These Aren’t Your Grandmother’s Soap Operas…

Once upon a time, before the days when sexist, ageist trolls ruled the Daytime Kingdom, and before the pervasive, asinine notion that younger viewers only want to watch young, bland models learn how to act, or not, on the front burners of daytime soap operas, there were interesting, romantic, compelling, stories that exemplified the very fact that true love— and sometimes true hate—comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and yes, age brackets. These clips from Another World, Santa Barbara, Days of Our Lives and General Hospital show soap opera seniors doing what they once did best— fight, love and pass on the torch to the generations to come.

You wanna know why this once multigenerational art form is in danger of going the way of the Dodo? The utter disregard for veterans is a good place to start.

37 Responses

  1. Profile photo of jennjackfan

    Thanks for posting those flashbacks of greatness. Loved AW. And and some Alice Horton wisdom is always a good thing.

    I don’t get the vets vs. newbies arguments that go around. I think a good show should have both, and they USED to. There used to a balance, and the writers used to treat the vets with respect. Of course, the caliber of writing and acting for the newer characters was much different then, too. I SO miss the days of good soap and character-driven multigenerational stories. Thank goodness for the internet, or I might be stuck watching soaps of today!

  2. Profile photo of tws1978

    I´m getting really tired with this campaign saying DAYS is antivet show. It´s not true! That posted scene is nice, but Alice was as much supporting character as Maggie is now. In fact, on Monday Maggie has a heart to heart talk with Daniel, playing exactly the same role as Alice has in this clip. Victor is an important part of the DiMera vs. Kiriakis battle, Kate is a key part of the Chloe/Lucas/Daniel triangle.

    Yes, Marlena/John and Steve/Kayla were all let go, but that´s because they were no longer beliavable as the romantic leads of the show and the fans were never able to accept them as anything else. That´s not ageistic, that´s simply the circle of life. Nobody is surprised when actors and actresses over 40 cannot play Romeo/Julie, but soap fans expext 60+ Deidre to still be a viable romantic lead on DAYS? They still want 70+ Stefano to desire her and make plans to get her? It´s laughable.

  3. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    Well, tws1978, you are correct in that after more than a decade of neglect, Maggie Horton is finally being utilized on the soap more often. However, I disagree that being over 60 means you cannot be a viable romantic lead. In my opinion, Kayla, Steve, Tony, Marlena, and John could have all continued on with the show for many years to come! It’s about story and priorities! On Y & R, one of the newest romances is that of Murphy and 80 year old Katherine! Y & R is #1 because it tells strong stories for characters of all ages. It’s laughable, to me, that someone thinks romance stops at 60.

  4. Profile photo of Johnathon

    I completely agree with Jennjackfan about vets and newbies being used together.

    We HAVE to have both, no one would care that the Teens are overrunning the show if there was balance and all of the stories were good.

    I just finished catching up on my International soaps, and the way they balance the storylines is just amazing.

    We have front burner storylines with Vets as well as Teens and we care about ALL of them the same.

    I really love new characters on these shows and the way they tie the new characters to the canvas in such a short time. So much so that there are characters I want to see MORE of, you almost never hear someone say they want more of a newbie.

    I mean do we really want more Eden/Noah on YR? Do we want more Lola on OLTL? No, why? Because the actors are not that great and the storylines are not there to support it.

    Its not a matter of having Vets in front burner storylines its a matter of balance, some soaps in the US are doing a better job then others, but I think we will get there eventually.

  5. Profile photo of appleridge

    Actually if you have good writers writing good story than you can center a show or stories around any age group.

    I dont think that fans are mad there are young stories but they want stories for all.

    I am sick of TPTB telling me that I dont wanna see couples over 40 having romance and sex. I loved the Q’s on GH when I first watched and it had nothing to do with their ages. It was the writing.

    Soap operas are not supposed to train viewers in what to like. They are supposed to write good contining story and we the fans are supposed to watch and let them know what we think. Its the fan response that should be guiding story not some money hungry executive.

