like "Bope" back to their badass selves, but off-screen globetrotting to find Megan or other baddies and occasionally popping in. Or just baseline content knowing that Bo's non-comatose, Shawn-D doesn't hate himself, and "Shelle" have reunited. Sadly, we got nothing but sadness. Boo.

PARTING THOUGHTS
And that's a wrap on 2023, DAYS fans! If you need a positive palate cleanser, be sure to check out the Golden Donut Awards: The Best of DAYS 2023. It's a much sweeter celebration!

Thank you all for coming along with us on this journey through Salem. Despite the tough love today -- all in good fun -- we absolutely love this show and the hour we spend with our Salem friends each day. Looking forward to health, happiness, and finally finding out that baby's true paternity in the new year!

Happy Holidays!
Laurisa and Tony

READ MORE OF THIS WEEK'S WORST OF 2023 YEAR-END TWO SCOOPS COLUMNS
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