One of the most appealing things about Days of Our Lives used to be how strong the women were.
Kayla, Jennifer, and Hope were women with careers of their own who accompanied their husbands on adventures and weren't afraid to stand up for their partners when family members, friends, or enemies tried to interfere. Nicole, Kate and Sami were strong villains who felt justified in doing what they did and didn't put up with any BS.
Nowadays, though, the strength seems to be disappearing. We have shades of it with Kate standing up to Andre and Eduardo, but even she is a shadow of her former self.
Meanwhile, most of the women are busy pursuing one or more men and sex seems to be the only thing on their minds, and the men aren't much better.
Nicole is one of the worst casualties of the current writing regime's insistence that women be obsessed with romance and have nothing else going on in their lives. She has chosen to pursue bad guy Deimos because Daniel gave her permission to in a dream a few weeks ago.
Daniel wouldn't have liked Deimos for Nicole, but that's beside the point --- Nicole should not need permission from beyond the grave to date whoever she wants to date.
Meanwhile, Brady and Deimos are conspiring to keep a huge secret from Nicole. They've learned that Nicole may actually be the mother of Chloe's baby. Through in vitro fertilization, Chloe attempted to carry Nicole and Daniel's child for them after Daniel's death, without telling Nicole.
Now, both Deimos and Brady suspect it but Brady insists Nicole can't be told because she's too fragile and will fall apart.
Nicole does not need Brady's protection, and her story is quickly becoming a competition between Deimos and Brady to see who is better at keeping worrisome facts from her. Is this a radio drama from the 1920s? Because it certainly doesn't seem like it belongs in 2016.
Marlena weighed in, telling Brady that Nicole has reached her breaking point and absolutely should not be told.
This bad advice was unworthy of a character who is supposed to be a phenomenal psychiatrist. She hasn't talked to Nicole and has no idea what her mental state is, and she's never exactly liked her to begin with. So her opinion is rather meaningless.
Meanwhile, across town, Abigail continued to run away and have massive panic attacks. She can be given somewhat of a pass for having a mental illness that causes her to behave that way, but there's something worrisome about it too.
I need him to know that I am strong and I am healthy. I'm not just gonna fall apart when things get tough.Abigail
Abby seems to think the fact that she's talking to her grandmother is enough. Clearly, her PTSD or whatever it is she is supposed to have is not being treated adequately or she wouldn't be having these panic attacks. It's not enough to say she has a mental illness. She needs to do something about it.
Abby's panic attacks didn't stop her from having a few overly quiet conversations with Gabi about Gabi trying to take Chad from her. Abigail seems to get angry for about 3 seconds at a time, after which she calms down and is totally fine with Gabi's behavior.
Gabi continues to be entirely obnoxious and needs to spend some time alone thinking about what it actually means to be a strong woman.
The strong Gabi who was actually worthy of admiration hasn't been seen since the day that she fought off a mugger by herself. Since then, she's been making one excuse after another to cheat on JJ while blaming him for her own bad behavior.
Then I found out what JJ did. And he [Chad] didn't lie to me and he made me feel I deserved better.Gabi
Gabi kissed Chad to get some woman who was sexually harassing him off his back. Naturally, this was not called what it is any more than JJ's rape was. She conveniently left the kiss out when she told JJ about it.
Later, JJ told her about his drunken sexual encounter, which he mistakenly thought was consensual. Gabi flew off the handle and hasn't been sane since.
JJ's affair was clearly not consensual -- you can't give consent when you are so drunk you can't remember it -- and this week this ridiculous storyline reached a new low when Lani accused him of only pretending not to remember that they had sex.
If Lani doesn't know how to tell when someone is too drunk to consent, she really has no business being a cop at all. Plus, she's not doing anyone any favors by stalking and sleeping with every man in the Salem PD whether he wants her advances or not. The only man she ever rejected was Fynn, probably because he was as skeevy as she was.
At any rate, Lani had a photo of a fully clothed JJ sitting next to her on a bed which she claimed was proof that they had sex. Gabi came in and yelled at JJ, who she had broken up with the week previously because he dared keep Abigail's existence secret from her even though it wasn't his secret to tell.
So to review, JJ had this encounter that was not consensual and told Gabi about it, and she's been punishing him for it ever since, while she continually sneaked behind his back with Chad and he only found out because Abigail told him about it, yet she thinks she's the moral one in this relationship.
JJ deserves far, far better and it's both offensive and heartbreaking to see him chasing after Gabi and begging her to forgive him when he didn't do anything wrong.
It's not empowering to depict women abusing men just because historically it's been the other way around. JJ needs to stop thinking that Gabi is the reincarnation of Paige and have enough self-respect to move on from this abusive, immature person who doesn't want a relationship where you have to actually communicate with your partner.
Meanwhile, Dario compared Will and JJ to Nick in an effort to convince Gabi she was the wronged party here. Apparently Dario think Will being gay and JJ "cheating" equate them to Gabi's ex-husband, who abused and manipulated half the townspeople, stalked Gabi, and eventually was killed by her.
The obvious attempt to slut shame JJ for having been raped was bad enough, but suggesting that being gay is equivalent to being a sociopath is completely unacceptable for the show that a few short years ago was winning GLAAD awards for its sensitive portrayal of LGBTQ issues.
Maybe you'd rather be with a different guy.Derrick
To add insult to injury, Sonny and Paul participated in a nothing story designed to get them back together as quickly as possible.
There was a time when Sonny and Paul were a rootable couple. But that ended when Paul flirted with Sonny at Will's grave, days after Will had been brutally murdered.
That was extremely insensitive at a time when Sonny should have been grieving, along with the many fans who were shocked and dismayed at the unnecessarily violent and brutal death of this character.
Now, a year later, Paul has been seen around town with Derrick once or twice. They've been given nothing to do of substance so it's hard to be invested in them. Most of the time, Derrick is pushing Paul to date Sonny instead.
This time, he finally succeeded. After months of encouraging this relationship, Derrick suddenly became angry that Paul wasn't into him, broke up with him, and pushed him and Sonny together, where the pair admitted to feelings to each other.
This rushed storyline was in competition with Jade and Joey for most abrupt turnaround of the year.
A few weeks ago, Joey thought Jade had got pregnant on purpose in order to trap him and his family hated her. Now, they're treating her like an adopted daughter and she and Joey suddenly have the love story of the century.
This story would have been okay if it had taken place over several months, with Jade gradually changing and Joey becoming aware that he really did love her. Instead, it took place over a couple of weeks, making it seem contrived and ridiculous.
In addition, the message that teen parents have to be in a relationship even if that relationship was abusive or otherwise problematic prior to the baby's existence is not a good one to send young viewers.
There was some more silliness at the prison with Hope refusing to let Shawn tell the warden she was being attacked so that she could fight a war by herself, while on the outside Shane met with everyone who cares about Hope to discuss the possibility of Stefano being alive.
Stefano, of course, always rises from the dead, so if it weren't for the real-life death of actor Joe Mascolo this might be an interesting story.
Either way, though, it doesn't make sense that Stefano being alive would get Hope off the hook. She killed somebody, and killing the wrong person is not a defense to murder.
Finally, there were some more really nice moments between Adrienne and Kate as Adrienne went in for another chemotherapy treatment. These scenes are actually realistic and emotional, and it is wonderful to see a softer side of Kate.
There was some unnecessary silliness with Justin and Lucas competing to be in the treatment room with Adrienne. If I were her, I'd keep them both out and only let Kate in, period.
What did you think of this week's Days of Our Lives? Which storyline do you think is most rushed, and what are you hoping to see happen for this show in the New Year?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back in on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.