I’m Jealous That ‘DAYS’ Gets Holiday Movie
‘Days of Our Lives’ is having its moment and could be saving the genre as we know it. This soap opera blogger and die-hard ‘General Hospital’ fan couldn’t be happier- or more jealous.
I have to say this: I would not have bet in a million years that ‘Days Of Our Lives” would be in the position that the 56 year old soap opera now finds itself in. The crown jewel of NBC’s daytime line-up has flown to the top of the ratings charts as often as it has found itself the least watched soap opera. Through ups-and-downs, ‘DAYS’ has soldiered on and it makes me incredibly jealous.
From becoming the first hour long daytime drama to keep up with the rising demand of viewers in the 70s , ‘DAYS’ was gasping for air by the end of the decade as ABC took control of daytime. Things looked bleak for a time, but by 1988 NBC was able to leapfrog past ‘All My Children’, ‘Young & The Restless’ and my own personal favorite, ‘General Hospital’ for number one. Sure, it was only for one week to celebrate the wedding of Patch and Kayla, but its a testament to the resilience of ‘DAYS’.
NBC’s MVP Soap has seen ups and downs
The fact that the NBC soap has been able to capitalize on its strengths seemingly out of nowhere is also punctuated by its near-consistent battle to keep the good ‘DAYS’ rolling. Just a few years after capturing number one, ‘DAYS’, was still the highest rated of the NBC soaps- but placed 8th out of the 12 daytime dramas on the air. Rumors swirled that NBC, who had made the most progressive and aggressive push to modernize the genre would soon abandon soaps altogether.
Those rumors started with the cancellation of ‘Generations” after less than two years as the first (and only) soap opera to feature its Black characters as much (if not more) than its white characters. Just two years later, NBC cancelled ‘Santa Barbara’- the ground-breaking and critically acclaimed soap it had launched in 1984. While not a complete shock (the soap had ranked just ahead of last place ‘Loving’ for the end of its run), the announcement of the soap’s demise came just eighteen months after it had won its third straight Daytime Emmy for Best Drama. When the network announced that no soap opera would be replacing ‘SB’ when it left the air in January 1993, ‘DAYS’ fans got worried.
‘DAYS’ went through literal Hell to jump to #2
Then the unthinkable happened, the ten remaining soaps began to have a decent year in 1993, after years of consistent declines. By early 1994, things seemed to be turning around, even for ‘DAYS’ which had embarked on some off the wall storytelling beginning with the burial of character while they were still alive. And then things went off the rails for daytime, thanks to OJ Simpson. The soap opera world was sent into chaos as the trial interrupted schedules without rhyme of reason and ended habit viewing for its audience that took years to cultivate. Every soap was impacted- except for ‘DAYS’.
With the help from the Devil, ‘DAYS’ went from floundering at the bottom of the charts, to clawing its way back all the way to number two. The soap would remain among the most watched through the early 2000s, before beginning its dance with cancellation again through today.
’DAYS’ has low ratings, but a bright future
Now if you have gotten this far, you may ask how I could be jealous? It is true, ‘DAYS’ is the lowest rated soap in daytime every single week. The soap opera is also hitting its lowest ratings of all time this season, just as it did last season. The show even lost viewers during the pandemic shut down when it was the only soap opera on the air. And I did start this off by saying I was shocked at the position the show is in currently. All of that is true.
‘DAYS’ is succeeding in an area that NBC can finally measure. The future of television is not habit viewing on a schedule- its addiction viewing on demand. ‘DAYS’ is proving that soap operas are not what viewers watch by default- its what they NEED and WANT as long as its accessible to them. Peacock TV has made ‘DAYS’ available to viewers and the network has marketed it as a major part of its streaming experience. Old Fans are rediscovering it and new fans are just now embracing the series.
Streaming soaps are the future, ‘DAYS’ has paved the way
By adding in quasi-stand-alone elements to a historically involved ongoing drama of a soap opera, ‘DAYS’ has changed the game. The five part limited series, ‘Days: Beyond Salem’ which showcased iconic long-running characters, characters from the past and the most popular characters on the show today the network was an experiment that was wildly successful. Most important, it proved that the soap opera is thriving on the streaming service and that by actually promoting the series, ‘DAYS’ can make money for NBC, Sony and everybody who is still invested. The best news is that everybody seems interested in continuing to invest in the genre.
The addition of a stand-alone holiday movie this year, along with the limited series makes me very jealous. It also makes me incredibly optimistic for the future of all four soap operas- and maybe daydreaming of a return of many soaps that I used to love. So this jealous ‘General Hospital’ fan is thankful for something this Christmas and its ‘Days of Our Lives’. I would not have bet on that in a million years.