What, me worry?

In life, I’m an optimist.

But, when it comes to Days, I’m a worrier. I worry about the ratings. I worry the show will be cancelled. I worry whether my favorite characters will airtime.

And, if they do get airtime … that’s where my worries really explode.

For Steve and Kayla, I worry they won’t get their own story, just support another people. I worry they’ll be too happy, thrown together again with no angst. Or they’ll have angst, but it will be badly done angst. No attention to Kayla’s point of view. Yet another triangle with Steve in the middle – with Eve, maybe, or some new character. Kayla being too forgiving. Saintly Kayla. Steve being too mean. Both of them being idiots. Infidelity stories. Character assassination of all kinds.

I’m starting to worry about Ericole, too. I spent last night watching clips of them on YouTube, and I think I’ve fallen in love. And if anything I am more worried about them than I am about Steve and Kayla, who at least I know will end up together, even if it’s badly done. I worry that the plan is put Nicole with Daniel instead of Eric. That they’ll turn Eric into a judgmental tool (again). I worry Nicole will be never find her backbone. Or they’ll make her keep a stupid secret because she’s afraid of losing him. Or she’ll lose another baby. I worry that Ericole aren’t even on the new writers’ radar, and they’ll be written out. Or they have different plans for the characters. They’ll put Nicole with Lucas, and Eric with, let’s see, Melanie?

I worry about Dena Higley, the new headwriter (co-headwriter with Josh Griffith). She has been headwriter before, and is actually what drove me away from Days in 2009.* She gave Steve and Kayla a big frontburner story but it was a triangle featuring a woman from Steve’s past, Ava. Basically, it was a lesser version of the Marina story from 1989. Kayla was given nothing to do except cramp up at key moments with her problem pregnancy. Ava was really the focus. Higley turned Stephanie, Steve and Kayla’s daughter, into a satellite of Melanie and then wrote her out. Higley also destroyed my favorite younger couple on the show, Chelsea and Nick, by bringing on Dr. Daniel Jonas and pairing him with the much-younger Chelsea (ew, still grosses me out!). Oh, and she turned the character of Nick in a psychopath, too, for good measure.

What I remember is that I found her stories were full of incident but no depth; they gave me nothing to sink my teeth into. Big events would happen and then the story would just end, with no fallout. We Steve and Kayla fans actually had to do a write-in campaign for a hash-it-out conversation between Steve and Kayla after the events of the Ava storyline. (When we finally got it, though, it was very good.)

On the bright side, she was good at creating a balanced canvas, with a interesting mix of characters of different ages and types, and having everyone involved in some story of their own. (I didn’t always like a lot of the stories, but everyone had one.) Her big story from that era, the babyswitch, was fairly well executed. And — this is really what really makes me optimistic — I have heard good things about Josh Griffith. He has never written for Days before, but is reportedly good at writing for vets (!) and writing romance (!!!!). I’ve also heard good things about the new EP, Albert Alarr. He’s a Days alum and is popular with the cast.

What I’ve realized from watching Days in the modern era is that there is not ONE thing wrong with the show, where if we fixed it, there would be a second golden age. There is no magic bullet. It’s too easy to say that this headwriter sucks and this one is great. Tomlin and Whitesell, the current writing team, have truly written some terrible stories based on what I’ve seen this summer. (Ken Corday is busy throwing them under the bus in this week’s Soap Opera Digest.) But as far as I can tell, they managed to write two successful slow-burn romantic stories during their run: Ericole, and Will and Sonny. (Then they proceeded to ruin them both, but that’s another story.) That was more than I saw Hogan Sheffer or Higley able to do. I used to enjoy demonizing James E. Reilly, who wrote the Marlena possession story and Melaswen, but he wrote a great little story arc for Steve and Kayla, right before he was fired last time – when Steve and Kayla went to Cincinnati. It was nothing to win a Daytime Emmy, but it actually had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and more importantly showed Steve longing for Kayla, but scared of living up to her expectations – exactly how it should have been played all along.

