B&B: The Little-Bit-More-Than-Halfway-Through 2023 Review

For the Week of August 21, 2023
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2023 is going by fast, but in B&B World, it's going by slow, as the past seven months have basically been dominated by two stories: Bill's entrapment romance of Sheila, and Thomas as thirst trap for Hope. What's been great and not so great about these arcs, and have other characters and story points made their marks? Get a progress report from Two Scoops' Mike!

Has the first half-plus of your year been bold and beautiful? Did you seemingly tame a stallion just to get put back into the corral? Did you gaslight yourself into believing that men who torment you are hot? Did you come home just for everyone to act like you didn't? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Walton-Finnegan clan these past seven months!

My dad said it best, Scoopers! "Life is like a roll of toilet paper -- the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes." This has certainly been true for 2023, though B&B's focus on single stories for months on end does seem to slow things down to a crawl. Have those tales been worth it? We started with Sheila's bad romance with Bill, "Rome"d our way through Hope lusting for Thomas, and now we've cycled back to Sheila again.

It's time to step back and take in the 2023 that has been so far as a whole, because that's the kind of thing we do here at Soap Central. In this column, we're gonna look at the year's big picture and get into what's been great in it so far, what had its moments but could have been better, and what needed to go out with yesterday's garbage. So, if you're ready, let's Scoop '23 Top Ten Style!

THE WORST:

10. HAPPY BELATED MOTHER'S DAY

Finn has always felt a little torn about having been birthed by psycho Sheila. He could understand his wife and in-laws freaking out about the naughty nurse, but the pull of biology can be hard to ignore. By and large, though, Finn has kept a chilly distance from the woman who put a bullet in him. Which is why his sudden warming toward Sheila is a head-scratcher. He was basically fine until one hug seemed to turn his tide, and then there was Sheila pulling Kelly out of the tide that sold him even further. Finn need only look at the scar on his abdomen to know blanket forgiveness of his assailant is a no-go; it's another unfortunate example of B&B's plot-driven, rather than character-driven, stories.

9. MY KATIE. MINE. MINE!

It's no wonder Bill needed a palette cleanser after sexing Sheila as part of his plan to entrap her, but all the vinyl in his album collection must be scratched, because, post-Sheila, he went right back to Katie and his broken record attempts to win Katie back. Not only does it emasculate a very masculine character -- Katie has consistently brushed him off since 2020 -- but his constant claims that Katie is "his" only show that she's an acquisition to be obtained, not someone he's actually in love with. It would have been a much better look for Bill had he pursued like-minded Li, with whom he already had a connection. And if Katie actually ditches Carter for Bill, she's even denser than Bill is.

8. TOE-ING THE LINE

Last fall, Deacon shagged an anonymous hookup, only to learn his new benefit friend was Sheila in disguise. He ended up harboring the nine-toed fugitive but made so much noise about Sheila needing to go that it was surprising the Il Giardino customers below didn't hear him. Yet, as soon as she moved on with Bill, Deacon couldn't stop thinking about her. He even entered into an affair with Sheila behind Bill's back. Once Sheila was re-incarcerated and re-released, Deacon joyously reunited with her, only to begin worrying again about how her presence could affect his own freedom. Is the message here that Deacon only wants women when he can't have them? (That means Brooke, too, Freaky Deak.)

7. YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND FOREVER! OR AT LEAST FOR THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES

There was something super empowering about Brooke and Taylor's mutual decision to reject Ridge and become buddies instead. True, the unexpected friendship was overly syrupy at times (to the point some viewers predicted a lesbian romance between them), but after three decades of rumbling over Ridge, it was strangely heartwarming. Too bad Taylor broke her own pact by siccing Hollis and Deacon on Brooke in an attempt to clear a path to Ridge -- to say nothing of Taylor accusing Brooke of breaking it because Brooke hid Hope's momentary badmouthing of Thomas from her. Worst of all, Taylor's treachery was a total Stephanie move, not something the world-renowned shrink would even think to do.

