Changing the Channel Part II: Days of Our Lives

So for part II of my changing the channel adventure, I decided to check out Days of our Lives. I didn’t really have much of a concrete reason for choosing this one other than the online buzz for the show at this point seems fairly decent.

I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what was going on. For the most part (more on this later). Just like in stereotypes they do a good enough job of working exposition into scenes that it’s easy enough to catch up. Even though there’s major plotline that seems to be referencing some deep history.

Over all, I’m digging the show a bit more than B&B (which annoys me since it’s twice as long). There are things I definitely like about it. I like that they’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the friendship dynamics between Abigail and Melanie. Abigail kind of grates on my nerves, but the big issue is that television usually gets so swept up in couple swapping that they forget to include non-sexual friendships. And friendships can be just as compelling dramatically. I loved watching Melanie listen to Abbey’s whole story about sleeping with her married professor boss. You could see Melanie thinking that her friend was crazy and stupid and yet trying to still be a good friend. A lot of us have been there. It was a nice touch of reality.

Other things I like: EJ is a wonderful villain. Smarmy and smug. Devious. But he’s also multifaceted—seems to actually have some sort of a heart and feelings etc. I was blindsided by the revelation that EJ and Sami had slept together (this is a big deal because they’re both married to other people) because ordinarily on soaps when people have secrets they talk about them constantly, loudly, in public locations. I’m amazed that the show enabled me to be surprised. Nicely done. On the other hand, I wasn’t entertained by Sami’s husband Rafe making out with her sister Carrie because they kept building and building to it, yet I don’t really see any chemistry between the two. I’m also incredibly sick of listening to Sami yell at people about it. I hate when television shows do this thing where they have characters have the same conversation over and over again and it goes nowhere. Oops, this was supposed to be the things I liked. I like Will. By which I mean Will is an obnoxious little punk, but that’s an accurate portrayal of a young man in his late teens/early 20s. Particularly one simultaneously struggling with being in the closet and knowing his mother cheated on the step-father he really likes with the ex-step-father he hates. I liked the corporate espionage storyline with Sami and Madison, particularly in the way it made it clear that people around the two women would not have been so upset out of similar behavior by men. Nice. I like that the professor sleeping with the student subplot didn’t go with the standard seductive teacher but when with the kinda psycho undergrad. (By the way, since you may not be watching, they didn’t actually sleep together, she’s just convinced him they did. He was actually too drunk to stay conscious that long).

Things I dislike: Stefano is simultaneously too much of a cartoon villain and not enough of a cartoon villain. It’s hard to do a fleshed out caricature, and they aren’t pulling it off. I’m not entertained by this whole subplot where Hope (who thinks she’s married to Bo) is actually married to John (who thinks he’s married to Marlena). I don’t care. I don’t get why they care so much. I just want it over. I don’t like the whole election storyline because I’m clearly supposed to be rooting for Abe, but I can’t get past is unethical behavior (he let someone give him the debate questions ahead of time while slipping his opponent fake debate questions). His whole logic that his opponent (the aforementioned EJ) was dirty and so he had to sink down to fight him at that level didn’t convince me. Nor did his desperation that EJ would do horrible things as mayor. Seriously, he’d just be mayor. Too my knowledge that doesn’t come with missile codes or anything. How badly could he screw things up in one term? I was relieved when Abe’s wife finally pointed that out to him, but not relieved enough to like this storyline.

So over all, I’m definitely liking it more that Bold and the Beautiful. But I’m not loving it. I’m not invested in it. When my DVR crashed and erased an episode I wasn’t that upset. I didn’t even go watch it online. Maybe investment takes time. I had half a lifetime invested in OLTL and I don’t expect to feel that for any other show any time soon. But I’m still trying to support scripted drama where I can. And I’ll admit I’ve been thrilled to see ratings for all the non-ABC soaps increasing while the ratings for ABC’s new reality show nosedive into the toilet.