This won’t be an in-depth blog entry, because I’m devoting all my energy (and time) for in-depth analysis to the next chapter in the Steve and Kayla story. But I can’t let a week go by without a post! On TWoP this past weekend, we were talking about the possible impending cancellation and how we feel about it, and it led me to reflect a little bit about Days and what it has meant to me.
Since my mother has watched Days since before I was born, I’m like one of those babies born crack-addicted. At the tender age of four, I remember trying to follow the stories, and I still have fond memories of Julie and Doug especially. I remember the Salem Strangler storyline and a wonderful sequence with Marlena in full-on psychiatrist mode, trying to help the Salem Strangler even as he stalked her. I remember Marie and her forbidden love for Alex Marshall, and Chris and Kayla #1 (Josh Taylor, how far you’ve fallen). Going off to school put a crimp in my Days watching, but throughout elementary school I would watch during the summer. I remember the introduction of Roman Brady, Stefano on his first go-round, Anna and Carrie’s first appearance, and Renee and Tony falling in love only to find out they were brother and sister.
I always say I’ve never watched any soap but Days, but that’s not strictly true. When I was 10 or 11 some of my friends began to watch soaps, and I watched As the World Turns for one summer when Steve and Betsy (Meg Ryan) were a big couple. And one summer I devotedly watched both Days and Guiding Light, and when school started I defected to GL for the year (taping it on our first-ever VCR), making me miss, to my regret, the beginning of Bo and Hope. I did get to see, however, Judi Evans as Beth Raines on GL, and adored Beth and bad-boy Lujack. Oh, those bad boys.
In 1987, when the mysterious woman who was following Steve on Days was finally revealed, I was watching with the friend who’d gotten me hooked on GL, just as I had gotten her hooked on Days. I still remember how we turned to each other and squealed, “It’s Beth!”
It wasn’t hard to suck me in, in those days. I remember easily slipping into rooting for couples and being brokenhearted when they were inevitably unhappy. At age 11, I wrote a letter to myself to open when I was 21. When I opened it, I was in college, and found this question from my former self: “On GL, are Tony and Annabelle happily married?” Sadly, I didn’t know, but I suspect the answer was no.
In 1986, when I was 14, my mom was back on Days again because of Drake Hogestyn, and that summer when school ended I watched with her. That’s when Steve sucked me in. I missed the Cleveland stalking scenes but saw Kayla’s arrival in Salem, and watched devotedly (okay, obsessively) up until their yacht wedding. By that time I was 16 and had a boyfriend and started living a little mini-soap opera of my own, and I started to drift away. I caught most of the Marina/key storyline, missed most of patchless Patch, loved Jack and Jennifer and Isabella and Roman, and still remember the indignity of Adrienne’s affair with Emilio. I missed Steve’s death.
In college I’m sorry to say I became something of an entertainment snob, and I never thought I would watch Days again. Still, I was always interested in what was going on in Salem, and whatever information floated my way I filed away in the Salem database in my head. And very occasionally, I would turn on the TV and watch for a few minutes. I remember once being utterly delighted to see the grown-up Christie Clark still playing Carrie, but utterly bewildered to see her addressing Chris Kositchek as “Dad.” And I pondered what soapy plot twist could possibly have brought this about.
And here I must make a confession, one I’m not proud of. What made Days blip more strongly on my radar again was the Salem Serial Killer storyline. My mom was watching again due to her retirement, and she kept me updated on the story. After that I would turn on the show occasionally when I happened to be home from work. So it was that a couple of years later when I was on maternity leave (November 2005), I decided to tune in for the duration.
I didn’t realize, at first, how much the show had deteriorated. I recognized it as bad, but I thought I had changed, not the show. I thought I was seeing what soaps had always been like, and I just didn’t realize it when I was 4, or 10, or 14. Still it was fun to talk it over with my mom every week, and watch it with her when she came to visit, so I stuck it out. I went back to work in March last year with no intention of watching it again, though my mom would tell me what was happening in the storylines (nothing).
But then she told me Steve was back. And I just had to see that. Then I found a Days message board. Then I heard there were Steve and Kayla clips online. I debated for several weeks, not wanting to watch and possibly destroy the wonderful memories I had in my head. But I gave in. I went on YouTube, watched “Steve tells Kayla Jack is Billy,” and it was a revelation. Out of context, on my computer, mullets, 80’s perms, and all, twenty years later, the quality shone through.
Then I heard a new headwriter was coming on, and I just had to see what he could do with these characters, these actors.
So here I am. One blog, several message boards, one, two times through the Steve and Kayla clips online, a quality show again, and I’m hopelessly addicted. Everything old is new again.