Read the Room, People: 30 Couples the Soaps Tried (and Failed!) to Force Fans to Like
It takes two, yes. Not just any two, however.
Creating a supercouple is hard. We get that. It’s a magical combination of not only good writing and acting but that elusive something extra that inspires a viewer to lean ever closer to their TV to better hear what’s being said.
Even a super-romantic script can’t make that happen. Nor can strong performers alone. It requires lightning in a bottle, that convergence of swoon-worthy dialogue, stars shining brightly and that spark of chemistry that says with a gasp, “Oh, we’re really on to something here!”
When it happens, it’s thrilling to watch. When it doesn’t… erm… significantly less so.
Unfortunately, sometimes our soaps are a little slow to give up on an idea. That’s why even though Bold & Beautiful viewers mostly want to see Carter back in Quinn’s orbit, the show still has him circling Paris. That’s why despite the fact that General Hospital has shown us what a cute couple Austin and Britt would be, he’s still being pushed toward Maxie. That’s also why Days of Our Lives seems to be forging forward with a Rafe/Nicole pairing despite the fact that they’re far more interesting with Ava and EJ, respectively. And it is, we can only presume, why Young & Restless keeps having Noah obsess over Tessa long after the point at which we’ve forgotten they were even a lukewarm duo to start with.
It’s been like this for ages, too. For every couple that becomes super, they’re are a few that the soaps insist are hot, hot, hot when they’re just not, not, not. See for yourself as we review a bunch of less-than-dynamic duos in the below photo gallery.
<p>Ugh. Even looking at this photo pains us. What possessed the soap to try to pair Kimberly’s true love with Steve’s true love is… ugh. Ugh all over again. Seriously, whatever possessed the powers that be was more heinous than the demon that took over Marlena’s heavenly body not once but twice.</p>
<p>Since there are (cough) only 12 people in Los Angeles, we understood why the designer (then Ronn Moss) might contemplate forging a relationship with the young woman that he once thought was his daughter (then Jennifer Finnigan). But then we realized… ew! Ew all over again! And finally, we said, “What the [bleep] is wrong with you, <em>Bold & Beautiful</em>? Get some new characters already!” Ew!</p>
<p>We get it. We get it. The soap was only using the endlessly annoying bad guy as a delaying tactic before it paired Kirsten Storms’ enduring heroine with true love Nathan. But that didn’t make the couple’s relationship and engagement any less odious or frustrating. Heck, we still wake up in the night screaming, “No, Maxie! Step away from the shaggy man! <em>Away</em>!”</p>
<p>Were we supposed to invest in the coupling of Phyllis’ lover and daughter? If so, man, we got it all wrong. ’Cause mainly, we were grossed out by the notion of the two of them getting to know one another in a biblical sense, no matter the trumped-up reasons that they thought it was a great idea for them to do so.</p>
<p>They were so pretty, just the prettiest pair you ever did see. They were so nice, just the nicest couple you ever did meet. They were so… Oh, what channel do we switch to in order to watch paint dry? Because let’s be real, we’d all have preferred to tune in to that station than continue to watch the bland leading the bland for a second longer.</p>
<p>Theoretically, the pairing of the underdogs made sense. Why wouldn’t they seek comfort in one another after being hurt so badly by Ridge and Brooke? The trouble was, the coupling only served to reinforce why Taylor (then Hunter Tylo) and Thorne (then Winsor Harmon) had been so easily discarded by the objects of their desire.</p>
<p>Nope, some things even being attractive and blond can’t do, and one of them is generate chemistry where there is none. To this day, we’re sorry that the soap never pursued the sparks that flew between the radiant Tava Smiley and Wally Kurth, who back then was her character’s husband of convenience, Ned. (He’s still Ned, obviously, but… well, you get it.)</p>
<p>Remember when you were 12 and wondering what it was like to make out, so you kinda got busy with your forearm? That was sorta what it was like watching these two pals pair up and try to sell us, blessedly briefly, on the idea that theirs was a grand love affair. It’s OK to just be friends, guys — and sometimes advisable.</p>
<p>What the pairing of Nicole’s then-husband and sibling rival was supposed to accomplish, we’re at best unsure. However, we can say with great certainty that the coupling of the playboy (then James Scott) and his sister-in-law (Tamara Braun, now Ava) did not inspire fans to ’ship them. If anything, it landed the duo atop viewers’, erm, ship lists.</p>
<p>What’s that, you say? You don’t even remember Sydney Penny and Lorenzo Lamas being on the show, much less being a frontburner couple in the early 2000s? Exactly. We rest our case.</p>
<p>Maybe this pairing would have worked if we hadn’t already bought into Roger Howarth’s Franco with Liz. Or if we hadn’t gotten a chance to check out how well his Austin played opposite Britt. But as it was, the only people who were ’shipping this couple were the writers, who didn’t seem to see what we were: a whole lotta nothin’.</p>
