The Couple Who Must Not be Named

Okay, everyone, deep breath.  It’s time to plunge into the dark side.



It wasn’t until 2006 that I found out that the Shane and Kayla pairing had ever happened.  I was reading my mom’s Days history and there was a one-sentence reference to the relationship.  One of those “For a time, Shane and Kayla became close” sentences you read in soap synopses.  I think I stared at it for several minutes waiting for my eyes to clarify this into something that made sense.  Then I said “That’s so wrong!”, threw the book down, and walked out of the room, like I could erase it from my memory.

I’ve thought about this since then, and I’m not sure why I reacted so strongly.  I know my reaction was not unique, and in fact seems to be shared by many Steve and Kayla fans.  On the TWoP boards, someone jokingly spoiler-tagged “Shayla” (the black bar looked like a CENSORED tag) and then we all started doing it.  I’ve seen Shayla called the Couple Who Must Not be Named, and “the worst storyline of all time.”  This on a show that did Melaswen.

It’s not that shocking of a plot:  two sisters in love with the same man.  In fact, you might call it a soap staple.  So why the hate?  Well, I think it has a little something to do with the fact that we’re talking about two supercouples here.  And supercouples were not broken up and then paired off with each other.  Sure, one might die and a new love interest could be brought on for the surviving one.  But that’s it. 

Tom Langan famously said in 1992 that “the era of supercouple is over.”  I think this story was the first shot across the bow.

I’ve always thought that Shane and Kim were the best example of the so-called “supercouple problem.”  Here’s the problem as I see it:  you have about two years of story between first meeting and making it to the altar.  Then about a year of relative happiness, maybe a baby story.  Then a big breakup, with probably a year of story out of that.  That’s about four (maybe five) good years.  The problem is, what do you do after that?  Too much happiness = back burner.  Too many breakups, and you risk jeopardizing what made the couple work in the first place.  After you break up for the tenth time, is it really true love?

With every other supercouple, something seemed to happen to bail out the show from this problem.  Bo and Hope started in 1983, and they left together in 1987.  For Roman and Marlena, Wayne Northrup left, Drake Hogestyn came in, then Deirdre Hall left, all in the course of four years.  For Steve and Kayla, they started in 1986 and Stephen Nichols left in 1990.  Adrienne and Justin were written out together after about five years.   Jack and Jennifer are a little different because their story started at the end of the supercouple era [1989], so by the time they hit their five year mark the show had drastically changed.

So that leaves Shane and Kim.  Their story started in 1984 and they got married in 1986.  I still have not seen their early story (though I will!); by all accounts it was excellent.  Shane the spy and Kim the prostitute with a damaged past.  Before and after their wedding they did all the soap staples.  They did the dead wife comes back story (Emma!), they did a Who’s-the-Daddy story.  A Kimberly-is-blind story.  They did a baby kidnapping story, an evil-twin story (remember Drew?).  They did the “a child he never knew he had” story.  They did a presumed-dead story and an amnesia story.  By then it was 1990 and it had been six uninterrupted years.  The tank was starting to sputter.  They did a second WTD story.  Now, I know today no one can have a baby without no one knowing who the mother is, let alone the father.  But back then it seemed a little too much.  I have to think that after all of that the writers just threw up their hands and said, “Forget it!  I can’t think of anything else!”

Patsy Pease did take a break from the show, in 1990.  I had always assumed that part of the reason Shayla happened was that the show lost Patsy Pease and Stephen Nichols at the same time and threw Shane and Kayla together as kind of an afterthought.  Some of the scenes during the Alamania storyline seem to bear this out.  Here are two lead players who definitely need to be a part of the story, everyone else is paired off, let’s chem test them.

I still think that was part of it, maybe the initial inspiration.  But Patsy Pease returned to the canvas well before anything significant happened with Shane and Kayla.  It would have been very easy to drop the whole thing.  What is surprising to me (and I have watched up through March of 1991 at this point) is the care and attention that obviously went into this plot.

And it’s got Mary Beth.  So I might not be ordering this sweatshirt anytime soon:


(something to wear to your next S&K meetup!)

but I’m enjoying the story much more than I ever thought I would.  So if any of you are willing to come along with me, I would love to have you.

16 thoughts on “The Couple Who Must Not be Named

  1. Oh, you are brave to tackle Shayla. I admire your guts. This subject has been for years removed from my brain. Seriously, this is when I stopped watching Days. But perhaps after all these years I could be convinced to go on the journey with you. After all I know that SK came back in 06 and in my little universe are still together.

    • I think of them as still together too … though I would gladly watch a reconciliation story, if Stephen ever comes back to Days.

