Monday, February 28, 2011

Romancing The Home: Why has Salem gone from happy homes to homewrecker-happy?

Jack and Jennifer

So a combination of the Oscars’ too short homage to Gone With The Wind and Days wedding disaster after wedding disaster after wedding disaster, got me thinking about another huge reason the show sucks sweat socks right now.  You'd sooner find Vivian burning cookies with Chloe before finding even a lick of romance on this thing.

Fan wars.  Nasty, right?  Much like the Countess Bathory believed she could retain her youth by soaking in a tub of virgin’s blood, Cordiglay seems to feed off the blood shed by the slain soldiers of fan wars.  How else could you explain why the women of Salem bounce around from one man to the other like pinballs?

As I’m sure you might remember, it wasn’t always like this.  Once upon a time Salem was the place where one could find their soulmate.  Sure, there were hurdles.  There always are.  But the hurdles weren’t always people or pregnancies, which can’t be escaped now.  It’s all about triangles.  It’s all about pitting one team against another.  Who knows what Cordiglay’s strategy might be?  To try to keep us holding on by training us to expect that if we just wait a few weeks, the couples currently on screen will implode and it’ll be our turn again on the merry-go-round?   Are they sadists who want to make as many fan bases happy for as little time possible by tugging the rug out from under us just as we start to even think our pairing might last for more than three weeks?

Shane and Kimberly

I believe the problem is a combination of many things.  Many, many things.  I'm not going to sit here and write the Bible, though, so I'm just going to cover a couple of them.

All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

There aren’t enough sets right now to tell any stories that don’t take place in a bedroom, a living room, a hospital room, or by a river full of incriminating evidence in nearly half a century’s worth of crimes committed in Salem.  What else can one do romance-wise besides bounce around in a bed, grope on couches, or bellow declarations of love as gurneys are being run in and out of operating rooms?  And unless you want candle-lit conversation over a can of Smeat on a deserted island, you can forget about adventure.

Speaking of conversation...Oh, wait.  What conversation?

The dialogue isn’t written well enough to emotionally draw us in and keep us there.  There was a time when watching a couple simply bantering back and forth could warm our hearts.  Because TPTB fill, empty, and refill the same glasses over and over again, expecting us to forget things that happened only a mere few weeks ago, couples have nothing to talk about.  Probably one of about a thousand reasons why I didn’t give two shits on sticks one way or another whether or not the sun would set on EJ and Nicole’s wedding day with two people actually ending up married.  I could pretend Nicole didn't declare that Brady was the love of her life only two months ago.  I could pretend EJ didn’t set out with eyes blazing on the eve of his non-wedding to Sami to collapse Nicole’s trachea with his thumbs.  Frankly, though, I don’t think I could if I wanted to.

Another example is Daniel and Chloe.  Dr. Jonas, Salem’s Florence Nightingale, was less than sympathetic about Chloe’s most recent lapse in fidelity – this not too long after wrecking a home of his own.  But there was a line forming behind Chloe, so on we go to Jennifer.  And then we’ll either end up going for another ride with Chloe or Carly, each “romance” just barely overlapping.  Has anyone at any point mentioned to Daniel that perhaps he shouldn’t be walking around with his nose so high in the air?  Nope.  Of course not.  God forbid Chloe and Daniel actually sit and discuss their problems. I mean beyond Daniel moaning “Parker isn’t my son”, and Chloe wailing “Daniel, don’t leave me!”

But TPTB are on a schedule.  There’s no time for foreplay, people. Get in, unload, and get out.  Next!

We don't have time for this bullshit!  Fall in love already!

Pacing is, of course, the biggest problem.  We aren’t given any time to watch a romance bloom.

 Tony and Anna

Super couples of past all have something in common – their relationships have been carefully cultivated and nurtured over months, years, even decades in some cases. It’s what made the recent (yet far too abrupt) reunions of Shane and Kimberly, and Adrienne and Justin, bright moments in an otherwise gloomy year.  Engagements, weddings and pregnancies meant something.  They were events.  Now we literally have a throwaway wedding or almost-wedding every couple of months.

And they lived happily ever after.  Um...Now what?

These writers can’t do “couples”.  Am I over-simplifying?  Frankly, I don’t think so.

