Fans who tuned in to Days of our Lives this week were royally thrown off guard when Gwen (Emily O'Brien) suddenly up and killed beloved Salemite Laura Horton (Jaime Lyn Bauer). The first feeling was shock -- did that really just happen? The second feeling was suspicion -- is the character really dead, or is this a trick? And the third feeling was pure anger -- how could they get rid of a classic character just to prop up the storyline of a relative newcomer?!
For fans who may have missed the bewildering turn of events due to confusion over possible preemptions this week, Gwen was furious to find out that Laura had been the one who had kept her hidden away from her father, Jack (Matthew Ashford), all these years. Laura's meddling completely changed the course of Gwen's existence -- the brunette feels like her life was ruined -- so it was understandable that she'd be hella pissed. But DAYS writers took the character's anger one step further and had Gwen attack and ultimately kill Laura.
Relatively new DAYS viewers may not think the turn of events was all that devastating -- after all, in recent years, Laura has been mostly absent save for a few brief appearances here and there. But longtime viewers have a different connection to Jennifer's mother: Laura has been a part of DAYS since 1966 and is the daughter-in-law of original Salem patriarch/matriarch couple Tom (MacDonald Carey) and Alice (Frances Reid), having been married to both of their sons, Mickey and Bill. So, it was horrendous for many viewers to see her brought back to the canvas just to be brutally murdered.
Meanwhile, Laura's death has sparked conversations about how daytime dramas handle their elderly characters. Some people have pointed out that killing off grandparents has become standard practice -- look at General Hospital's recent storyline in which Sonny's (Maurice Benard) father, Mike (Max Gail), succumbed to Alzheimer's, or The Young and the Restless' recent storyline in which longtime Abbott matriarch Dina Mergeron (Marla Adams) lost her battle with the same degenerative disease. Both of those storylines were long-term journeys that came with significant effects on the characters' family members -- during and after the deaths -- which made them different from Laura's quick and surprising demise. But nonetheless, questions are now swirling about whether or not killing off characters from the more mature generation is a good idea, no matter how it's done.
The shock of Laura's death is fresh, as are the conversations it has sparked about how soap operas should be writing for their elderly cast members. Things can turn on a dime, but the early response from Days of our Lives head writer Ron Carlivati is that -- Laura notwithstanding -- the NBC soap opera is doing a good job of including its older generation on the canvas.
In a Twitter post, Carlivati points out that DAYS has several mature cast members, " 4 of whom are over 70, 3 of whom are over 75, 2 of whom are over 85, and one of whom is over 95. I think we're doing pretty well." (Editor's Note: His original tweet said the series has nine cast members over the age of 65, but he later amended that to eight.)
We have 9 cast members over the age of 65, 4 of whom are over 70, 3 of whom are over 75, 2 of whom are over 85 and one of whom is over 95. I think we're doing pretty well.- Ron Carlivati (@carlivatiron) February 11, 2021
Jaime Lyn Bauer has been playing the role of DAYS' Laura since 1993. Prior to that, the character was played by The Bold and the Beautiful legend Susan Flannery (ex-Stephanie Forrester) from 1966 to 1975, Susan Oliver from 1975 to 1976, and Rosemary Forsyth from 1976 to 1980. Laura's last appearance on the canvas happened in 2018, when she returned to help her granddaughter, Abigail (Marci Miller), deal with dissociative identity disorder.
How do you feel about DAYS killing off Laura? Do you think it was a mistake, or do you understand why the powers that be made that decision? How do you feel about how soap operas write for their mature characters in general? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.