So, what does all this mean? Essentially, that we know nothing. πŸ™‚ And, despite my worries, I know that there will be some good things to watch. And probably the bad things that happen will be the things that didn’t occur to me to worry about.

Yes, I worry about that too.

* For what it’s worth, this is a post I wrote back in 2008, comparing Higley with Hogan Sheffer, who preceded her as headwriter.


30 thoughts on “What, me worry?

  1. Hi Mary,

    I’ve been a long time stalker of your writing and always enjoy your insightfullness of my all time favorite couple Steve and Kayla. I came back for their 2006-2009 run and obviously wasn’t as impressed with how they wrote for them the second time around, but Steve was alive. I’m Not going to get my hopes this time around especially since they had them divorced but it’s hard with MBE and SN seeming to have good things to say about the writing this time around. Days destroyed Jack and Jennifer so I’m scared for S&K, but anxious to see them together again too. It’s funny that you mention a possibility of Eve being their interloper. I had a similar thought when I saw that Kassie Baviens was now playing her. I couldn’t believe that they have JJ sleeping with her. Ugh. Anyway just wanted to thank you for keeping my favorite couple alive for as well as place to come to where I can see others share my love for S&K.

    • Thank you. πŸ™‚

      My expectations are definitely more realistic this time. It’s difficult to feel so hopeful and so worried at the same time! Writing this post and watching the show this summer are bringing back to me how I felt in 06-09, being so engaged is really fun, but when I’m engaged is when the show can break my heart, lol.

      Watching clips is so different, it’s easier. Not just because the show was better, either. It’s because it’s all over and done with. I can watch Shayla knowing that. It’s a lot harder to contemplate something like Steve & Eve now. Not that I think they are planning to do that! It’s just my paranoia. I would get on board with a well done triangle IF Kayla was in the middle. But I kind of hope we’re beyond triangles. Leave that to the under 50 crowd.

      • I could be on board a triangle too if Kayla was in the middle. The thought of Steve with another woman is a real turnoff to me. Has she been with another man since Steve? I wouldn’t her to be in love with another guy but maybe a friendship that might look like it could turn into something?

      • Just Shane. Hee! Maybe you aren’t familiar with Shayla, aka the Couple Who Must Not Be Named. 1991-1992 after Steve left the show. It’s one of the other storylines I’m watching and blogging about right now.

        But, besides that, no. They even went out of their way to say she never found love from 1992-2006. So lame.

      • Amy: I’ve had this discussion before with other S&K fans and for some reason we all agreed that we’d prefer to see a triangle with Kayla in the middle, having someone vie for her affections. Maybe it’s because we’ve already had enough with Steve centered triangles lol? For me it’s because Kayla never had to worry about Steve loving someone else the way he loved her. That was just the way it was- for Steve everything centered around her. The earth is off its axis and the story makes no sense if/when that’s not true. I am a hopeless romantic I guess lol…

        Steve was always so insecure about “deserving” Kayla early in their story. He thought any other man would be better for her and that at any time, she was going to realize it and leave him. It would be interesting to see those insecurities come back up again when he comes back and sees another man is interested in her while they/S&K are estranged. It doesn’t have to be a “real” triangle but it sounds more plausible to me. I guess I am just tired of Kayla having to chase Steve (for now).

      • Hi Liz! Thank you for responding. πŸ˜€ I’m not sure if this will post under your response but I hope it will. Steve has certainly put her through the ringer enough times. I think it’s time for him to be the odd man out for a change. I’m not all up to date on their history but what I’ve seen is Kayla going after him time after time and believing in him when things looked the worst…like when he pushed her towards Jack…what pain he put them ALL through with that. He pushed her away so many times. I wouldn’t want her to hurt him terribly like that because i don’t think he could take it but he could be reminded why he would be really lucky to have her. I’m not sure what I want to happen story wise but I wouldn’t mind at all a triangle either with Kayla being pursued by another guy. Is there an available guy on the show that is her age? It sounds like something they haven’t done with her with him which is kind of surprising. I used to like when he would say things about Chris to her. He was so jealous. Really Chris and Kayla looked like they belonged together and he saw that. Liz, I’m also a hopeless romantic. ☺️

        Mary, I read the post you linked to your blog comparing the new old writers. Very interesting. The character name combinations are confusing but I got the drift of the strengths and weaknesses of the writers. What year is the Cleveland arc I think u said Frank Reilly wrote that u really liked? What was it about? I’m shocked that the same writer who got rid of Steve is going to be the head writer. Hmmm. Why couldn’t she write for him then and what is different now I wonder. Well, whatever, I hope the guy you said is known to write good romance is the one who is in charge of Steve and Kaylas story.