 John and Marlena

This goes back to the dialogue being so awful and the characters’ histories with each other being ignored.  Once a couple on this show is together and happy (juh?), what the hell else is there to do with them?  The writers haven't a fucking clue.

 Justin and Adrienne, Kayla and Steve

What could a happy couple possibly have to talk about?  We can’t talk about the past because that’s a touchy subject.  “Remember that time you switched those babies?  Like pictures in my mind, those water-coloured memories are.”

Not if you were the last man under nineteen on earth.  Oh, wait. You are, aren't you.

Days is skimping on romance in the grown-up department, but the "teen scene" is positively pitiful right now.  Compare The Ballad of Shawn and Belle, or the Philip/Chloe/Brady triangle, to the pathetic courtship of Will and Gabi.

Shawn and Belle, Brady and Chloe

It’s like watching two people getting together because they’re the only two people on the planet to survive a nuclear war – and in essence that’s exactly what’s happened (Days is determined to refuse me my Chill pairing).

Loving someone imperfect perfectly?

Most of the couples I love have an element of fun and a touch of grey to them.  Tony and Anna, Craig and Nancy, and Jack and Jennifer (although the grey was mostly on Jack in that one) were all rootable, albeit unconventional, soap couples.  And their grey aspects were never messed with because it was a big part of why we loved them so much. 

Craig and Nancy

Back in the day, Jennifer could still be Salem’s Betty Cooper while married to Salem’s Reggie Mantle.  Now EJ needs to be “humanized” and Brady needs to change because he “doesn’t like who he’s become”, both so we can watch them get reintroduced into civilized society where people like Caroline Brady won’t frown on them when they dare to date someone “perfectly lovely” (ie. boring) like Taylor.

Couples are written either black or white these days, and they sway one way or the other depending on what the plot-points call for.  Brady and Nicole only got together once Brady went “dark”, proclaiming that now he could "understand her better".  Maggie only began seriously considering Victor as a possible new mate after Victor had to spend some time wrapped up in a giant Crest whitening strip and matching tie for a few months.  If you stick Nicole in a white dress and hand her a doll, you’ve got a woman suddenly worthy of being a wife and mother.  Nicole can’t be herself and still deserve to be loved and find happiness, after all. 

I've become a broken record...a broken record...a broken record...

Man, am I ever tired of concluding these entries with what is basically "P.S. The writers suck".  For a change of pace, I'm going to end by saying that this time it's not just a matter of the writers sucking.  It's a matter of the whole operation shutting down on us.  Days needs to strip down to white bone and start fresh.  Money that could be spent on new sets to open up a world of new storylines is being spent on displaying the old sets in high-definition.  Writers are rehashing storylines that weren't all that good in the first place.  Cordiglay is trying to mash couples together to showcase newer characters/actors at the expense of chemistry already naturally occuring between older ones.

Sami and EJ

People are screaming their frustration at TPTB through many mediums - podcasts, editorials, letters, tweets,  thread after thread on messageboards - but no one appears to be listening.  Whether or not Cordiglay remains blissfully unaware of how bad things have gotten isn't something we can immediately know, but one thing we know for sure is that if they are aware (and Whitesell getting fired could be a hint - unless he got fired for something other than just being a shitty writer - like maybe eating someone's baby), then they're certainly taking their damn time fixing it.

Days used to be about intrigue, adventure and romance outside the box.  Now all we've got left is the box.


