The Slow, Painful Death of The Soap Opera Supercouple - Daytime Confidential

The Slow, Painful Death of The Soap Opera Supercouple

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"They just don't make them like they used to" is a classic refrain that is becoming more of a reality for the once great soap opera supercouple with every passing year.

The supercouple is a mainstay of the soap opera genre, going back decades to such pairings as As the World Turns' Bob (Don Hastings) and Lisa Hughes (Eileen Fulton) and Days of Our Lives' Doug (Bill Hayes) and Julie (Susan Seaforth Hayes).

In the decades after the pinnacle of Doug and Julie's popularity, Days of Our Lives became a supercouple machine. It cranked out such greats as Roman (Wayne Northrop) and Marlena (Deidre Hall), John (Drake Hogestyn) and Marlena, Bo (Peter Reckell) and Hope (Kristian Alfonso), Patch (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans), Jack (Matthew Ashford) and Jennifer (Melissa Reeves), Shane (Charles Shaughnessy) and Kim (Patsy Pease), Justin (Wally Kurth) and Adrienne (Judi Evans) and many more.

General Hospital gave us the iconic Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) and provided fans with countless other supercouples, like Frisco (Jack Wagner) and Felicia (Kristina Wagner), Duke (Ian Buchanan) and Anna (Finola Hughes), Sonny (Maurice Benard) and Brenda (Vanessa Marcil) and  Robert (Tristan Rogers) and Holly (Emma Samms)  to name a few.

Even with its half-hour length, The Bold and the Beautiful served up fashionable supercouples, the most obvious all centered around Ridge. Ridge (the portrayed by Ron Moss) and Caroline (Joanna Johnson), Ridge and Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) and Ridge and Taylor (Hunter Tylo) being the most notable.

The Young and the Restless has its own line up of greats, including Victor (Eric Braeden) and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), Victor and Ashley (Eileen Davidson), Nick (Joshua Morrow) and Sharon (Sharon Case), Nick and Phyllis (then portrayed by Michelle Stafford), Danny (Michael Damian) and Christine (Lauralee Bell),  Jack (Peter Bergman) and Phyllis, Ryan (Scott Reeves) and Victoria (Heather Tom) and Neil (Kristoff St. John) and Drucilla (Victoria Rowell).

Most of the great supercouples of the 1980s and 1990s are nothing but memories. Bo and Patch are MIA on Days of Our Lives, leaving Hope and Kayla to their own devices in Salem. Jack is dead...again. Though they are still couples, John and Marlena and Justin and Adrienne are rarely seen together in Salem.

Luke and Laura reunited on General Hospital for the 50th anniversary, but Luke is with Tracy (Jane Elliot)—when he isn't being held captive by his doppelganger—and Laura married and divorced first hubby Scotty (Kin Shriner) the last time she was in town.

Felicia has moved on with Mac (John J. York). Brenda skipped town. Sonny and Carly are reviving their spark, but both spent recent years with other people. We get a classic Duke and Anna dance at the annual Nurses Ball, but they don't spend much time together onscreen.

On The Bold and the Beautiful Ridge's Caroline is long dead. Taylor finally had enough and disappeared. Brooke is with Bill (Don Diamont) and Ridge (Thorsten Kaye) is with Katie (Heather Tom).

Of the four remaining soaps, The Young and the Restless has done the best at maintaining their veteran supercouples, though even they have become diminished. Victor and Nikki are still together, though with Ashley back in Genoa City there is always the possibility Victor will want to graze in her pastures.

Nick and Sharon are reliving their Cassie (Camryn Grimes) years with the revelation that Mariah is Cassie's twin. Phyllis's shadow looms large in Jack's existing relationship.

On this week's Daytime Confidential podcast I expressed my concern for Days of Our Lives with the impending onscreen exits of Sami (Alison Sweeney) and EJ (James Scott). In my opinion, Days of Our Lives has only a few "must see" storylines, while everything else is uninteresting.

One of those "must see" storylines is Sami and EJ's stormy relationship amid Kate (Lauren Koslow) and Sami's corporate takeover of DiMera Enterprises. With two thirds of the most interesting characters on the show on their way out, I am a bit worried. There is no young couple on Days of Our Lives that has a tenth of the fire of EJami, which makes me wonder, is the young soap opera supercouple dying off?

Sure, every soap has young "pairings" that are popular with certain fan bases. But how many soaps have young, bona fide supercouples who inspire the kind of devotion once afforded to the Lukes and Lauras, and Bos and Hopes?

I would argue EJ and Sami are Days of Our Lives' last, young supercouple, and Sami is a grandmother.  Will (Guy Wilson) and Sonny (Freddie Smith) are stuck in the gay marriage purgatory. Eric (Greg Vaughan) and Nicole (Arianne Zucker) have history and would be the most easily developed into Salem's next big thing. Unfortunately, their story is painfully slow and the Nicole we see today has lost the bite and claws that once made her so great. Considering how far out Days of Our Lives tapes, it could be 2016 before Nicole is rehabilitated and they reach their full potential.