  2. I’ve been keeping tabs on Days through the boards, although I haven’t watched regularly in a few years. I’m not worried this time (although I reserve the right to hate things as they come along), just because the last few years of not being able to work up an interest in the current show have felt worse than anything they could do to the characters. As much as I didn’t like Dena’s show in 2008-2009, what she did in 2010-2011 was the last time I was really invested in the stories. I miss having things to really talk about and feel invested in, so I’m looking forward to that even if there are some awful moments along the way.

    What fun to see that old post and the comments, lol!

    • Thanks for your perspective, lska! Nice to hear some optimism about Higley. πŸ™‚ What I came to while writing this post was a similar attitude – there is going to be some good, some bad, in line with previous headwriters. It’s never going to be the 80’s or even the 90’s, no matter what Ken Corday says. Or even Mary Beth. Ouch, it hurt to say that, sorry! (I’m sure she’s sincere in thinking the scripts she’s been seeing are good. I just think she’s comparing to recent history. She doesn’t watch clips obsessively like we do. :))

      And yeah, I got a kick out of reading that old post too. I forgot about Phorgan, lol.

  3. It’s like you read my mind about what things I am concerned about.

    Mostly I want to be able to recognize the characters and have the conflict be about the characters and their relationship. I want BOTH of the characters to have issues/wounds, and not just see a one sided conflict. Dena Higley decided in 2006 that their conflict should be about a third party/Steve’s other women, Steve not being in love with Kayla, with Kayla’s POV/story (and where she’s been in life) being nonexistent a lot of the time. I don’t want to see that again. How can I not worry having seen what the same writer did before. I guess I will have to see it to believe it in this case….Mary Beth’s tweets and interviews DO have me excited. I get all giddy and then I pause and remember it’s Higley in there lol. I’m truly not a cynical person in real life. But Days comes up with a “new plan” every 5 years or so (go check out DR where they are posting several of the same “plan to save Days covers”) from over the years. It seems like it’s always the same plan. It does feel different right now, at this time (because S&K & so many others are back)… but for how long ?

    Another cause for concern: Look how many people they are bringing back and it seems like the list keeps growing. It makes fans happy, but I always worry that too many (very popular) people on the canvas means diminished story/airtime for others. Will they balance the airtime well? I hope they can integrate the storylines somehow and have the characters all interacting with each other. (especially S&K and B&H…)

    • *Oops I’ve been reminded that Dena didn’t write in 2006. But as for what she did write my opinion stands the same. She didn’t even bother to write them out…

  4. I totally agree that I am tired of having Kayla chase Steve or be the patient forgiving one.

    I don’t know who would be available to be a male friend for Kayla. I know a lot of people hate Daniel but when he came on, I saw him in that role for Kayla. A “Mr. Simple” that Steve could be jealous of. They are both doctors so they have that in common. But I think a triangle with Kayla in the middle should probably have already been set up, before Steve comes back. They could still do it, of course, but I kind of don’t think that’s where they’ll go. However they do it, I just hope he has to work to get her back.

    Amy, it’s Cincinnati, not Cleveland. πŸ˜€ I’m laughing because I wrote “Cleveland” at first too. That’s where Kayla was living in 1986. It’s been a long time since I watched that story but it played out the way I wanted it too, mostly. They went there together because that’s where Steve was living as an amnesiac. Then he ran into all his old buddies and a woman he was dating, and he decided to stay. It was clear, from what I remember, that he was making the easy choice, the safe choice. And then he decided to come back to Salem after all, and they had a great moment when he appeared at the Brady pub. Anyway, there were some other good things in their last run, too, better things, even, but that one was nice because it was a real story, even though it was very short.