6. WYATT'S BEEN SO LONG SINCE WE'VE SEEN YOU

Carter used to be the unmitigated king of the backburner, but now poor Wyatt is perched firmly on that throne. He's had no story since Sally took off for Y&R in 2020, which is bad enough. But more recently, Wyatt was left homeless when Taylor bought his house out from under him, and he seems to have an invisible/nonexistent love life (he and Flo got engaged in 2021, but she's been missing in action since). Wyatt is funny, smart, affable, and highly entertaining, but all he gets to do now is comment about the drama in his father's and brother's lives. And Carter got a tenth anniversary acknowledgment while Wyatt's own ten-year milestone went ignored! It's sad the solar showerer has been so unceremoniously washed away.

5. COURT-SHIP

It's hard to believe now because of Hope's unquenchable yearning for Thomas, but just a few months before she was infected with that virus, Thomas took her to court for custody of their shared son, Douglas. To begin with, Tom-Tom wasn't mentally ready to have Dougie full-time, not after a handful of therapy sessions. Then, Douglas himself got to decide where he wanted to live -- and it was with Steffy! Nice twist, but the second Hope hired Thomas back on to design for Hope for the Future, Douglas wanted his room back at Hope's and declared that he wanted to see his parents together. Looks like Douglas' apple hasn't fallen far from Thomas' tree, which is rotten all the way down to its roots.

4. AND I FEEL...LIKE I JUST GOT HOME...BUT DOES ANYONE CARE? HELLO?

Much was made at the start of 2023 about B&B bringing in the next generation of characters. So far, the only representation that pack has gotten has been Ridge Forrester, Jr., who was last seen five years ago. Did Bridge's only son immediately step in to help repair his parents' marriage? Did he find love with a new or existing character? Did he upset the Forrester apple cart by dancing to his own groove? No, no, and sort of -- R.J. did eschew the family business, but other than that, he's spent four months on the canvas, being a sounding board for half-sister Hope and otherwise commenting on her life. Used to be when a new or revamped character was brought on, a whole story was laid out for them beforehand. Guess that rule was broken for legacy child R.J.

3. FLIP-FLOPS ARE FOR FEET, NOT LOVERS

Waffle Prince Liam (Ridge is the king) had just gotten past his most recent waffle between Hope and Steffy -- his potentially having fathered Hayes after seeing Thomas kiss a Hope mannequin. Liam was pretty devoted to Hope after that, but when he saw Hope kissing a real live Thomas in Rome, he roamed straight to Steffy before his GPS could even say "recalculating." Only this time, Steffy was happily married to Finn! Liam seemed to sense his fickleness after a second lip lock; unfortunately, signing divorce papers with Hope has Liam catching feelings for Steffy again, and the ink is barely dry. Liam is pretty much on every viewer's s**t list right now, and it's really hard to find fault with that.

2. A WHOLE PACK OF "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" CARDS

Soaps have long bent the legal rules for their villains -- after all, where's the story (or the actors' contract fulfillment) if an evil one spends every waking moment behind bars? B&B, however, has overdone it, and for too long, with Gangster Number One Sheila. Bill, albeit as part of an act, put her in the clink only to pull her out, and now she's out a second time on a technicality after not even getting an actual trial. Sheila's luck doesn't just extend to legalities, though. The woman fell off a two-story balcony and got up -- without a scratch, at that. Then when she had a heart attack, it wasn't even because of her plunge. Sheila has been written as a cartoon since her first return in 2002, but by now, she might as well be literally rendered in ink.

1. THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER...

When Thomas first started jonesing for Hope in 2011, it was already gross, given their parents were married. Of course, who could forget 2019-2020, when Thomas' interest in Hope took a turn for the crazy: he kept it secret that Beth was alive, let Emma die to keep that secret, let Hope think she killed him, and nearly kidnapped her so he could have her. Sure, it was all attributed to a "brain bleed," but Thomas calling CPS on himself last year negated that rationale. In April, instead of giving her sometime stepbrother a wide berth, Hope decided Thomas was hot and could barely control her growing lust for him. One can almost accept the quasi-incestuous implications, because that's how B&B has always rolled, but Thomas' abuse of Hope is harder to forget. Was Hope having her own mental break? No, she just got tired of Liam's apparently lingering feelings for Steffy and decided she wanted a man who only wanted her, forgetting she already had that in Wyatt. The entire arc is just nasty, and not in a good Janet Jackson way. Just nasty.

