Rating The Young Uns: Why Soaps Could Use More Actors Like Blake Berris And Less Hair Models

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Okay you knew it was coming. Now that the Idiots In Charge of The-Soap-Opera-Formerly-Known-as-Days-of-Our-Lives have let the phenomenal Blake Berrisgo, I decided to start out doing a Wishful Casting about where Berris should end up, but it turned into more of an analysis of which soaps are managing to set things up for their next generation the right way, and which ones are getting it wrong, dead wrong.

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Much of the daytime industry is experiencing a serious drought in terms of talented, young stars who can actually, you know, act. Save for The Young and the Restless, One Life to Live and General Hospital, the under 30 set at most soaps is pretty much comprised of rejects from the Pamela Anderson School of Acting and Pantomime.  I'll start with the soaps in most need of help and work my way up.



Guding Light

While GL is surprisingly getting better with each passing day, the younger cast is still, for the most part, absolutely abyssmal. Save for future superstar Marcy Rylan(Lizzie)and promising, but not-yet stand outs  like Mandy Bruno (Marina) and John Driscoll (Coop), GL is hair model central.

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EJ Bonilla (Rafe) and Lawrence St. Victor (Remy) are botrh growing on me, but with the overly-loud and (sorry) overrated Caitlin Van Zandtscreaming onto the scene at any given second and that poor child Bonnie Dennison (Daisy) somewhere starring blankly, it makes it hard to concentrate on what's right about the young Springfielders.

An actor of Berris's caliber would help balance things out. What if GL cast Berris as Zack, the son of Phillip Spaulding and Harley Cooper? With Grant Aleksander on his way back, now would be the perfect time for his son with Harley to be SORAS'ed. If not Zack, Berris could play Phillip's other son James, the one he sired with Beth atop a snowy mountain, during a plane crash on the tropical principality of San Cristobel. 

Berris and Rylan would have amazing brother/sister chemistry and if the soap found a suitable actress (read: one whose resume doesn't say "strikes a mean pose") to star opposite Berris as Vanessa's daughter Maureen, the show could have a promising young adult couple on its hands.

As The World Turns

As The World Turns actually has an amazing younger set, which is why this show frustrates me to no end. They put the brakes on the smoking hot Emily and Casey May/December romance featuring one of the best young adult newcomers in years (Billy Magnussen), that brought up 10 years of history with Emily, Tom and Margo, so they could put Emily back into the same old tired orbit with soap opera kill joys Paul and Meg. Meanwhile, Magnussen's fire is being wasted on perhaps the most boring recast in the last decade, Marnie Schulenberg as Alison Stewart.

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Former hair model-turned-decent younger leading man Agim Kaba  (Aaron)has grown leaps and bounds since first appearing on the show. Now that he is finally ready to anchor the show's 20-something set, what do they do? Put him on recurring to bring on new hair models with their training wheels still on.

Don't even get me started on how ATWT has wasted the opportunity to lure in the affluent cable audiences that watch Logo and Bravo, by refusing to pen anything even seemingly resembling a decent storyline for their groundbreaking gay teen couple Luke and Noah (Van Hansisand Jake Silbermann).

After seeing all of these examples in print, I'm almost reluctant to suggest Berris for any role on this soap, since ATWT has proven it doesn't know what to do with the amazing young talent it already has. That being said, I think it would be awesome if a fed up Noah finds comfort in a new coed at at the university. While Drunk Luke is busy tongue wrestling his Paw-Paw, maybe Noah and a new character played by Berris can actually do more than jump up and down on the bed when they have a moment to themselves?

The Bold and the Beautiful

Sigh. B&B, often times my guiltiest daytime pleasure, is another soap that doesn't have a clue how to write for hot, interesting younger characters. This show has had in its employment Mario Lopez, Antonio Sabato Jr. (okay they aren't young, but they still look it. Latino and Italian respectively don't crack) and currently Texas Battle and Brandon Beemer, yet have failed to utilize them. Maybe if Berris joined the soap as core family member Thomas Forrester that could change things? If not Thomas, what about a young lover for Lesli Kay's underused Felicia? Did you see those Obama-on-my-drawers photo shoots featuring Kay and Berris? Talk about chemistry!

All My Children

I have to let you in on a little secret. I haven't watched All My Kids since that tornado debacle. I just couldn't. I know Chuck Pratt is working hard to clean up the messes of previous regimes and no doubt enduring the "help" of an eager Fronsie, and if it took a CGI twister and Lion King moment for Zach to accomplish all of that, so be it, but, in order not to go off on the blog like a screaming banshee until the show has had time to find itself again, I just decided to tune out for a bit and plan to pick it back up with this weekend's marathon so I can see my Binks (Eden Riegel) and my Tams (Tamara Braun as Reese) Wait, do they still do soap marathons at LIFESTYLEnet?