  5. It was just announced that Tamara Braun is returning as Ava. Hold me, I think I’m going to be sick.
    *THIS is why I worry about Higley.

    • God, I feel like I invoked her or something, talking about her in this post and then suddenly she’s coming back.

      Here is why I’m not drinking bleach just yet. The show does need female characters in that age range. I’m hoping that this is just Higley bringing back a familiar character to mix it up with Rafe, Brady, Daniel, etc. By the time she left town she was over her obsession with Steve, so it would be stupid to make it happen again.

      That’s not to say I’m confident they won’t be that stupid, but I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion. Fingers crossed.

      • *fingers and toes crossed*

        I get the shivers just thinking about it.

        People wonder why we worry? Because Higley. That’s why.

      • Kathy: You’re probably kidding lol but thankfully he’s returning at age 16 (Joey), so ‘legally’ I don’t think she can. LOL not for a couple of years at least πŸ˜‰ Or until they age Joey again.

        What is being speculated is that she will come back with Steve’s kid. Supposedly the show had a casting call for a 5 year old recently. Joy.

        And She might be Justin’s “Elsa” (speculation on another board).

      • I was kidding but now you are scaring me that she now had a baby by Steve. He’s not even back yet, and my tummy hurts already. I’m trying to be hopeful, but not happy to hear that Ava is coming back. I didn’t like her character even when she wasn’t crazy. I’m trying to keep hope alive for good story lines, but I don’t want Steve having any other kids, especially with Ava.

  6. *PS I don’t mean to induce panic- Ava may not bring back his kid. There are other characters/reasons they might be casting a 5 year old. It’s justs a theory someone posted. *passes out barf bags*

    • Okay, it would be really stupid to have her come back with a five year old when Joey, who would have been born just before, is now 16!

      And she and Steve didn’t have sex, did they? Did I block it out?

      She’s for Rafe, Brady, or Daniel. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      Not what I need first thing Monday morning.

      • No, she and Steve didn’t have sex, although it was a close call. She had a *lot* of sex with brainwashed John.

        (This totally feels like the monkey’s paw, lol. I did so much fanwanking back then, though, that I don’t have any left. I refuse to bargain with the casting news this time around, lol.)

      • Come on lska, you’ve got to get your fanwanking muscles back in shape! You’ll need them for fall!

        I still think Higley saw we needed a 40 yo woman, they’ve tried Jordan, Serena, Taylor, Madison, and they haven’t stuck. Here’s a character that clicked (with some people), she won an Emmy, why not bring her back? Other than to give us all heart attacks, lol.

  7. I remember TB on GH as Carly. I didn’t like her portrayal of that character at all but I was in the minority, bc the show increasingly revolved around her (and Sonny). I was just looking for some of her history on Days. They made it sound like she was Higlys muse at the time and it was all about how things impacted her and she felt about things vs the other characters like Steve and Kayla. So Ava… she was obsessed with Steve and wanted to steal Kaylas baby. Is that about right? What do u think are the chances she’ll be involved with them and more importantly, will she get more screen time than they will? I’ve watched Days two times now and have yet to see Kayla. πŸ˜’

    • Yes, that’s about right. Then it turned out she was being given pills by her mobster father that made her act crazy. By the time she left town, she wasn’t so nuts.

      She really kind of ate the show while she was there. And she won an Emmy for it.

      I do know Steve and Kayla have been getting tons of screen time for the fall stories. So that’s something. And I think Kayla will be on tomorrow. πŸ™‚

    • *peeking through the hand covering my eyes*

      is that Oh No about something new…forewarn me because I’ll need to get a bucket ready.

  8. Josh Griffiths wasn’t a bad writer on Y&R–he did some good stuff there. He’s no Bill Bell or Kay Alden but he didn’t take the show as off kilter as the latest regime is.

    • Thanks, Jason, for the Y&R perspective! I am hoping he will balance out some of Higley’s story structure problems – following through with things, playing out the story beats, and not just lurching from one big event to another.

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