  6. Profile photo of appleridge

    That GH scene shows the true Luke Spencer not the child abandoning jack ass that guza made him and its funny, Guza says Luke never wanted kids but back in 1984 in Mexico when Luke found out about Lucky he was esstaticand who was a script writer on GH back then? No other than GUZA. Way tol destroy history you helped create.

  7. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    It’s about good writing when it comes to what soap fans will watch! If you tell a good story and it involves strong actors, fans will watch! Here is a statement from Judi Evans (ex-Adrienne, DOOL/ ex-Paulina, AW, etc) in a recent interview with

    We Love Soaps: Over the course of your years on the soaps, what do you think has changed the most about the medium?

    Judi Evans: Of course the budgets. Also the emphasis on youth. Don’t get me wrong, youth is great, but give young people credit, as long as the stories are good they’ll probably watch any group, young or “old”.

    I agree with Judi and hope daytime writers and producers realize the importance of balancing their storytelling. It use to just be part of the job, but now everyone seems to think it has to be young or old stories, which is so silly. Y & R is #1 because it tells stories for all ages and types. Oops, I mentioned Y & R again.

  8. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    tws1978 John and Marlena hit their peak in terms of popularity when both actors and their characters were over 40. But playing into your argument, that romance is reserved for the young, which I’m sorry, but that is patently ridiculous, DAYS didn’t have to FIRE all the vets if they didn’t feel they should lead romantic storylines. Marlena and John should have been the soap’s new matriarch and patriarch. Sami and Brady feel like dingys floating around without any anchors without their parents in town.

  9. Profile photo of SusieQ

    Watching these clips just re-enforces to me the fact that the vets help to give ths shows heart and help to centre them and that’s what most soaps are missing these days. GH has no Mary Mae or Lila Quartermaine for characters to confide in. Sure, Days is using Maggie a bit more over the last couple of months but only because they are using her to prop the newbies who are eating air time like Dr. Dan and Melanie – why can’t she be talking to Lucas or Hope – you know family members that need some advice – you know something I might actually want to see!

    And I would like to disagree that teenagers do not want to watch older characters in romance. As a teenager, I loved watching Carl and Rachel fall in love on AW as much as I loved watching Ryan and Vicki and then Jake and Vicki or as much as I enjoyed watching Stone and Robin or Lucky and Liz on GH. Great storytelling combined with great acting was and is all I need to keep me watching a soap or any tv show for that matter!

  10. Profile photo of SafeFan

    Watching those clips, I feel so connected to those actors and actresses being those characters and the history depth that it presents. To me, Daytime is not a sound byte business and for whatever reason it’s being pushed that way is really wrong for the way the storytelling/writing is being done and presented to us nowadays. Can’t they rotate and write in this ever growing list of seasoned vets to bridge generation gaps and satisfy perpetuating the depth of history the shows have? Wouldn’t that help budgets and time constraints?
    Another thing regarding a sound byte mentality, is that it does a better job at dividing your mind to be connected to one actor or another and/or storyline or another. I think it’s been common over the years for viewers to bond very closely with one character or a couple and that’s they’re ultimate reason for watching, but nowadays in addition to the connection it’s starting to feel like a requirement to become like a Washington lobbyist to help secure their future in those roles. Then, while your lobbying, you have to be so careful to make sure your efforts are not directed in such a way that puts any of the rest of the cast in an unintentional bad light.

  11. Profile photo of Bangel Angle
    Bangel Angle

    Days is the show all about newbies. None of the vet characters are in storylines centering core characters.

    Maggie, Lucas and Kate are in a storyline centering on Chloe and Daniel. WTH! Just look at the storyline. The writers don’t give a crap about Maggie, Lucas or Kate.

    They could have did something with Lucas hitting the bottle again, but they only used it so they can keep the stupid storytelling of Chloe and Daniel, who are now supposedly in love.

    Even Sami’s storyline is not about her. Both Sami and Nicole’s storylines are about three year old EJ. How will he react when all the lies are in the open? How will he feel when… blah, blah, blah. I could care less.

