The 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were a few weeks ago. Awards were handed out in various daytime fields like talk shows, children's programming, and soap operas among others. While the show itself could have used a little tweaking, overall it was was filled with some surprises. Days of Our Lives won for "Outstanding Drama Series" for the first time since 1975. However, it was the "Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series" that drew my attention.
Chandler Massey of Days of our Lives took home his second consecutive Emmy. He was up against Bryton James (The Young and the Restless), Max Ehrich (The Young and the Restless), and Freddie Smith (Days of Our Lives). With only four soaps left currently on network television (though the rules may change in the future with online soaps), it is not a surprise that actors on the same show would be up against one another.
It was the two from Days of Our Lives that caught my attention. They portray Will Horton (Massey) and Sonny Kiriakis (Smith). Their characters' are boyfriends. While actors and actresses portraying romantic couples have been up for awards in the past, this is one of the rare times in award show history that both actors are up for the same award, since the categories are usually based on gender.
The power couple is cleverly known as "Wilson" to their fans (I have also heard "Frandler" and "Cheddie"). While most soap opera do have a cult-like following, these fans are extremely loyal and go above-and-beyond the call of duty. They have dedicated Twitter accounts (with countless tweets on days the storyline airs), Tumblrs, and YouTube videos dedicated to the couple as well as fan fiction.
To realize the fandom, the viral videos aren't just one or two. Depending on the YouTube search, it could bring up millions of videos (I typed in "Days Will and Sonny" and got close to a million, while just "Will and Sonny" got many more). Some are synced to music. Others are the actual clips from the episode, broken-down to just their scenes with the date the episode aired in the title. While some could claim copyright infringement (and they have), if anything these videos have helped to grow the audience to where it is today.
To put it into a personal perspective, I never watched Days or any other soap opera for that matter (minus a clip or two). The only thing I knew about the show was it was on NBC and it starred Alison Sweeney. I also vaguely knew a few of the actors from the short-lived realty show Dirty Soap, which I watched a few episodes of. Other than that Salem (which apparently doesn't pay state taxes because the state is unknown) and myself had no connection. It probably would have stayed that way.
However, one day in-between watching random videos, I stumbled upon a clip of Will and Sonny on YouTube. I clicked on it. I didn't care that they were a gay couple (at the time they were "friends" and weren't the "Wilson" power couple. Will was going through a few issues). After the clip ended, I wanted to go back and watch the previous clips. Cue the loyal fans who had each clip in order from the very beginning. At the time they were primarily of Will, since Sonny was considered a recurring character and didn't appear that much.
Watching the clips only took a few hours to go through since the storyline was newer. Since Days will soon be entering into its 48th season (it premiered in November), It would be nearly impossible to catch-up on everything, especially the older storylines. The younger storylines, like Will and Sonny's help to draw in new and younger viewers. While I find myself confused at times with references and actions of some of the characters (or the fact that there is a random couch in the middle of a square and they drink an excessive amount of coffee), it is this storyline that keeps me grounded and watching.
The characters and storyline was originally met with some controversy (even in today's world). However, overtime the storyline has drawn fans from all over the world. While it is not the first (or last) gay couple on daytime television, it could be the most popular. The fans are not all the stereotypical housewife soap fans. They are from many different walks of life. Men and women, young and old have grown to accept and route for the couple. Will and Sonny's sexual orientation became secondary and not an issue for most viewers.
Both actors have seen their popularity grow and have received accolades for their acting and the storyline overall. Besides the Emmy nominations and wins, the GLAAD Media Awards have given them the award for"Outstanding Daytime Drama" for the last two years. They have also ventured onto other projects. Smith is heavily involved in Addicts Anonymous, a Kickstarter-funded comedy web series (I found that a chunk of backers were fans of him in particular). The series is currently in the editing phase and should be premiering sometime in August. You can find out more information on their Facebook page.
Massey also has a Kickstarter project (that can be found here) for his band The Last Of Us. Along with his Days costar Casey Deidrick (who plays Chad DiMera) they hope to raise funds for a music video for their song "Sixty-Five Roses." The song was written by their guitarist Stephen Haynes, for his wife Angel who is battling Cystic Fibrosis. The band is hoping to raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis with the music video.
Whether or not the sand runs out on Will and Sonny is up to the writers and others involved. There is word (though not officially confirmed by the actor) that Massey doesn't plan on returning to Salem after his contract runs out this December. Still, fans can currently enjoy the ups-and-downs of one of (if not the biggest) daytime television power couple. Even if you are not a fan of Days of our Lives or soaps in general, the presence, power, and charm of the couple cannot be denied.