Oh, but we're not done yet, Scoopers! Here's the flip side of the coin -- what has stood out most positively on our show so far this year. Dig it!

THE BEST:

10. CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS

If you thought that Il Giardino's waiter Paul Hollister, nicknamed "Hollis," is a new arrival, guess again. He's been taking orders at the posh eatery since 2016. It was only this year that portrayer Hollis W. Chambers made the jump to taking orders from Taylor and Brooke. Hollis wanted to date a Ridgeless Brooke and got encouragement from Taylor before he got to kiss Miss Brooke's Bedroom herself. Deacon's hunky buddy ultimately didn't get past first base, since Brooke walked out of the ballpark. But Hollis is a fresh face on the show, with no ties to existing families, and surely one of B&B's ladies could use his brand of beard burn. Maybe Hollis and Deacon could fight over Taylor. Or maybe it turns out Hollis is really Deacon's son "Little D"! The show would do well not to let Hollis out of its Chambers.

9. ON THE MIKE

Last year, Ken Hanes stepped back into Mike Guthrie's shoes after a twelve-year absence. Viewers from the '90s remembered Mike as Sheila's lovesick henchman, the only guy who could turn the tables (or is that turn the test tube carousels) on her. Mike reinvented himself for 2022 as a guard in Sheila's prison who helped her escape and keep Finn alive, though he ended up serving his own time for it. Mike either took or got the blame for Sheila going on the lam at the beginning of this year, and he consistently visited his coo-coo crush while they were in the pokey at the same time. Wouldn't it be great if Mike stuck around, maybe finally winning Sheila in the process? Their 30-year history alone totally pumps up their rooting value.

8. ROME IF YOU WANT TO

The show had taken its characters to Monaco several times in recent years, but it was always kind of a cheat -- both B&B and Y&R send cast there yearly for the Monte Carlo Television Festival. If memory serves, the Forresters et al hadn't been on a proper remote since Australia in 2017 -- which changed this summer as they took Italy by storm. Visually, it was everything a B&B remote is known for, showing off Rome's stunning vistas and panoramas. Storyline-wise, it was kinda meh -- Hope giving in to her lust for her stepbrother and Ridge taking Brooke back because he looked through a keyhole. But it was nice to see a real trip again, and Andrea Bocelli even sneaked in for an appearance. Grazie!

7. HE IS, IN FACT, HEAVY, AND HE'S MY BROTHER

Thomas thought he had it made when Douglas decided to bunk with his Aunt Steffy -- surely it meant that Thomas had full access to his son. (Yeah, but Thomas has changed.) Little did Thomas know that this sister was doin' it for herself! Steffy put Thomas on blast, warning him that he couldn't just waltz in and that seeing Douglas was by appointment only. Given how much Steffy has sided with Thomas over the years, and even taken part in his schemes (at least where Bridge and Liam are concerned), it was refreshing to see Steffy hold her ground against her often commandeering brother, and for the sake of his little boy, to boot. Turns out that both motherhood and auntiehood agree with her.

6. ON THE FEAST OF STEPHEN

Brooke has always been the standout Logan, with her sisters at a respectful distance and her parents even further behind. That's what made it nice when papa Stephen, who was first introduced in 1988, showed up for a surprise visit this year. Mr. Logan, in the visage of Dallas great Patrick Duffy, hadn't been seen since 2010, when he dumped Pam, whom he was only romancing to get back at Stephanie, anyway. This year, Stephen came home free of that baggage and even introduced a new lady love, Lucy, seemingly happy again after losing college sweetheart Beth. Naturally, Stephen locked horns with Ridge, but that's how this fam jams. It would be nice to see the Logan patriarch stick around and give Forrester patriarch Eric more in the way of septuagenarian representation.