    All these characters are on this show, pimping new guys or overly used guys.

    Now they’ve thrown in Will, Mia, The evil doctor (no not dan), Rafe, Brady, and a new guy into the baby switch storyline– a storyline so bad I can’t even come up with a name for it.

    And the ridiculousness of Bo and Hope’s storylne… really? Visions of cheating is all they could come up with?

    This show royally sucks. There’s drama. And there’s good drama. And none of this is good drama.

  12. Profile photo of SoapSnob

    The most prevalent element of all the clips is that the writing was very strong, thus bringing out stellar performances in the actors. Back then, strong writing was the rule, not the exception. Today, there are glimpses of strong writing; but it is the exception, not the rule. And that is a shame. I think that even the newbies could “bring it” if the writing were stronger. (And the shows employed on-set acting coaches.) Overall, some of today’s daytime dramas are missing an understanding of the crucial element that made daytime dramas successful to begin with – they are multi-generational with good, complex, character-driven stories and writing. That is what made them strong before and that is what can make them strong again.

    Also, the shows really need to start using (INSTRUMENTAL) music to underscore scenes again. As someone who loves music, I have always had an ear for the background music of a show and how it is used within a scene. “The Young & the Restless” used to be exceptional at scoring a scene with great, original music. But, over the years, their background music has become pretty generic. So, imagine my delight at the close of Wednesday’s episode (March 18) – with Katherine pondering her fate outside Crimson Lights – when they started to play a piece of music that I remember from the late 70s. (I was just 7 or 8 years old.) It was perfect for the scene and I remember it as the same music they would play for “wrenching” Katherine scenes “back in the day.” That music and Jeanne Cooper’s performance is still resonating with me today – 4 days later.

    Daytime Executives, Producers, Writers AND Actors: GET IT TOGETHER! And long live the genre!

  13. Profile photo of miajere

    Loved the clips. Memories.

    “Once upon a time, before the days when sexist, ageist trolls ruled the Daytime Kingdom, and before the pervasive, asinine notion that younger viewers only want to watch young, bland models learn how to act, or not, on the front burners of daytime soap operas, …”

    The trolls have always worked at these networks. Back then the writing was strong and television was a different medium, but the concepts of capitalism still existed, we just didn’t find out about the backstage issues until much later. The writing has definitely changed but these are the same SOBs running this industry.I think we’ve come to expect things because the world around us has changed, as has technology.

    respect the idealism of it all, I just don’t think I’m romantic enough to want to turn back those clocks so quickly, even for some of the good stories. Here’s to a much better future.

  14. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Jamey Giddens: You are right. They had their very succesfull second run after 5 year or so long absence. And yes, they were 40+ but still looking good enough to work as attractive romantic leads. But that´s just it, the run ended. It ended almost a decade ago.

    As for DH/DDH being the patriarch/matriarch of the show that´s total nonsense when you still have characters like Maggie and Caroline. The fans would never accept it. The actors would never accept it. And budget wise you are not paying $20,000+ per episode

    to have someone to tell your leading character to follow his/her heart.
    I never said their pay shouldn’t have been cut. They weren’t even offered that option though. Of course I don’t expect John and Marlena to still be having sweeping romances where they are torn apart and put back together, but I do expect them to be on the show and being invloved in the storylines of Eric, Carrie, Sami, Brady and Bell. You don’t fire a soap’s superstars. The execs you mention who supposedly know what’s good for the soaps are following a misguided template that saw Guiding Light end up in the shape it was in last year and has GH unrecognizable, meanwhile millions of viewers have tuned out since this all-consuming quest for youth has been implemented. So how again do these execs know what is good for the soaps?

