Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten: Character Edition

It’s that time of the year, folks. You know that time – the time when every single blog/website/podcast on the net posts their Top Ten lists for everything under the sun. Well, Lauren and I are no different! In the first of our top ten lists for the end of the year, we are going to list our top ten soap characters of all time. Some of them may surprise you!

10. Mary Ryan Fenelli, RYAN’S HOPE
They say only the good die young, and this was most certainly the case for Ryan’s Hope ingénue Mary Ryan Fenelli. Fiercely loyal to her family and stunningly resilient, Mary (played by the incredible Kate Mulgrew) stood her ground as a strong, independent woman through her rivalry for sister-in-law Delia, her overbearing father Johnny, and her rocky but loving marriage to Jack, who never fully recovered from Mary’s murder at the hands of the mob. The “ingénue” role on RH eventually went to Mary’s sister Siobhan, but the show was never the same after Mary’s death.
How many soap characters can you list that have gone from gold-digging librarians to sexy vampire slayers? One? Yep. Lucy Coe was a remarkable character that unfortunately didn’t get a proper conclusion. Lucy was that rare character that went through a great, consistent evolution from scheming vamp to caring friend to great mother to… vampire slayer extraordinaire. Who can forget portrayer Lynn Herring’s heartbreaking performance when Julie kidnapped baby Christina? The character lost her way towards the end of PC’s run, with her signature humor being sidelined for vampire slaying antics, but Lucy is a character that I would totally welcome back to General Hospital.
What soap Top Ten list would be complete without a mention of soaps’ greatest tragic hero, Luke Spencer (Tony Geary)? What started out as a short-term role as a con-man turned into an epic character that weathered everything from a weather machine looming over Port Charles to trying to settle down as a family man with little success. Today’s Luke is sad to watch, in a good way; Tony Geary has made sure that we always see the burden of guilt Luke carries for the way he shaped his family’s lives. Luke is the ideal soap character: a faded hero whose repeated attempts of self-sacrifice have left him a sad, cynical man who has one weakness: the beautiful and glowing…
7. Laura Spencer, GENERAL HOSPITAL
The other half of the greatest super-couple of all time, Laura Vining Webber Spencer Cassadine Spencer represents a class of characters not seen in today’s soaps: the princess in peril who is much stronger than anyone thinks. Genie Francis has taken Laura through rape, countless kidnappings and adventures, and more tragedies than anyone should have to endure. Like Luke, Laura was eventually undone by her inability to keep her family together and eventually broke down after being unable to handle a dark secret from her past. Now healed and living a fabulous life in Paris, Laura is the epitome of what the best soap heroines should be: a graceful, beautiful survivor
6. Bianca Montgomery, ALL MY CHILDREN
Bianca is one of those soap characters that is almost untouchable; no producer would dare recast the role that Eden Riegel made her own nearly ten years ago. Even before the amazing Riegel took over the role, Bianca played the important role of making Erica Kane grow up. From overcoming anorexia to the quiet, profound moment in which Bianca came out as a lesbian to Erica on Christmas Eve, Bianca has been through it all. Her brutal rape at the hands of Michael Cambias and her ensuing struggle to reclaim her identity and find the power to love the daughter born of the violent incident solidified Bianca as one of the most powerful women in daytime history.
5. Lucky Spencer, GENERAL HOSPITAL
The first child of the legendary Luke and Laura, Lucky epitomized the greatest parts of his parents; his father’s sense of adventure and heroism, and his mother’s warmth and compassion. Jonathan Jackson created the role of Lucky when he was a little boy, and we had the opportunity to watch him grow from a happy-go-lucky child to an angry but gentle young man who couldn’t get past his parents’ past mistakes. Lucky’s tender treatment of rape victim Elizabeth still resonates to this day, and although the character has been battered by less and less competent writers (and actors), Lucky has remained a good, decent man; an unfortunate rarity on soap operas.
4. Erica Kane, ALL MY CHILDREN
You knew it was coming. However overrated some may feel she is (I’m looking at you, Lauren!), no one can deny that Erica Kane – and fabulous portrayer Susan Lucci – is the epitome of a soap opera leading lady. Growing from a spoiled, bratty teenager to an international superstar, Erica represents the glamorous fantasy of so many, but has also become relatable to many, from a victim of rape to a substance abuser to a mother of a gay child. Erica may be larger than life, but when she comes down to earth, the world is waiting with baited breath to see what she’ll do next.
3. Delia Reid, RYAN’S HOPE
Before there was Susan, Bree, Lynette and Gabrielle there was the original Desperate Housewife, Delia Reid. All Delia ever wanted was to have love and family, and she found both of those things in the Ryan family. Married to Frank but madly in love with Patrick, Ilene Kristen took what could have been a grating, annoying nuisance into a complex, troubled woman plagued with feelings of codependency and abandonment. That Delia eventually came out of her needy shell and became a fun, feisty anti-heroine by series end. (Honorable mention goes to Ilene Kristen’s other soap character, the nutty, fabulous Roxy Balsom!)
2. Dorian Cramer, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
At once a villainess and heroine, Robin Strasser’s Dorian Cramer has gone through an awful lot, most of it out of insecurity and jealousy. Whether declaring revenge on Viki for ruining her various marriages or calling a Cramer girl family meeting, Dorian has emerged as a Llanview citizen to be reckoned with. That she can be hilariously funny with boy-toy David Vickers and tragically lonely in the wake of true love Mel Hayes’ death – and back again – shows how significant and powerful Dorian is and how integral she is to OLTL. And who could forget her rivalry with…
1. Victoria Lord, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
Viki’s been through it all – rape, countless husbands, vicious rivalries, multiple personalities, defying death (twice!), and much more. Viki is the ultimate soap character; in 2009 we are still learning what makes her tick and we are still waiting with pins and needles to see if her latest marriage will last. From her exciting trips through Heaven to the crushing, devastating revelation that her father had molested her as a child to her finally finding happiness as a waitress in Paris, Texas, Viki has been through it all and will definitely be through much more as the years go on. Who can forget Viki’s meltdown in the Lord mausoleum last year? It’s moments like these that we see how stunning and powerful soap operas can be.

