A common complaint these days is that there’s not enough romance on the show. So what do people mean when they say they want romance?
One obvious thing that gets tossed around is the lack of love scenes. Someone on TWoP suggested awhile back that we keep a signboard posted like they do at factories about the last accident: It has been ___ days since the last love scene. I can think of only two since the summer, the Santeen love scene and the Belle/Phillip hookup. Well, maybe Max and Stephanie in the cave counts too. The only thing I can say about this is that at least these were well-lit, sensitively filmed love scenes, which is more than I can say for some of the love scenes from before Ed Scott came on board. So thanks for that, Ed.
Love scenes are important. Days used to go all out for these, and I’m sorry that isn’t true anymore. They are nice for established couples, but they are crucial for first-timers and for reuniting couples. A good love scene is part of the payoff after we’ve invested in a couple falling in love, or rooted for them to get back together. Leave it out and we feel cheated. I feel cheated of a love scene for Steve and Kayla after she deprogrammed him. And don’t even get me started on bad!sex for Chick.
But love scenes alone don’t cut it. Nor do I think the answer is to show Steve giving Kayla yellow roses, or show Bo and Hope having a candlelit dinner, or Chick slow dancing at a gala. Don’t get me wrong, those things would all be wonderful to see (particularly Chick at a gala!). But personally, what really makes me swoon is a romantic story.
My absolute favorite romantic scenario is when two people are attracted who are absolutely wrong for each other. External obstacles can (and should, for plot purposes) factor in, but at the heart of it one or both of these people have to firmly believe that this attraction is wrong, wrong, wrong. They are thrown together by circumstance, and we get to watch them fight their feelings for all they are worth. Then we watch them give in, or almost give in, or we just see them want to give in. Then cooler judgment returns, and they pull back. Give in, pull back. If you are smart, and Days used to be very smart, you can keep this dance going for a long, long time.
I regretfully say that Hogan doesn’t do romance this way. Chick were the perfect vehicle for the classic opposites attract story. He could have thought she was a bitch (but a sexy one), she could have thought he was a geek—well, that was true at least. Then circumstances show Nick a softer side to Chelsea, but she rejects his overtures of sympathy. Then when she’s in need she remembers it and goes to him for help, but is prickly and resentful about it. And then … well, you get the idea. EJ and Sami, pre-rape, were tailor made for a Romeo and Juliet love story. She’s a Brady, he’s a DiMera! Complications ensue!
When Hogan does go for Romance, it’s in my least favorite flavor. I don’t care for the “our love is so strong it can move mountains/transcend time and space and comas/bring the dead back to life.” I love Steve and Kayla no matter what they do. And I found the “kiss of life” to be well-acted and filmed (the music and the flashbacks were great). But it’s not my thing. Marlena and John’s dream connection was even worse. I will accept cheesy moments, however, if they are earned as part of a longer love story. When Kayla, who was temporarily mute, got her voice back just in time to say her wedding vows back in 1988, I rolled my eyes a little, but mostly they were swimming with tears.
There are bright spots on today’s Days. Writing for happy, established couples is not easy, so I give Hogan credit for the way he has written Bo and Hope and Steve and Kayla since their respective reunions. Credit goes to the actors too, of course, but I really believe in the connections that these two couples have. Bo and Hope have been delightful, whether making bets with each other, going on mini-adventures, or interacting with the rest of their family. It’s especially difficult to give an established couple an emotional “meaty” story without breaking them up, and I thought the Pocket story for Steve and Kayla hit all the emotional beats. There was the regret for the years Steve lost with Stephanie and the other children they might have had, Steve’s uncertainty about being a father given his recent mental health issues, Kayla’s endearingly irrational desire to take the baby, Steve’s indulgence of that desire, and the regret when they lost the baby in the end.
But I admit I’m dying for an old-fashioned, “we’re so wrong, but we’re so right” love story. I know some people see it for EJami, and though I’m not a shipper I would get on board if they did it right—that is, very slowly. But I’m afraid to get my hopes up.