by Alison Packard, author of Love in the Afternoon (Carina Press)
My debut novel, Love in the Afternoon, is a tribute to a television genre I’ve watched for more years than I can remember. Daytime dramas, or as they’re more commonly called, soap operas, have always gotten a bad rap. But even so, there are millions of us who love them and aren’t ashamed to admit it. Soaps are sometimes–okay, most of the time–over the top, but at their core they’re about love and family–that’s what draws us in and keeps us watching. Over the years, daytime dramas have tackled many social issues and have helped educate as well as entertain. And they’ve been the training ground for some of our finest actors, such as Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Dana Delany, Kelsey Grammar, Nathan Fillion, Robin Wright, and Meg Ryan, to name a few.
Over at the Carina Press blog, I’ll be talking about my favorite soap couples, but there’s another reason why soaps are so popular and I’d like to share that with you here today. It’s that age old battle of good versus evil.
If there’s one thing we soap fans love, it’s a deliciously bad villain. I’m not talking about your average everyday criminal, or the desperate ingénue who fakes a pregnancy to try to break up the show’s super couple. No, I’m talking about those larger than life evil doers. You know–the ones who plot, scheme, cause mayhem and have a ball doing it. Every soap opera has at least one, and while we may curse them, we can’t help but love them. After all, without a dastardly villain, our shows would be boring, right?
Here are some of my favorites:
Todd Manning–One Life to Live: There’s no sugar-coating his bad acts. Todd Manning led one of the most disturbing scenes ever shown on daytime. To say Todd was hated is an understatement, so how is it that Todd turned out to be one of the most complex and popular characters on daytime? The credit has to go to his portrayer, Roger Howarth, and the writing team of OLTL. Many soap villains never pay for their crimes, but Todd did, and not long after doing so he came to realize just how much of a monster he really was. The scene where he admits that to his victim is, arguably, one of the most brilliantly acted scenes on daytime. Despite his popularity, OLTL never made Todd into a traditional romantic leading man, and he has never forgotten what he did, or forgiven himself for doing it.
Helena Cassadine–General Hospital: Helena is the widow of Mikkos Cassadine, that crazy Greek dude who tried to freeze the world until Luke Spencer killed him and saved the planet. (Thanks, Luke!) Helena (originally portrayed by the divine Elizabeth Taylor and currently by the elegant Constance Towers) decided to make it her life’s mission to avenge her husband’s death, and to this day hates the Spencer clan with a passion. Not content to exact her demented brand of justice on the Spencers, Helena has also plotted against her own family members. She poisoned her son and threw him off of a yacht, and had no qualms about drugging and locking up her ‘beloved’ nephew because she couldn’t tolerate the woman he loved. Oh, and let’s not forget she slit the throat of her husband’s mistress and still laughs about it. The woman is truly evil and relishes in it.
Roger Thorpe–Guiding Light: Roger Thorpe, as portrayed by the late great Michael Zaslow, just may be the ultimate soap opera villain. Clearly evil, and capable of some truly heinous acts, Roger Thorpe, much like Todd Manning, was a very complex character who managed to gain enough viewer sympathy to become one of the show’s most popular characters. The list of Roger’s crimes is extensive and includes rape, adultery, bribery and kidnapping. Like most soap villains, he was presumed dead several times, but as we all know, dead isn’t always dead on a soap opera, especially if a body isn’t found. So just when the residents of Springfield thought they were free of Roger Thorpe, he’d rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, ready and willing to wreak havoc all over again.
So there you have it–my three favorite soap opera villains. I’d love to hear yours. Who are the villains you loved to hate, and why?
Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image–and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime’s most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.
Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm’s length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.
But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel–a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling.
Purchase Love in the Afternoon for just $1.99 from Carina Press!