There is nothing compelling about Rafe (Galen Gering) and Jordan (Chrishell Stause) as a couple. Nothing about Ben (Robert Scott Wilson) and Abigaul (Kate Mansi) gives me hope for a supercouple future.  JJ (Casey Moss), who debuted with tons of potential, doesn't have a prayer while saddled with Paige (True O'Brien). The other three soaps are in much the same position.

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Cane (Daniel Goddard) and Lily (Christel Khalil) are hugely popular with a large number of Y&R fans. Don't ask me why, because I'll never understand. It could be argued they are The Young and the Restless' last young supercouple.

Unfortunately, Cane and Lily's relationship has been buried in mothballs creatively. I cannot believe I'm about to advocate this, but they need to be dusted off and spiced up.

A year ago, I might have added another supercouple contender to the list, Billy (Billy Miller) and Victoria (Amelia Heinle). Like Cane and Lily, I'll never understand their appeal, but maybe I'm just not supposed to. However, now that Villy has become the victim of recasting, the magic their fans once saw is long gone.

Where is The Young and the Restless' next epic supercouple? Hilary (Mishael Morgan) and Devon (Bryton James) are making a splash. Neither Summer Newman (Hunter King), nor her brother Noah (Robert Adamson) are in compelling romances.

General Hospital is in much the same state as Days of Our Lives. Like Sami and EJ or Cane and Lily, I would argue Patrick (Jason Thompson) and Robin (Kimberly McCullough) are General Hospital's last great supercouple. Robin's return last year was a testament to their "Scrubs" icon status. Unfortunately, the reality of McCullough being unavailable has wrecked the pairing.

Who then are we left with as General Hospital's next great supercouple? The choices are few.

The soap tried to catch Kelly Monaco and Michael Easton's chemistry in a bottle a third time with Sam and Silas, but it hasn't been a charm. Nina (Michelle Stafford) showing up to put a fork in Sam and Silas's relationship has been quite the welcome development.

Maxie (Kirsten Storms) and Nathan's (Ryan Paevey) relationship is in its infancy, but their current storyline could catapult them into supercouple status under the right circumstances. Ava (Maura West) and Morgan (Bryan Craig) are the supercouple that might have been, but now they barely interact. Morgan is now in storyline wilderness.

Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) and Britt (Kelly Thiebaud) showed early promise, but supercouple status is now a long ways off without a lot more nurturing. I won't even put Michael (Chad Duell) and Kiki (Kristen Alderson) and the word "supercouple" in the same sentence.

I cheered for Lucas (Ryan Carnes) and Brad (Parry Shen), but I am under no illusion they'll reach the heights of All My Children's Bianca (Eden Riegel) and Reese (Tamara Braun), As the World Turns' Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) or Guiding Light's Olivia (Crystal Chappell) and Natalie (Jessica Leccia). Their storyline just doesn't have the substance.

General Hospital's wild card is the casting of Billy Miller as Jason Morgan. If Miller has chemistry with Monaco (Sam) and/or Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) it could be "game on" for reviving one of the most popular love triangles in the soap's recent histories, which could lead to not one, but two potential supercouples.

But Luke, "What about Dante (Dominic Zamprogona) and Lulu (Marcy Rylan)?" I'm glad you asked. Dante and Lulu are the most primed to step up and claim the mantle of supercouple status. Unfortunately, too much of their storyline involves eggs, embryos, stolen babies, pregnancies, etc.

Unlike Days of Our Lives, whose shrinking budget is painfully obvious on screen, General Hospital still has the ability to tell the romantic adventures that are a hallmark of so many of its storied supercouples. While I can't stand Peter Harrell Jr. aka Levi (Zachary Garred), the Aztec jewelry/WSB storyline could be an important first step on Dante and Lulu's path back to true supercoupledom. However, Dante and Lulu are going to need more authentic relationship conflict.

This brings me to The Bold and the Beautiful. If there is one show that suffers from "pairings" syndrome, it is The Bold and the Beautiful. Watching the relationships on B&B play out is like singing "Old McDonald's Farm". Here a Liam (Scott Clifton)! There a Wyatt (Darin Brooks)! Here a Hope (Kim Matula)! There a Hope! Everywhere a Hope-Hope, E-I-E-I-O!

Liam, Hope and Wyatt get glamorous location shoots, but where in the continued repetitiveness of their storyline vortex is anything that remotely makes one think "supercouple"? The other young couples on the show are pretty much window dressing.

Whether the mantle is carried by General Hospital Dante and Lulu, or The Young and the Restless' Devon and Hilary—or some new game-changing pairing—I hold out hope that rumors of the supercouple's death have been greatly exaggerated.