The B&Best and Worst of The Bold and the Beautiful 2023 (Part One)

For the Week of December 25, 2023
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What was B&B here for in '23? We got enemies who went to friends and back, an unbreakable villainess who wasn't villainous, and a white knight who tarnished his sword. Not to mention, one lady paid the piper, one lady kept it in the family, and one leading man proved that he's still got it! Take a no-holds-barred look at the year that was with Two Scoops' Mike!

Has your year been bold and beautiful? Did you decide that you had to possess the one who was obsessed? Did no one tell you -- again -- that you were swimming in the waters of the shark you thought you'd harpooned? Did you demonstrate that living your dream is always in fashion? These and more situations faced the Forrester-Logan-Spencer-Walton-Fulton-Finnegan-Nozawa clan in 2023!

Twenty-three skidoo, Scoopers! That phrase actually applies more to 1923, when it would have meant making, or being told to make, a hasty exit. And that's exactly what 2023 is doing as its final minutes tick away. So, it is incumbent upon us here at Soap Central to take your year in soaps and compress it into an easily digestible year-end column! We work hard so you don't have to!

Okay, that's the old Dow Scrubbing Bubbles slogan, but work with me. B&B took some interesting turns with an unexpected couple that had us putting our detective caps on and a friendship we never thought we'd see happen. But on the flip side, the show served up another petri dish of Mystery Soap Disease and a "romance" that looked and smelled like the stuff one scrapes out of a petri dish!

I have distilled all of B&B's highs and lows, put it through Ye Olde Soap Opera Digest filter (the format I borrow for these year-enders), and now give this present to you, wrapped in a shiny bow. Do you dare to open it? Well, I guess you do, because you're here. So, like a B&B fashion show, let's dim the lights, prime the flashbulbs and get out on that runway to Two Scoop it Best & Worst style for 2023!

BEST PREPOSTEROUS PLOT: Bill and Sheila

It came out of nowhere, and it shouldn't have worked, yet it did. Viewers were as perplexed as Bill's nearest and dearest when the Dollah took up with merry murderess Sheila. Bill's near-catatonic staring went on a bit long, though it gave many of us time to hypothesize about what was going on. Had Sheila drugged the discarded sword necklace that Bill once again donned? Did she have something on him? Had Bill finally been assimilated by the Dark Side? Turned out it was all a ruse for Bill to entrap Sheila, but watching characters who usually don't interact proved quite intriguing.

MOST PREPOSTEROUS PLOT: Sheila the Indestructible

Part of the fun of soaps is seeing rapidly aging kids, miraculous cures, and the like. But this year, Sheila didn't just suspend disbelief, she cut it loose. Fighting with Bill on a balcony, Ms. Carter plummeted two stories...then got up and walked away without a scratch. She then suffered a heart attack that should have been related and survived flatlining like it was just another day at the office. Did Sheila upgrade her bones with Wolverine's adamantium those years she was gone? It's one thing for a soap denizen to defy realism on occasion, but B&B thumbed its nose at it.

BEST CONTINUITY: Revisiting Beth

It seemed that Hope, who had taken up with Thomas and gotten used to raising Beth as if the girl had a normal childhood, had blanked on why that childhood wasn't normal. But during the sudden seven-year-old's mermaid birthday party, Liam took Hope for a swim down memory lane. He gently reminded Hope how Reese had stolen Beth, lied she was dead, and sold her to Steffy -- plus how Thomas would have been just as happy to forever let Hope think she'd miscarried. The recollection served to remind audiences just how toxic Thope is, even if Hope wasn't swayed for long.

MOST CONVOLUTED PLOT: The Nozawa Bunch

B&B added some much-needed diversity this year by adding the Japanese Nozawa family and tying them to Li. There was intrepid Forrester intern Luna and her free-spirited mom Poppy -- but Li snubbed them, and it was unclear why. First, Li revealed that Poppy had dallied with a doctor at Li's hospital of employ, which somehow negatively impacted Li's career. Then, Li added that she felt resentful because Poppy could have a baby, while Li had had to adopt. It felt like one reason was enough, and even with two, Li's motivation feels incomplete. Hopefully in 2024, the Nozawas will get some funmyō (Japanese for "clarity").

