Love triangles get a bad rap. “Another trite triangle,” is a phrase I read recently about Steve and Billie. Our late unlamented headwriter, JER, had a fondness for triangles, even quads. Actually, Sami, Lucas, Austin, Carrie, and EJ were technically a quint (pentagon?) there for awhile.
They can be tired, they can be trite, they can be the worst type of lazy writing. But the triangle is here to stay. How would soaps get by without them?
My feeling is that there are triangles and there are triangles. You have the scheming variation, where an evil third party works to split up the main couple by switching paternity test results, blackmailing doctors to lie to their patients, or locking someone in a cage.
You have the in love with two people variation, where either partner could be a viable choice. The EJ/Sami/Lucas triangle might be considered one of this type (or at least until EJ was revealed to be eeeeeevil). Jack/Jen/Frankie was another recent example. Belle/Shawn/Mimi also turned out to be one of this type. Jason Cook’s Shawn had more chemistry with Farah Fath’s Mimi than he did with his twuwuv4eva, Belle. Sometimes the “obstacle” becomes more popular than the original love interest. This memorably happened with Marlena, Don Craig, and Wayne Northrup’s Roman.
One of the most famous Days storylines of all time was the Mickey/Laura/Bill storyline that started the show. Whenever I think the Claire-is-Shawn’s-daughter reveal took forever to come out (a year), I remember that Mike didn’t find out he was really Bill’s son until he was an adult!
Then you have the best kind of triangle, where, as they say about adultery, it’s just a symptom of what’s wrong with the relationship. One of the most successful triangles in Days history, in my mind, was the Steve/Kayla/Jack storyline in 1988-89. I’m working on an analysis of this storyline, and I’ll post it here when I’m done. Suffice it to say that Steve’s fractured upbringing and extreme sense of self-sacrifice led him to think he could/should play God and “give” Kayla to his dying brother, Jack. One thing I loved about this storyline is that attempting to play God blew up in his face. One of the more infuriating things about soaps is watching people play right into some manipulator’s hands. No one is that completely predictable.
The jury’s still out on Kayla/Steve/Billie. I am aware that this is not a popular storyline with fans, but I have to see how it plays out before I can really assess it. This storyline unfortunately had to languish for the most of late summer and fall while the writing change took place. Right now we’re watching NotQuiteSteve attempt to “do the right thing” by Kayla while he really wants to be with Billie. Kayla clearly senses there’s something missing. I smell a confrontation on the horizon. Bring it on.