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DramatistDreamer

Do today's Daytime Soaps even have matriarchs (and patriarchs)?

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Discussion in another thread led me to ask this question, especially to those who still actively watch/follow the remaining network daytime soaps. Days Of Our Lives is likely an exception but, as for the other remaining soaps are there truly matriarchs and patriarchs on the canvas of these soaps? 

 

Over the last decade some of us have talked about (okay complained, really) about the apparent desire to make characters younger than they are by giving them storylines more suitable for a younger generation of characters, as in The Young and the Restless. And in fact, I have a very difficult time seeing Victor and Nikki Newman as being patriarchs of the show, given what I imagine a matriarchal figure on a soap, in terms of the history of soaps.  Then again, Y&R never really illustrated the idea of a matriarch, especially with the mother figures always running away (Brooks, Abbotts) and other motherly figures being somewhat marginalized (Foster, Williams, Barbers).  John Abbott was probably the only character that I would think of resembling a patriarch on Y&R

It's been even longer since I watched The Bold and the Beautiful but with Stephanie Forrester gone, I can't imagine Brooke taking on any role resembling a matriarch.😂  And Eric (is he even still on this show?) always seemed to be in a state of perpetual mid-life crisis, with the younger model wives and girlfriends.

 

Am I wrong?  Does the idea of having a matriarch and patriarch still hold relevance on today's soaps?

 

What about the other daytime shows?  What are your thoughts?

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I think Laura has recently been doing really well as an emerging matriarchal figure for General Hospital. Despite being off and on over the years, she still has a long history, reasonably strong relationships with a fair portion of the canvas (which unfortunately characters like Bobbie, Monica etc no longer have due to years on the backburner), has her own family, is the mayor of Port Charles, is a moral center (but not totally perfect) and Genie Francis did very well in her scenes with the new Nikolas.

 

Here's hoping GH doesn't ruin it by marginalizing GF or Laura again.

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I can’t think of one example that matches what those characters used to be like on these shows.


DAYS had transitioned Maggie into that role pretty well before they went too far and had her become Daniel’s mother and marry Victor.  She had been positioned with the younger characters as a safe place to come to, even if she didn’t agree with your choices.  Marlena is like that with Will, but the rest of her stories (Hattie, super spy John) are so zany.

 

Julie will never be that, because it does not suit her character.  She will always lean into antagonism because she is quick tempered in a way Alice and Tom were not.

 

Oh GH, Lesley really does naturally lean into those characteristics, but the show did not invest in using her.  I think Bobbie makes a more natural matriarch than Laura, because Laura still ends up in over the top situations (Ryan, back from the dead shenanigans), where Bobbie has mostly been grounded in reality.
 

Traci Abbott is a pretty natural fit on Y&R.
 

They didn’t have to be elderly back in the day either.  Maureen on GL was a perfect example.  Still a vital character with her own story to tell, and also capable of being that support for others.  Eleni as originally played also fit the template and could easily have transitioned over time.  Once upon a time, I could have seen Jennifer on DAYS in this role too.  Not now though.

Edited by titan1978

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2 hours ago, titan1978 said:

I can’t think of one example that matches what those characters used to be like on these shows.

 

Do you think that the characteristics for a good matriarch/patriarch have to evolve with the times in order to be viable?  Or do you think that there are fundamental basic principles/tenets that soaps should cherish in order to have a believable matriarch/patriarch?

 

 

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2 hours ago, DramatistDreamer said:

 

Do you think that the characteristics for a good matriarch/patriarch have to evolve with the times in order to be viable?  Or do you think that there are fundamental basic principles/tenets that soaps should cherish in order to have a believable matriarch/patriarch?

 

 

This has really provoked some thoughts, so bear with my rambling!
 

I think they absolutely can and should evolve with the times.

 

When soaps started, way less women and their soap counterparts worked. Let alone in professional jobs like Doctors and Police Officers.  But I totally accept a character like Lesley on GH as a matriarch in the same way I accept Alice on DAYS.

 

Nancy and Kim on ATWT are great examples of matriarchs that still had an edge (Nancy especially).

 

Steve Hardy and Bob Hughes were compassionate but not pushovers.  AMC’s Ruth Martin (in her prime) wasn’t always a typical matriarch, even if Joe was more typical as a patriarch.

 

I think in order to fulfill these roles, what the character needs is to not be selfish and totally self absorbed.  It’s the flaw of modern soaps, so few characters are allowed to be there for each other.

 

By the 2000’s, characters like Erica Kane, Reva Lewis, Victor and Nikki Newman, Carly and Sonny Corinthos had kind of become those roles on their shows, and it just does not work.

Edited by titan1978

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Traditional soap opera matriarchs and patriarchs do not exist on any of today's soaps.  Some fans have altered the definitions of the terms to squeeze some of today's characters into those roles, but that is just wishful thinking on the part of those fans. But there are no real matriarchs or patriarchs today (Nancy and Chris Hughes, Joe and Ruth Martin, Jim and Mary Matthews, Alice and Tom Horton, etc.).