10. Sonny Corinthos, GENERAL HOSPITAL
In 1993, this cutie pie, dimpled faced, mobster by the name of Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, Jr. arrived to Port Charles, and the town would never be the same. In fact, Sonny’s life, and his involvement with the mob has been a front burner story for over sixteen years. While I’m in no way endorsing the current state of General Hospital fascination with the mob, Sonny Corinthos is definitely a soap character that will go down in the history books. From his countless relationships with many women, his abusive past with his stepfather, mother issues, and finally his tumultuous relationship with Carly Roberts, Sonny’s life is filled with so much drama, your dying(pun intended) to find out what happens next. Did I also mention that he is bi-polar? Phew. It’s no wonder, that no matter how many times he tells his current woman(Brenda, Lily, Angel, Reece, Carly , Emily, Kate, Claudia, and Olivia) he loves them, and wants to get out of the mob, you can’t help but to believe him every.single.time. Call it the Corinthos charm, women everywhere(sometimes I catch the Corinthos charm also Hi Skate!) swoon when Sonny puts his heart, and connection to the mob on the line for the woman he is currently in love with.. (LA side note: will save the misogyny of Sonny for another blog  )

9. Carly Snyder, AS THE WORLD TURNS
Thank you Rosanna Cabot for allowing your sister to search for you in 1995. Carly Tenney Snyder arrived in Oakdale, with a mission. It seems the central theme in Carly’s life is looking. Whether she was looking for a one night stand(Hi! Mike Kasnoff) or looking for “love” in all the wrong places(Brad Snyder, John Dixon, Hal Munson) Carly found true love with Jack Snyder. Every Carjack shipper knows the trials and tribulations of their relationship, However it’s Carly’s ambition, through her schemes, her quest to be successful, that has fans tuning in day in and day out, to see how Carly is going to get out the latest mess, that she most likely created. Carly is easily one of those characters that you love to hate, but you can’t help to root for her when she succeeds, and cringe for her, when she usually is about to mess the best things in her life. Oakdale would never be the same without her.

