Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
The teen scene has never been a fan favorite on any soap opera. Nevertheless, writers continue to develop plots for that minute fan base every summer. In the process, they lose those fans who have been faithful viewers for twenty-plus years.
Probably one of the most useless storylines that is re-created, is that of teens partying and engaging in adult themes. While it is plausible that many of today's teens are on the fast-track, it remains an deplorable act to promote such behavior.
Days of Our Lives recently ran a story involving several teen characters. The premise was to depict one of the characters as a criminal, while the others had no knowledge of his behavior. However, the story was grossly guided. The character, Jeremy Horton, came to Salem on the arm of his girlfriend, Stephanie Johnson. Stephanie left Salem last year as a strong and wholesome gal. She returned as an immature, spoiled brat who throws temper-tantrums when things do not go her way. She was being used and abused by Jeremy - something totally out of character for her. The entire storyline revolved around her and Jeremy having sex or of him belittling her. Such abuse does occur in our society, however, the viewers were never given an opportunity to see Stephanie's growth as she overcame Jeremy's abuse. The story was dropped as quickly as it had begun. The underlying message that was sent to young viewers was that a criminal can escape as long as he has "a name" and that abuse upon a woman is an acceptable act.
Soap operas are in a position to depict characters with real problems and to highlight a character's growth and strength as he or she overcomes such obstacles. That type of writing is powerful and sends a message to our young people that they are not alone and there is always an answer, but that an answer may not always be readily apparent. Fans of Days of Our Lives were not given an opportunity to draw upon the strength of one woman who became empowered as a result of her experiences. Instead, they continue to allow this character to be abused sexually as opposed to emotionally in yet another botched storyline revolving around the teen scene. Perhaps one day, the writers will realize the opportunities that they have missed and move to re-script very important subject matter that involves teen issues.