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Same Name + Same Soap = Bad Writing


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I've been playing with this theory for awhile and I would be eager to see if anyone can help me gain more evidence. 

 

My hypothesis is that a barometer for a nadir in a soap's production is when a first name gets recycled from a previously popular character.  I believe that this lack of creativity in character naming is indicative of a production team that either does not know the history of the show, or does not value the audience's long term investment in watching the show for years at a time.  Either way, these issues inevitably predict poor ratings and terrible plots.   It would be easy to argue that some names are very common, and given that most soaps take place in the mid-west there would probably be many people in town who named their children with the same first name.  However, I would counter that this is a genre filled with well written characters named Raven, Draper, and Winter, so repetition seems unnecessary, if a writing staff is innovative. 

 

Here are some examples of characters with the same first name who were introduced at a low point in the show's history.  The second one may have been more popular, but they were usually introduced during a period that fans disliked the direction of the show.  I would welcome more, but I want to hear your rationale, not just a list of repeated names.  Also, I would not include characters who were named after each other.  OLTL's Sarah Roberts was an inferior character to Sarah Gordon, but in the plot she was named after her late great aunt.

 

Another World: 

Mary Matthews and Mary McKinnon - McKinnon was a nice character played by well liked actor, but her introduction was universally panned, it involved retconning the history of two different families and lacked logical cohesion

 

John Randolph and John Hudson - Hudson was another perfectly nice guy, but the character's last name made no sense because a few years earlier we learned that his brother was born Michael Garrison and changed his surname for business purposes, thus clearly written by someone who had not been watching the show

 

Vic Hastings and Vic Strang - honestly a tossup between the two characters, but Strang was written by Corrine Jacker, a writer who is widely disliked on these boards for good reason

 

General Hospital:

Kevin Collins and Kevin O'Connor - most fans probably prefer Collins, even though his introductory storyline as a twin stalking psychiatrist was offensively bad.  However, O'Connor was launched during the horribly long and ill-plotted Laurelton murders.  During quarantine I re-watched the edit of the storyline on YouTube, the major plot point of having a bride go crazy on her wedding day as indicated by her singing Amazing Grace through the center of town was cringe inducing

 

David Hamilton and David Grey - pity Laura Spencer who had the misfortune of killing Hamilton and then disappearing because of the some forsaken story about Grey's eyes being hypnotic - a very poorly written exit for a legacy character that was never referenced upon her return

 

All My Children

Jonathan Kinder and Jonathan Lavery - regardless of the character of Kinder, there was the inspired triumvirate of Skye, Erica, and Janet that brought new life to those characters, whereas Lavery's head injury was an egregious use of over-acting and misinformation

 

One Life to Live

Lee Halperin and Lee Ramsey - a rare cross-gender case of renaming, Halperin's introductory storyline as a video dating pimp was nothing to write home about, and while we never found out if her return was planned or a production mishap of rehiring the same actress almost twenty years later, the soap was forced to changed the character's name when she was reintroduced because they were knee deep in the same-first-named Ramsey storyline which lead to the much hated "rapemance" of Marty and Todd.  

 

Megan Craig-Riley and Megan Gordon-Harrison - Craig-Riley was a baby when she died in Vicky's car on the way to the hospital causing her mother Cathy to go insane and later kidnap Vicky's son Joey, and while many will remember Gordon-Harrison more fondly, I would remind you that she was introduced to the Lord family through the Eterna storyline, which was not only criticized for its weird costumes and over the top climax, but also changed the tone of the show that a decade earlier had been filled with stories about social issues like drug addiction and racial inequality

 

Maggie Ashley and Maggie Carpenter - as much as fans like to make fun of evil twins kidnapping and taking over their sibling's lives like Maggie did to Pat, I have two words that prove the second same-named character is always more poorly conceived - circus nun  

 

Guiding Light

Ben McFarren and Ben Warren and Ben Reade - McFarren was introduced during a critical resurgence of the show's popularity whereas Warren was an example of two kinds of plots that fans dislike; a retcon and a rapist.  Reade was a poorly conceptualized SORAS of a well liked character, Reade had been a wise-beyond-his-years comic relief kid but then he returned to Springfield as a tighty-whitey wearing psychotic gigolo. 

