With each soap airing 260 episodes a year, which is the equivalent of about ten seasons of a primetime drama, some daytime drama storylines are going to be home runs, and some are going to miss the mark. This year, there were about a dozen soap opera stories that didn't quite work, making them our picks for the worst storylines of 2019.
Franco was a villain who wreaked havoc on the residents of Port Charles for some time. Eventually, it was discovered his evildoings were the result of a brain tumor. Franco fell in love with Elizabeth Webber, marrying her earlier this year. Drew Cain was a war hero who suffered from memory loss. He was eventually revealed to be Jason Morgan, who had been presumed dead. It later turned out that Drew was actually Jason's twin, separated at birth, who was raised alongside Franco in an abusive home. Many years earlier, Drew had fallen in love with Kim Nero, the love of his life, but had needed to leave her behind when he'd been deployed. Years later, Drew learned that he and Kim had a child named Oscar. Sadly, Oscar died of cancer not long after he and his father got to know one another. When Drew and Kim couldn't work things out following Oscar's death, Drew left town and died in a plane crash. But Dr. Arthur Cabot and cult leader Shiloh had Drew's memories stored on a flash drive and intended to upload those memories into Cameron Webber's brain. In an attempt to spare his stepson, Franco convinced the dastardly duo to use him instead. What resulted was all Drew's memories prior to his amnesia being inserted into Franco's body and all traces of Franco's memories and personality being suppressed. While General Hospital fans have long been faced with storylines based in non-reality, (Hello, Casey the Alien and Ice Princess!) the medically and technologically impossible plot was a big ol' "Blue Screen of Death."
I Want My Baby Back, Baby Back, Baby Back...
The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital
In a time when hospitals have to put little antitheft devices on children like they were the really expensive purse in a luxury boutique, soap operas have to get creative in order to craft a baby swap storyline. Both The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital used the same, albeit slightly different, methods for their plots. B&B's Hope got caught in a storm and had to deliver the baby in a doctor's office. GH's Nelle was on the lam and had her baby in the middle of nowhere. We're fine with that. What made both storylines somewhat intolerable at times was the constant references to both children not being with their biological parents. In fact, characters often had what should have been very hush-hush conversations not only in public, but conducted at full volume. The stories could have been made more powerful if the baby swap storylines took a backseat for a few years or even a few months. (EDITOR's NOTE: We'd also have accepted a few weeks without the swaps being addressed.) Have life get back to normal -- or at least as normal as life can be on a soap. Develop other stories and then -- BAM! Make the reveal when folks were just starting to forget about the baby swap. While much is said of our need for instant gratification and minutes-long attention spans, viewers should never be heavy-handedly spoon-fed plot points.
Lani Leaves Eli After Gabi Blackmails Her
Days of our Lives
Soap fans have been increasingly vocal about needing more strong female characters that don't play second fiddle to the men in their lives. That's one of many reasons that DAYS fans love badass cop Lani Price, who tracked down the Necktie Killer and lived through losing a child. But fans were more than a little annoyed when Lani was down on her knees, groveling at Gabi DiMera's feet. But Lani's fiancé, Eli Grant's, grandmother Julie Williams was in desperate need of a heart, and Gabi's husband, Stefan DiMera, was brain-dead and a perfect match. Once Lani had begged for Gabi's mercy and Stefan's heart was beating inside Julie's chest, Gabi took her demands one step further -- she tampered with a pacemaker that was needed to regulate Julie's heartbeat before it was placed inside Julie, and she could speed up or slow down Julie's heart rate with a simple tap of a phone app. Gabi wanted Lani to feel the pain of losing the love of her live, so Gabi ordered Lani to jilt Eli. In order to keep Gabi from interfering with Julie's new heart, not only did Lani follow through on Gabi's demands, leaving Eli at the altar, but when the show jumped forward an entire year, Gabi was in a relationship with Eli, and Lani was still cowering to Gabi's blackmail. For a well-connected law officer who took down a serial killer to tremble over a phone app rather than joining forces with any of Gabi's many enemies has been a difficult storyline for many viewers to get behind, and many fans are eager for the sand to run out of this storyline's hourglass.
