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Luck of the Irish … soap-style!

St Patrick’s Day is a perfect time to ask: Just how lucky have the Irish been on American soap operas?

These days, daytime’s most prominent Irish family are the Bradys on Days of Our Lives. (Ignore the fact that one the Brady kids, Bo, was actually fathered not by patriarch Shawn, but by a Greek named Kiriakis.) We know they’re Irish because they run a pub, and because two of their boys are cops. Also because in 2007 to 2008, we got a whole storyline based on flashbacks to the “old country.”

Novice nun Colleen Brady fell for doting dad Santo DiMera (Colleen’s little brother, Shawn, was buds with Santo’s son, Stefano). When she found out Santo’s wife wasn’t quite as dead as he’d led her to believe, Colleen fled back into the arms of the church. Santo interrupted Colleen taking her vows, and she fled for a second time—right off the edge of a convenient cliff. At least, that’s what her family assumed. There was a cliff; there was her nun’s habit. What else could they possibly think?

How about that a pregnant Colleen fled to Argentina (they’ve got Catholics there too), where she placed her son in an orphanage, only to have him given up for adoption without Colleen’s permission. That son turned out to be John Black, who’d once believed he was long-lost Brady son Roman. Then he thought he was Forrest Alamain. Now, at long last, John knew who he really was! He was Ryan Brady, who’d been adopted by the Alamain family. No wonder the Bradys had long accepted him as one of their own: He was one of their own! Talk about the luck of the Irish.

Except that, in 2013, John learned that Colleen had been lied to. John wasn’t her son. Colleen’s son had died as an infant. It was all a bunch of blarney after all.

Thirteen years before the first Brady hit Salem, Agnes Nixon created a soap opera, One Life to Live, that would feature unprecedented diversity for daytime. In 1968, that meant an Irish core family, the Rileys. One of them, Eileen, was even married to a Jew! That was pretty cutting-edge stuff back then. (Actually, considering how little religious diversity there currently is on daytime, it would be cutting-edge now.)

Eileen’s brother, Joe, fell for WASP princess Viki Lord. Her father didn’t approve. The stress of loving Joe against her beloved daddy’s wishes caused Viki to develop a split personality named Niki. At least, that’s what viewers were told. Later, they learned that Niki had actually first come out when Viki was a teenager, due to her father taking Viki’s illegitimate baby away. Later still, they learned that Niki had really emerged when Viki was a child and her father was molesting her. Honestly, poor Viki/Nikki has more backstories that John/Roman/Forrest/Ryan.

Joe stood by Viki and helped her deal with her mental issues. (He also fathered an illegitimate child along the way, but hey, it’s a soap. Tese things happen.) Finally, Joe and Viki married and had a son named Kevin because, in Joe’s words, “He has the whole map of Ireland on his face.” Then Joe died. Kevin and his little brother, Joey, were eventually adopted by Viki’s new husband, Clint, and their last names were changed from Riley to Buchanan. Hopefully their Irish eyes are still smiling.

Irish families continued to pop up on daytime. The Logans of The Bold and the Beautiful are presumably Irish. So are the Williamses on The Young and the Restless (cops + Catholic = Irish, no?). And the Reardons of Guiding Light. On Another World, Spencer Harrison, the racketeer, pushed his son to be first senator, then president (nope, that certainly doesn’t sound like any real-life figures). Spencer used his memory of seeing “No Irish Need Apply” signs in the windows when he first arrived in America as justification for his less than honorable past. Ignore the fact that historical reference places those signs in the 1850s (just how old was Spencer supposed to be, exactly?). And that there is a great deal of debate as to whether they ever existed in the first place. (To be fair, Teddy Kennedy claimed he saw them too.)

But no roundup of daytime’s Irish clans would be complete without Ryan’s Hope. Here, Christmas and Easter were important holidays, to be sure. But no holiday was more important than St. Patrick’s Day, when all would gather at Ryan’s Bar to listen as Maeve sang “Danny Boy.” When the show went off the air in 1989, even though it was January, not March, Maeve sang it again in honor of her widowed son-in-law, Jack (who’d honeymooned with Maeve’s daughter, Mary, in—where else—Ireland, back in 1978) and his new bride. “Have a nice life,” she wished the crowd at the bar—and viewers—as the screen faded to black.

Last week on General Hospital, longtime ABC daytime fans got a bit of Ryan alongside their mob madness when Delia, a character who’d originated on RH, mentioned Maeve and sang “Danny Boy” to her own granddaughter, Avery (though not to the little boy actually named Danny, also on GH).

Erin go Bragh!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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