 

Eve Stapleton and Eve Guthrie - Stapleton and her sister Rita were also part of GL during a well regarded period of its history, Guthrie was an ill-planned spanner in the already unpopular Mindy/Nick romance, she flip-flopped between being evil and being misunderstood, and no one seemed to be able to explain either her motives or mental stability

 

Michael (Mike) Bauer and Michael Burke - it takes a lot of chutzpah to not only create a doctor with the same name as one of the legacy characters on the show, but also to have that doctor be responsible for cloning the lead actress.  For those in need of translation, chutzpah is not always a good quality

 

As The World Turns

Kirk McCall and Kirk Anderson - few would argue that McCall's time on the show was necessarily a high point for ATWT, however Anderson literally disappeared without an explanation, that is what I consider bad writing in a genre that relies on exposition to try to make sense of usually very complex plots.  It was as if they were caught off guard and just dropped the ball on exiting a character from a central family tree  

 

Young and the Restless

Brad Elliott and Brad Carlton - this may be the exception that still fits the rule because it turned out that neither of them was actually named Brad.  However, while Elliott was an out of work half blind neurosurgeon, Carlton's convoluted backstory proves the second-first-name rule.  Carlton started as a gardener with a history of dating his client's daughters, one of whom was driven to such jealousy that she locked him a cage for six months, but two decades later (during a true low point in the show's history) we found out that he was actually a holocaust relic hunter named George (not to be confused with George Rawlins, the late husband of Brad Carlton's third wife Cassandra)

 

Summation

I think the lesson learned from exploring all of these reiterations is that if a production team can't plan a new character with a unique name, then you cannot trust them to plan a plot that will hold a fan's interest.

 

Edited by j swift
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I don't know if this is any evidence because it's not a first name for two characters, but when GH named Maxie's boyfriend Cooper Barrett in the mid-2000's for no reason except laziness it was very odd.  Barrett is a common last name, but it is very strange for a show to give an unrelated character the same last name as a memorable heroine who was on the show only a few years earlier and GH Night Shift was currently hinting Brenda was back in PC at the time lol.  And no one even mentioned it was a coincidence not even Sonny or Jax both of whom he worked for at different times.  I don't know if they intended Coop to be related to Julia/Brenda at any point, but there was no indication of that and it made GH come off as stupid and/or completely unaware of history.  You have a million last names to choose from lol.  And, yes, he wasn't the worst, but he certainly wasn't as good as the previous Barretts lol and gone within a year or so. 

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Y&R had John Abbott and John Silva at the same time. I don't see the big deal.  

 

Sometimes it's lazy writing.

 

Sometimes they have to change a first name to the same as the actress because the actress doesn't remember their lines. A Marry could be written off, they name a character Eileen, but actress Mary Jones screws up her lines.

 

And yep, most writers in daytime just don't look at the continuity department's memos that tell them Don't use that name in big red ink. 

 

In the case of say, Pete Shea leaves and Peter Love arrives, with those ratings, the new writers likely figured no one was really watching to notice. (Which is too bad, because I would sit through Christopher Marcantel reading the phone book, he's been a favorite actor of mine since I first watched him on Loving).

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Da Fu*ck?

17 hours ago, slick jones said:

Y&R had John Abbott and John Silva at the same time. I don't see the big deal.  

 

 

 

And yep, most writers in daytime just don't look at the continuity department's memos that tell them Don't use that name in big red ink. 

 

 

Do writers actually have that?

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21 hours ago, j swift said:

I've been playing with this theory for awhile and I would be eager to see if anyone can help me gain more evidence. 

 

My hypothesis is that a barometer for a nadir in a soap's production is when a first name gets recycled from a previously popular character.  I believe that this lack of creativity in character naming is indicative of a production team that either does not know the history of the show, or does not value the audience's long term investment in watching the show for years at a time.  Either way, these issues inevitably predict poor ratings and terrible plots.   It would be easy to argue that some names are very common, and given that most soaps take place in the mid-west there would probably be many people in town who named their children with the same first name.  However, I would counter that this is a genre filled with well written characters named Raven, Draper, and Winter, so repetition seems unnecessary, if a writing staff is innovative. 

 

Here are some examples of characters with the same first name who were introduced at a low point in the show's history.  The second one may have been more popular, but they were usually introduced during a period that fans disliked the direction of the show.  I would welcome more, but I want to hear your rationale, not just a list of repeated names.  Also, I would not include characters who were named after each other.  OLTL's Sarah Roberts was an inferior character to Sarah Gordon, but in the plot she was named after her late great aunt.

 

Another World: 

Mary Matthews and Mary McKinnon - McKinnon was a nice character played by well liked actor, but her introduction was universally panned, it involved retconning the history of two different families and lacked logical cohesion

 

John Randolph and John Hudson - Hudson was another perfectly nice guy, but the character's last name made no sense because a few years earlier we learned that his brother was born Michael Garrison and changed his surname for business purposes, thus clearly written by someone who had not been watching the show

 

Vic Hastings and Vic Strang - honestly a tossup between the two characters, but Strang was written by Corrine Jacker, a writer who is widely disliked on these boards for good reason

 

General Hospital:

