Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Love Sami Brady (and Alison Sweeney) on "Days of Our Lives"

Yesterday, what began as a very sunny week indeed (I finally moved into my permanent Cape Town digs!) suddenly got a little overcast with one major announcement: After 21 years of playing Sami Brady on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives, Alison Sweeney will be leaving at the end of the year to pursue other interests, mainly enjoying her family (which includes her husband, David Sanov, a soon-to-be-9-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter) and presumably continuing to host The Biggest Loser, which she's done since 2007.

She made the announcement on January 20 (14 days after her 21st Days anniversary) on Ellen, and I'm not sure why she decided to tell us so far in advance. From personal experience and the experience of her former onscreen son Chandler Massey, who had just won his second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award last June when he announced that he was leaving Days at the end of 2013 but ended up getting the boot months earlier when Guy Wilson was hired to replace him, I know that the more notice you give, the longer your soon-to-be former employer has to screw with you for daring to leave.

I'm glad, however, that she has given me so much time to prepare for her exit, and since Days tapes months in advance, she'll likely be onscreen through the spring of 2015 -- unless the producers pull what they pulled on Massey, which seems unlikely considering that Sweeney is the show's biggest star. Sorry, "Doc," aka Marlena Evans (Deirdre Hall).

Sami was the reason I became a semi-religious Days fan in late 2004. (It's now my favorite soap.) I'd watched it intermittently over the years, and I knew the names of the major players (Marlena, Roman, Bo, Hope, Patch, Kayla, Victor Kiriakis, etc.), but I don't believe I sat through an entire episode until one Sunday night when I returned to New York City after a work trip to Los Angeles, and SoapNet was airing the week's episodes back to back.

From the minute Sami appeared onscreen, I was in love, with the character and the actress. She was doing all of the soapy things I adore -- scheming, eavesdropping, talking to herself -- all in the same scene. Sweeney was about to give birth to her first child at the time, and since her pregnancy wasn't written into Sami's story, she was dressed in an oversized button-down shirt and shot from her shoulders up. I wanted to climb into my TV screen and start plotting right along with her.

I don't really remember exactly what she was going on about. It had something to do with keeping her man at the time, Lucas Roberts (now Lucas Horton), and outwitting his equally formidable mother, Kate. In the years since then, she's gone to Iraq dressed as a man (during her first maternity leave when her character was played by a male actor), given birth to three children (in addition to her and Lucas's son, Will, who was born when they were both teens), watched one child die (who turned out not to be hers, after all), gotten arrested numerous times, shot the father of two of her kids in the head, shot a guy who was about to cut off her ex-husband's penis (no joke!), lied, schemed, made love and repeat. What's not to love?

Nothing, that's what. But since I'm obsessed with quantifying everything, here are 10 reasons why I love her more today than I did when I first laid eyes on her a decade ago.

She talks to herself (and to passed out exes). I could spend an entire Days hour listening to one of Sami's internal monologues.

She handles her men. Nick Fallon didn't stand a chance.

She has the cutest kids. But is little Johnny ever going to grow up?

She'll put someone else's bratty kid in her place! Meanwhile, teaching a soap diva-in-training how it's done.

She loves her gay son. Sami's reaction when Will came out -- she was upset mostly because he hadn't confided in her before -- was eerily similar to my mom's reaction when I came out.

She takes (and gives) it on the cheek. Just once, though, I'd love to see Sami bitch slap Kate back. She certainly has it coming.

She's a straight shooter. Rule No. 1: If Sami Brady has the keys to your mansion, sleep with one eye open. And don't leave a gun lying around.

She'll kill for the people she loves. If a crooked cop ever enters my hospital room while I'm recovering from a near-fatal assault, I hope Sami Brady is hiding in the bathroom.

If she loves you, she's got your back. Even if she doesn't happen to have a gun conveniently stashed in her purse.

Nobody knows the trouble she's seen. Well, everybody does because she'll never let them forget.

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