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Memo To Soaps: Viewers Hate Change!

peter bergman, melody thomas scott in a scene from young and restless.

Howard Wise/

Jack (Peter Bergman) tries to reason with Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott).

Soap fans hate change.

We don’t like it when our shows put strangers front-burner, rewrite history, or make a sudden pivot that doesn’t make sense. Good daily drama evolves slowwwwwly to characters we love so that it is familiar and entertaining.

Like Nikki’s alcoholism on Y&R. Jordan was a front-burner stranger who rewrote history (as dead Eve’s sudden sister raising a “dead” baby) which was not ideal. But the story jumpstarted Nikki’s relapse which was believable. Being force-fed vodka led to months of struggle which brought Nikki closer to her sponsor, her ex-husband Jack. The story came to a head in a hotel room where Jack decided the only way to stop Nikki’s spiral was to hit bottom with her. He gulped down vodka and called his old drug dealer to get pills delivered, which came out of left field but was at least rooted in history. Jack collapsed and Nikki called 911, which jolted them both out of their addictions in that swanky hotel room. 

Enter Victor.

Nikki: “Jack tried to shock me out of my binge by joining me.”

Victor: “What a stupid idea.” 

Indeed. It remains to be seen if Jack will have trouble with opioids but he certainly will with his wife. 

Jack: “Nikki’s agreed to go to rehab and it took my downfall to do it. I had to go for it for real.”

Diane: “You took a dangerous risk with no regard for me or your family. You put Nikki Newman’s sobriety above your own. That was incredibly selfish.”

Says the woman who faked her own death and missed her son’s childhood… I never bought Jack’s forgiveness of Diane’s many transgressions (or their quickie marriage) so let’s revisit their fraught history.  

I’m less sold on Ashley becoming a psycho out of the blue. Yes, she’s had breaks with reality in the past, but one trip to Paris with Tucker doesn’t seem like enough to push her over the edge. Her “old friend” the shrink suddenly turning up also felt forced. 

Ashley: “The rumors about my mental breakdown are highly exaggerated.”

Doctor: “I’m glad to hear that.” 

She’s talking to herself like Scarlet O’Hara while this hack is buying her act so that personality parade will be around for a while.

Mentioning “old friends” and family is helpful so that, when they drop in, we know who they are and are glad to see them. That was not the case with B&B’s Ivy Forrester. She had not been seen since 2018 when she appeared at Il Giardino to tell Liam how great he was – and then kiss him.

Ivy: “I’ve always had a little piece of you in my heart. Any woman would be lucky to have you, including me.”

She went on and on about what a catch Liam is and how kind and loving and handsome he is, and here’s me: How would she know? She’d been gone six years during which time he wed both Steffy and Hope (again). The occasional Ivy mention would have gone a long way towards caring what she thought. 

Steffy: “My cousin comes to town and doesn’t even tell me. Did you come all this way just to plant a big one on Liam?”

Apparently! Steffy would rather Liam circle back to Hope but she’s got bigger felons to fry now that Sheila has come back from the dead for the 900th time. 

Hope: “How do you think Steffy is going to react when she learns Sheila is alive?”

Is that a trick question?  

Deacon: “It’s all going to work out.”

Hahaha. Sheila is one of those characters grandfathered in to the canvas. Even if we don’t see her for a while, we know she’s lurking, ready to pounce when the show hits a lull. I know I’m arguing against major change in this column but I’d be okay if B&B stopped dwelling on the story point of Sheila lopping off her own toe to fake her death.

Steffy: “I cannot hear Deacon go on and on about Sheila’s toes anymore.” 

Preach, Steffy!  

I cannot hear DAYS’s Konstantin go one more day getting the best of Maggie, either. Luckily that lying newbie seems poised for an excellent takedown. Who saw Marlena un-hypnotizing John as the end game of The Pawn? Konstantin thought he was mind-controlling John but John and Doc one-upped him. 