Kevin Collins and Kevin O'Connor - most fans probably prefer Collins, even though his introductory storyline as a twin stalking psychiatrist was offensively bad.  However, O'Connor was launched during the horribly long and ill-plotted Laurelton murders.  During quarantine I re-watched the edit of the storyline on YouTube, the major plot point of having a bride go crazy on her wedding day as indicated by her singing Amazing Grace through the center of town was cringe inducing

 

David Hamilton and David Grey - pity Laura Spencer who had the misfortune of killing Hamilton and then disappearing because of the some forsaken story about Grey's eyes being hypnotic - a very poorly written exit for a legacy character that was never referenced upon her return

 

All My Children

Jonathan Kinder and Jonathan Lavery - regardless of the character of Kinder, there was the inspired triumvirate of Skye, Erica, and Janet that brought new life to those characters, whereas Lavery's head injury was an egregious use of over-acting and misinformation

 

One Life to Live

Lee Halperin and Lee Ramsey - a rare cross-gender case of renaming, Halperin's introductory storyline as a video dating pimp was nothing to write home about, and while we never found out if her return was planned or a production mishap of rehiring the same actress almost twenty years later, the soap was forced to changed the character's name when she was reintroduced because they were knee deep in the same-first-named Ramsey storyline which lead to the much hated "rapemance" of Marty and Todd.  

 

Megan Craig-Riley and Megan Gordon-Harrison - Craig-Riley was a baby when she died in Vicky's car on the way to the hospital causing her mother Cathy to go insane and later kidnap Vicky's son Joey, and while many will remember Gordon-Harrison more fondly, I would remind you that she was introduced to the Lord family through the Eterna storyline, which was not only criticized for its weird costumes and over the top climax, but also changed the tone of the show that a decade earlier had been filled with stories about social issues like drug addiction and racial inequality

 

Maggie Ashley and Maggie Carpenter - as much as fans like to make fun of evil twins kidnapping and taking over their sibling's lives like Maggie did to Pat, I have two words that prove the second same-named character is always more poorly conceived - circus nun  

 

Guiding Light

Ben McFarren and Ben Warren and Ben Reade - McFarren was introduced during a critical resurgence of the show's popularity whereas Warren was an example of two kinds of plots that fans dislike; a retcon and a rapist.  Reade was a poorly conceptualized SORAS of a well liked character, Reade had been a wise beyond his years comic relief but then he returned to Springfield as a tighty-whitey wearing, psychotic, gigolo.  Warren and Reade were both examples of a revolving door of head writers that did not excite fans.

 

Eve Stapleton and Eve Guthrie - Stapleton and her sister Rita were also part of GL during a well regarded period of its history, Guthrie was an ill-planned spanner in the already unpopular Mindy/Nick romance, she flip-flopped between being evil and being misunderstood, and no one seemed to be able to explain either her motives or mental stability

 

Michael (Mike) Bauer and Michael Burke - it takes a lot of chutzpah to not only create a doctor with the same name as one of the legacy characters on the show, but also to have that doctor be responsible for cloning the lead actress.  For those in need of translation, chutzpah is not always a good quality

 

As The World Turns

Kirk McCall and Kirk Anderson - few would argue that McCall's time on the show was necessarily a high point for ATWT, however Anderson literally disappeared without an explanation, that is what I consider bad writing in a genre that relies on exposition to try to make sense of usually very complex plots.  It was as if they were caught off guard and just dropped the ball on exiting a character from a central family tree  

 

Young and the Restless

Brad Elliott and Brad Carlton - this may be the exception that still fits the rule because it turned out that neither of them was actually named Brad.  However, while Elliott was an amnesiac who almost boffed his half-sister, Carlton's convoluted backstory proves the second-first-name rule.  Brad started as a gardener with a history of dating his client's daughters, one of whom was driven to such jealousy that she locked him a cage for six months, but two decades later (during a true low point in the show's history) we found out that he was actually a holocaust relic hunter named George (not to be confused with George Rawlins, the late husband of Brad Carlton's third wife Cassandra)

 

Summation

I think the lesson learned from exploring all of these reiterations is that if a production team can't plan a new character with a unique name, then you cannot trust them to plan a plot that will hold a fan's interest.

 

I hate breaking it to you but names like "Mary", "John", "Kevin", "David", "Michael" and a few others you mentioned are hardly unique. Now, suppose GL brought in a new character named Reva in 1995, instead of bringing back Kim Zimmer's Reva, that's a different story. Or if GH decided to introduce a new character named Luke? Yeah. THEN I can buy your argument. But when you are talking about names like Mary? That's a total miss!

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12 minutes ago, allmc2008 said:

I hate breaking it to you but names like "Mary", "John", "Kevin", "David", "Michael" and a few others you mentioned are hardly unique. Now, suppose GL brought in a new character named Reva in 1995, instead of bringing back Kim Zimmer's Reva, that's a different story. Or if GH decided to introduce a new character named Luke? Yeah. THEN I can buy your argument. But when you are talking about names like Mary? That's a total miss!