  15. Profile photo of ConqueringBlue

    Watching that clip of Claire Labine’s GH reminded me just how miserable the show is now, and has been for quite some time. I know daytime tv is supposed to have drama, but I like some happiness and lightheartedness mixed in with my drama. How refreshing to see Luke and Laura smiling and dancing and having a good time, it seems like the only pair on today’s GH who has any fun at all is Jax and Carly, and their story often has much grief mixed in. I suppose I’m supposed to be enjoying Spinelli and Winnie’s shenanigans much more than I really am. Why must there always be so much unhappiness? Where did the love and friendship and warmth go? I agree with those who said it’s much easier to relate to the new characters when they interact with the vets. GH realized how popular VM was getting so they threw her into the Quartermaine orbit. How much I adored Brenda’s heart to hearts with Lila Q! And because of these scenes we saw a softer, gentler side of Brenda. They also threw Brenda into a friendship with Lucy, a twosome I also loved.

    I also think that it helps sometimes when the newbies have connections to the vets, and we actually see these relationships on screen on a day to day basis. Carly never interacts with her mom Bobbie. The scenes are so rare. I really wish they would bring back Lucy Coe and Kevin Collins and make them Spinelli’s parents. I know how much the timing would be off, but I have my mind set on him being their son. He’s got so much Lucy in him and it would be such a fun story… Ah well. GH doesn’t really believe in fun anymore. Not when you can have gunfire and explosions every day.

  16. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    tws1978: There are lots of different kinds of love stories to be told, not just Romeo and Juliet or Juliet and older guy, lol. Yes, DAYS has had a lot of great youthful couplings, but the show has always had (since I’ve been watching in the 80s) a mix of popular characters and coupling/triangles of all ages. And what was great about DAYS back then was that the characters were more intertwined – the younger characters weren’t in their own little bubbles.

    Remember Maggie/Mickey/Melissa/Pete’s Double Wedding? That was so great and so sweet, but would DAYS ever do a double wedding with older and younger characters now? Heck No! Or what about when Bo found out he was Victor’s son (shocking!!)? That story was great because it involved “younger” characters (Bo and Hope) and “older” ones (Victor, Caroline, Shawn). Actually, Victor is a great example of an “older” character who’s had great stories over the years (w/ Shane & Kim, Vivian & Kate)

    There are lots of stories that can be told on soaps, and DAYS used to be able to tell good ones for characters of all ages.

    **and just to get a little nitpicky… Diedre Hall left for 4 years, but Drake stayed that whole time and among other romances, ended up in a very popular pairing with SG/Isabella before Diedre came back.

  17. Profile photo of Jillian Bowe
    Jillian Bowe

    Jamey you and your Another World love… *LOL* Question, did Carl die at the end of the show and what happened to Rachel’s twins with him? Did u even like those two together?

  18. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Carl came back from the dead a few weeks before the finale. He and Rachel reunited with the twins, and I ADORED them together. Even though I saw him torment her for 20 years, there love came from a real, authentic place and provided great, soapy jeopardy—a woman falling in love with her late husband’s mortal enemy.

  19. Profile photo of Jillian Bowe
    Jillian Bowe

    Jamey: You have to show me some links of them… The last thing I vaugly remember is Rachel trying to get some damn bird that flew out of its cage. Then I saw her bouncing like a low-rider in a Dr. Dre video on the floor!

  20. Profile photo of doodleynoodle

    When I first started watching soaps all of my favorite couples/characters were adults. I was a pre-teen and no one else in my family watched soaps. I LOVED the older characters as much as the young adults. They brought a balance and voice of reason to the sometimes irrational actions of the younger “grown-ups”. For the life of me I can’t remember a teen storyline that I was ever interested in back then. Did they even exist? I didn’t miss them if they didn’t.

    One of the first couples I remember really enjoying was Phoebe & Langley on AMC. Aunt Ruby was one of my favorite characters of all times…she had been around the block a few times and she brought an non-judgmental wisdom and support that is non-existent in today’s soap world. I thought Amanda Barrington was absolutely regal. I remember watching soaps and wanting to be as brave and daring as Luke & Laura but as compassionate and street-smart as Aunt Ruby.