      Regarding Shayla, I just approach it from a Mary Beth fan perspective. It gives her a chance to do some different and interesting things, and is very watchable on that basis. But maybe I’m just crazy.🙂

  2. I realize I’m the odd one out here, but I never had the hatred for Shayla that a lot of people do. Did I like them together? No. Did I want them to be end-game? Absolutely not. But I looked at the story more as one of two people who came together after they were left by the ones they loved (of course we know Steve left Kayla involuntarily and Kim left Shane voluntarily). Both of MBE and CS were half of such huge supercouples that Days probably felt they had to do something – anything – to keep the supercouple thing going. I really don’t remember a lot of the storyline except for Shane kissing Kayla on Stephanie’s first birthday; that really bothered me. But the rest of the story, I guess I’ve blocked it from my mind. I would have preferred to have both of them just be friends, nothing else. But of course with Days being a soap, there are very few male/female friendships, they always have to be attracted to each other and wanting some sort of romantic relationship. It will be interesting to read your take on this.
    And blpmich – in my mind, Steve, Kayla and Stephanie left to travel the world, had a couple of more kids and got to enjoy their lives as a family.

    • Yay! Another “don’t hate Shayla” viewer! I agree that a lot of the intial pairing had to do with Shane and Kayla both being at loose ends after Steve’s death and Kim’s departure. It’s actually a pleasant surprise that the story is better than that — I mean it doesn’t feel like an afterthought. The Shane/Kayla/Kim/Lawrence quad is actually set up really well, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  3. I’ve written extensively about Shayla and also am in the “don’t hate it” category. I do think the set-up was generally well done. I also appreciated that even as Shane and Kayla came together, they readily acknowledged that Kayla would never love Shane like she did Steve. A lot of that was very well done. I also think Mary Beth Evans and Charles Shaughnessy did some of their best acting and, as a viewer who was not a huge Steve/Kayla fan originally, this was when I felt Kayla really developed as an individual character.

    I have particular issues with the storyline as it evolved, but will comment on individual posts as you post, rather than spoil anything inadvertently.

    • That’s so interesting that you came to be more of a Kayla fan here, rather than in Steve/Kayla days. I would love to get more of your perspective going forward!

  4. You know I’m right there with you. 🙂 I don’t hate Shayla at all. Like Jess, I have some issues with specific parts of it, but I think the set up was fairly well done and more organic than is generally given credit. Adding Lawrence into the mix was pretty inspired and creates even more mixed motivations and conflicts. I also love that they used the storyline to expose some internal conflicts in the Brady family. Lastly, I truly believe Mary Beth does some really amazing work and it’s fun to get to see her spread her wings a bit.

    I’m looking forward to your future posts on the subject.🙂

    • I agree that adding Lawrence into the mix was genius. Michael Sabatino is just so sweeeevil as Lawrence. And the conflict between Kim and Kayla (and, I’m sure, the rest of the family, once we get to that part) is really organic and well done.

  5. Well…I’m one of the major haters. Its one thing to look at it from today’s standpoint, knowing that its quite overwith, and that despite it, S&K returned in 2006 (complete with Kayla not even letting Steve know exactly WHO she dated in his absense, in one single bathtub scene). BUT, in 1990 when this atrocity started happening, there was nothing BUT hate for it. I hate it because I witnessed some of it (before leaving the soap scene entirely for a decade or so). You just don’t try to force chemistry like they tried here. Its kind of pathetic. It couldn’t have possibly been more of what the audience did NOT want, short of having Kayla date Victor K or something! Or, how about if Chris Kosichek had come back at that point? No, he was never a leading man to be in a supercouple. But, he may have been more welcome in this mess than her brother in law.

    Unless MBE simply didn’t want to leave, they should have simply ended her contract early in 1990, which could have also eliminated the death entirely. I’ve wondered if she had no legal choice but to remain on the show for 2 more years, or what.

    • I’m sorry you hate the storyline so much, but it seems a bit harsh to want to see MBE fired to prevent it. Yes, she had a contract so she couldn’t just leave. More importantly, there was no evidence that she wanted to leave in 1990. In fact, she was on a one year contract so she could have left in 1991 but didn’t. She also didn’t choose to leave in 1992, rather after negotiations and tentatively agreeing to another two years, the show changed its mind and decided not to renew her contract.

      And don’t be so sure about the “nothing but hate” aspect. MBE once said her mail was running 50/50 regarding the storyline. And it seems unlikely Days would have continued the storyline for so long if it was universally hated.