I agree, it's more obvious if a more unique name is used again.

Re surnames I recall when the Dobsons at GL introduced Jackie's father Emmet Scott, the question was posed was he any relation to the Scott family of the 60's who had been prominent and who's daughter Peggy was still on the show.The Dobsons professed no knowledge of those characters or Peggy's maiden name.

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Perhaps I made my post too long so the point (and humor) got lost?

 

The issue is not that some names are common.  The idea is about the re-use of first names as a red flag for a period of soap history that most fans disliked.  Because production teams that weren't creative in naming characters usually weren't compelling in their storytelling. And those teams inevitably devalued long term viewers who might recall the prior use of the name.

Edited by j swift
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Brad Eliot nearly slept with his half-sister? I’ve never heard that. I thought it was Mark Henderson who almost slept with his half-sister Lorie. Or did Bell do this storyline twice in the 70s?

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50 minutes ago, robbwolff said:

Brad Eliot nearly slept with his half-sister? I’ve never heard that. I thought it was Mark Henderson who almost slept with his half-sister Lorie. Or did Bell do this storyline twice in the 70s?

You're correct, I conflated the two and went back to re-edit the post - boffing your half-sister/half-blind neurosurgery - always confuses me

 

Now can someone please respond with some more supporting information on my hypothesis?  This topic feels like herding cats

Edited by j swift
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1 hour ago, j swift said:

Perhaps I made my post too long so the point (and humor) got lost?

 

The issue is not that some names are common.  The idea is about the re-use of first names as a red flag for a period of soap history that most fans disliked.  Because production teams that weren't creative in naming characters usually weren't compelling in their storytelling. And those teams inevitably devalued long term viewers who might recall the prior use of the name.

There isn't a connection between the two, sir (or ma'am).

And you contradict yourself. The issue to you IS THAT names are reused as being reused IS a symptom of bad soap opera.

 

And how do you link:

A) Writers creating a character with the same name as a prior character to...

B)Lack of creativity to...

C) Characters who are not popular

 

Are you saying that characters who are not popular tend to have repeated names? That would mean a writer is trying to cash in on the popularity of a prior character. I honestly can't think of an example of that. Can you honestly say that Johnathan Kinder was so mega popular that Johnathan was used as Johnathan Lavery's first name to get people to warm up to him?

 

A stronger argument is when writers link unpopular characters to established families to get the audience to like them.

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 As the old statistical saying goes, correlation does not posit a a causative relationship, thus it is a misinterpretation to suggest that the link is foundational.

 

I am merely highlighting the relationship between productions teams that re-used names and those with ill-conceived plots as evidence of regimes that devalued long term viewers in the hope of amusing my fellow soap fans.

 

If one can find evidence of a writing staff that recycled a first name from a prior team which also managed to produce a compelling plot I would be eager to read the results.  And since a binary model of gender is outdated, please feel free to refer to me as either sir or ma'am, just don't call me late for dinner.

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19 minutes ago, j swift said:

 As the old statistical saying goes, correlation does not posit a a causative relationship, thus it is a misinterpretation to suggest that the link is foundational.

 

I am merely highlighting the relationship between productions team that re-used names and those with ill-conceived plots as evidence of regimes that devalued long term viewers in the hope of amusing my fellow soap fans.

 

If one can find evidence of a writing staff that recycled a first name from a prior team which also managed to produce a compelling plot I would be eager to read the results.  And since a binary model of gender is outdated, please feel free to refer to me as either sir or ma'am, just don't call me late for dinner.

I think you sound like Billy Clyde Tuggle.

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19 hours ago, j swift said:

 If one can find evidence of a writing staff that recycled a first name from a prior team which also managed to produce a compelling plot I would be eager to read the results.  

 

On Y&R, Victor held Julia's lover Michael in a dungeon. Then about 5 years later attorney Michael Crawford showed up to represent Jill in her divorce from John and supported her through her shooting, both strong stories. Then along came Michael Baldwin, also an attorney, with his sexual harassment of Christine, another strong storyline and era.

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I’m a bit puzzled by the choices of John Hudson, Kirk Anderson, and Brad Carlton as I don’t consider them to be unsuccessful characters at all. Certainly all three were subjected to bad writing towards the ends of their runs but I’d say all three pretty much shined in their own spotlight on their own time.

 

Then again Y&R’s second major character named Kevin has sucked the life out of the show for years now lol.

 

17 minutes ago, glatwt said:

Were Nick and Mindy unpopular though? I seem to remember them being GL's it couple at the time!


They had success early on with the Blackout wedding but once Mindy was recast by the dreadful Ann Hamilton followed by the woefully miscast Barbara Crampton the pairing was a mess. But the show and the soap press kept pushing them at the time. 

Edited by soapfan770
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