    This is the thing that TIIC of today don’t get…the nature of this genre is 5 days a week/52 weeks a year…these soaps have been more of a constant in most of our lives than almost ANYTHING else. In real life friends & marriages come and go, people pass through this life and we go on but to some of us – this is the most stable and consistent thing in our lives. I don’t want to give Soaps more weight than they deserve but there is an EMOTIONAL element to the attachment that a Soap Fan experiences that no other media can claim.

    And how are the faithful fans rewarded in today’s soap world? They kill off families, don’t allow couples to be happy, have weak alliances, flimsy friendships, ambiguous heroes, whores for heroines and allow any characters who dare to have an ounce of morality languish on the backburner or better yet be the victim of a heinous murder. (I’m all for redemption s/l’s they’re the stuff soaps are made of but…please.)

    The people who are in charge of the ABC Soaps should be forced to relinquish their undeserved and overabused positions to people who give a rat’s *$$…maybe they can turn SoapNet into SlutNut and take their “superstars” with them. I prefer good acting, interesting characters and excellent stories-they can take their fluff and cleavage with them when they go. ;)

  21. Profile photo of pxlbarrel

    I miss the vets. I miss the people that I grew up with. I miss good stories. I miss the romance. I watch GH and have only watched GH so I have no other frame of reference for daytime.

    Romance wasn’t confined to the youngsters, you had the young, the middle aged and the elderly in romantic situations. Sure, we didn’t see Lila and Edward whooping it up in bed but we got to see sweet scenes of them together and they were written with care. Audrey and Steve and their little moments together in the 90’s were wonderful. And they were part of the Ryan storyline…which was a front burner.

    Remember those torrid and passionate scenes with Alan and Monica or Alan and Susan in the early 80’s…well, surprise surpise, Stuart Damon was about 45 years old in 1985 and nobody can deny those scenes were hot. And he continued to be a major character for a long time after that. Romance doesn’t end at 40.

    I was a teenager in the late 70’s and just graduating high school in the early 80’s. My favourite characters on the show were Alan and Sean, two guys who were old enough to be my father. Oh, I enjoyed most of the cast but the younger guys just didn’t interest me as much. And I don’t think I was that unique in my thinking.

    Nobody expects the vets to be in front burning episodes all the time but neither do we want them to be background artists. They aren’t glorified extras, they’re talented actors who have carried these shows into the 21st century so those young hair models have a job. If you write for them, they’ll give you a show that’s worthy to be saved. Right now, I can’t say that GH deserves to be saved.

  22. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    SOOOO great to see CC and Sophia again! Where the HELL has Judith McConnell been? She should be someone’s mother on SOME SOAP, even if she has to be back-burnered and supporting some insipid lesser talents. I have missed her more than any of the other SB refugees (mostly because the rest have turned up occasionally). Jed Allen is another great talent who should be SOMEWHERE! I totally bought him as Edward Quarterbraine, even though he’s virtually the same age as his TV-son at the time, Stuart Damon.

    I had the great privelege to interview (live and in person) Beverly Garland (My Three Sons, Scarecrow and Mrs. King) back in the 90s, and after quizzing her on all my My Three Sons fanboy schtick, I told her how much I loved her daughter, Carrington, as one of the Kelly Capwells (I really did!) and she was SO touched by that, that when I contacted her many years later, SHE pointed out that I was the one who brought up her daughter.

    I never got to see Robin Wright as Kelly, but I had a big crush on Carrington. I really wish I had kept the tapes I had from back then! The only SB highlights I have on tape started pretty late…when Mason and Julia put Sasha Schmidt on ice! (“Am I Blue?”) LOL! Great stuff.

    Oh man, I miss Santa Barbara! Now I have to go and dig out my tapes and maybe call in sick tomorrow!


  23. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    “Losing EJ, Phillip, Nicol or Sami would hurt the show more than losing Jarlena, Stayla or Tony.”

    Um, whatever dude. With Higley writing for Days, I am glad most of my faves are gone.