Since I haven't been watching, I really don't know what is going on over there in terms of the young adult storyline. I know they've got someone doing a Revenge of the Nerds schtick as Petey Cortlandt. I remember there are a couple of black hair models in scenes with deserving-of-better Cornelius Smith Jr. (Frankie), and one white one playing a Chandler, yeah...that's about it. Wouldn't it be great if Berris turned up in Pine Valley as either Sam Grey or Lorenzo Santos?

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Sam has huge ties to the canvas. He's the biological son of Palmer's stepgrandson Bobbie Warner and Tad's niece Kelsey, and the adopted son of Maria Santos and the late Edmund Grey. A smart recast of Sam's one-time crush Lily Montgomery also just might make Jackson relevant again.

Berris would make an interesting choice for Lorenzo, the son of Mateo and Hayley Vaughan Santos, as well. What if Adam's grandson shows up on his doorstep with a chip on his shoulder, decked out in goth gear? This would pay tribute to Hayley's notable debut in Pine Valley, that saw Kelly Ripalooking like a Joan Jett clone, complete with spiky, black hair, when she showed up at Trevors. RIP Uncle Porkchop. 

One Life to Live

One Life to Live is another soap I checked out of awhile back. Only this time it wasn't a twister, it was the twisted rapemance. Looks like the the joke was on me and everyone else who decried the storyline, as Todd and Marty hitting the sheets and its aftermath was a ratings hit for One Rape to Re- Live

Anyhoo, the teen scene in Llanview is pretty set. The fab four of Starr (Kirsten Alderson), Cole (Brandon Buddy), Langston (Brittany Underwood) and Markko (Jason Tam) are all well-written characters, played by talented actors, so I guess I don't have much to gripe about there. Okay, just thought of one thing. Why isn't anyone writing for choc-o-licious Tika Sumpter (Layla)? 

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Twentysomething couples like Rex and Gigi (John-Paul Lavoisierand Farah Fath)and Natalie and Jared (Melissa Archer and John Brotherton) are also equal parts romantic and visually stimulating. That being said, Berris could easily fit into to the canvas as Cord and Tina's oft-mentioned son CJ. I know his mom just left town, but having her son back in Llanview just might give Tina (and Andrea Evans) a reason to pop up from time to time.

It would also be nice to see Starr have a big-brother-figure. What if Ron Carlivati took CJ down a nefarious route? The Lord-Buchanan sandwich could develop feelings for Gigi and team up with Adriana (Melissa Fumero) to tear the couple apart! Oh wait, is Bitchy Bangs still on the show? I guess I better starting watching OLTL again too.

General Hospital



My beloved, yet much-lamented General Hospital has hands down the most consistently appealing young adult set in daytime. Kirsten Storms(Maxie), Julie Marie Berman (Lulu), Brandon Barash(Johnny) and Soap Find of the Millenium Bradford Anderson(Spinelli), are spin-off worthy. 

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Late 20-something/early-to-mid 30-something couples like Robin and Patrick (Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thompson), Jason and Liz (Steve Burton and Becky Herbst), Lucky and Sam (Greg Vaughanand Kelly Monaco) and Nikolas and Nadine (Tyler Christopher and Claire Coffee), prove day in and day out why GH has it all over shows like ATWT, AMC and Days of Our Lives in terms of setting up a viable Soap Generation Next.

GH could still gain huge ground, however, if they brought on a talented actor to play Lucas Stansbury, the gay son of Bobbie Spencer (Jackie Zeman). The Nuke Campaign and BAM phenomenon before it proved  the soap opera viewing audience is hungry for same-sex romances on soaps. GH already has the character and Sri Rao more-than-proved he was capable of penning a smart, sexy, character-driven gay love story on General Hospital: Night Shift, so why doesn't ABC bring him on board the mothership specifically to oversee a storyline for Lucas?

The Young and the Restless

Daytime's newly-restored crown jewel is the first soap in a long time to give GH a run for its money in terms of young adult star wattage. Fire-hot writing for characters like Cane (Daniel Goddard), Amber (Adrienne Frantz), Daniel (Michael Graziadei), Kevin (Greg Rikaart), Jana (Emily O'Brien), and the addition of All My Children graduates Elizabeth Hendrickson(Chloe) and Billy Miller (Billy) in their breakout performances, have helped make Y&R the most talked about show in daytime again, due to the show's smart decision to strongly tie its new generation to its veterans.

Lizzie

 I would love to see Blake as Jack Abbott's bitter son Kyle or Lauren's senstive, writer offspring Scott. What 20-something soap star wouldn't want to be a part of this cast? Here's hoping Corday's loss is Maria Arena Bell's gain.