Nero to Zero
Dr. Kim Nero had the potential to be a strong heroine, but instead was reduced to an unsympathetic shell of a character, acting out of... let's call it desperation. Kim didn't originally tell her son Oscar that he had cancer, angering Oscar and fans for withholding such life-changing information. Kim's excuse? She wanted Oscar to live his life free from the knowledge that he was sick. Oscar's estranged father Drew Cain and Kim helped care for Oscar in his final days, and it seemed like maybe Drew and Kim had a future together as a couple who would draw strength from their loss. Seemed. Kim made a series of questionable decisions. Not long after Oscar's death, Kim tried to convince her on-again, off-again boyfriend Julian Jerome that they should have a baby together. When that didn't work, Kim attempted to rape Drew Cain in order to get a replacement baby with Oscar's father. Kim also tried to play house with Franco Baldwin who, as was explained earlier in this column, had undergone a medical procedure that implanted Drew's memories and personality into Franco's body. Kim continued to fall further from grace with every poor decision. As time ticked by, Kim continued to destroy the relationships she had built in Port Charles, including battling Franco's wife Elizabeth in court. When Kim told Elizabeth that she had been sharing a bed with Elizabeth's man, it painted Kim into a corner of selfishness from which it would be hard to recover. When Kim eventually left town, without Frankendrew, only Monica was sad to see her go.
The Young and the Restless
On All My Children, characters were sent into the attic, never to be mentioned again. On The Young and the Restless, starting a music career seems to be the Genoa City way of pushing music-making residents aside without officially kicking those characters to the curb. Of the recent musician characters, Jett Slade was hardly around; Ana Hamilton left town because her father, Jett, had fallen ill; Fenmore Baldwin, despite being an amateur in the music industry with a small catalogue of work, has been on the road for an extremely long time; and Tessa Porter hit one million likes on her debut music video and then seemingly cut back on playing gigs around town. For a soap opera that once had the likes of Danny Romalotti, Traci Abbott, and Lauren Fenmore performing hits on huge stages with pyrotechnics, musicians Fen, Ana, Tessa, and Jett all had recent music-based storylines that didn't catch fire or really lead anywhere. More mic drops appear destined for 2020: the CBS soap is introducing another musician in early January, but that character is only envisioned as a short-term player.
Sarah + Rex Equals S.E.X. -- Just With Other People
Days of our Lives
Sarah and Rex arrived in Salem, engaged, but as Sarah and Rex spent time in town, cracks in their relationship were revealed. It turned out that Rex had not only cheated on Sarah with her paternal half-sister, Noelle Curtis, but also with Mimi Lockhart, who also happened to have recently returned to town. When Sarah found out about Rex's infidelity, she sought comfort from the grieving Eric, who turned down her advances, so she slept with Xander. It was discovered that not only did Rex sleep with Mimi, but she delivered his child without telling him, years after not telling him she had aborted his child. Rex and Mimi's daughter, Emily, was being passed off as belonging to Mimi's mother, Bonnie Lockhart, and Lucas Horton, but when the truth was revealed, Rex, Mimi, and Emily left down. Eric and Sarah began to grow closer, bonding over the presumed-dead Nicole's daughter, Holly Jonas, and Sarah ended up falling in love with Eric. When Eric lied and said that he didn't want to be with Sarah, she reconciled with Rex, and they were married. Eventually, Rex learned that Eric did, in fact, have feelings for Sarah and that Sarah reciprocated those feelings, so he left town again. Some relationships are doomed from the start.
Troubled Water Means Bridge Is Over
The Bold and the Beautiful
It's not easy keeping a marriage together. The fact that more than 50% of marriages fail proves that unromantic sentiment. Shouldn't true love triumph? Shouldn't a man or woman in love fight to keep the relationship together? That doesn't seem to be the case for The Bold and the Beautiful's Brooke and Ridge. We suppose that after eight unsuccessful marriages, it is easier to just call things off than try to fix them. And sure, a baby swap, a tumble from a really high cliff, and withholding the fact that your spouse's son fell into a vat of acid aren't your run-of-the-mill problems. However, we have to suspect that by this point, Brooke and Ridge would file divorce papers if the other one left a dirty sock on the bedroom floor or forgot to turn off a hallway light. It's hard to invest in a couple that could be one of daytime's best power couples when neither of those characters seems that invested in their own marriage.
