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When it comes to the issue of morality in soaps, I have a slightly different take. On the one hand, I don't expect soaps to give me MY moral compass by preaching to me or otherwise coming across as straight-laced or "moralistic." I do think however, that every character on the show should each have THEIR own moral compass, even if it's the "honor among thieves" variety of a villain like Victor or Stefano. And the writers should stick to that compass for each character, no matter what that might be. That's how we know when a character is facing a moral dilemma, which I do think is a fundamental aspect of all soaps.

For example, those baby switches, bed hoppings, and betrayals only have dramatic impact if there is some kind of understood notion (by the audience and by the characters) that this is wrong. The writers rely on the backdrop of our collective moral sense of right and wrong, combined with various character reactions, to create shock value in a particular story. If, when someone walked out of a hospital with someone else's baby, everyone in Salem just yawned and said, "oh well, that's just what happens around here," there would be no drama in that.

Many of the storylines that are currently on have a fundamental moral aspect that creates the drama for the characters:
-- Kristen's lies and manipulations are weighed against her own sense of being wronged by those she's now hurting.
-- Marlena wrestled with whether to tell John the truth about Brady and Kristen and is now being confronted by that choice.
-- Will agonized over whether to step forward and tell the truth or keep a secret and risk hurting others.

Moral dilemmas are powerful tools in driving dramatic storytelling, even and especially when characters go against generally accepted notions of right and wrong.

My problem with this show in the last few years is that they have a shallow and cynical approach to the use of this tool. They either manufacture a weak moral dilemma and blow it all out of proportion or skim too lightly over a major one. A character's moral compass can change or disappear in a flash, only to conveniently reappear when the plot calls for it. We get a shocking moment where characters do "bad" things, but then there's no follow through and no consequences. Just a big shrug and we're moving on to the next thing.

I, for one, would like more consistency and follow-through, and more character-based storytelling. If a character is "bad," fine. Then have that character's motivations and moral sense of right and wrong reflect that. But to make a character skate around on the surface and have no real depth makes it hard for me to relate. And it definitely makes for flat, superficial, and boring stories.

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Spoilers for the week of January 21st · DAYS: News, Spoilers & Discussion