“Days of Our Lives” fans who are worried that their favorite 57-year-old soap won’t be recognizable once writing and producing it specifically for Peacock finally airs early next year, fear not. Daytime legend Deidre Hall assures fans, “We’re doing it exactly the same as we always have and will continue doing it that way.”
As the old adage goes, the only things you can count on are death and taxes. Well, and change. Add that to the list. And although “death” is not something you can count on when it comes to soap operas – Hall’s Dr. Marlena Evans has been presumed dead but was not four times since she joined the show in 1976 — a switch from its longtime run on NBC to NBCUniversal’s streaming service is the only change happening. Will it get a little more risqué with language or storyline because it’s now on cable? Probably not, Hall told TheWrap.
“Our audience is not changing and we respect who they are and what their sensitivities are. We’re not going to become a blatantly sexual or a vile language program. We’re not going to do that; that isn’t who we are, and it’s not who our audience is,” Hall said. “Our model has always been multi-generational families, doing something topical, human interest and of social interest. I think in those ways we’re always family oriented. We’re always topical. Our showrunner, Ken Corday and our headwriter, Ron Carlivati stay pretty much on the cutting edge.”
The show currently has in the can, as they say, episodes that run through the end of the year. In fact, before “Days” made the leap onto Peacock on Sept. 12, they had already shot Christmas episodes. So any shift in writing style or story content won’t be seen until 2023. To many, such a leap into streaming may be concerning because, you know, that whole “change” thing, but it is where the industry is going, and “Days” is following the trend.
Hall has become aware that a lot of potential audience doesn’t even watch network TV anymore. That’s a reality that both she and many viewers of TV in general are coming to understand. “I was surprised that so many people are already on streaming,” Hall said. “I think [soaps are] a really important medium and I think it’s crucial to the audience to have. I’m glad we’re continuing on whatever level works best for us.
“’Days of Our Lives’ has always been a staple for the audience. I’ve said before, but we’re there for you when nobody comes to your house at Christmas. We’re there carving the turkey and trimming the tree and opening gifts. And we are your family for so much of that in a traditional sense. We’re a comfort, we’re company. We’re not just entertainment. We’re also quite busy teaching lessons and giving examples as we go along.”
When Hall was hired to play Marlena 46 years ago – a number which she can’t believe – they weren’t looking at a long-term contract for her; only 26 weeks. But she immediately took off and became one of the most beloved characters in not only the history of “Days,” but also in the history of all soaps.
“It was quite stunning to me,” she said of the outpour of acceptance and love she felt by the audience. Although Marlena has been through a lot of horrific things through the years – including demonic possession. TWICE! – she has always prevailed because of her strength of character.
“She’s been a stabilizing figure through the years,” Hall said. “Through horrific moments in her life, she’s still the person you can turn to and say, ‘You gotta help me.’ And she’s right there. A lot of people comment that she’s who they want to be with in a crisis, she’s who they can turn to. ‘I know that she will fix it. She’ll be capable. She’ll see me clearly. She’ll have compassion and understanding and empathy.’ That’s why the character can do as much as she does.”
Hall paused. “It makes me so joyous that reason that we are continuing.”