<p>Gorgeous? Check. Supercouple track record? Check. Hot together? Not so much. The pairing of Adam’s half brother and “widow” made total sense on paper. But on screen? Well, sure, it still made sense. But we’ve seen more passion during commercial breaks. For, like, pain relievers and diapers. Hard pass for the long haul.</p>
<p>“Sacrilege!” cried fans of the NBC soap when, after altogether selling us on the love story of Eden and Cruz, it tried to match up the “widower” with his sister-in-law. A Martinez (later Eduardo, <em>Days of Our Lives</em>) and Eileen Davidson (Ashley, <em>Young & Restless</em>) could sell a space heater to a snowman, but even they couldn’t get us to forget the magic that was Cruz and Eden.</p>
<p>In theory, the bad girl-gone-good and good guy-gone-nowhere should’ve been soap-opera gold. She wanted to wear a halo, and he had a collection of them that was so big, you’d swear that he’d stocked up at Costco. But put them together, and it had the same effect as throwing a match in water. Pfft. Zip. Nada.</p>
<p>Their portrayers have it going on, but their characters never managed to get fans going. Maybe that’s why, aside from the in-demand actors’ busy schedules, the couple was put so far on the backburner that they fell off the stove.</p>
<p>“Too soon!” hollered Laura fans when the soap tried to move his “widower” on with Port Charles’ new Lois Lane. Eventually, he was shuttled into a more successful romance with Holly, and she, into a well-received love affair with Robert. And, of course, Demi Moore wound up doing OK for herself in Hollywood, now didn’t she?</p>
<p>For the sake of good, soapy drama, we’ll let a lot slide — but the Newman family’s omnipotent patriarch hooking up with his frequent daughter-in-law? Mm, no, that was a big step too far. And, it goes without saying, a big step in the wrong direction — for both of them!</p>
<p>We‘re all for fresh blood, new couples, hot ideas. But the storyline that was built around these two and a too-much-discussed elephant statue fell flatter than the proverbial pancake. Maybe if we’d actually seen them get involved and fall in love, we wouldn’t have wished that the Necktie Killer had put us out of our misery along with Serena.</p>
<p>This pairing made about as much sense as a Mad Libs gone oh, so very wrong. He wasn’t all that into her, she wasn’t all that into him, and you don’t need us to tell you that there wasn’t a member of the audience that was all that into them. For a show that usually nails the big moments, this felt like a little… misfire.</p>
<p>At a time when the audience was really all about “Spixie,” the show attempted to recreate the magic conjured up by Jason Cook and Kirsten Storms as <em>Days of Our Lives</em>’ Shawn and Belle by re-teaming them… to pleasant but ultimately less than enchanting results.</p>
<p>After the searing, decades-long love story the show had given Robert Newman (now Ashland, <em>Young & Restless</em>) and Kim Zimmer as Josh and Reva, his romance with his sister-in-law seemed more lukewarm than hot. Yet by golly, <em>Guiding Light</em> stuck with it long past the point that viewers did.</p>
<p>“What better way could there be to break up my daughter and her boyfriend,” thought the vixen, “than by stripping him down and loving him up?” Um, virtually every conceivable way, ma’am. Not only did viewers blanch, they never looked at Paige’s mother or beau the same way again.</p>
<p>OK, Kendall, that reaction might be a smidgen extreme. But it’s not too far off from the way that the audience responded to her true love breaking character by getting jiggy with the character that should only have ever been played by the incomparable Marcy Walker.</p>
<p>Let’s see. The young woman who was appalled by her sister’s boyfriend’s affair with married lady Quinn suddenly decides that she doesn’t want to settle down with boo Zende but hook up with the ab-fabulous CFO herself. Yeah, that makes sense. Wait, no, it doesn’t. Not at all. And the lack of heat between the twosome doesn’t help one damn bit!</p>
<p>Thank heavens for Kay, Tabitha, Zombie Charity and every other interloper in the romance of these teenage sweethearts, a dishwater-dull pairing that often left viewers reacting to their scenes the same way that she is here: by getting sleepy… so <em>very</em> sleepy!</p>
<p>When the first Mrs. Jacks was raised from the tomb, she was intended to be a grave threat to the hubby’s relationship with Brenda. But despite a splashy introduction and glam promo shots, the pairing proved to be so DOA that it, if not Miranda, was soon sent to the morgue.</p>
<p>The storyline in which Sheila stole her rival’s man and their baby is a classic, for sure. But let’s be real here: Was anybody <em>really</em> all that invested in the Graingers’ marriage… or merely the havoc that the evil nurse prescribed the ho-hum couple?</p>
<p>When the legacy characters returned to Salem, it was a big deal — or was <em>supposed</em> to be. Instead, fans responded with a shrug, and Linsey Godfrey’s character was soon moved on to one new love interest (Eric, another misfire), then another (Xander — jackpot!).</p>
<p>In a way, we got the appeal: Brooke’s son was the one man who wouldn’t dump Taylor (Hunter Tylo back then) for her mama. But the ick factor was nosebleed-high on the fling that found Phoebe’s mom shagging her ex — <em>and</em> Steffy’s future beau!</p>
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