BEST RETURN: Winsor Harmon's Thorne

Winsor Harmon became so beloved in his 1996-2016 run as Thorne Forrester (last year's dream sequence doesn't count), you'd think he originated the role. So, that's how it felt when Harmon's Thorne casually took a phone call from Ridge as if he'd never left the canvas. It wasn't Ingo Rademacher's fault -- he was great guns in his days on General Hospital -- but his Mr. "FAR-ester" felt like a completely different character. That's what's making Harmon's homecoming this cheer-worthy. Word to the B&B wise: Thorne is the legacy-est of legacy characters, there on Day One. Keep him around and put him front and center where he belongs.

WORST EXIT: Wyatt

Wyatt Fuller Spencer made a memorable entrance in 2013 via a solar shower and well-placed tree branches. He soon got a helicopter mom in Quinn, a barracuda dad in Bill, and a rivalrous half-brother in Liam, though the dudes eventually got over it and settled into a warm camaraderie. However, once Wyatt got engaged to Flo in 2021, his airtime began to dwindle. Last year, his house was sold out from under him, and we never learned where he was living. This year...gone. No final scene with Bill and/or Liam. Just gone. After ten years of soapy service, Wyatt was sure done dirty.

MOST INNOVATIVE STORY: Taylor and Brooke Become Friends

Though "Logan" and "Doc" had had their moments of bonding over the years, they usually locked designer horns over sometimes-hubby Ridge or their children. So, when Ridge had to make another "choice" about who he wanted to be with, it was a true shock when Brooke and Taylor chose themselves and became BFFs! Falling under last year's Best Twist category, the ladies' rapport was at times a little too sugary and teenybopperish. Yet it couldn't be denied that, after 30-plus years of enmity, their connection was unexpectedly fresh and almost logical. Perhaps it was only natural that it couldn't last, but it sure was nice while it did.

LEAST DRAMATIC STORY: Inaction About Sheila

B&B made hand-wringing an Olympic sport this year in regard to son-shooting Sheila. Oh, no! Sheila is a danger to society at large! We will do anything to protect our family from her! Except, aside from intermittent bitch-outs and a slap here and there, no one took actual steps to stop Sheila. Not that steps were necessary, because Sheila performed not a single nefarious act through all of 2023; she did virtually nothing to advance her goal of strengthening her ties to Finn and Hayes. Like too many stories on our soap, this one was heavy on the tell and light on the show.

WORST RIVALRY: Zende vs. R.J.

Zende being rescued from the backburner could only be appreciated, but it involved having the mellow designer act out of character. He suddenly decided he wasn't here for being upstaged by upstart R.J. -- understandable until his complaints took on a menacing tone. He harassed his cousin and even hinted that he'd take R.J.'s girl, Luna. But didn't Zende feel foolish when informed that Eric had chosen to work with R.J. instead of Zende because Eric was dying! Zende did do the right thing and apologize, though by then, the mea culpas made Zende seem petty. Maybe next time, take it up with HR?

BEST GUEST APPEARANCE: Michael Corbett

If you watched Y&R in 1991, you remember David Kimball, who rained mayhem on Danny and Christine and met the Star Wars fate of being crushed by a trash compactor. Corbett hadn't been on a soap since, so what a thrill to see him on B&B -- this time on the right side of the law! Well, sort of, since his Judge Scott granted Deacon's request to invalidate Sheila's prison sentence. B&B has the unfortunate habit of only giving soap vets a day or two of airtime (yes, yes, budget), but like the word etched onto David's forehead back in the day, Corbett's return was "killer."

MOST CONNIVING CHARACTER: Douglas

Douglas Forrester has had a crappy childhood thus far -- his mother died, and he's had to serve as his father's conscience. But this year, the poor little guy channeled daddy. Given the choice of where to live, it seemed innocent enough when Douglas picked Aunt Steffy instead of Thomas or Hope. However, when Douglas decided to go home to Hope as soon as she rehired Thomas at Forrester, his actions retroactively seemed calculated. Add Douglas shipping his parents and setting them up on a date, and it appeared a minor mastermind was at work. You know what they say about apples and trees!

