Daytime’s Most Famous “Love to Hate” Characters

By Marlena Delacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Eric Braeden as Victor Newman: Still Machiavellian after all these years

For any soap opera, a “love to hate” character is money in the bank.  Fascinated by their endless power to manipulate other characters and instigate interesting plots, these diabolical characters are adored by audiences who avidly follow all that they do. 

“Love to hate” characters dot soap opera history and frequently have long lives.  One of the first “love to hate” females was Lisa on As the World Turns, played by Eileen Fulton. Lisa drove her husband Bob and other ATWT characters crazy for decades.  On Another World, the original Rachel, played by Robin Strasser, was a “love to hate” character who evolved into a heroine, subsequently played by Victoria Wyndham. Stasser went on to play another and more famous “love to hate” character, Dorian Lord, on One Life to Live for decades.  Another iconic “love to hate” character, All My Children’s Erica Kane, made famous by Susan Lucci, quickly became the heroine of her show and was beloved for four decades as she stirred up trouble for generations of characters in Pine Valley.

“Love to hate” characters are usually played by women, but there have been some notable exceptions.  On AMC, James Mitchell’s Palmer Cortlandt caused trouble for his daughter Nina for years.   On TheYoung and the Restless, Eric Braeden’s conniving Victor Newman has been the catalyst of many twisted plots for 30 years. And he’s still going strong,mastermindinglots of problems for his children Adam, Nick and Victoria, and causing his wife Nikki to leave him over and over again. (They recently reconciled after Nikki forgave him for hiring a Cassie lookalike to frighten Sharon. But does anyone believe Victor is properly repentant and will change his Machiavellian ways? )

Right now, there are two “love to hate” characters on soaps who are relatively new and fascinating:

Spunky Quinn Fuller (Rena Sofer) came to The Bold and the Beautiful’s Forrester Creations as a jewelry designer along with her illegitimate son Wyatt.  Since arriving Quinn will do anything to help Wyatt win over the love of Hope Logan, including threatening and torturing Wyatt’s brother Liam, who is also in love with Hope.  This week Quinn even threatened to kill both Wyatt and Hope.  Quinn is so delicious as a “love to hate” character, she’s sure to be with us for a long time.

And on General Hospital, Nina Clay, as played  by Michelle Stafford (who originated and played another “love to hate” character Phyllis Summers Newman on The Young and Restless) has turned out to be a real terror since she came to Port Charles to bust up the romance of her husband Silas and Sam Morgan.  She has even resorted to faking paralysis to get her husband to feel sorry for her and stay with her. In interviews, Stafford has stated that Nina is a sociopath – great news for connoisseurs of “love to hate” characters.   She certainly has a long future ahead as a troublemaker on GH.

So, do you have a favorite baddie, past or present? Please share.

One Life to Live: Defending Dorian

Thinking Fans defend Dorian, too:  Rebecca demands, ”Dorian has always been a great soap villainess. I have a big problem dorianthinking that she actually was in her cups at the party she hosted for Markko — as we all know, soap villains do not lose control. I want the indomitable, formidable woman that Dorian is back on screen, giving no quarter to her enemies and taking no prisoners!” … Marilyn Henry adds, “I have long thought Robin Strasser one of the finest talents in soaps, maybe in all TV” … while Jennifer rages, “I am outraged by the callous and heartless writing, not just for Ms. Strasser, but for this iconic character” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

I have been a Robin Strasser fan since 1969 when she, George Reinholt and Jacquie Courtney drew me into the soap world with the pathos of the Rachel, Steve and Alice’s storyline on Another World.  Robin StrasserThe passion, the tears! It was the best love triangle ever!  Rachel was the neurotic spoiler, the villainess, and Robin made her grasping inner pain so harrowing (Rachel was deserted by her father as a child), I can still feel the hurt decades later.   And after 40 years (through Another World, All My Children and One Life To Live) Robin is still here, as OLTL‘s Dorian.  And so am I, having followed her through all of her long and distinguished soap career.

In all those years, Robin has never given a bad performance, never failed to be anything less than riveting, or at the very least  extremely interesting  in any soap scene.  We love her!  She is daytime soap opera!  And on a personal note, is there any other soap actress who has aged so well — naturally?   She doesn’t mind that we know she’s 64 (born on V.E. Day 1945, her middle name is literally ‘Victory in Europe.’)  She still looks youthful and  beautiful. 

It’s way too easy for soap writers to fall into cliché.  Robin is, after all, an older woman.  In our soap world of 20-year-old uneducated, unsophisticated heroines, it’s only too tempting to write an older woman who can be easily marginalized — and  laughed at.  It’s an ugly stereotype.

 And in public appearances she’s always dressed with stunning perfection. Like Dorian, Robin loves all things French. She is the rare [Read more...]

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: One Life to Live’s Dorian Cramer Lord, Part Two

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  CeCe says Dorian should leave Llanview … cher wonders if Dorian is ready for therapy … Dale tries to imagine a “good” Dorian. See Comments below.

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Part 2 of a 2-part OLTL 40th anniversary appointment!

By Damon L. Jacobs 

When we left off on Friday, we discussed Dorian’s symptoms which are consistent with Paranoid Personality Disorder.  As a Thoughtful Fan pointed out on this page last Friday, Marlena herself wrote a wonderful column back in 1998 about how the Dorian facing-her-past storyline  of ‘97-’98 accurately illuminated the tenants of traditional Freudian psychoanalytic therapy.  She faced her painful history, gained insight, and literally killed the mother that had been perceived as a source of so much dysfunction.  But I submit, did this insight make Dorian happier?  Did it help her gain peace?  Did it improve her relationships?  Change her behavior?  I’d say no, especially based on her behavior in the last six weeks, which is arguably worse than it’s been for a very long time.

In order for Dorian (played by the cherished Robin Strasser) to truly heal, I would recommend [Read more...]

All Hail La Strasser: She’s the “Alexis of Daytime” — Again!

Robin Strasser 

By Marlena De Lacroix

About 1984 or so, when the primetime world was at the height of Dynasty-mania, all the daytime soaps were hustling to introduce characters, all costumed in big-brimmed hats,  who were supposed to be the “Alexis of Daytime.”  Elizabeth Hubbard, new as Lucinda on As the World Turns, was supposed to be the Alexis of Daytime.  Marj Dusay, who played Myrna Clegg on Capitol, was supposed to be the Alexis of Daytime.  Louise Sorel, Augusta Lockridge on Santa Barbara, was supposed to be the Alexis of Daytime.

Baloney, I wrote in an early column headlined “Outrageous” in Michael Logan’s old magazine, Soap Opera People.  We already had the definitive Alexis of Daytime.  Her name was [Read more...]