Soaps: Where Intelligent Women Still Rule

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

Jane Ellliot’s Tracy Quartermaine is one of soaps’ leading Brainy Ladies

Women are still the core of soap opera.  They are what the plots are about and they make the stories go.  An overwhelming number of women on soap operas are very intelligent, assertive and masters of their own fates.  Here’s a round-up of the most intelligent and sometimes devious women on soap opera right now:

Quinn Fuller, The Bold and the Beautiful (Rena Sofer):  Quinn came onto to the show as a jewelry designer more than a  year ago.  She is sharp as a tack.  She will do anything to make sure her son Wyatt lands up with Hope, instead of his half-brother Liam, with whom Quinn has frequent arguments. This week Quinn bribed Bill Spencer into giving Liam the Spencer name, her leverage being sex pics of herself and Bill, which she threatened to show to Brooke.

Katie Spencer, B&B (Heather Tom): Katie fancied herself a regular girl until husband Bill cheated on her with  Brooke.  So she stepped up, using all her intelligence to run Spencer Publications, and at the same time obtaining custody of son Will.  Recently she lost it all because of supposed lost ownership and custody papers she previously signed, but wound up with soap’s ultimate prize: the love of and engagement to rich and handsome Ridge Forrester.

Jill Foster Abbott, The Young and the Restless (Jess Walton): Jill started her Genoa City life as a hairdresser, but grew into a more prominent position as she got older.  She married John Abbott and went to work at his company. Recently she married  charming Aussie  Colin Atkinson, but strongly assumes he only married her for Katherine’s inheritance.  This week she handcuffed Colin to a pipe in the attic and made him sign divorce papers.

Leslie Michaelson, Y&R (Angela Conwell): Leslie is a lawyer who represents unpopular causes and equally unpopular people like Ian Ward.  Recently she spurned the love of crybaby and general pain Neil to make a fast marriage to Dr.  Barton Shelby.

Alexis Davis, General Hospital (Nancy Grahn): Alexis is the smartest woman on daytime television, a very good lawyer and a strict mother. Only a smarty like Alexis could  keep criminal Sonny out of jail all this time.   Alexis’ problem is that she always gets involved with bad men like Sonny and her current crush, Julian Jerome.

Tracy Quartermaine, GH (Jane Elliot): Tracy has always been the smartest of the smart, a leading Quartermaine since the rich family came to town decades ago.  Her Achilles heel is Luke Spencer, to whom she has been married three times.  These days a secretly criminal Luke wants to wrest control of  the Quartermaine company ELQ to himself.  Will Tracy catch on and ward off his evil efforts?

There are more, of course. Who are your nominees for the Soap Opera Brainy Lady Hall of Fame?   


  1. Jermaine says:

    Hi Marlena, Mary Ryan On Ryans Hope was one of the all-time most intelligent women on soaps. Actually besides Delia, all the women on Ryans Hope were very intelligent. How I miss Ryans Hope (I’m 40 and started watching it on Soap Net) Thank God for YouTube !

  2. I miss the REAL Marlena…who had intelligent and relevant commentary on soaps in a magazine. I don’t recognize this version at all. Let’s take a look…name by name…at the women you are currently calling smart:

    Quinn…a psychotic newbie into pointless violence and S & M for no discernable reason.

    Katie….a basket case who put up with a murderous hubby and then went to her sister’s husband on the rebound.

    Jill…..a woman who has lost every edge she ever had and gets involved with a career criminal.

    Tracy…..a vile vicious bitch with no redeeming qualities until this Fake Luke comes along…then she goes brain dead for storyline purposes. Luke doesn’t even talk the same!!!!! His voice is 2 octaves lower than normal.

    Alexis……wow! Okay…there is a difference between a 16 year old girl liking the 19 year old ” bad boy” with long hair and a tattoo…as opposed to a 50 something woman who continually sleeps with grotesque vile murderers. Yeah..real smart.

    I don’t get where you are coming from at all with this post. For smart soap women I think of Hope on Days, I think of Vicky from the late great Another World….and very few others.

  3. I forgot Lesley. Yeah….a woman who runs frlm marriage to a nice stable rich man….to someone she has known for a day or two. Yeah…smart!

  4. Too bad “One Life to Live” isn’t still around.

    That was the best “Girl Power” soap on the air.

    Women being strong on “General Hospital” or “Young and the Restless” is a complete joke. Misogyny overload anyone?

  5. Anna Devane is smart. Just like Tracy and Alexis. I just hate that all three are so bad in their choices of me. There is no way that neither Anna nor Tracy would not have been able to tell that their men were fakes. There is no way that Alexis would dump a mob enforcer and date a mobster.

  6. I don’t agree about Delia on RYAN’S HOPE not being strong. Delia lacked strength and belief in herself and her ability to stand on her on two feet. She thought she needed the Ryan’s to survive. But Delia was strong in a different way. She was cunning and manipulative and disingenuous and quite capable of making people believe what she wanted them to believe. To pull that off takes a certain kind of strength. She did play the commodities and she ran Delia’s Crystal Palace.

    • Jermaine says:

      I never said Delia was not strong, the point of the article is Intelligent women in soaps, and I and many others would never mistake Delia for an Intelligent woman especially compared to many of the other women on Ryan’s Hope. And by the way I’m talking about Ryan’s Hope From 1975-1981 Soap Net never aired anything beyond that point. Yes Delia was manipulative and cunning,and she ran a successful business (while being used by the mob by the by) but that doesn’t qualify her as being one of the All-time Intelligent women in soaps. Thanks:)

  7. I think at her core Erica Kane was a smart lady who pretty much excelled at everything she tried. I just think her celebrity made her always act in over-the-top. Above all, she was, on the show, a smart performer. I will never forget her 1996 monologue, high on pills, where she very astutely articulated what was wrong with everyone in Pine Valley including herself. She could also match wits with Brooke English, who was one of the smartest women, just smart in a more traditional way. Come to think of it, ABC always did have some smart ladies. Dorian Lord was smart, but like Erica, had her insecurities and matched wits with Vicki Lord, another particularly intelligent woman.

  8. The reason we don’t have enough of strong women on soaps is it is written mostly by misogynistic men,.Anna is dumb ,not seeing Duke was lying through his teeth about Sonnys alibi .Olivia just being with Sonny after he shot her son. Carley the same. Franco had her son raped. Lucy jumping in bed with Scott,when she is married to Kevin. DR O even wanting Faison was stupid. Liz with Ric after all the things he did to her. Alexis is the dumbest of all. Has she had a man who wasn’t on the wrong side of the law EVER ?

  9. I agree that Anna Devane is a smart woman, always has been, even when she was on All My Children. She’s also had a dark side, remember she was once a double-agent. Because of that I don’t begrudge her falling for Duke. Alexis on the other hand has a history of bad choices in men, from Sonny to Julian Jerome. Ned Ashton was the only decent man that she was ever involved with. I would also put Diane on GH on the list as well as Monica Quartermaine, and Robin Scorpio Drake.

  10. SteveFrame says:

    I agree with Jason. I miss the real Marlena… the one that wrote the best soap criticism for Soap Opera Weekly. None of these women are smart! I know there are only four daytime shows left, but my God, please don’t scrape the bottom of the barrel trying to find something to praise. The writing for each of these women has been dreadful to say the least. Maybe Jill from Y&R and Tracy from GH were smart in the past, but their current stories are painting them as fools. Very sad!

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