Connie Falconeri aka fashionista icon, Kate Howard, arrived to Port Charles in 2007. On her very first day, she sparked/fought with Sonny. While fans grew weary of the newest addition to Sonny’s ever evolving love life, Kate was different. She was smart, funny, classy, and had a believable childhood history with Sonny. Kate had a special kind of chemistry with Sonny, in a way that most of his previous women (sans Carly and Brenda) did not. Skate became a popular pairing in a short amount of time, and sadly died in such a short amount of time. At a time, when General Hospital was consumed by the mob stories, it was refreshing to see Kate take on the Devil Wears Prada persona at the workplace, introduce Sonny to things such as art, and when Sonny said he was going to leave the mob for the 8,531 time, you actually believed him. Plus, Kate had a haircut that could offer peace in the Middle East! Today Kate is regulated in the background, making guest appearances; it’s shame because Kate Howard had so much potential to becoming a soap heroine. Please Bob Guza and TPTB, bring Kate back!

7. Drucilla Winters, THE YONG AND THE RESTLESS
Drucilla “Dru” Barber Winters is definitely a one of a kind character. She started out as an illiterate teenager, who ran away from her mother, and later became a permanent resident of Genoa City. Dru learned how to read, with the help of Nathan Hastings, and became a powerful force in GC. With her fierce loyalty to her family and friends, her witty and quick put downs, Dru was definitely soap character not one to mess with. It was great to see a front burner African American woman on daytime, since they are so little (Hi Angie and Lexie!) Although sometimes I despise this phrase, it fits so perfectly. Dru was the definition of “ghetto fabulousness” which sometimes could help or hurt her in different situations. With the drama that Sharon, and her daughter Lily is going through right now, they (and the citizens of GC) could use some Dru in their lives. Victoria Rowell definitely played this character so honestly and earnestly. She is missed in daytime.

6. Reva Shayne, GUIDING LIGHT
You might have never in your life watched Guiding Light, but somehow, someway, you know who Reva Shayne is. Maybe you saw a blurb in a magazine, maybe you had a friend or family member who watched GL, but trust me when I say this, Reva Shayne is definitely a household name. In the 80s, Reva was best known for one of my top soap moments, in which she baptized herself the slut of Springfield! Another soap stopping moment, Reva drives off the bridge in Florida, yelling “I’m coming Bud!” These are definitely soap defining moments. Reva was a larger than life, brassy, (cloned!) woman. A great soap character and a force to be reckoned with, Reva Shayne will go down in the soap books as one of Daytime (and mine) greatest characters.

5. Lila Roberts, ANOTHER WORLD
During the final stretch of Another World, one of my favorite soap vixens, turned soap heroine (isn’t that how it always goes?) Lila Roberts arrived to Bay City. Lila Roberts tried to reclaim her former husband Bobby Reno, but what she ended up doing is capturing the heart of widowed, all around good guy Cass Winthrop. Lila also bedded Matthew Cory, and ended up having his baby. Lila possessed a classic southern belle beauty, a classy, yet a scheming demeanor, but behind that southern sass, was a little girl who was just looking for love. In the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, sparks fly and boom! They fall in love. In the end, Cass and Lila became one of Bay City most beloved couples. While no one could replace Frankie, Lila showed and proved to Cass that he could love again. Their wedding was showcased in the final episode of Another World, and along with Carolyn the gorilla, millions watch as this bad girl gone good finally found true love.

4. Vivian Alamain, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
“Paradise to hell, Paradise to hell, Come in Carly.” At age eleven, there was nothing more awesome then Vivian taunting Dr. Carly Manning, as she took her “last breaths” in the coffin. The whole buried alive storyline made Vivian Alamian a legend in my soap opera world. I was fascinated how she was just so evil, how she claimed she was doing these evil things out of love for her beloved nephew Lawrence, and his son Nicky. From her classic witty remarks, her intense hatred of Carly Manning, Vivian is the type of character you can’t help but to laugh with. Vivian has a way of getting under people’s skin (Hi Kate) and as a viewer; you know you are in for a treat, when you have Vivian in a room with people she perceives as her enemies. While her exit in the early 2000s, was shaky at best, today, Vivian is back to avenge her nephew death, and the fact that Carly was the one who killed him, is so deliciously soapy because sparks fly when the two of them go at it. It’s so good having Vivian back in town.