MOST REJUVENATED CHARACTER: Donna

Though Jennifer Gareis returned as a contract player in 2018, she'd had precious little to do in the ensuing years. But like Eleanor Roosevelt said, you don't know how strong a woman is 'til you put her in hot water! When Eric went from struggling with arthritis to dying from a terminal illness, Donna rose to the challenge, giving Eric needed support and doing her best to bust through his stubborn refusal to hospitalize himself, all the while bonding with nephew R.J. Gareis' Donna gets written off -- and written -- as airhead, but the middle Logan sister is substantial when given a chance.

BIGGEST BITCH: Li

One can't fault Li Finnegan for harboring resentment, the way adopted son Finn's biomom upended her entire family. But Li was so cold this year, she even made Sheila seem warm. Li demanded that Finn let Sheila die from her heart attack and repeatedly belittled Finn for his gentler approach with estranged wife Steffy. Then, when sister Poppy arrived, Li went straight-up heartless, extending her nastiness to nice niece Luna and even Finn. Strong soap characters are awesome, but Li showed zero vulnerability or nuance all 2023 -- odd for a woman who escaped death and amnesia the year before. Hey, Li -- dial it down a notch, okay?

BEST FRIEND: Brooke

The mere mention of the name Brooke Logan inspires vitriol from all corners of the soap world. Yet this year, the seemingly former Slut from the Valley showed another side when unexpectedly befriending her more-often-than-not nemesis, Taylor. Going beyond the syrupy nature of their companionship, Brooke held Taylor up when she seemed ready to fall from Bill's blackmail of her, and freaked when it seemed Taylor had committed suicide. Brooke even chose Taylor over Ridge when put in a compromising position with him that, in the past, Brooke would have easily taken advantage of. Could La Logan actually be exhibiting...growth?

WORST FRIEND: Taylor

Braylor came up so strong and so fast, some viewers wondered if they were going to get together. So, it's a shame that Taylor crapped on her friendship with Brooke so soon after it was established. When Taylor pushed hunky Hollis on Brooke, it seemed harmless enough; Taylor just wanted her bestie to have some love in her life. Unfortunately, Taylor became suspicious of Brooke simply because Brooke didn't immediately report how Hope had smack-talked Thomas, then Taylor manipulated Deacon into pursuing Brooke while telling Ridge how dumb Braylor's no-Ridge pact was. It wasn't like the usually compassionate Taylor to be such a backstabber.

BEST RECAST: R.J.

Last played by Anthony Turpel, R.J. left in 2018 following unremarkable stories. This year, R.J.'s shoes were filled by Joshua Hoffman, who rose to the occasion when his rendition of the prodigal son was given the material to do so. The studly scion was initially limited to the old "but I don't want to be a designer" shtick -- until Eric chose R.J. to help him realize his legacy line, bringing the boy alive. R.J. displayed a genuine softness with his grandfather -- and with new boo Luna -- but was also able to stand up to resident hard-ass Li. Hopefully R.J.'s evolution will continue in '24.

MOST RUINED CHARACTER: Hope

Last year, Hope earned Dumbest Character "honors" for being oblivious to Thomas' latest round of manipulations. This year, Hope completed her tumble down the rabbit hole by not only desiring her one-time tormentor (and stepbrother!) but also giving in to those desires. Was Hope having a mental breakdown? Was it a 3D chess level plot for revenge? No. Hope simply wanted a man who only wanted her, forgetting that she'd already had that in Wyatt eons before. Hope even flamed Deacon for his relationship with Sheila when Hope's involvement with Thomas was just as aberrant! Hope's sassy new haircut looks good, but her post-Liam behavior hasn't been a good look.

WORST BOYFRIEND: Charlie

Charlie and Pam have maintained the longest B&B relationship -- ten years in real time. It had to be expected that when Alley Mills moved to GH, Parlie (Cham?) would be hard to maintain -- it's just, as Charlie appeared during the Ridge/Eric showdown, he took a hard left. Dismissed via telephone by an off-screen Pam, the eccentric security guard's eyes gravitated toward the visiting Esther Valentine from Genoa City. Much flirting ensued, but then the usually stalwart Chuck went so far as to kiss her. Without knowing the state of things with Pam, Charlie's rakish move seemed...like something almost every other character would do. For shame.

