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Daytime Heavy Hitters Brought Their A-Game for May Sweeps

general hospital's gregory harrison, young and restless's melody thomas scott and peter bergman

Disney/Christine Bartolucci; Sonja Flemming/CBS; Howard Wise/

While May sweeps isn’t what it used to be in TV land — back when advertising rates would be set so shows pulled out all the stops to drive up viewership — it is still a time when fans, especially soap fans, expect to be dazzled by incredible storylines and performances from their favorite actors. Luckily, there was a lot to enjoy this month and there were some standouts. Here are Digest‘s picks for the best of the month on each show.

Days of our Lives

You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the audience when Sloan finally confessed the truth about little Jude to Eric, and Greg Vaughan’s performance broke our hearts. We know how long this character has longed to have a child of his own and while he doesn’t know that Jude is biologically his, the audience does, adding an extra layer of gravitas to his devastation as he turned the baby over to biological mother Nicole. (Vaughan, who already has one Daytime Emmy on his mantle, would be wise to remember these scenes if he chooses to submit a reel for next year’s awards.) Vaughan’s heartfelt, nonshowy work, and the conflict in his eyes as he made the heart of the woman he truly loves soar at the expense of the fulfillment of his own heart’s desire was top-notch — and what’s more, it whets our appetite for the next leg of this story, when Eric finally learns the truth about Jude’s paternity! It can’t happen soon enough.

General Hospital

From the moment Gregory was diagnosed with ALS, the audience knew the character’s days were finite, but actor Gregory Harrison’s vulnerable and searingly real performance of a man nearing the end of his battle with this devastating disease had many viewers hoping for a miracle. And while he character’s last episodes were memorable in Harrison’s expert hands. On the occasion of Chase and Brook Lynn’s wedding, Harrison struck all the right notes as he depicted Gregory’s brave determination to perform the ceremony even as he struggled with his words; the stricken look of fear in his eyes as he questioned whether he’d be able to get through it; and his quiet joy and relief when he accomplished his mission. That made the moment of his death that night all the more bittersweet.

Bold and Beautiful

Sheila has cheated death so many times that her latest return from the dead isn’t likely to go down in the annals of soap history as the most shocking of twists. But Kimberlin Brown brought zest to the fraught moments surrounding Sheila’s comeback and its ripple effects across the canvas, injecting fun and letting the rotten core of Sheila’s nature peek through where she could. Brown’s fearlessness and commitment to the role was perhaps never more on display than in the scenes where Sheila, knowing that Li thought she was dead, popped up at the hospital and laughed at her incensed and distraught nemesis as she dangled her tell-tale 4-toed foot at her — then twisted the knife by taunting her rival with the fact that the son they share had been the one to save her life. Brown’s deft comic timing also brought soapy outrageousness to the stage when Sheila  finally got to marry her latest soul mate, Deacon, at Il Giardino. When a clueless Finn wandered into the restaurant and Sheila laid eyes on him, the way Brown shoved Sheila’s bouquet at maid of honor Hope so she could run over to smother — er, mother — her offspring was priceless.

Young and Restless

Nikki’s fall off the wagon has been a nightmare for both Nikki and Jack, affecting both of their marriages in the process. However, it has created undeniably meaty material for their portrayers, Melody Thomas Scott and Peter Bergman, to bring to life. They have been crushing it, delighting viewers with their poignant and powerful performances. The stand-alone episode where Jack downed booze and pills to try to shake Nikki out of her downward spiral was a tour de force for both actors. Bergman and Thomas Scott were so perfectly in sync with each other, the episode played out like a championship tango. His final move (passing out) sobered Nikki up quickly as Thomas Scott imbued her character with horror and regret — making all sorts of promises if he would only survive, which he thankfully did. The show did a tremendous job of showcasing the special bond between the two characters — and actors — that has developed over the decades, with that rich history remaining an undercurrent in every scene they have together.