Did every soap have a bad guy?

Discussion in 'Sundry Prime Time Soaps' started by Herofan, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    Dallas was the first to come along, and Larry Hagman was able to create a special type of evil personality that people “loved to hate.” A lot of night-time soaps started appearing after Dallas. It was the only one I watched, although I am currently watching Dynasty for the first time and am on season three. I’m curious, did every soap at that time period try to include a J.R.-type character? I have noticed that all shows that follow the popularity of another show always tries to incorporate as many of the popular aspects as possible. I always heard that Alexis was the equivalent in Dynasty, although I’m not seeing it so far. What about Falcon Crest, Knots, and the others?
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  2. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Star

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    "Knots" introduced its "JR with skirts" in Season 2 with Donna Mills´ Abby. "Falcon Crest" had, since Day One, its own female, elderly version with Jane Wyman´s Angela, and one year later, with David Selby´s Richard Channing. "Flamingo Road" had not one but two big baddies since the beginning: Howard Duff´s Sheriff Titus, and Morgan Fairchild´s Constance. And well, "The Colbys" didn´t have to do the "imitation game", because they had Katharine Ross´ Francesca, who, at least for our @Alexis, was the Devil in disguise. Don´t know about the shorter soaps...

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  3. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Both Esther Shapiro and the Pollocks themselves have said in interviews that the Pollocks diagnosed the lack of a villain as Dynasty's "flaw" and thus the character of Madeleine (that Esther was going to create for a six episode arc) became Alexis, the woman who would watch as another woman was dragged through the fields by a horse because of a rifle she shot. In that sense, J.R. was a boy scout compared to Alexis. And let's not forget that in the same episode she goes to visit Krystle, to make sure the miscarriage she wanted to cause went through.
     
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  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Season One Blake was darker, crueller and generally badder than either JR or Alexis.
     
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  5. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    All of the 80's soaps (including the short lived ones) had a villain / villains. It's pretty much a prerequisite for any soap to have an antagonist, in my opinion. Even going further back to the 60's soaps like Peyton Place and Harold Robbins' The Survivors, they had bad guy characters in there like Betty on PP and Kevin McCarthy as Phillip on Survivors.

    The only soap that I can think of that didn't initially have a "bad guy" among it's regular cast was Beverly Hills 90210. Villains did pop up in guest roles and Kelly & Brenda's antics toward each other were often less than civil. I'm open to being corrected as it's a long long time since I've last watched it but I think it wasn't until the arrival of Valerie and then Ray in season five, that there were actual bad guys among the main cast and appearing in the opening credits.
     
  6. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I've recently watched season one in it's entirety for the first time and Blake was such a dick. The great romance that is portrayed in the following seasons is such an about turn when you consider he was an abusive husband who used mental torture and sexual assault against his wife throughout the first year.
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    I'm not sure if I'd call her an out-and-out bad girl. I thought she was more like Abby Ewing, she's done some unethical things but she was always honest and realistic about her flawed character.
    Leslie Harrington on the other hand was a rat without any scruples, and Martin Peyton loved playing God. Catherine Peyton was the most evil of all, but that was revealed long after she had died.
    Either way, none of them were the traditional bullies like JR and Angela Channing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  8. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    I haven't watched a great deal of Peyton Place so I was just going by the bits and pieces that I've seen and read. I suppose, the 80's soaps were the first time that villains were the central characters of primetime shows. There's been a lot written about the rise of the antihero on TV shows in the 00's like Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos - when in fact, JR, Alexis and Angela were the original primetime antiheroes.
     
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  9. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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    If I'd had to pick an antihero from Peyton Place it would be Steven Cord. His bitterness and hunger for everything, although not completely unjustified, often put him in the nemesis camp.
    "I'm going to have it all, not because I need it but because I want it".
     
