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Daytime Opinion Article


Soaps Recasting by Suzanne

Actors are an important part of TV shows, especially daytime soaps.  Writers, directors, producers, etc. are all important, too, but for those of us who sit at home and watch the show, the actors are a major factor.  Even if the writing sucks, if you like the actor, you will usually watch the show.  At the same time, if you hate an actor, good writing might not make too much of a difference in whether you like the show or not, if you hate the actor.  In primetime, it's possible that the actor has even more of an effect, in some ways, since they are not all ensemble shows like soaps. If you don't like the actor who plays Will or Grace, you probably won't watch "Will & Grace".

In soaps, we watch five days a week.  Soap fans get really committed to their shows and get really attached to the actors and the characters they play.  There are many stories about soap fans who have trouble distinguishing sometimes between the actors and the parts they play. If they see an actor in the grocery store, they sometimes yell at them for something their character has done. I don't know how often that really happens, and I hope that most soap fans have a little better grasp of reality. However, I do believe that when soap fans love a character, they probably love the actor, too, even though they have no idea whether the actor is even a nice person or not.  When actors appear at fan events, they are usually on their best behavior and trying to be as nice as possible to fans, too, because they know their jobs may depend on it.  So even if a fan meets an actor, they don't really know if the person they are meeting is the real person or not.  And of course they are actors, which means they could be, er, acting.

Anyway, my point is that the actors are really important to the show and to their roles and thus the connection to the fans. Many "suits" in charge of soaps try to deny this because they don't like the actors to think that they are special (so they won't ask for more money).  They like to say that every actor is replaceable.  But that's really not true.

Even if an actor is recast successfully by another actor, it doesn't mean that the new actor will have the same devoted fan following that the previous actor did. It also affects the characters' relationships are on the show.

For instance, they have recast Carly on General Hospital four times now. Personally, I loved Sarah Brown, the original Carly. However, I had a hard time buying her with Sonny because she seemed like the last person he would be with. The actors were great together and had wonderful chemistry, but I just had trouble with the story.  But then when they recast her with Tamara Braun, she was so different that I didn't really think of her as the same Carly.  I should add that I have a hard time thinking of the new Carly as the one who was Sonny's wife, too.  When they made them do scenes together when she first came on, they had no chemistry. I must not be the only one who thinks so, since they are rarely seen together any more.

Another good example is Austin on Days of Our Lives. I loved the original Austin, Patrick Muldoon, and his chemistry with Carrie. To be fair, he had chemistry with everyone, even the actress who played his sister (Lisa Rinna).  He was just wonderful and gorgeous. Then he was replaced with Austin Peck. Now, I'm sure Peck is a wonderful person, but I can't stand him as Austin Reed and i have never liked the chemistry with Carrie at all. I can't buy him as Austin, he's not a good actor, and so I can't buy the relationship. I don't like him with Sami, though, either, or any of the other actresses they paired him with.

I'm sure that many other fans think the same way about actors who are recast.  The examples I gave with Sonny/Carly and Austin/Carrie show that the way fans think about couples are affected by recasting. Personally I don't really care too much who Sonny is with because I love Sonny :) But I do prefer her is with someone attractive that he has chemistry with.  I don't care if they recast Brenda, if they do a good job because he is the important one to me.

On Y&R, the role of Mac has been recast three times, so we really don't care much about her any more.  I was just starting to like her with Kevin, though, when they fired her, so that's a shame.  It took me a long time to get used to the new Jack, but now he's the only Jack I think of.  Y&R usually does a pretty good job of recasting and they seldom do it as often as other soaps. The recasting of Ashley (three times), Daniel, Jill, Phyllis, Lily, et al. were never a problem for me and I doubt most people cared.

On Guiding Light, I still can't accept the new actress who plays Cassie...the actress is fine, but she just looks too young to me. She looks more like Tammy's sister than her mom.  It didn't take me long to get used to the new Lizzy because that actress has worked very hard to make that role her own and it has really worked.  She is probably an even better actress than the previous one.  Marina was a pretty good recast, too.  Those are the only recasts I have seen on GL because I haven't watched the show very long.  So recasts of Dinah and Alan-Michael did not bother me.

Producers, writers, directors, head of daytime, etc. take note!! Don't recast popular actors unless you really have to!  Give them whatever they want to stay.

Page updated 12/27/11

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