3. Blair Cramer, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
Blair Cramer is the only character, who has changed from two different races in a blink of an eye. Remember Asian Blair? Its okay, I don’t either! What I do know is that Blair is an act first, think later type of girl. She will do anything for her kids, and hell hath no fury, like Blair scorned. Todd Manning knows a little something about Blair’s fiery passion, and her manipulations to get what she wants. Blair never backs down from a challenge, in fact, she welcomes them. Blair, deep down is afraid of being hurt, and like all soap characters, she just wants someone to love her unconditionally. Blair’s complexity doesn’t quite make her a soap heroine, but it doesn’t make her a soap vixen either. Blair’s determantion, her love for family, definitely makes her an interesting character, and no matter what she does, I find my self rooting for her. Now let’s see if Todd will finally come to his senses and realize that Blair is the one.

2. Olivia Spencer, GUIDING LIGHT
Olivia “I love sex” Spencer comes in at number two on my list. Olivia isn’t your typical poor little rich girl looking for love; it’s her complexity, her bitchiness and her vulnerability that made her a character that you could never forget. Olivia loved power, men, sex, and later, Natalia. She didn’t apologize for who she was; she plotted, schemed, in order to rise to the top. Although she had many lovers, and came between the ultimate super couple, Josh and Reva, it wasn’t until she had her baby girl Emma (fathered by Phillip Spaulding) that she learned to love someone more than herself. Olivia would later experience real, true, selfless love, with Natalia. Watching Olivia for ten years was fascinating; no one could ever deny that special vulnerability that Crystal Chappell brought to the character, a character that most people could have probably hated a lot more. You might have cringed at Olivia’s manipulations, but you could not help but admire her go getter attitude towards life. Olivia Spencer is definitely missed in daytime.

1. Hope Williams Brady, DAYS OF OUR LIVES

Hope Williams Brady is my number one, all time favorite character. She is the definition of the soap heroine. She is feisty, cute, fun, and a part of one of daytime’s all time greatest couples, Bope. In the 80s, Hope’s was the ultimate, spoiled, daddy’s little rich girl. Poor Bo Brady, he should have never offered to give her a ride home on his motorcycle that night. Hope Williams would change his life forever. So why Hope as my number 1? Easy. Let’s start with her bad traits. Hope is selfish, judgmental, and doesn’t give a damn about what she says or how she says it. It’s okay, though because those traits in her make her human. She is also fiercely loyal to her friends and family. Hope is also the first character; I fell in flove (fake love peeps! I only love family and friends!) with. Bo and Hope’s 2,000 plus fights, breakups and reconciliations later, and I still want these two crazy kids to work it out. All because Hope believes in love, so I want her to be happy. Plus, she is the only character in daytime that has died over a vat of acid thus giving her street cred on all these soap bitches in daytime.


  1. Really interesting picks. And Lauren, can't agree more with the inclusion of Kate Howard on your list.

    Kate was a complete breath of fresh air when she blew into Port Charles, and it is criminal that she has been relegated to only sporadic appearances every now and then. The show, and Sonny, could benefit from her revitalizing presence, not to mention Megan Ward's incredible talent!

  2. Julie,
    Agree 100% about Kate/Megan Ward. It's a shame that no one has snatch up this talented actress ,and rescued her from recurring hell on GH. I can easily see her as a Jennifer Horton(if Missy Reeves isn't available) recast. I miss feisty Kate!

  3. I've wondered the same thing, Lauren. That some other show hasn't grabbed Megan Ward blows my mind almost as much as tptb at GH not utilizing such a fascinating character, but wow, I'd never even thought about Jennifer Horton. Megan could so pull that off and then some.

    How cool would it be to have my two favorite daytime actors playing cousins. I never did comment that I absolutely love Hope Williams Brady. Megan and Kristian in scenes together would be priceless.