BEST FOLLOW-THROUGH: Taylor's Shooting of Bill

When Hunter Tylo made her final appearance in 2019, it seemed she took Taylor's latter-day dark history with her -- because when Taylor returned in the form of Krista Allen, Doc was held up as the example of virtue she had been before she had gone rogue. This disconnect was repaired early this year when Bill promised to have Taylor arrested for gunning him down in 2018 if anyone made a move to prosecute new love Sheila. Taylor was forced to relive her biggest sin, and Katie even learned that Taylor had popped Will's pop. It only took five years, but this wrap-up was rapt.

MOST ANTICIPATED EVENT WITH NO PAYOFF: The Where? Generation

As 2023 New Year's sparklers died down, we got news that the show would "see the next generation of characters, including characters from familiar families as well as some from new families." Anticipation abounded. Would Deacon's son Eric Sharpe return? Taylor and Brooke's shared son Jack Marone? Bridget's boy Logan Knight? In April, most likely candidate R.J. reappeared, but in terms of "next generation," he was it. Yes, Luna fulfilled the "new family" promise, but B&B let us down by not bringing back (grown) kiddos we actually wanted to see, and the however unintentional tease made the letdown complete.

BEST POTENTIAL COUPLE: Hope and Finn

It was just for a moment, but the glimmer was there. Hope and Finn had rarely had cause to interact until they discovered that their parents, Deacon and Sheila, were shacking up. Finn was the one person who could understand Hope's dismay, taking his counsel one step further when he advised her that there were better men for her than Thomas. Finn and Hope share similar, do-gooder personalities with just a hint of bad, and, with them estranged from their spouses...well, they were too do-gooder to act on the interesting chemistry between them. Doesn't mean it didn't exist, though.

MOST BORING COUPLE: Katie and Carter

Carter was branded Biggest Lothario in last year's lineup; at least in 2023, his attentions were aimed at one woman. But...where was the romance? Katie fretted over Bill's involvement with Sheila and went out on a "date" with Bill before finally reassuring Carter of her feelings. Then...nothing. Even Dollar Bill, who had sworn to win back "his" Katie, seemed to think better of interloping between the absent couple. Karter has had no spark, no intrigue, and no airtime. Heather Tom and Lawrence Saint-Victor have enough charisma and talent to give this couple more than a pulse...if only it was written for them.

BEST NEW CHARACTER: Luna

It's not that fresh, ingenue interns have never roamed the halls of Forrester Creations before. But something portrayer Lisa Yamada is bringing to the role seems to be giving Luna possibilities. Miss Nozawa got mystery calls from her first day, and her rapport with R.J., however rushed, is sincere and sweet. Luna can also be counted on to be there in the rough patches, aiding Eric and supporting R.J. when Eric fell ill, plus Luna proved she can go toe-to-toe with wicked witch Aunt Li. Luna's full potential has yet to be explored, but her three months on the show so far haven't been a shabby start.

BIGGEST CAD: Liam

This year, Tofu Boy put his Waffle Boy crown back on, only with extra syrup. Liam was understandably upset that Hope would kiss his "executioner," Thomas, in Italy. But rather than "Rome" around the Colosseum, Liam retaliated by kissing Steffy minutes later! Liam shamed Hope despite secretly planting a second buss on Steffy, and, with the unfiled divorce papers sitting in his car, Liam ramped up his pursuit of a happily married woman. Liam even pulled a Bill and professed his love to both Hope and Steffy in the same breath! The former Mr. Cooper has always had weird ideas about romance, but in 2023, he really outdid himself.