Most of the traditional soap opera archetypes have disappeared from modern soaps including the matriarch and patriarch, the wise great-grandfather or great-grandmother, the ingenue, the prince-charming, the long-term bad-girl, the long-term realistic/believable villain (Roger Thorpe, John Dixon, etc.), and the meddling aunt or mother (Liz Matthews, Phoebe Tyler, etc.)  

I suppose some new archetypes have emerged -- the bad-girl who becomes the star of the show (Reve Shane, Carly Corinthos, Carly Teney Snyder, etc.), and the mustache-twirling super-villain (Stephano Dimera, James Stenbeck, Carl Hutchins, Helena Cassidine, etc.).  There are probably additional archetypes which have emerged since the 1980s.  

Edited by Neil Johnson

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16 hours ago, Neil Johnson said:

Most of the traditional soap opera archetypes have disappeared from modern soaps including the matriarch and patriarch, the wise great-grandfather or great-grandmother, the ingenue, the prince-charming, the long-term bad-girl, the long-term realistic/believable villain (Roger Thorpe, John Dixon, etc.), and the meddling aunt or mother (Liz Matthews, Phoebe Tyler, etc.)  

I suppose some new archetypes have emerged -- the bad-girl who becomes the star of the show (Reve Shane, Carly Corinthos, Carly Teney Snyder, etc.), and the mustache-twirling super-villain (Stephano Dimera, James Stenbeck, Carl Hutchins, Helena Cassidine, etc.).  There are probably additional archetypes which have emerged since the 1980s.  

 

Reading that line, made me think of the quickly disappearing ingenue character--which seems to have faded over the past decade or so,

 

During the best of (soap) times, I think the matriarch and patriarch prototype shifted a bit in order to fit the changes in society.  The image of the matriarch that worked solely to care for home and hearth, while sometimes wagging her finger at the world faded,l while the patriarch was no longer coming home to sit in front of the hearth with pipe in mouth.

You had matriarchs with careers and patriarchs who sometimes didn't have all the answers and often they could have very active storylines.

 

Over the past few years, I could the impression that nobody wants to be viewed as a matriarch or patriarch because they may believe that they'll only be used as a "talked-to" for younger actors who will have the most interesting storylines, which is a legitimate concern for today's soaps that no longer truly know how to write inter-generational stories.

When I was a kid though, Bob and Kim Hughes were considered patriarch/matriarch (especially after Chris Hughes was no longer on the canvas, even before the death of Don McLaughlin) and had some of the most active storylines in the cast. 

 

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42 minutes ago, DramatistDreamer said:

Reading that line, made me think of the quickly disappearing ingenue character--which seems to have faded over the past decade or so,

 

Actually the ingenue character has been essentially gone from soaps for 20-30 years.  The last successful long-term ingenue was probably Lily Walsh on ATWT.  Since the 1980s very few ingenues have been successful long-term characters, and nearly all those that were brought on the canvas quickly disappeared (or gone crazy or turned bad). For example, the last two or three ingenues Agnes Nixon tried to create on AMC failed miserably and were very short term characters.  DOOL tried an ingenue character a couple of years ago (can't remember the character's name, but she was Eve's daughter).  That character proved unpopular and was killed off in less than a year.  Today, soaps just take a bitch/bad-girl character and give her the romance and the perils of Pauline stuff.  Good girls are considered boring.  

Edited by Neil Johnson

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1 hour ago, Neil Johnson said:

 

Actually the ingenue character has been essentially gone from soaps for 20-30 years.  The last successful long-term ingenue was probably Lily Walsh on ATWT.  Since the 1980s very few ingenues have been successful long-term characters, and nearly all those that were brought on the canvas quickly disappeared (or gone crazy or turned bad). For example, the last two or three ingenues Agnes Nixon tried to create on AMC failed miserably and were very short term characters.  DOOL tried an ingenue character a couple of years ago (can't remember the character's name, but she was Eve's daughter).  That character proved unpopular and was killed off in less than a year.  Today, soaps just take a bitch/bad-girl character and give her the romance and the perils of Pauline stuff.  Good girls are considered boring.  

Sabrina on GH was very similar to this type of character and the fans hated her.

 

I get that some of these actors might have fought turning into the matriarch/patriarch.  But look at DAYS.  Alice and Tom are still in their shows top 20 episode counts of all time.  Every regime used those characters until they passed away in real life.  There should be room on a show today for similar parts.

 

But times were different back then.  In the 1980’s MTV and young people helped people like Tina Turner, Steve Winwood, Starship, Heart, etc have huge careers again while in their 40’s.  I cannot imagine young people rallying behind something like this now.  Partly because of inherent ageism, and partly because they are catered to in media like they were not back then.

