Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead
I love the soaps, or as my partner's now deceased grandmother called them "the stories."
I've cycled through favorites - beginning with Days of Our Lives, thanks to my childhood friend Sherry. I've watched Another World, Guiding Light, General Hospital, Santa Barbara and eventually As The World Turns.
More importantly to my reading little self, I kept up with ALL of the soaps via the interwebs. Wikipedia brought me up to date on the backstories and sites like SoapCentral.com have kept me current.
And through it all, I have come to the conclusion that soap operas are in fact responsible for a good deal of the breakthroughs the LGBTQ community has made in terms of public opinion.
Now, watching soaps without cable is a challenge. We live in an inner-city neighborhood and get three stations on a good day: CBS (2 soaps), NBC (1 soap) and FOX (Well, GLEE!) without even the comfort of PBS. While we simply can't pay for cable, we do have Netflix, and I catch a lot of the "must see" moments on YouTube.
Don't cry for me. I get by because I prefer to read - it's like a slightly trashy novel, with spoilers and lots of fun online "discussions" about the characters.
Recent circumstances have forced me to cut back on my computer time. I'm home on disability and doing volunteer work while I get a very small social media business off the ground. I've learned that my hand pain is not carpal tunnel, nor a sign of RA - rather I have a birth defect in which my carpals are fused together. Apparently, anthropologists perceive this as a possible evolutionary adaptation. But for me it means tendonitis and a wrist splint on my dominant hand.
That all means by around three in the afternoon I need a break. I've committed to powering down the PC and dutifully watching Days of Our Lives every afternoon. So I'm quite abreast on the evolving love story of characters Sonny Kiriakis and Will Horton.
These characters carry a pretty heavy burden. Days was the last soap to introduce LGBTQ characters, although technically The Bold & the Beautiful has been pretty mindless about it. I mean after all, TBTB is set in the fashion industry, unlike New England based Days or the Pennsylvania set All My Children.
Nonetheless, Will and Sonny are the young gay Days of Our Lives characters carrying on the legacy wrought so wonderfully by Bianca Montgomery (Erica Kane's daughter), Luke Snyder (son of Lily and Holden Snyder) and "Otalia" on Guiding Light. I might add that nasty Adam Newman's self-serving seduction of his male lawyer added a nice complicated edge even if it was an unpleasant soap storyline.
Will and Sonny's story has unfolded in a quasi-"normal" and soapy style. Sonny's former crimelord great uncle was fine when Sonny came out to him as were his parents. Will's Dad was cool during the coming out, then became overprotective. His mom sort of flipped out then became an uber-supportive Mama Bear. Soon Sonny and Will found their way together in spite of the concerns of Sonny's mom, Adrienne over Will, and Will's father Lucas having reservations about Sonny's worldliness.
Hey, that's just how a straight couple would play out, at least on most soaps.
We know Will's backstory. Sonny's "European boarding school" days are yet to be explored but he seems to be a good guy. But - both of these characters come with baggage like few other LGBTQ characters. Yes, Olivia tried to have her daughter murdered and Luke's parents adopted his lover, Noah.
Still, the Kiriakis family is a crime family. Victor is a softy now, but he's blackmailed half the women half his age into engagements or marriage and then gets huffy when one of them tried to murder him by throwing a radio into his bathtub. Sonny's mom Adrienne comes from a wretchedly dysfunctional family background and she has a lot of trust issues. Both of her brothers have returned from the dead numerous times (one "dead" now and one somewhere in Africa.)
Will? Well his mother is the show's lead vixen/heroine who has been a fixture for 20 years - from 16 to 36. From lying about his paternity to drawing him into scheme after scheme, its reasonable to worry about the gene pool except its a soap and that's why we love her. His Dad is a recovering alcoholic who was also lied to about his paternity and reunited with his biological family giving Will instant "core family" power as both a Horton and a Brady.
Two young men with baggage, skeptical if loving parents and unexplored gaps in their storyline makes for a love story for the ages. I believe their "portmanteau" is WilSon which is actually pretty cute. I'd love if Days next supercouple was gay and they were still facing challenges and reuniting ten years from now.
The current challenge? Will had a one night stand with his former girlfriend, Gabi, who is now pregnant. It happened when they were single so it wasn't cheating, but neither disclosed to their current lovers. Gabi's bf Nick is homophobic because of "his church" which doesn't stop him from having sex with Gabi out of wedlock, but I'm sure that's entirely different. So this is supposed to be a new twist on an old story.
Fans are up in arms. Today, Gabi and Will engaged in a drawn out scene about abortion but we ALL know that's not a real option on a Catholic soap. Considering they are both practically kids with no visible means of support and little stability - it should be. It should be explored. They should both make sure Nick and Sonny are tested because of their unprotected sex. There's a lot of meat there that would be effective social commentary because it would set up a great moral discussion on two weighty topics.
But they won't. My guess is Sonny will be in the dark, Nick will pretend to be the father and it will all blow up in their faces when Gabi goes into "premature" labor with the baby being delivered by her enemy,Chad DiMera who also happens to be Sonny's business partner.
Sigh. Did I mention that Gabi's brother is the ex-husband of Will's mother? So if they reunite, that will make the baby his own step-uncle. Seriously, Do the calculations.
My point is that this is soapy. Its pushed two gay characters into a typical if somewhat predictable storyline. And that's what soaps do to heterosexual characters. And there's a chance Will and Sonny might raise the baby which would be great I think. Sonny is the most stable of the foursome and certainly has the least amount of crazy. (Yes, I went there.)
As for the other three soaps, world on the net is that The Young and the Restless will out one of the core family young persons - I hope its Noah Newman, but that's just a guess. They already have a minor character, Rafe, who is gay but unattached and most often unseen. Bold and the Beautiful has a lesbian couple who are also completely underdeveloped but have been well received. General Hospital, well they had a legacy character come out - Lucas Jones. Now he's off somewhere doing something outside of Port Charles. I'm not sure there's room for him on the canvas, but there's lovely potential for him to shake up some core characters.
These characters really *matter* to people and they continue to open hearts & minds to the real LGBTQ "characters" in the world. The story becomes their reality when their grandson comes out or their niece begins to transition. I'm grateful. I do have a bone to pick with Days, but I'll save the for another post.