Managing the Canvas

One of the things I never thought about when I was watching Days as a teen is how important it is to have the right mix of characters on the show. Oldies, youngies, in-betweenies, supercouples, hookupable singles, rich, poor, happy, bitter, manipulative, sweet—you’ve got to have the right mix.

The three major supercouples (John & Marlena, Bo & Hope, Steve & Kayla) are basically sacrosanct; no one is going to come between these three couples permanently. In fact, since these characters are all in their mid-forties to late fifties, I think it’s time they were a stable force on the show. You can only break up Bo and Hope so many times before it starts to lose meaning.  Besides, they’re too old to be having love triangles.  The breakup/makeup energy properly belongs to the younger characters on the show.

The only two couples we still have from the 90’s and early 00’s are Sami and Lucas and Shawn and Belle.  I know Sami and Lucas’s and Shawn and Belle’s history generally, but I wasn’t watching when they were first introduced.  JER’s idea of how to write for a couple consisted of establishing them as twuwuv4eva soulmates on the basis of a meeting or two, splitting them up into triangles or quads, and then doing nothing.  But this formula has hurt Lumi and Shelle far more than the older couples.  Write as badly as you can for Bo & Hope or Steve & Kayla, nothing can take away their original love stories. With Sami and Lucas (who I love together), they never got that original, first love story, the one you only get one chance at. I was talking on a discussion board with some other S&K fans about our hopes for the future, and we agreed that we couldn’t expect a return to that love story from 1986-88. That story will never happen again. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a good story now, but to expect that one again is setting ourselves up for disappointment. Well, Sami and Lucas were cheated of their falling-in-love story.

As for Shawn and Belle, how cruel is it to make people root for a couple and then split them up for three years? I remember when Steve and Kayla broke up for all of three months back in 1988; I was 15 and how I suffered! Since Shawn and Belle, every couple established on Days has been a returning couple (Carrie and Austin) or conceived as a barrier to one of the Big Five. (Shawn and Mimi had their fans, but this was in spite of the writing, not because of it.)

All five of these long-suffering couples have reunited or are on their way. Now what?

Now we need new couples.  So far our new couples are Nick and Chelsea and Mimi and Max. I think I’m going to love Nick and Chelsea, I’m iffy on Max and Mimi, but I’m very glad to see them both developing slowly. That’s how a real love story should be. And this way, if it isn’t working, you can change direction without having to backpedal too far.

I don’t want to imply that romances are all I want to see. Sibling relationships, parent/child relationships, those all-important umbrella story adventures, a little soap craziness— all these are important too. But a nice new love story is something Days hasn’t had for a long, long time.

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