John: “I stole the original prenup and replaced it with a fake. That is the one he burned.” 

Marlena: “Brilliant, huh?” 

Patch: “Yeah. You conned a con!” 

Marlena: “He wanted to take everything Victor had: His money and Maggie. Now we’re going to have to tell her.” 

Patch: “Knowing Maggie, that bastard won’t know what hit him!”

A great payoff can save a dodgy story. Hopefully, that’s also the end game for the prolonged baby switch with one of DAYS’ most unlikable newbies in recent memory. Sloan stole Nicole’s baby and she doesn’t even like it! A drunken Leo spilled the beans to EJ, who confronted Sloan about taking “his” baby back, and she broke the news that Jude is not his. 

EJ (arguing): “I have the results in my safe.” 

Sloan: “I switched the results.”

EJ: “You couldn’t have.”  

Sloan: “If Eric and Nicole ever find out they’re sharing a child, that’s it for us. Game over.” 

Good. Nicole is keeping busy with her new job at The Spectator – another story that came out of nowhere. She applied to be an investigative reporter, got hired, and got an assignment in the same episode, despite having no newspaper experience or clips. Couldn’t she and Chad at least have discussed her background at Bella? Poof, you’re a reporter! That make no sense.  

Which brings us to GH… 

The new head writers put a bunch of characters into a blender, pressed “puree,” and came up with all new professions for our faves. Sasha went from model to chef, Dex from mobster to cop, Trina from art student to babysitter, Carly from restaurant/hotel owner to magazine editor (and back), Sam from bold P.I. to scared whiner, Curtis from nightclub owner to Wellness executive. 

Curtis (on leaving The Savoy): “This would be a huge change in my life.”

Said almost every current character. Joss wants to quit med school, Dante wants to quit the police force, Heather wants to quit being a psychopathic murderer – you name it, they’re rewriting it. The biggest head-scratcher is Willow, who went from being teacher to devoted nursing school student to valued nurse and then chucked it all to become a spokesperson for organ transplants (!). 

Willow: “I’ve been thinking about my job at G.H.” 

Michael: “It’s not like we need the money.”

Willow: “A lot of people do, like Elizabeth. She’s raising three boys on her own.” 

WHAT? An experienced head nurse in New York makes $100,000-130,000/year and Elizabeth has had free childcare from Audrey her entire life. Add child support from Jason (for Jake) and Lucky (for Aidan), and the hardworking Liz should be one of the most financially secure characters in Port Charles. 

Willow being “uncomfortable” with having money and Tracy regretting her squandered opportunities does not jibe with them being Quartermaines.

Tracy: “The advantages I have been given in life are obscene, as is how little I’ve done with them.” 

Suddenly the women on GH can’t handle money, jobs or families, and that’s a dangerous message for a show whose viewers do that every day. 

At least Alexis’s story tracks. She warned her daughters about the legal minefield regarding surrogacy but Kristina plowed ahead to carry Molly and TJ’s baby.  

Kristina:My baby has a real kick.”

Uh-oh. The story lost steam with all the recasts but they’re doing a good job building to the inevitable custody battle with the egg being Kristina’s, Diane advising Alexis, and TJ badgering Kristina about what she eats. 

Kristina (sarcastic, to Molly): “Join us for dinner. We’re having a meal of organic kale washed 10 times by nuns.” 

Sonny’s story tracks, too. We’ve seen him spiral after taking incorrect bipolar medication before, so the question there is why Valentin sabotaged Sonny’s meds – and when? The introduction of Val’s partner Brennan has been excellent, giving us just enough of the Aussie baddie over a period of months to make us want more (Carly would agree). Brennan went from WSB boss to incarcerated arms dealer which is almost as big a pivot as Valentin going from sad dad being fooled by his lunatic daughter to dangerous arms dealing honcho Pikeman. 

Valentin’s a Cassadine, so that’s a predictable evolution to the villain he was born to play – and no one’s going to hate that change more than Anna.

Hey. It’s only my opinion.