  1. Yes, yes, yes, and more yeses! Hmmmm - Brady doesn't like the man he's become. I seem to remember EJ saying the same thing to Sami. The conversation was all about Lucas getting out of prison, and it ended with Sami being unable to deny her attraction to EJ. That declaration along with the lovely scenes of EJ helping Sami put together a resume seemed to mean our couple was moving in the right direction. All the sweet bonding was quickly followed up with elevator sex, witness protection, and Rafe. Even so, all of this stupidity could have been a bump in the road towards Ejami, but the writers gleefully moved onto baby switching, Sydnapping, and Sami's "crime of passion". Since it worked so well the first time, we are now enduring Ejole part two to be interrupted by "some enchanted evening". Since NL managed to look constipated instead of love struck, TPTB finally recognized an epic failure by replacing the actress and redirecting the story. During the love-at-first-sight fiasco, I have to admit that JS also looked in dire need of a colonic. I'm sure that's part of the reason that CW lost his job, and, thankfully, JS survived so that EJ can be eviscerated yet again. The writers get out the Ginsu knives to slice and dice the character to fit into their insipid plot points. Instead of romance, the scribes are grinding out shock and awe. Unfortunately, we're getting schlock and aweful instead. It's pounded into us that characters like Daniel and Rafe are smart and caring guys. Daniel is nothing but a serial patient groper. As for Rafe, he got two chances to thwart Stefano and blew both of them. First, Rafe escapes from Stefano's security challenged mansion only to end up on Sami's doorstep, and then he grabs a cell phone, dials 911, and asks for Roman. Is the joke that the writers think Rafe is just as stupid as we think he is? If this is supposed to be romance, I wonder what the writers do on dates.

  2. Bravo you said exactly everything I have been feeling for this show that I used to adore. I barely can stand to read the spoilers for fear of what new plot point is going to make me hate my favorite characters. Days needs new writers period and until that happens were all screwed. Whether you love her with him or him with her one things for sure no ones getting ROMANCE with any couple with these writers.
    P.S. I love your GWTW reference!!

  3. It's a sad thing to watch this be what "Days" has become, and I'm hoping they're able to reel it back, though it doesn't appear at this point that they've got any intention of doing so. The reason I always chose "Days" over the other soaps has always been because I could watch a couple stay in love (yeah, there'd be obstacles of all kinds---we watch for drama, but I knew who really loved whom). I wasn't interested in the constant bed hopping and characters declaring their utter love and devotion to one character and to then to another the next month. I find myself uninterested in characters who are that shallow. EJ and Jack have been my favorites for many reasons, partly their inner struggles and strong personalities, but largely because when those guys fall in love, they mean it. But, good heavens, now EJ's forgetting the love of his life after a finger brush and a glance. Sure, it makes sense that he'd try to get over Sami after all that's gone down, but am I supposed to buy it happening that easily? And Jack . . . oh, good grief. The man's not even on the canvas, and he's getting trashed. Am I to believe Jack would even enjoy a walkabout, let alone leave Jennifer this way? He only ever left her when he foolishly thought he was doing it for her own good. Sadly, it's looking like we'll get to see everyone in Salem sleep with everyone else eventually (except Chad and Will, of course). :)

  4. I can only say that I bow down to your wisdom and you have perfectly stated what we are all thinking and have been thinking. The show that used to be riveting to the point we set our vcrs on a daily basis has almost turned into a show that if the phone rings or the vcr doesn't work we just don't care. All that we will miss is just a bunch of crappy new storylines which we would probably not care about any way. If the writers are going to kill the show why don't they just end it by cutting the juglar or turning off the life support now instead of this long lingering death. Days used to be a show that had couples and families that actually loved each other and stayed together but now it's become so confusing you have to have a guide on a daily basis to even know who is together and who is not. Thank you from all fans who are annoyed beyond belief. I have been watching it almost 27 years but am reconsidering lately. The few little good things that come from the show now are just not worth it.

  5. man - now I am feeling nostalgic....

  6. Lol about the teens being the last people on earth! You reminded me that the teen romances didn't always suck. I'm with you on Chill btw!

    P.S. - the reference on Count Bathory made me laugh because we just saw a show on the History Channel talking about her. What are the odds?

  7. ITA about Days’ current teen scene. I loved Shelle and Phloe. I wanted to love Will/Mia but was left bitterly disappointed. The set shortage was a huge problem. I never got to see the teens at their high school. There was a high school dance that was never shown onscreen. I got to watch the girls get ready but none of the actual dance. Days shouldn’t write a school dance if they aren’t going to show it. Now, it’s time for Take 2 with Will/Gabi and Chad/Abby and I just don’t care. Days doesn’t invest in their teen storyline so why should viewers?

  8. Preach it Diggy, you are right!

  9. Because Days wanted/wants to be GH, everything you stated sounds so much like GH, but on a way smaller budget, with actors who are not used to being GH actors, and having GH lives. So many wonderful points.