BEST USE OF HISTORY: The Deaths of Jay Garvin and Lance Day

Bill was determined to romance Sheila into confessing to a crime so he could lock her up, a ploy that sputtered until he softened her up with an engagement ring. Truly floored anyone would want her, a numb Sheila told Bill about therapist Jay Garvin, who fell from a high-rise while arguing with her, and Lance Day, whom Sheila had dispatched with bees. Given that these deaths happened in 1994 and 2002, respectively, you'd had to be a legacy watcher to full appreciate the ensuing flashbacks, but what a deep dive! (Sorry, Jay.) It just shows how much stronger current story can be when a show's past is properly mined.

WORST USE OF HISTORY: Lauren Still Doesn't Know Sheila's Alive

In 2007, Y&R's Lauren Fenmore shot ultimate nemesis Sheila Carter (even though Sheila supposedly had Phyllis Summers' face). In 2017, Sheila returned to B&B, saying stories of her death had been exaggerated. Did family friend and former lover Eric call Lauren immediately to warn her Sheila was alive? Nope. Did anybody give Lauren this important news when she visited last Halloween? Nuh-uh. When Lauren attended the Ridge/Eric fashion showdown for several episodes in October, the stage was set for her to finally come face to face with her baby's kidnapper...and still nothing. It's B&B's biggest elephant in the room, and the longer they ignore it, the more it smells.

LEAST REALISTIC ILLNESS: Eric's Mystery Soap Disease

Eric is our longest-running male character, so it's only natural age would catch up with the beloved patriarch. Eric was first unable to sketch due to arthritis, then subsequent tremors were linked to real-life ailments TIA and cerebrovascular disease. But when Dr. Colby dropped a terminal diagnosis on Papa F, any root in reality was yanked out. We were simply to accept Eric's forthcoming demise without being told exactly what was killing him. That might have made soap sense if no conditions had been mentioned to begin with, but to go from accuracy to mystery weakened the story and was not what the doctor ordered.

MOST SURPRISING REVELATION: Bill/Ridge/Deacon vs. Sheila

Heads were scratched when Bill suddenly took Sheila under his muscular wing. As the "romance" progressed, we had more questions than answers -- until Bill visited a manbunned Ridge and revealed that they had been working undercover to sting Sheila! These guys would rather dump each other out of helicopters than play nice, which is what made it all the more delicious that they had actually joined forces in a common goal. And then, surprise! -- the Dollah and the Dressmaker had also roped a reluctant Deacon into the scheme. Sure, much about the outcome lacked cohesion, but seeing this trio of adversaries pull together made for fun soap.

MOST WASTED OPPORTUNITY: B&B's Special Episodes

Character-centric installments of soaps are a relatively new thing, but B&B has jumped on the bandwagon in recent years. This year, specifically, they celebrated their 9,000th episode by focusing on Steffy, which had its moments...and not moments. Lawrence Saint-Victor got a nod by having his alter ego, Carter, share his tenth anniversary. Darin Brooks started at the same time -- why didn't he get one, at least as an exit episode? And with Eric on death's door, maybe John McCook deserved a salute? Not everyone can get an episode dedicated to them, but it seems like the reasons for the selections were just a little wonky.

BEST SHORT-TERM RETURN: Stephen Logan

It's no dream! Patrick Duffy, who reappeared in the shower after a season-long dream sequence on Dallas, brought Stephen Logan back for the first time since 2011 with a slate of visits that began in November 2022 and continued on into April. Stephen even introduced new love Lucy, looking happy for the first time since his wife (and baby Beth's namesake) died in 2010. Stephen badmouthed Ridge for not protecting Stephen's daughter Brooke from Sheila, but Stephen took it back after learning Ridge had helped put Sheila behind bars. The Logans are the other anchor family on B&B; it might be nice to keep its patriarch around longer.

WORST SHORT-TERM RETURN: Jack Finnegan

Mr. Finnegan -- played by noted soap vet Ted King -- disappeared in 2021 after he revealed himself as Finn's real father, not his adoptive father, making only one further appearance last year when he thought Finn was dead. Flash-forward to this year and jailed Sheila sending a summons to a mystery man: Jack! With no confirmation that he and Li were actually divorced, Jack conveniently turned out to be a defense attorney whom Sheila wanted to help her out of the clink. It was great to see King, but the circumstances were contrived. How about Jack noses around and finds out Sheila isn't really Finn's mother?