Edited by titan1978

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1 hour ago, Neil Johnson said:

 

Actually the ingenue character has been essentially gone from soaps for 20-30 years.  The last successful long-term ingenue was probably Lily Walsh on ATWT.  Since the 1980s very few ingenues have been successful long-term characters, and nearly all those that were brought on the canvas quickly disappeared (or gone crazy or turned bad). For example, the last two or three ingenues Agnes Nixon tried to create on AMC failed miserably and were very short term characters.  DOOL tried an ingenue character a couple of years ago (can't remember the character's name, but she was Eve's daughter).  That character proved unpopular and was killed off in less than a year.  Today, soaps just take a bitch/bad-girl character and give her the romance and the perils of Pauline stuff.  Good girls are considered boring.  

 

I don't know about that, Y&R had a series of incredibly popular ingenues in Sharon, Mac, Lily and Colleen in the 90s and 2000s. All good girls in extremely popular pairings.

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4 minutes ago, Darn said:

 

I don't know about that, Y&R had a series of incredibly popular ingenues in Sharon, Mac, Lily and Colleen in the 90s and 2000s. All good girls in extremely popular pairings.

And Days had Belle, GH had Emily and Georgie (although they did kill them both off), GL had Tammy, etc.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, titan1978 said:

And Days had Belle, GH had Emily and Georgie (although they did kill them both off), GL had Tammy, etc.

 

 

Yeah! And OLTL had Jessica and Starr (unfortunately), AMC had Dixie and Bianca. To say Lily was the last ingenue is just incorrect.

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I consider McKenzie (Mac) Browning on Y&R to be an ingenue.  Also, I don't know what "successful" means in terms of a characterization.  If the character existed at all would be successful, imo. 😀 Sharon Collins was definitely an ingenue (albeit mixed with heroine tendencies) in her earliest days. The other Lily (Winters) was something of an ingenue, albeit a largely marginalized one.

 

I do agree though, that on today's soaps, the ingenue would be considered boring. Also, compelling storylines for young women of a certain age (teenage to early 20s) seems to be lacking-which is why I contextualized my comments to 'over the last decade' or so. 

 

Back on topic though,

 

I was curious to hear people's opinions on the existence (or lack thereof) of the matriarch and patriarch figures on soaps because I believe that soaps, at their best, told stories that were inter-generational and I think that somewhere along the way, the balance got tipped and those types of stories went missing. 

But yeah, I'd agree that a lot of soap 'stock characters' have gone by the wayside in the last 15 years or so. 

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I think we all probably have slightly different definitions of the term ingenue.  And perhaps even different definitions of the phrases "long-term" and "successful."  And remember, just because a character is a young female, a good-girl, or even a legacy-character, doesn't necessarily make her an ingenue. Ingenue has a more specific definition that includes innocence (not necessarily sexual innocence), vulnerability, and often some level of victimhood, among other descriptions.  I would agree that some of the characters mentioned in the last few posts started off as ingenues, but some were rather short-term, some came-and-went several times, and some fairly quickly morphed into something else -- all of that prevents me from referring to some of them as "successful" ingenues..  I would agree Lily Winters was an ingenue who stood the test of time without morphing.

 

When I brought this archetype into the conversation, I was thinking of the traditional soap opera ingenue which historically includes characters similar to Alice Matthews, Tara Martin, Nina Cortlandt, Missy Matthews, Victoria Winters, Lily Walsh, Franny Hughes, Lily Winters, etc.  And there have been extremely few long-term characters similar to those since the 1980s.  Of course, my definition of the term ingenue is influenced by my age.  And yours, no doubt, is influenced by your age. There is really no right or wrong answer, unless we are all using the same definition.  

Edited by Neil Johnson

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I think the matriach/patriach characters disappeared from soaps for a variety of reasons.

 

One being the emphasis on younger characters at the expense of older folks. Young characters have always been at the forefront of soap stories way back to Penny Hughes/Pat Matthews/Julie Olsen/the Bauer boys etc.

The difference being the value set on those older characters who had a perspective on what the younger ones were doing.

The elder Hughes, Matthews, Bauers etc were prominent throughout as they advised,questioned and fretted about the younger characters.

 

As the actors playing those roles aged and passed away, the next generation wasn't groomed to take their place as soaps began dismantling the core families and characters who should have stepped into the matriach/patriach roles were written out  for being too old - Pat/Russ/Alice Matthews.Bill and Laura Horton, Mike Bauer etc

 

The emphasis on youth pervaded the soaps in another way as actors in their 40's and beyond projected a far more youthful look than previous generations. Frances Reid and MacDonald Carey were in their 50's when Days began and perfectly acceptable as parents and grandparents. Compare Reid at 51 to Michelle Stafford who is now 54 for example.

 

Also the shows continued to give the same characters front burner stories Jack Abbott/Victor Newman/Marlena Evans way beyond what was necessary for those characters. Logical character depictions went out the window to keep them front and center when they should have been eased into strong supporting roles.

 

 

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