We celebrate International Women's Day by honoring some of our favorite women of soaps! Read more here --->>>
Photos: ABC, NBC, CBS
On International Women's Day and throughout Women’s History Month, we remember the game-changing women who fought tirelessly for gender equality as well as honoring the women in our own lives who inspire and empower us every day. To celebrate we decided to highlight some of the most memorable and influential women on soaps!
The matriarchs of our favorite families have played a very important role throughout soap opera history. Characters like As the World Turns’ Nancy Hughes and General Hospital’s Lila Quartermaine, who were often portrayed as the loving, peacemaking mother figures we all wished for. Though we also had some phenomenal women that fought against the archetypal idea that they had to be old-fashioned just because they were mothers. The iconic Alice Horton was a grandmother to practically everyone in the town of Salem but she wouldn’t hesitate to go against the law or stand up to an adversary to help out someone she loved. Another great example is The Bold and the Beautiful’s Stephanie Forrester. Stephanie loved her family dearly...and would often take the idea of mama bear to the extreme to protect them. If there was anyone not to be messed with it was her!
They say that “great ambition is the passion of a great character…” and we couldn’t agree more! There is nothing better than watching your favorite character strive for success - personal or professional - and achieve it. Soaps have provided us some of the most determined and aspiring female characters like Erica Kane (AMC), Carly Tenney (ATWT), Reva Shayne (Guiding Light), and Blair Cramer (OLTL), who always knew what they wanted and were not afraid to go after it. Another World’s Rachel Cory and Days of Our Lives’ Gabi Hernandez are often categorized as manipulative troublemakers. And while part of that is true, we can’t always be perfect. Underneath all the schemes and lies is a drive to be more and have more that can be inspiring. Maybe we should just learn from their mistakes and go about it in a different way? LOL
Many wonderful characters have also been part of groundbreaking storylines for soap operas! In 1984, the legendary Jeanne Cooper opted to show the entire process of her facelift through her The Young and the Restless character Katherine Chancellor. The Bold and the Beautiful had a very progressive storyline when Maya Avant was revealed to be a transgender woman in 2015. Knowing the importance of representation and mainstream acceptance, actress Karla Mosley was sure to reach out to GLAAD to gain a better understanding of her character. The first same-sex marriage proposal and legal same-sex wedding on a soap opera came with All My Children’s Bianca Montgomery and Reese Williams. Their relationship is a flagship one for the LGBTQ+ audience and led to important and fan-favorite couples like YR’s Teriah, Days’ Wilson, and GH’s Pristina.
Other characters have had the opportunity to educate us through their personal and health-related struggles. Guiding Light showed us the first time a character on daytime television tackle a real-life medical issue when Bert Bauer was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 1962. The story helped women realize the importance of regular checkups and Pap smear screenings. Actress Charita Bauer also received a massive amount of fan mail from viewers who related to the storyline. General Hospital shocked fans when Robin Scorpio was diagnosed with HIV. The plot was important because it showed that the illness can affect anyone. In the years since, the soap continued to show that HIV didn’t have to be a death sentence as Robin was able to go on to live a thriving life as a doctor, wife, and mother.
A personal favorite soap trope is the heroine character. The entire existence of these women is to inspire the audience. Characters like Laura Webber, Eden Capwell, and Marlena Evans have all battled through incredible odds with an amount of grace and strength that we could only hope for. Days of Our Lives brought us incredible heroines like Kayla Brady. She was left deaf after an attack on her life and had to work through the emotional and physical trauma of being raped. She stood up to her attackers, refused to back down, and used her own experiences to educate others. The Young and the Restless’ Drucilla Barber’s story is an incredible one as well. After spending years on the streets, we watched as she grew from a street-smart young girl with nothing to being a resilient, savvy businesswoman.
Over the years, we have seen strong, ambitious, and non-stereotypical female characters that have shaped not only the history of television but us as people as well. We could go on and on about the amazing women on soaps but we’ll leave you with this. Celebrate what makes you different...what makes you strong...what makes you women!