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  10. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Soaps, like most dramas, are essentially morality plays: good versus evil, which goes all the way back to Greece and Rome. I think episodic dramas and films can be more straightforward in this struggle, since the evil-doer can be thwarted within the confines of the (close-ended) story. In soaps, where you have to keep generating more storylines rather than just wrapping it all up neatly, the characters have to tolerate having the villain lingering around stirring the pot. Obviously some villains just overstep the boundaries and have to be permanently punished (i.e. written out), but when done well (JR, for example) you can keep him (or her) in the mix indefinitely, mostly because the "good" characters are also there to fight the villain. Fans get wrapped up in the battles, and the writers will gladly string out the struggles to keep fans tuning in. They can also give the villain certain positive facets that make him or her not "totally" evil, making viewers more willing to accept their presence when they show they have redeeming qualities.

    I honestly don't think a soap can draw a long-term audience without that struggle. They can bring in short-term villains to mix it up with the regular characters, like we often saw in the first season of Knots Landing, but it is obviously easier to keep track of one, main villain by adding the character as a regular cast member. If everyone gets along and there are no problems between them, it would get really boring.
     
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  11. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I think the good vs evil is actually Judeo-Christian rather than part of the classical world. In Greek tragedy, for instance, the main hero has to face his own hubris, not some external enemy. But soaps on TV appeared after they had first appeared on radio, and their forerunner was radio drama. And that hails its pedigree from Anglo-Saxon drama, with Shakespeare having charted a tradition of villains, from Lady Macbeth to Othello to Shylock. And Shakespeare also started the tradition of being so enchanted by his own villainous creation, he would get into their head and let them steal the show. Hence you have J.R. and Alexis not being the antagonists to some protagonist, but in essence the main attraction of the stories themselves. And when they are not good at being bad, the story suffers.
     
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  12. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    Very I retesting and descriptive post. I agree that every show needs an antagonist or it would be quite boring. I always thought J.R. was a special type of villain that was rather fresh at the time. He was the one people loved to hate, and as mentioned, he had enough good qualities that he was accepted. I just wondered if the other soaps tried to copy that particular formula and have their own J.R. I know some shows try harder than others. I always thought, for example, that Matt Houston was a try at Magnum P.I. An even older example was how the Big Valley and High Chaparral copied the basic formula of Bonanza.
     
  13. Marika

    Marika Soap Chat Member

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    Yeah, you're right about that. Valerie was the first villain among the main characters.

    On the 90210 reboot, Naomi and Adrianna initially were supposed to be the bad girls, but they were quickly rewritten and became the show's troubled heroines.

    Melrose Place didn't have a bad guy at first as well, and then they started appearing on every corner :D

    Models Inc. had Julie Dante, but she was rather tame compared to other villains. The character had so much potential but they wasted her on stupid love stories. Laura on Pacific Palisades was very similar to Julie.

    Dirty Sexy Money had Simon Elder and Nola Lyons but they were badly written and their antics made no sense for the most part.
     
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  14. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Thankfully they put her talents to much better use (for a while at least) on Central Park West.
     
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  15. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator

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  16. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It may be something of a Catch-22 that when TV producers are trying to sell a pilot for a soap-like show, the first thing the network often wants to know is "who's the villain of the piece?", or even "Who's the JR/Alexis/etc. of the piece?" because the networks are obsessed with categorizing everything. In order to sell the pilot, the producers might have to identify a villain (correctly or falsely) just because it's what the "money people" want to know, something familiar they can latch onto. They talk about wanting 'unique' programming, but then spend all their time trying to tuck the shows into neat little folders.
     
  17. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Almost all I've watched or read about have had one or more villain(s). Out of all of them, though, the most innovative to me was Tuscany Valley's Angela Channing, played to the hilt by the fabulous Jane Wyman. To me, what gave that character the edge was the fact that she was an older woman.
     
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  18. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    But Angela wasn't a villain, she just defended herself and the land against the intruders! :D
     
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  19. ClassyCo

    ClassyCo Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Oh, silly me. How could I have forgotten? :D:D
     
  20. Daniel Avery

    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Just a kindly, supportive grandmother offering the benefits of her wisdom to the younger family members.

    And if they choose not to follow her advice, she crushes them under the tires of her limo. But in a kindly, supportive way.
     
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