      • I didn’t want MBE to get fired at all, but to give her the option of ending it early. Maybe they did for all I know. I also realize its about money – and a job. Why quit something like that two years early, I get it.

        But I’m pretty surprised to hear that there were proponents of the story line, because I clearly remember at the time how every one hated it. And many (including me) absolutely stopped watching. it. And it did seem that once DOOL got that message, their relationship ended pretty quickly and with very little drama. I also think its clear that the writers never actually intended their thing to go more than a year or so, and then have a planned end/leave the show. I think they knew from the get go that this was not going to be in any way shape or form a new super couple. it was just something for them to do to finish their contracts. My problem is, there could have been plenty of storylines to try (single mom for one, alcoholism due to grief) and didn’t need a forced romantic relationship. I would have suggested a storyline where Kayla has to go down a dark path of grief and depression (booze or pain killers), and the overcome it as she is about to leave the show, to go off and get her PhD as a doctor, and raise her child. I just thought of that off the top of my head.

        But no, they force two people together no body wants to see get together, to an audience already saddened by the loss of SN and CS. Not very creative.

  6. Anytime you write something like “everyone hated it,” you are asking to be disproven.🙂

    You are certainly not alone in the hating the storyline, and as I’ve said before I doubt I would have liked it at the time. To me, now, it works as family drama, rather than as romance – but as family drama it works surprisingly well. I don’t think the intention was ever to create the next supercouple with Shane and Kayla. The story just isn’t told that way. In fact, I think the storyline was an attempt to move away from the supercouple formula.

    As I said above, it’s true that SN left and Patsy Pease was on leave at around the same time, and that might have been the initial inspiration for Shayla. Their initial storyline together seems kind of that way – here’s two characters at loose ends, let’s have them hang out a lot. But actually Shayla had barely gotten started when Patsy Pease returned, so they could have easily cut it short. This actually was a big, frontburner storyline that seems to me was carefully crafted and delves into a lot of Brady family issues.

    I know there’s a lot of hate out there for Shayla, but I think MBE, PP, and CS do a lot of great work in it. So far, anyway, I have to say I am actually enjoying it. YMMV, of course.

  7. I would theorize that us haters of Shayla were the ones who were from 1985 as we watched, sometimes painfully, S&K grow and blossom into something fantastic, from such paltry beginnings. It was kind of a shock to realize that they were meant to be a couple. Writers did such a great job making it seem impossible. Actors did too. I think it felt that was all thrown under the bus in favor of a cheap way to give MBE something to do for 2 years.

    And I think there were new writers in place by 1990 or so if I’m not mistaken, and it also felt like that slap in the face, as if they hadn’t done their research, or watched the incredible chemistry SN and MBE had. And, that it was beyond foolish to try and make that kind of chemistry again. Who did they think they were? What, a whole new set of viewers would be there now, who wouldn’t care or know about the 80s? Well, that is partially true. I had moved on even before Steve died in 1990. When it was on, I remember only hearing about the new pairing and went “ewwwwwww”. Then I finally saw the playlist of bradyclanfan on youtube and once again went “ewwwwww”.

    I stand by my point. It was hideous and awful. The most unwelcome thing to see happen to characters since Alien 3.

  8. I do not want to turn MP’s blog into a flame war about Shayla, but there are two things that need to be cleared up.

    First, as I said before, MBE was on a one year contract that ended in 1991 and she re-signed for another year to 1992. So, the show didn’t create Shayla just to give MBE something to do until her contract ran out. Like it or hate it, they wrote the story for the purpose of telling that story and MBE re-signed knowing what the story was.

    Second, I don’t care who hates the story, but nobody gets to define “true” fans of any couple. Don’t presume that those of us who don’t hate it didn’t watch every minute of Steve and Kayla’s love story and live and die with the ups and downs. Because I know I did. And trust me, MP wouldn’t be still doing this blog and still discussing Steve and Kayla all these years later if she didn’t too.

    Nobody is forced to watch the storyline, but I very much appreciate MP providing a place to talk about it.

  9. Erica, you clearly know more about the behind the scenes info than I do. Most of what I said was hypothesizing for DOOL’s reasons for an unpopular story, and an unpopular time. I also hypothesize that many fans of S&K may have stopped watching in 1990, and a slew of new viewers tapered in. But this is the first group I’ve seen that were there for the 80s and liked this storyline/relationship.

    I don’t have audio at the moment, but here is an interesting interview where MBE talks about it, and how her and Shane were suddenly one half of a supercouple:

    Anyway, yes I agree, no one can define a true fan. And despite my disdain for Shayla, I too am a completest and I’m glad MP is here to write about it.

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