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Which Soap Makes the Best Use of History?

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  • robbalto
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    #429794

    Daytime serials are unique in their ability to tell stories and follow characters for decades. This allows them to make use of character and story history in a manner that does not generally present itself in prime time, especially today when most shows fold after five or so years.

    When soaps make use history effectively, the resulting stories can be quite satisfying. My favorite all-time use of history is probably on Y&R, where the saga of Katherine and Jill entertained for nearly 40 years. Similarly, the relationship between Viki and Dorian on OLTL played out over decades.

    Unfortunately, writers often reach into a show’s history ineffectively, making senseless changes and reinventing characters in implausible ways. Soaps also have the habit of overfocusing on a particular trait from a character’s past, thus stripping said character of his/her growth and/or dynamic personality. 

    So my question is, in 2015, which shows do you think are making effective use of history? Here is my ranking:

    1. Days of Our Lives is definitely the champ when it comes to history. The show is swimming with characters from the 70s and 80s, and most are still played by the original actors. The core families of the Hortons and Bradys are still intact after all these years.

    2. B&B has honored its history by passing the torch on to the next generation. Rick, Steffy, Thomas, Liam, and Wyatt are now among the primary characters driving story. An arguable weakness is that Brooke, Bill, and Katie have been sidelined for most of the year.

    3. Y&R has been one of the most stable shows in daytime since the early 80s. We are still watching characters like Nikki and Paul, who started in the late 1970s. The Newmans and Abbotts have dominated since the 1980s, and even the Winters family has been airing for more than two decades. The weakness of Y&R is that they are in a storytelling rut where they keep playing the same stories over and over. So their use of history fails to be interesting a good share of the time.

    4. General Hospital unfortunately has decimated much of the classic familes like the Webbers, Hardys, and Quartermaines. The show does at least have a few legacy characters, such as Liz Webber. Additionally, they have three long-running actresses in Finola Hughes, Genie Francis, and Jane Elliot. Unfortunately, TPTB have chosen to center the show around the Corinthos family, which arguably honors the show’s recent history but more or less ignores any pre-90s aspects of GH. 

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #429796

    I would say it’s a tie between Days and Y&R for best use of history, and a tie for last between BB and GH. I don’t necessarily like the use (and misuse) of history! Days has also killed some of its history (esp. the last four years), which for me has been unforgivable! I agree with robbalto’s post, just would rank slightly differently….

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    EmmyLoser
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    #429797

    I guess there are a lot of factors that go into the effective or ineffective use of history on a show, but about the two worst things you can do are to marginalize or destroy core families and characters and to pluck minor bits from a shows history and exploit them to push an agenda that is contrary to the heart of that history.  I think B&B, DAYS and Y&R have all done a very good job of continuing to showcase their core families and pass those legacies on to future generations.  GH, on the other hand, has not done a very good job with maintaining the show’s core families and tends to use core characters/veteran actors as a means to showcase the actors and storytelling the want to promote.  They seem to be trying to correct the first to some degree, but even much of that seems to be done in name more than in spirit.  As to the second point about exploiting history (while pretending to honor it), all soaps have been guilty of this from time to time, but over the last few years GH has been the most guilty.

    From what I have seen, I’d have to agree with robbalto’s overall rankings. 

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    Boidiva02
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    #429798

    At this point i’d say both Bell soaps do a great job at this.   GH is clearly in last place here.   

    However, historically speaking if we were to include the cancelled shows, I’d say probably ATWT or GL get this honor. They typically kept with their history to an extent.  Of course I could be so wrong about this. 

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    Scoopster
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    #429799

    DAYS for sure….the Horton’s and Brady’s are still the center families of the show with many of the same characters and actors.

    DAYS opening is even steeped in history, it is essentially the same opening and music that it had since it started in 1965.

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