BEST ACTOR: John McCook

Eric Forrester used to drive story, but the older he got, the more backburnered he got. Aim a spotlight on him, though, and John McCook still shines brighter. In the nearly 37 years since helping to launch B&B, McCook has captured Eric's lust for life (and ladies), showered us with fatherly, grandfatherly, and now great-grandfatherly warmth, and injected his trademark twinkle into even the most benign scenes. Not that McCook can't deliver when Eric gets dramatic, as proven again this fall as Eric struggled to live -- and die -- on his own terms. There's a reason McCook remains the heart and soul of this show.

MOST BORING REUNION: Bridge

Who'd've thunk it? The supercouple who ruled steam rooms and seriousness in the '80s and '90s effected yet another reconciliation this year -- but the results weren't exactly steamy. Ridge, who had ended Marriage #8 to his Logan last year, was meh about rebuilding his Bridge. Brooke dropped hints all over Rome, but Ridge wasn't cluing in. He finally got his dose of "destiny" by inadvertently spying Brooke through the famous Aventine Keyhole, but their reunion was meh, as well. Maybe it's because they've done the breakup-makeup dance so many times. Too many. Keep them together and let them deal with challenges from within, not without.

MOST UNREALISTIC ROMANCE: Deacon and Sheila

Deacon has been in and out of prison, so his attempts to go legit were especially important to him, and therefore, us. He could have been forgiven for his one-nighter with "Lina" in 2021, since he didn't know she was Sheila in disguise. But their entanglements since have made little sense in light of his aforementioned resolve -- something he himself has mentioned in realizing how Sheacon could affect his freedom and daughter Hope. Deacon and Sheila have broken up and reunited at breakneck speeds, but his fall proposal seemed particularly clueless, given Sheila's list of crimes, as did his defense of his betrothed. Definitely not his Sharpe-est moves.

WORST STORY: Hope Gets With Thomas

B&B started toying with putting Thomas and Hope together back in 2011, and even then, that further twisted the show's already questionable familial ties because they were stepsiblings. This year, the show removed all barricades by turning these childhood playmates into grown-up playmates. Now, that might have been contentious enough, considering Thope's established connection. But the concept is even more unsavory in the wake of Thomas' torment of Hope during his obsessive quest to win her! His misdeeds are too long to list here, and Hope was happy keeping Thomas at arm's length...until Steffy essentially forced Hope to rehire him. Afterwards, Hope inexplicably fantasized about the demented hunk to the point that she kissed him in Rome! That, of course, led to several unsound sexcapades. Add in the fact that Hope is only using Thomas for sex, and they're a combo that would be too much for even Jerry Springer. There's bold...and there's barftastic.

BEST STORY: Eric, R.J., and the Fashion Show

When Ridge turned down Eric's offer to collaborate on a "legacy line," the refusal kicked off an arc that brought the show back to basics. Eric secretly wanted help because he was increasingly unable to hold a pencil -- and we saw him eschew the idea of picking an experienced designer in favor of disinterested influencer R.J. Eric saw something in his grandson, and the pairing brought lost youth out of the grizzled dressmaker. R.J. found Eric's renewed energy infectious; the two soon turned out something we haven't seen on the show in ages -- real haute couture. The glitter and glamour that filled the familiar Forrester living room made its way to the runway, where Ridge had gone back to his own roots by creating a competing collection. Who won the fashion showdown? Who cared? Getting to watch Eric in his element again, amongst Forrester-worthy gowns, made us all winners.

That's 2023 in my nutshell, Scoopers! Now, I know I'm not the only one with opinions around here -- and I also know there's going to be plenty of agreement and disagreement with what I just served up for ya. So, express yourself (don't repress yourself) in the Comments section below or on the Soap Central message boards, or simply click here to submit feedback!

A hearty thank you to all of you for reading my columns -- I so very much appreciate the support! Whatever you celebrate this time of year -- or if you don't -- make it merry, happy, or just damn good. B&B's gonna have a lot more in '24, so keep watching, be alert, and most of all, be bold!
AMJ

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