The Way We Were

Steve and Kayla are sometimes called (by their detractors) “the Blonde Bope,” and there’s no doubt that Days was inspired by its success with Bo and Hope to try to duplicate its winning formula. Those of us who love Steve and Kayla tend to react defensively to the comparison, because naturally we love our couple and think they are unique. I always say that Bo was more of a rebellious teen than a true bad boy, and Hope was more the spoiled princess than a good girl. Also, the Bo and Hope story wasn’t wedded to a redemption story.

Regardless, most of us acknowledge the basic similarity. Good girl/bad boy. Two different worlds. Conflict laced with attraction.

What’s less remembered is how shamelessly Days used this basic premise over, and over, and over, again. (Or its variation, good boy/bad girl.) Take Jennifer for example. When she first showed up in town it was as a rebellious teen, kicked out of boarding school and sent to live with her grandparents. She quickly reformed and found love with the star quarterback, Glenn, in an abbreviated good boy/bad girl story. Then she became the good girl to Frankie’s bad boy, and then again the good girl to Emilio’s bad boy. Then Emilio was reformed and transformed into the “safe choice” for yet another good girl/bad boy storyline for Jennifer (a much more successful one), with Jack.

Lest anyone throw stones at me, of course these weren’t carbon copies of one other. But the show had a way of eagerly acknowledging the similarity, by having members of established couples offer guidance and advice to the next round. This could occasionally be galling. Not Chan = Bope galling, but galling nonetheless. Even though I liked Jack and Jennifer, I found it annoying to have Steve cast in the role of cheerleader and advice-giver to a moody, self-hating Jack. But, I’m sure Bo and Hope fans probably felt the same when Hope was the cheerleader and advice-giver to Kayla and Steve.

I’m more philosophical now. During the time period I’m watching now in my DVDs (December 1988/January 1989), Steve is serving as the sage advice-giver to both Emilio and to Nick Corelli. In Emilio’s case, the constant parallels in the dialogue about how Emilio is “just like Steve used to be” (even Kayla isn’t immune from having to say this) only serve to emphasize how NOT like Steve Emilio is.

They had a little better luck with Nick. In this case they were able to show Steve’s identification with Nick in a way that created some interesting drama for Steve and Kayla, as well as Nick and Eve. Here’s the background: Nick is presumed dead in a car crash, but naturally he isn’t dead. Steve finds him, severely burned, and is hiding him in his old basement apartment. Seeing how traumatized Nick is at his disfigurement makes Steve relive how he felt right after he lost his eye. Here is a wonderful scene where he tells Kayla about it:

You Tube link: Steve talks to Kayla about losing his eye

I love how when Steve points out that Nick doesn’t have anybody (he doesn’t know about Eve yet), Kayla says that he has Steve and Steve has her. Stephen Nichols plays his response perfectly: because Steve is reliving how he lost his eye, he is freshly reminded of how lucky he is to have Kayla. Kayla’s comment that it’s what’s on the inside that counts is a tad Pollyanna-ish, but Steve’s response makes it worth it. I love that he points out that everyone says that, but she’s the only one who really means it.

And, of course, Kayla points out what all we viewers already knew: the patch is sexy. But the scene ends on a lovely, melancholy note, with Kayla on the couch and Steve playing a mournful tune by the window. This is far cry from cheerleading, and it works beautifully.

5 thoughts on “The Way We Were

  1. Don’t forget Pete and Melissa, and even Jack and Melissa, lol.

    Thanks for posting this scene; I hadn’t seen the whole thing before. I’m going to sound like one of those people everybody hates on message boards, but the reason that this works for me is that it’s still “about them.” It does go back and touch on their core issues, which is almost the entire difference between “propping” and having a story of your own in the character-driven soap world.

  2. I think you’re absolutely right that part of the reason the Nick parallel worked is because the show was able to take the parallel and make it “about them.” This particular scene is a pretty extreme example of that, and of course this would be a great scene no matter what the context. But even in some of the more overt propping type scenes, there is more of an emotional connection. Because Steve doesn’t just see himself in Nick, Nick also brings back some very unsettling memories.

    Similarly, though to a lesser degree, I think Hope’s cheerleading of S&K worked because Bo was so against Steve with Kayla, so it created a bit of tension for Bo and Hope. Also, she was about the only one cheering on Steve and Kayla for quite a long time, so we were very grateful to her.

  3. Or you could compare it to the mother of all “good girl-bad boy” stories — Luke and Laura. And there were probably lots of others back before I watched soaps. It’s a classic storyline. It’s Beauty and the Beast.

    I think there were several factors that elevated the Steve and Kayla storyline. the actors were have an amazing chemistry with each other — they really seem to like each other — and that adds a lot. It’s that rapport that carries them through scenes where not much is happening except simple relating like when Steve helps her out at the Emergency Center or teaches her to box. And they were both capable of carrying the material. How often does a good storyline fall with a clunk because the actors can’t carry it? I’d say that was true for Pete and Melissa, it was often true for Jack and Jennifer and I even think Bo and Hope ran into that limitation.

    I also think the writers really ran with the Steve and Kayla storyline. They sort of had to because they really had Steve in a hole to begin with. He was really bad. So filling out his story and finding out who he really was gave them lots to work with. Then they had to deal with what Kayla saw in him. I’m currently in the process of rewatching the rape and the deafness storyline with my daughter, and you can really see how he’s there for her in those moments, how she can depend on him. (My daughter says he’s like a comforting octopus in the way he just wraps her up in his arms.) And then there was always the sexual passion that Steve saw in her. She was such a little angel I’m not sure anyone else would have seen it. (How I miss those writers these days after watching the lame ass scene on Friday where out of nowhere the generally easygoing Max goes BSC on Trent. Where did that come from? He didn’t seem that upset in France when the actual events were going on.)

    I think one of the great things about Steve and Kayla was the idea that you could find someone who would really get you, who would really understand you and who would really love you. It’s a storyline full of hope. It’s the reason I always found the Marina storyline hard to take. Who could believe that Steve would keep such an important part of his past a secret from Kayla? Yes, he sometimes deceived her for some reason or another (like Jack’s illness) or for her own good (which was generally a miscalculation) but he thought Marina was dead. Why keep it a secret?

  4. Oh, thank you! I’ve wanted tos ee that scene ever since I read about it somewhere. I really enjoyed it, and your write up on it. On the button, you are, as always! 😀

  5. Aw, thanks, Amanda. And I’ll probably be posting more scenes here and there, so check back.

    I think one of the great things about Steve and Kayla was the idea that you could find someone who would really get you, who would really understand you and who would really love you. It’s a storyline full of hope.

    Flaco, since I’ve been rewatching the post-wedding S&K, I’ve been struck by this too. The show was so good at showing them be happy but be unique at the same time. It’s true that they were overdomesticated, but it’s much, much better than I remembered. It doesn’t hurt that I’m comparing it to today, of course.

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