Days’ Despicable (and Desperate) Storyline Move

There I was last week, reading Kelly Ripa’s new autobiography, Live Wire, which I plan to review, and a scene aired on Days of Our Lives that truly shocked me. Two women — Allie Horton (played by Lindsay Arnold) and Chanel Dupree (played by Raven Bowens) were having sex with Alex Kiriakis (played by Robert Scott Wilson).

A threesome on daytime! How desperate (and tasteless) can a daytime soap opera be?

Well, for days now, Marlena’s insiders have been telling her that the new Days is being spawned in an atmosphere of “anything goes” on the streaming network Peacock. Can this truly be so? This vulgar outburst of trio canoodling certainly suggests that it is.

Were the producers and writers of the transplanted Days pushing the envelope to see how far they could go with the relaxed (if any) standards of their new bosses?

Marlena is not a prude. But — OMG! — why this scene in the middle of the afternoon?

Years ago, in 1989, when I first became Marlena at the relatively new Soap Opera Weekly, I wrote a column exploring this topic: “Is there too much sex on soaps?”

But, mes chers, the swinging ’80s were a much different time. Daytime was peopled by shirtless hunks (actors even had trainers in the studio!) and hunkettes. There was plenty of sex, much more on daytime at that time than there was in prime time. After all, soaps are about romance (as Marlena has written a thousand times), and sex comes with love.

Sure, some viewers had prurient interests, but we true soap fans couldn’t get enough of the kind of intense romance you see only on daytime. (Hence, ABC’s canny soap slogan “Love in the afternoon.”) Luke and Laura, Patch and Kayla, Erica Kane and her eight husbands (and 11 marriages!) — it was emotions and beauty and love (and, yes, sex) all the time.

All kinds of sex were shown back then — some sex scenes were fun and some of them were actually educational. In 1992 on Loving, Ava (played by Lisa Peluso) and Paul (played by Joseph Breen) had sex even though Paul was paralyzed from the waist down. On goofy Passions, Vincent (played by Phillip Jeanmarie) the hermaphrodite had sex with his own father, Julian (played by Ben Masters). (Only the creative mind of the late James E. Reilly, headwriter of Passions, could have pulled that one off.)

In the early 2000s, though, things changed. We lost too many shows — among them my personal faves, All My Children and One Life to Live. Yet we staunch soap fans hung in there through the years that followed — even when Covid almost stopped everything.

Daytime is recovering from that, only to face another enemy — lowered ratings causing a mainstream network, NBC, to cancel — yes,  just this year — Days of Our Lives. On to streaming it went.

Marlena has since heard from a lot of unhappy viewers — particularly older ones who can’t afford streaming — who have had to stop watching Days after decades of loyal viewing. Speaking of older audiences (and let’s face it; daytime soap opera audiences are skewing older these days) — won’t they be offended by scenes of kinky three-way sex?

Were Days’ executive producer Ken Corday and headwriter Ron Carlivati using their heads (and their long experience in the genre) when they staged last week’s sexual stunt? What’s next — an orgy?

Calm down, Miss Marlena.

Readers, I just hate to see my beloved soaps use shock rather than good producing and writing to attract viewers. Sure, viewers are deserting soaps (as I wrote about in my last column), but that is no reason for the remaining shows to resort to tasteless stunts like Days’ threesome.

Despite this, I’m rooting for Days, a grand soap with an incredible history of quality drama to survive. Mr. Corday and Mr. Carlivati, cut  the crap!

Comments

  1. Well, a three-way may not be our experience but they say representation matters and perhaps it’s far more common than we older folks realize. ;P That said, I was more disturbed by it simply being sex for no reason other than maybe there was boredom in the relationship (or jealousy) for the lesbian couple. Alex didn’t care about them; they didn’t care about Alex. Whatever. But to give them a love montage and treat it better than the union of long-awaited couples (even the lesbian love story)…with a love song, mood lighting, and stunning choreography? That was why I felt it was…strange.

    • Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman says:

      Marlena says: Thanks for your comment and wisdom as always, dear Esther. You just never know what to expect on daytime these days.

  2. I’m retiring my poms poms. Mr. Ken and Mr. Ron both have used this soap ( no. Grand soap). As a personal (up yours) to the daytime genre. If they are tired – take a nap. This DOL is dead and has been steady dying for years. Thanks to these two.
    What do you call it when someone takes a Picasso and runs it under water , because they want to use the canvass to paint a self portrait?

  3. Marlena,

    I don’t follow the current Days, and context means everything, but I’m not offended by depicting a threesome, especially if it involves three characters we know. How was it set up? And more importantly, what was the fallout afterwards?

    • Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman says:

      Marlena says: Dave, as I have written many times daytime drama is all about the search for love. And usually love on soaps goes with sex. The two women in this story are involved with each other. Did Days add a man to make this scene sensational? I think so–yes. They certainly made me look up and notice what was going on.

  4. The biggest issue is IT DIDN’T GO ANYWHERE. It didn’t lead to anything, story-wise. It was the worst thing a soap scene can be… pointless. And, because it had nothing to do with story, boring.

  5. Patrick Erwin says:

    My thoughts are similar to both Esther and Alina’s comments.

    There’s a story to be told about people who are in a three way relationship. And if not that story, it could even have been a night of casual sex between two women and a man – but for what? What’s next? As Alina pointed out, it didn’t have any repercussions. It seems like the easiest thing would be to set up a situation where Allie can’t stop thinking about either of her partners in her ménage à trois. But this trois just led to le zéro.

    I know small budgets means not everything can lead to a three year storyline/thread, but it should lead…SOMEWHERE.

    Marlena says: Thanks dear Patrick for your expert opinion. We all seem to be in agreement–sensationalism on a soap just doesn’t work. As always, this medium needs all the respect it can get.

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