On soaps, an actress’s pregnancy always presents a dilemma for the powers that be. First, whether to write the pregnancy in to the storyline or not. If you don’t, you’re forced to hide the actress in voluminous clothes, behind desks, chairs, or potted plants, or have her carry around a clutch purse. If you do write it in, of course, you’re stuck giving the character a kid.
Either way, you have to ship the character off canvas for awhile for the actress’s maternity leave. I’ve seen characters slide into comas, go on vacations, off to jail or to insane asylums. Mary Beth Evans’ first pregnancy was handled by having Kayla laid up in bed because her father-in-law, Harper Deveraux, was slowing poisoning her.
Sometimes writers get a little creative. Hogan Sheffer, when he was writing for As the Word Turns, sent three characters (three actresses pregnant at the same time!) off to a spa where they were injected with an aging serum. Ali Sweeney’s first maternity leave was handled by having Sami disguise herself as a man, rename herself “Stan,” and carry on wreaking havoc. This sounds like lunacy, but I have heard that Dan Wells, who played Stan, was eerily good at mimicking Sami’s mannerisms.
This time it looks like Ali Sweeney’s leave will be handled by sending Sami off into the Witness Protection program. Not a bad idea. The jarring thing is the fact that the pregnancy is being written in, but Ali is definitely further along in her pregnancy than Sami is supposed to be. Sami has been cavorting around in a hideous white tent for the last three episodes, and all the other actors have to pretend that it’s not perfectly obvious that she is pregnant.
If anyone knows of any particularly creative ways, on Days or any other soap, of writing in a pregnancy or writing out a character for an actress’s maternity leave, feel free to share it in the comments!