The Art of Propping

Propping is a term used to define when a TV show will specifically write scenes devoted to raise a specific character’s likability. Most of the time, propping is viewed as a bad thing, specifically on Days of our Lives, where they go overboard. We’ve seen characters as awesome as EJ (who doesn’t need to be propped) all the way to the depths of Jett (who’s constant propping didn’t convince anyone). Propping doesn’t have to be verbal either. I notice when a character has no flaws, is always right, and even when they make a wrong decision on the show, for some reason is never called on it. (See Gil Grissom on CSI). But Days goes to a new high (or low) when it comes to propping; most of the time it’s done really badly.

Before I give out examples of their abuse of propping, I will give an example of when propping made sense. I remember when Nick Fallon first appeared on the show. We were told immediately what a genius he was. We also figured out fairly fast he was going to be a “white hat” and probably see the good in everyone. And let’s not forget the olive trick (which was awesome) he did to help Chelsea out at Dune. Not long after, he wound up saving Kayla’s life by figuring out an antidote to counteract the allergic reaction she sustained from the medicine that was used to try to save her life. I can’t deny these are propping the character. Does that make me a hypocrite for not having a problem with it? I don’t think so. First he wasn’t propped in his first episodes except for the cool olive trick which was not appreciated by Chelsea so it never felt like propping. Second, his “look” was meant to turn people off to him (like Chelsea) so it countered the propping of how “smart” he was. Even when he was probably the most propped, at the Thanksgiving episode where the Brady’s invited him as guest of honor and he was allowed to make a speech (yes, I felt that was way OTT) it didn’t bother me. Why? Because this was propping used affectively in his story. It was used to not elevate him in his future love interests eyes, it was meant to irritate her. Remember Chelsea was loathed by the family at that time, in fact she couldn’t go to the dinner by herself and only came as Nick’s date. The more she watched as her real family accepted this stranger, the more annoyed and hurt she became. Later on, propping became a little different as Nick was going out of his way to please Chelsea while Abby tried to protect him from her. We needed that so Chelsea would even stoop to speak to him.

Now we’ve got a new character in town, and jut as Nick was propped when he first arrived, I expected the same to be for Daniel. But it is completely different. It’s gotten so extreme it’s overbearing. First he’s hot (or haven’t you heard?). I appreciate a good looking guy as the next person, but I think when you bring in a hunky, and seemingly charming actor to play a role which for now appears like a white hat, his looks will help him and require less propping (IMO). Then he’s all laid back and casual, what with his leather jacket and sweats as he treats Bo (I think this is an attempt to make him appear younger than his 42 year old RL age). Next you have his professional propping (which I’m fine with as Victor wouldn’t have brought him in otherwise). But it seems anyone who fights against the propping comes to immediately accept his greatness right away in the very next scene or episode. Lexie wasn’t happy with him at first, but the very next time we saw her she was saying she checked into him and he was a great doctor. Hope told Chelsea she doesn’t like a stranger treating her husband but conveniently Daniel is there to help talk her out of her fears and by the end of the episode, she is convinced. Today was another type of propping, which is the most annoying where his materialistic and physical attributes are highlighted and Kate is the culpret. (Stephanie played this role when Jett was first introduced). Kate also pushes Chelsea towards him immediately and probably will continue to do so for the weeks after (Where is Nick? I could cry over how they not only want Chelsea to leave Nick for a hunk AGAIN, but act like he doesn’t even exist.). So what do we have? Propping on top of propping on top of propping. Of course it’s too much, I just wish others saw it. NOTE: In all probability, Daniel’s propping is probably done so we can know he’s a good guy if it’s revealed he’s related to a bad family (everyone is speculating he is Ava’s brother).

Another type of propping is the redemption propping. The show wants us to believe a former bad person has changed his or her ways forever. Usually it consists of ignoring their past deeds and making us think they’ve had a complete personality change. Last summer, Chelsea was getting close to such treatment. Her attitude at the beginning of the TTS storyline could have easily been written for Abby and way too goody two shoes for her. Lately it’s been redemption propping of EJ who has had the fastest redemption story it will give you whiplash. In fact I wouldn’t call it a story, or an arc. I’d call it a redemption scene. We’ve got him playing Daddy Dearheart to twins, one not being his own, and giving out Irish toasts at the Shawn funeral while everyone nods along. I don’t want to get into another pointless debate on Sami hooking up with EJ, but I do wish there were characters who remembered his past actions more clearly and aren’t willing to let them go because he looks adorable holding a rattle.

Finally let’s move into the last form of propping, the propping of established characters we already know (and usually hate). This is the propping of Shawn Duh or Max Brady who have been on the canvas forever and we’ve known are highly regarded by their family. If a character isn’t working in their current storyline, moving that character into a new direction will result usually in other characters supporting them in their decision. Shawn deciding to become a cop, even though he’s the stupidest man in Salem, is followed up with Hope and Bo declaring he has the family instincts of such a profession. Max who has been given a lot of propping lately continued with both Morgan and Stephanie telling Max what a great guy he is (if you realize both women have been dumped by this guy, it makes even more unbelievable). This is probably the worst kind of propping because the only targets to hear this praise fest is for the audience itself.

So in summary, propping can be useful in certain situations. Characters being introduced to one another can be used in a variety of ways. For exampe, Daniel can be propped by Victor who arranged (as part of the hospital board) to hire him immediately. Victor insists this unconventional doctor has made headway with unknown diseases like Bo has and is their best shot to see a recovery while Lexie and everyone are more for conventional medicines and make their opinions known. This way it would be Daniel against the rest of the family, but the audience privately roots for Daniel because so far the traditional methods have failed. Another form I always accept is funeral propping because it is more of a tribute of the life that character led on the show (unless he returns two months later). But Days continues to ignore how to lend credibility to a character instead trying to whip the audience into loving a character because everyone tells us to.

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One thought on “The Art of Propping

  1. Pingback: Days Bad and Good « Life May Suck But TV Shouldn’t

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