5. THE NEW DYNAMIC DUO

When Bill began romancing the stone-hearted Sheila, oysters went bankrupt with all the pearls that were clutched. It made us forget that Ridge was AWOL, supposedly deciding for the three-zillionth time whether he wanted to be with Taylor or Brooke. So, imagine the shock when the show tied these two story points together and gave us the team of Bill and Ridge versus Sheila! These men have punched each other out and dumped each other out of helicopters, but the acrimonious adversaries were willing to come together to save their blended family from Sheila. It wouldn't be them if they didn't hurl insults while getting the job done, but Ridge and Bill came out of the experience with a quiet yet solid respect for each other. If Brooke and Taylor could rock the bestie look, can we see some of that with these guys?

4. THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

Speaking of which, Braylor started the year all girl power and no Ridge, and decided they liked it that way. Did their giggling get annoying? Sure. But there was also substance in their bonding over Sheila, with Brooke assuring Taylor she wasn't a bad person for shooting Bill, and even worrying that Taylor had committed suicide over it. Whether this would have worked with Hunter Tylo still in Taylor's designer shoes is up for debate, but Brooke and Krista Allen's Taylor meshed in a way that was as affectionate as it was unanticipated. Alas, there's no drama in copacetic relationships, and so Braylor was torn asunder, but it was actually really nice while it lasted.

3. EVERY DAY CREATES YOUR HISTORY

There's only so much room in the memories of soaps and their viewers, so oftentimes, details of past stories are jettisoned, never to be seen again. But such a serial always does best when it mines its own bygone days, and this year, B&B went to the head of the class by taking two deaths caused by Sheila out of mothballs to use against her. While Sheila's 1994 killing of her psychiatrist Jay Garvin was truly an accident, her siccing a swarm of bees on the allergic Lance Day in 2002 was definitely purposeful. And flashbacks of long-gone scenes are so much more satisfying than clips of stuff we just saw the day before! Sometimes the past really does come back to bite you, and in Sheila's case, that bite hurt so good.

2. SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU'RE TO BLAME

When Krista Allen took over the role of Taylor in late 2021, the return came with one big problem -- Hunter Tylo's Taylor had lost her mind in 2018, the highlight being Taylor blasting a hole in Bill for "violating" Steffy, then coming back to try it again. Yet nuTaylor showed up completely levelheaded, as if her trip on the crazy train had never happened. That's why it was so delicious when Bill remembered Taylor puncturing him and used it to blackmail Steffy and Finn into not testifying against Sheila! B&B's wrongdoers often get their bad deeds swept under expensive rugs, so Taylor having to face the music for shooting Bill came out of nowhere, but in such a gratifying way. Bill's gambit against Sheila resulted in Taylor being exonerated of the crime, plus Taylor finally paid an emotional price, bringing that moment full circle. If only the show always worked with its own history in such an accurate and successful way!

1. YOU'RE TOXIC, I'M SLIPPIN' UNDER

Bill's always had his own, usually seedy, way of doing things. But when the Dollah suddenly got into a romance with Sheila, of all people, yet couldn't stop staring at the floor dejectedly, it was apparent something was seriously amiss. Had Bill's failed back-to-back attempts to reunite with Brooke, then Katie, really driven him to such a low point? Was Sheila drugging him? Ah, grasshoppa, the answer turned out to be neither -- Bill was willing to fall on the figurative sword if it meant forcing an imprisonable confession out of Sheila and locking her away from his loved ones permanently. The show even brought back the literal sword (necklace, that is) that Bill had shucked off years earlier to personify a return to the "dark side" and throw everyone off the scent. The overall story had its flaws, particularly the repetitive dialogue and overused creepy music, but the twist itself, as Bill might say, was freakin' brilliant.

And that's where I'm at with 2023 so far, Scoopers! Do you agree with my unofficial bests and worsts of the year? Do you think I'm way, way off and feel that other B&B moments are worth noting instead? Get it all down in the Comments section below or the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback. Your comments could end up in a future column!

Seven months down, five to go. But don't get the Christmas decorations out yet, everyone -- it's once again the Summer of Sheila, Sinn is in the sin bin, and Thomas is about to become both Hope's lover and stepbrother at the same time. Plus, who knows -- R.J. might even get a storyline. Keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold! See you next time, my Scoopnesses!

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