Salem U.S.A.'s first family is having a rough go of it on Days of Our Lives. Hope (Kristian Alfonso) is wracked with guilt over killing Stefano (Joe Mascolo), when Deimos (Vincent Irizarry) is actually the man who robbed her of time with late husband Bo (Peter Reckell). Hope's daughter Ciara (Vivian Jovanni) was raped by her stepbrother. Meanwhile, Ciara's big bro Shawn (Brandon Beemer) is having a majorly difficult time co-parenting teenage songbird Claire (Olivia Rose Keegan) with angry ex-wife Belle (Martha Madison).
The late Addie Williams' (Patricia Barry) branch of the Horton family tree is pretty much a Rockwell painting compared to her brother Bill's progeny (John H. Martin). Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) is popping enough pills to be the central character in a Valley of the Dolls reboot. Her daughter Abigail (Kate Mansi) just tried to flame broil her serial killer ex-boyfriend. Without Jennifer Rose's cop son J.J. (Casey Moss) and recovering alcoholic half-brother Lucas (Bryan Datillo) looking after them, the Horton-Deverauxs would likely be featured on a two-part Dr. Phil special on "The World's Most Dysfunctional Families".
To be honest, the Hortons have always been a screwed up bunch. Beneath the Father Knows Best veneer and those plates of delicious glazed donuts, beat the hearts of one lusty, treacherous bunch.
Bill raped and impregnated his brother's wife. He later helped drive her insane with his constant infidelities (though Laura's inherited mental woes helped). Mickey (John Clarke) shot Bill. Addie stole her daughter Julie's (Susan Seaforth Hayes) lover, married him and bore him a child — all before being hit by a car. None of that stopped Julie from marrying Doug three times (Bill Hayes) and becoming a stepmother to her own half-sister.
Then there was youngest O.G. Horton daughter Marie (Maree Cheatham). She was so distraught after falling in love with her back-from-the-dead Korean War vet brother Tommy (John Lupton) she checked herself into a nunnery! Okay, Tommy did have amnesia and a new face. Stuff happens.
As much as I've been complaining on this blog and on the Daytime Confidential podcast about how dark the show has become, I guess there's always been a sort of vile undercurrent threatening to pull the long-suffering Hortons underneath the tide. What's currently missing, however, is the heart, humor and promise of young love that once balanced the Sturm und Drang.
Remember how spunky and romantic Hope and Jennifer were in their teens, 20's and 30's? Those broads endured evil husbands, presumptions of death, rape and Cruises of Deception, yet managed to keep their senses of humor, zests for life and absolutely gorgeous hair intact.
When was the last time Abigail smiled? The demonically gleeful smirks she allowed herself while burning a man's legs don't count.
The Hortons certainly haven't cornered the market on suffering in Salem. Their pals, the Bradys have been collectively frowning since the 50th anniversary as well.
Former Horton-in-law, Maggie Kiriakis (Suzanne Rogers) has a fairly sucky life these days too. Her son isn't even cold in his grave, yet she's newly-paralyzed and being scammed by someone claiming to be yet another long-lost offspring.
According to Reeves, things will get worse before they get better for Clan Horton. Here's what she said to TV Insider about Jennifer's looming battle with pain killers:
"And it’s going to get really ugly. I love it, but it scares me. When I found out where the car crash and her back pain were headed, I called Scott going, “Oh, my God, they want Jennifer on drugs and I’m freaking out! I never wanted to be an actress! And now they’ve given me this story! I don’t think I can act it!” I was in total panic but Scott’s like, “Honey, it’s gonna be fine. You’re gonna be awesome.” He really had to talk me down."
There are, I suppose, a few rare moments of light in all of the darkness plaguing the late Tom (MacDonald Carey) and Alice's (Frances Reid) descendants. Jennifer engaged in some red-hot, pre-prison sex with former babysitting charge Eric Brady (Greg Vaughan) this week. That was something. Cousin Hope is gingerly finding love again with fellow cop Rafe Hernandez (Galen Gering). Plus, Jennifer's true love Jack Deveraux (Matthew Ashford) is coming home — even if it will only be in her head.
What do you make of the dark DAYS the Hortons are experiencing? Give us your take in the comments.