The Outstanding Younger Actor category rarely garners respect at the Daytime Emmys each spring. That could all be changing next year, as several younger actors are doing the heavy lifting in their respective soap's most powerful storylines, and proving they can bench press much more than their weight.
General Hospital has Bryan Craig as bitter, horny mob heir Morgan Corinthos. The Young and the Restless boasts Max Ehrich as slithering, slinky, oft-disturbed druggie Fenmore Baldwin. Then there's Days of Our Lives, home to arguably the most rapidly-improving actor in soaps, Casey Moss.
We've gotten a kick out of Moss from the moment he made his debut as Jennifer Horton's (Melissa Reeves) cocky, pot-smoking son JJ, but for the longest time he was simply eye candy who provided snarky barbs.
When DAYS' amazing writing staff bravely began taking JJ to the brink of sociopathology, Moss quickly proved he's capable of much more than flexing a taut body and a sneaky, infectious grin. As a son grieving for his hero father, JJ has been repelled by his mother's attempts to move on with Dr. Daniel Jonas (Shawn Christian), like Kal-El to glowing green rocks.
As JJ's acting out intensified, the mother who once cloaked his every sin became fed up. Following a summer of drugs, thievery, breaking and entering and other petty crimes, Jennifer Rose threw JJ out of Horton House, in a display of tough love. For added measure, Jen asked her cousin and sisters-in-law to stand in solidarity, refusing to left JJ move in with their families.
Jen's tactic backfired on her, as JJ made a beeline to his Aunt Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) this week on DAYS. While once again raging about how awful Daniel is—especially compared to JJ's late father Jack Deveraux (Matthew Ashford)—Kayla flashed back to an ugly family secret. Long before JJ was born, when Kayla was married to Jack, the volatile, aspiring politico brutally raped his wife.
Longtime viewers know DAYS worked overtime to redeem Jack post-rape, largely due to Ashford's popularity. Eventually the character of Jack Deveraux morphed from a vile, entitled rich boy prick, to a sardonic, witty, romantic lead opposite spunky cub reporter Jennifer.
JJ isn't yet privy to everything his father did to turn things around — killing Harper Deveraux to save Patch and Kayla; rescuing Jennifer from a life contending with Emilio Ramirez's jheri curl juice. However, thanks to his manipulation of guillible Aunt Adrienne (Judi Evans) and discovering transcripts from Lawrence Alamain's (Michael Sabatino) rape trial (all brilliant, brilliant uses of history), JJ does now know just what a monster his father once was.
Kayla, the victim of Jack's disgusting crime, reluctantly confirmed it for her nephew, sending the boy off on a violent bender in Horton Town Square. JJ commenced to trash the book store where Jack's new tome was displayed, along with anything and anyone in his path.
Moss did his TV dad proud, displaying a delicate balance of rage and emotional rawness reminiscent of a young Matt Ashford. Okay, I've talked enough about it. Watch the DAYS recap video below and see for yourself. Bravo, Mr. Moss.