By Patrick Erwin
I want to observe Valentine’s Day by discussing some of my favorite soap couples. I know soaps are famous for their “supercouples,” those pairs that keep coming back to each other through sleet, snow, and psychotic ex-spouses. Most shows have had these grand couples: Luke and Laura, Bo and Hope, Josh and Reva, and so on. But I’d like to honor five couples that had the most impact on me — the ones that moved me, made me laugh, made me sigh and made me believe in love — or as Marlena would say, l’amour!
Rachel and Mac, Another World: Mac and Rachel were one of the most believable stories ever to play out on our screens. A theater director I worked with once said the magic of any performance was when you really believed, and I really believed that Mac and Rachel were real people. When Douglass Watson’s Mac looked at Victoria Wyndham’s Rachel, you saw not only love and passion, but Mac’s deep respect for Rachel as a person; he was caring and concerned even when they were fighting, or divorced, or with other partners. So much of who Rachel became, especially after Mac’s death, was a result of his love for her. As a bonus, this couple had perhaps the most tantalizing spoiler of any couple: Beverlee McKinsey as Iris, Mac’s manipulative daughter.
Quint and Nola, Guiding Light: I just loved everything about this couple. Nola was so unconventional in every way — and so was Quint. If you were a bit of an oddball like me, Nola’s quirkiness was very appealing — and when wonderful things happened to her, you felt like you’d been invited along for the ride. Quint and Nola’s pairing was out of a Jane Austen novel, with Quint being Nola’s Mr. Darcy (she even called him Mr. McCord at first). Nola was full of fantasies and dreams, and Quinton managed to bring those dreams to life for her. These two broke each other’s defenses down, and really complimented each other – never forcing the other one to change. For my money, their wedding, with them floating away in a hot air balloon, was the most romantic event I’ve ever seen on daytime.
John Dixon and Lucinda Walsh, As The World Turns: ATWT has a lot of other strong couples that I’ve loved over the years, like Kim and Bob, Tom and Margo, Holden and Lily, and even Jack and Carly (the first few hundred times, anyway). But I really loved John and Lucinda because they were so well suited for each other. Individually, they were strong, manipulative people who were emotionally damaged, but together, they exuded real caring and warmth. And heat — their bickering was intelligent and sexy. Their mutual mistakes may have split their marriage apart, but these two never lost their love or affection for one another.
Mason and Julia, Santa Barbara: One of the smartest, most complex pairings ever assembled in daytime. I think my favorite time for this couple was in the beginning, when Lane Davies played Mason. Nancy Lee Grahn was superb as Julia, and these two were equals, going head to head as often as they went heart to heart. Nothing was ever simple, or neat, or prepackaged with these two. Their smooth repartee masked the complicated, emotionally volatile feelings that Mason and Julia had about each other — and themselves. And like John and Lucinda, these very smart people generated a lot of heat around each other.
Noah and Julia, All My Children: I’m always bored by stories where the writers heap one misery after another onto a character or couple. I came to love Noah and Julia in spite of this because even when things were bad, there was a real, quiet warmth to the scenes these two shared. A big deal was made about the historical nature of the story (soaps’ first interracial supercouple), but that seemed so irrelevant. They just clicked — Noah’s intensity meshing nicely with Julia’s high-spirited nature. Neither half of the couple was exactly a saint — Noah had been up to no good in his offscreen past, and Julia was originally brought to town as a man-stealing hussy who had just left an older — and married — boyfriend. But these two saw the best in each other — and brought the best out in each other. As much as I love that Angie and Jesse are back on AMC, I wish they’d reach once more into their past and bring back Noah, too!
Those are my favorites — I’d love to hear yours! And I wish all of you a sweet and romantic Valentine’s Day!