Appreciation: Growing Up with “Days of our Lives”

Growing up, I would be at home with my grandparents and aunt who would take care of me while my parents were hard at work during the day. Aside from playing with my toy cars or drawing on paper (and the walls), part of that daily routine included watching Days of our Lives with my grandparents and aunt.

Every weekday at 3pm, my aunt would arrive home from her daily pilgrimage to noon mass in downtown San Francisco. Sometimes, bringing me a pair of Jack in the Box tacos as a treat. She would arrive just in time as my grandparents and I were already comfy on the couch waiting for Days of our Lives to begin at 3pm sharp on the then-NBC affiliate KRON.

My family immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I never asked my grandmother, who was the biggest fan of the three, why she started watching Days of our Lives as well as Another World, both NBC soaps. But she had become a loyal fan, knowing all the characters by heart and remembering all the big stories over the years.

Of course, she would never let her babysitting me get in the way of her show. Lol So, I’d be sitting there on the couch with my grandparents and aunt. Or at the very least, playing on the floor in the living room as they watched.

Now, a young child watching a daily soap opera? Absolutely! lol My grandparents and aunt would always be sure to cover my eyes at the appropriate (or I guess, inappropriate) moments during episodes. That of course refers to the signature afternoon love scenes or even just heavy make-out sessions typical of daytime soaps.

Even when I started going to school, I’d usually be home by 3pm and still arrive just on time to catch the episode. I’d get excited hearing the iconic theme song (not that short thing they play now) and the late, great Macdonald Carey welcoming us to today’s episode.

I still can’t get over the special “grand” version of theme that was played a few times during the infamous Salem Stalker/Melaswen storyline too:

One of my most vivid memories is definitely during the Possession Storyline. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old at the time. And I was scared out of my freaking mind! I would hide in the bedroom while peeking into the living room only to scurry back inside when things got too freaky.

Growing up watching Days of our Lives with my grandparents and aunt definitely got me invested in the characters and story too. I grew up right alongside some of the characters even. I actually remember things like Sami Brady first arriving in Salem. And definitely iconic moments like Vivian burying Carly alive or Eileen Davidson’s turn as the Banks siblings. Who could forget Susan’s teeth flying and landing into Vivian’s champagne glass? Lol

I remember being absolutely shocked by the Coronation Massacre. My jaw dropped to the floor that day. Having become a fan of the show already and even to the point of following spoilers (via reading Soap Opera Digest or Soap Opera Weekly at the grocery store checkout line), I knew the big shootout was coming. But I vividly remember that afternoon. I thought the actually “massacre” was to happen the next day. But the show sprung it on the audience in the final ~5 minutes of the episode. A shocking, endless barrage of gunfire and favorite characters falling to the floor and possibly dead.

Those are just some of the memorable moments for me.

Over the years, the family would continue to watch Days of our Lives, as well as Passions when it premiered alongside the show in 1999.

But somewhere along the line, we just stopped keeping up with the show. We might tune in from time to time. But not like our level of engagement from the 90s and early 2000s.

Nonetheless, the news yesterday that NBC was sending Days of our Lives off to Peacock exclusively definitely hit me with a flood of emotions.

The decline of the daytime soap operas has of course been slow and steady. And the news was somehow both surprising and not surprising. Everything is shifting to streaming. And with the moderate success of Beyond Salem, it would seem inevitable that Days of our Lives would get sent off to Peacock.

But the news brings to mind who the audience of Days of our Lives and soaps in general are. While there’s definitely a younger audience who have become fans of the shows, I would think the majority of the audience are like my grandparents and aunt. Especially if many of them grew up watching the show.

It’s hard to believe many of those people have access to Peacock or even know what it is. Accessing Peacock (let alone paying for it) is far more difficult and cumbersome than just flipping the TV on to your local NBC station. You don’t even need a cable subscription for that.

The access and even cost could be very prohibitive for many of the show’s existing fans. And thus, hasten the show’s already declining viewership. It had been sort of a miracle how the show had survived this long, to be honest. NBC seemed like they were ready to move on from the show, but Sony and Corday had found ways to produce Days of our Lives with as minimum a budget as possible. (And it definitely shows.)

Though it’s understandable that the show might not be as profitable anymore, it’s interesting to see what kind of profit the show could bring via Peacock exclusively as opposed to airing on broadcast TV.

It’s not hard to think that Days of our Lives‘ days are definitely numbered. And while it’s sad to think about, it’s unfortunately not surprising. Even though the show has escaped death more times than most of the characters on the show!

So while the news has hit many people hard, I instead take comfort in the wonderful memories with my family. And I think watching Days is partly what motivated me to pursue creative writing. What other media could you consume every day of the week and have a whole array of different stories to become engrossed with.

That’s what Days of our Lives was and is. And no matter how much longer the show might have, I’m thankful for the years it was a huge part of my life growing up.

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