The Bold and the Beautiful
When Thomas Forrester returned this year with his young son, Douglas, he brought with him a trove of character history and a trunk of emotional baggage. Previously a grey character, viewers watched as the newly returned Thomas descended into a darkness that brought with it emotional abuse and manipulation. Seeming to barely mourn the nonsensical off-screen passing of Caroline, the mother of his son, Thomas quickly set his sights on Hope Logan. Thomas vowed to win Hope and would stop at nothing to have her, even if it meant mistreating people along the way, When Thomas found out that Hope's baby, Beth, had been taken and given to his own sister, Steffy, Thomas used the information to his advantage, gaslighting Hope rather than telling her the truth. Thomas' plunge into villainy was further displayed in his apparent role in the death of Emma Barber and his verbal and emotional abuse of Douglas. Villains are common in soap operas. They incite action and help propel stories forward. However, if a character is taken too far down the path of evildoing, it can be virtually impossible to redeem that character later. And when fans take to social media to lament that the character survived a plunge into a vat of acid, it's definitely not a good thing.
Where There's a Will, There's a Con
The Young and the Restless
When Katherine Chancellor died and bequeathed the bulk of her fortune to grandson Devon Hamilton, a man of integrity and good intentions, it seemed like Katherine's legacy was in good hands. Devon went on to use his fortune to help others and to give undiscovered musicians a fair shot at stardom. Cue the arrival of Amanda Sinclair, a dead ringer for Devon's dead wife, Hilary. Amanda claimed to have been hired by Chance Chancellor -- despite having never met him -- to show that Katherine's estate was meant to go to someone else: Cane Ashby. Something didn't feel quite right, but a handwriting analysis proved that a second will giving nearly everything to Cane was valid. When all was said and done, it was revealed that the second will was part of an elaborate con by Cane's biological father, Colin Atkinson. Knowing that Devon was an honorable man, Colin knew that Devon would sign over the multi-billion-dollar inheritance to Cane. Colin's lies were exposed, but Colin had another bombshell: he claimed that he and Cane had worked together, and Colin fled. Cane vowed to track down Colin, clear his name, and return the money to the rightful heir. Fans of Daniel Goddard (Cane) were incensed that the storyline's sole purpose seemed to be a way to fire Goddard. Other viewers were outraged that the storyline seemed to want to destroy one of the few African American moguls in daytime history. Many also questioned why the CBS soap had killed off Hilary if it planned to bring actress Mishael Morgan back to the show.
The Storylines That Never Were
Revolving Door Hayden
Hayden returned to town just long enough to comfort her grief-stricken sister Elizabeth, rent Dr. Kim Nero's apartment (and share scenes with Tamara Braun on her last day), and tell Dr. Hamilton Finn that he's a daddy. Then, after an action-packed four months in Port Charles, Hayden dropped off her daughter, Violet, with Finn and hit the road. The Finn/Hayden/Anna triangle that was teased? Looks like that's not going to happen.
RIP Calvin Boudreau
The Young and the Restless
Calvin was on for barely a blink of an eye, yet his name continues to come up in conversations. There has been more airtime spent talking about Calvin than Calvin ever actually occupied on-screen. While the character was never developed beyond a cartoon, he's been the inciting factor for several storylines since he met his convenient, but completely natural, demise. It's time to lay Calvin to rest for good.
Evil Flo to Saint Flo
The Bold and the Beautiful
When Flo Fulton was pulled into Dr. Reese Buckingham's scheme to kidnap and sell a baby to Steffy Forrester, she could have had no way of knowing that the scam would involve a cousin (and entire family) that she didn't know she had as well as, tangentially, her childhood sweetheart. For the better part of a year, Flo kept the secret of Baby Beth's whereabouts while getting to know her new family, the Logans. When the truth came out that Flo had lied -- and continued to lie -- about her role in Beth's kidnapping, the only way for her to atone for her sins wasn't jail time. No, Flo donated a kidney to save the life of her long-lost aunt. The move tarnished what could have been a compelling, contemporary social issue storyline about kidney disease and organ donation.
The Young and the Restless
From the brick through the window, to the threatening texts, to the in-person confrontation, there was a lot of build-up to Mariah's stalker playing a larger role. As such, the audience expected that the show was setting up a suspenseful, possibly creepy, story arc. With plenty of potential turns the storyline could have taken, including the stalker kidnapping or hurting Mariah, it felt unfulfilling for all that build-up to quickly conclude with a short scene consisting of Tessa baring her teeth at the stalker once, only for him to never be heard from again.
Proceed with Caution
Misty Watercolor Memories
General Hospital and The Young and the Restless
General Hospital and The Young and the Restless have earned rave reviews for storylines that involved characters afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Watching fictional characters Mike Corbin and Dina Mergeron battle an incurable disease has been heartbreaking to say the least. In real life, the disease can't be counted on to only cause problems during Sweeps months, so both General Hospital and The Young and the Restless need to be careful to not use Alzheimer's as a plot point.
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