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When love reforms a soap-opera bad guy — and when it doesn’t

“I thought I could change him,” whimpered pretty much every woman on daytime over the past few weeks, be it General Hospital’s Sabrina about her low-level mobster baby-daddy or Alexis over her high-level mobster one-night stand/baby-daddy turned husband. It also applied to The Young & the Restless’ Meredith who, as a prison doctor, should have known that maybe inmates are sometimes not the most straight-and-narrow of citizens, and The Bold & the Beautiful’s Katie, who’d seen Bill cheat on a multitude of women, but was shocked — shocked! — when he did it to her!

You can’t really blame the ladies. Soap operas are chock full of tales of very evil, kind of evil, and vaguely evil men reformed by the love of a good woman. If it happened once, it can happen again, right? Check out our top three favorite examples of when it worked … and when it didn’t.

When It Worked:
Franco on General Hospital, Todd on One Life to Live

Franco and Todd are not the same person. In fact, they aren’t even on the same show. (Not that it stopped these crossovers.). But Franco and Todd are both played by Emmy-winner Roger Howarth. And they are both horrible, horrible people, who somehow became romantic leading men. Todd is a convicted rapist. Franco only made Sam think he’d raped her and that she could be pregnant with his child. But he also set up a teenage Michael to get raped in prison, so he might even be ahead of Todd in that regard. Yet, women fell all over themselves to “fix” both Todd and Franco through the redemptive power of their love. Michael’s mother was even going to marry Franco! Both Alexis’ Julian and Sabrina’s Carlos were lightweights in comparison. No wonder they thought they could work the same miracle.

Carl on Another World
Carl came to town to destroy Mac. He ultimately was responsible for his death. He stalked Mac’s daughter. He kidnapped and terrorized Mac’s friends and family. He married Mac’s widow. Because Rachel saw the good in him and decided to save him. Within a decade of wreaking havoc all across Bay City to the point that the entire town got together to make it seem like they’d poisoned him in order to get him to confess to his crimes. But Carl and Rachel were gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, reciting Elizabeth Barrett Browning poetry, and welcoming a pair of twins into the world long, long, long after medical science suggested it might be possible.

Steve aka Patch on Days of Our Lives
Once there was a thug called Steve
He liked to scowl and he liked to thieve
He wore a Patch, it was his name
To Hope, a (fake) acid bath he gave.

And then, one day, he took a stand
Nazis, yo, those dudes are BAD!

So then redemption did commence,
Kayla begged, “Give him a chance!”
It’s all because of childhood rot
(And did I mention he was hot?)

Post hoodlum Steve became a spy
And bade his family good-bye
They thought him dead for many years
Then — look! — he suddenly reappears

He’s killed for bad, he’s killed for good
He terrorized the neighborhood
Once celebrated for his meanness
Now Steve is all about his “Sweetness”

When It Didn’t:
Stefano on Days of Our Lives
The only reason Stefano isn’t currently burning in hell for all of his crimes, including murder, kidnapping, torture, and endless shouting, is because every time he’s “died” it hasn’t taken. Stefano constantly has illegitimate children popping up, so we have to assume he’s been involved with a variety of women. But not a single one has been able to redeem him. Then again, not a single one has ever wanted to. Maybe they realize he is much more entertaining the way he is.

James on As the World Turns
When James first arrived in Oakdale, he was a Swedish playboy prince involved in some shady business dealings, but viewers were still led to believe he had genuine feelings for the mother of his son, Barbara … and for his mistress, Margo (yes, post-1980s viewers, the straightlaced cop may not have talked about it much, but she used to be James’ piece on the side, and was genuinely head-over-heels for the guy; seems she, Barbara, and Emily really have similar tastes in men). But it wasn’t until a fall from an airplane turned James into a seemingly unkillable supervillain, that any concept of being reformed by the love of a good woman went out the window. Sure, he still had women panting over him, but James wasn’t about to give up his wicked, wicked ways for anyone.

Sonny on General Hospital
Sonny didn’t need to be reformed because Sonny is perfect the way he is. All those murders he orders are only because, as Port Charles’ good mobster, it is his solemn duty to drive bad mobsters out of his territory. Like a traditional abuser, following nearly every bout of violence, Sonny screams at his victim, “Look what you made me do!” At which point the victim dutifully apologizes. Sonny didn’t need a woman to reform him. Certainly not one who’d wear a wire so she could turn him in to the Feds. What Sonny needed was a woman who’d understand that he was the true hero in any scenario, be it hanging a man on a meat hook so they could get custody of his son, or getting said son shot in the head. Sonny doesn’t need a woman to make him a better man. Because Sonny is already the best man there ever was.

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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