  24. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    I completely agree, Soap_Stud, especially since the recast seemed to be an Amazon next to A Martinez. They just didn’t “fit” the way he would have with CG. (Nothing against the recast actress, who was fine in her own right, although–for the life of me–I can’t remember her name right now. ;-)

  25. Profile photo of inspiron

    i was a kid when i got hooked on GH watching steve hardy, jessie brewer, audrey, etc
    and the organ music back then! haha
    you dont have to focus on teens to get younger viewers but i know why they do it, the teens get paid less
    tptb arent fooling anyone

  26. Profile photo of Nathang1983

    I liked Another World too. They tried everything to save that soap, including that ridiculous storyline with Cindy and that 400 year old guy. Such silliness. I miss that soap still, and it’s been almost 10 years since it ended.

  27. Profile photo of niauoil

    I definitely miss some of the veterans. ATWT has Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda), Eileen Fulton (Lisa), Kathryn Hays (Kim), and Kathleen Widdoes (Emma) and they are so underutilized.

    Over at Guiding Light, I’d love to see more of Jordan Clarke (Billy), Maeve Kinkaid (Vanessa) and please bring back the lovely and talented Maureen Garrett (Holly).

    The best soaps and the best storylines interweave both vets and newbies, young and old. I’ll take the vets over some of the annoying kids any day.

  28. Profile photo of tws1978

    You cannot compare Y/R with DAYS. It´s a completely different show with a completely different kind of viewers. Ed Scott attempted to apply Y/R kind of storytelling on DAYS and the results were catastrophic rating wise. Viewers were bored s*it.

    Look back at the posted scene. You know how many 20+ years couples had the show at the time? Zero! How many 20+ years characters had leading stories? Zero! DAYS is and always has been a romantic escapism show. And you cannot argue the fact that romances are usually about the young. Most of viewers/readers are simply more interested in young naive girl falling hopelessly in love with her older and jaded boss (keeping with the J/J theme) than when the same young girl is older and with two children fighting with her now husband about his questionable career choice.

    I would never dare to say romance stops at 60, but I´m saying you cannot center a show like DAYS around 40+ couples and their mature life turmoils. It´s sustainable when that couple is only one or two and they are not leading the show, but it´s a catastrophy when the show has only them and that was the case before Tomlin started to clean the show.

  29. Profile photo of tws1978

    Appleridge: The money hungry executive is the one paying for the show. And you can bet if a majority of viewers were interested in a romance and sex of people over 40 and there was some reliable numbers as proof, the money hungry executive would be first who would happily push the writer/producer to fire all young people and hire as many vets as possible.

  30. Profile photo of tws1978

    Jamey Giddens: You are right. They had their very succesfull second run after 5 year or so long absence. And yes, they were 40+ but still looking good enough to work as attractive romantic leads. But that´s just it, the run ended. It ended almost a decade ago.

    As for DH/DDH being the patriarch/matriarch of the show that´s total nonsense when you still have characters like Maggie and Caroline. The fans would never accept it. The actors would never accept it. And budget wise you are not paying $20,000+ per episode to have someone to tell your leading character to follow his/her heart.

  31. Profile photo of tws1978

    daisyclover1938: I´m watching from 1988 so I don´t know much about the storyline before. What I remember the vets were always used as a filler and supporting characters. Even if they rarely had a story on their own it was always a “C” story at best, having a few scenes here and there and not really getting anywhere. But that´s not even a point here.

    All I´m saying this is not an ideal world where the show has unlimited budget and can do whatever we want. Yes, it would be great to have the supercouples still on the show but if the choice is either them or 10 other characters which are still fresh and needed as leads for the storylines, or all the first generation vets, I support the decision DAYS did. Losing EJ, Phillip, Nicol or Sami would hurt the show more than losing Jarlena, Stayla or Tony.

  32. Profile photo of Nathang1983

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m not so irked about Marlena and John and Steve and Kayla leaving as much as I am about the fact that they get rid of them and keep people like Chloe, Daniel, and especially Melanie. They could at least get rid of Melanie for some satisfaction (her character makes blood shoot out of mye eyes) :) She’s supposed to be a suspect in Tony’s murder, so if there’s any justice in the world, she’ll be the murderer.

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