Once upon a time, Days of Our Lives was a groundbreaking show that used its position as a popular soap opera to shed light on social issues.
In the late 1980s, DAYS was the first show to acknowledge that a husband forcing a wife to have sex was rape and not just him demanding she does her marital duty. The story of Jack raping Kayla was realistic, painful, and important because it took this issue so seriously.
DAYS was also the first soap to feature an interracial couple in the 1970s, and in 2014 it became the first soap to feature two male characters getting married.
Unfortunately, since 2015 or so DAYS has gone backward and now seems to be intent on propping rapists as heroes, women as helpless victims, and a whole lot of other disturbing things.
It's sad, considering what this show once was, and during the week of 4-16-18, Days of Our Lives hit another new low.
Stefan took advantage of Abigail's mental illness, having sex with her that she did not want, and it appears to be yet another incident in which sexual abuse is framed as a love story.
It was pretty obvious that this storyline was going this way, but that didn't make it any less disturbing.
The Gabigail storyline has become more and more divorced from anything having to do with Dissociative Identity Disorder as time has gone on, and the focal point seems to be Stefan's "love" for Abigail's alter.
Stefan's obsession with both Abigail and Gabi was bad enough before Abigail became ill. He was sexually harassing both women, and a promising story about them standing up to him was aborted in favor of Andre being murdered and a severely mentally ill Abigail being responsible for it.
Abigail: Why are you kissing me? Why am I wearing this wig? Why am I dressed like this?
Stefan: Calm down.
Abigail: No! You get the hell away from me!
Abigail's DID never made any sense because DID is caused by sexual trauma in early childhood and alters are usually present from an early age, but that didn't stop the writers from giving her this disease anyway as an excuse for allowing Stefan's obsession with and eventual rape of Abigail to be framed as a love story.
Stefan has been keeping Abigail's mental illness to himself and claiming he loves her alter Gabby for months, and is apparently turned on by Gabby hitting people over the head since the whole lead up to their sexual encounter was her knocking one person out after another and asking him to hide them in the tunnels.
Anyway, moments before Gabby and Stefan had sex, Abigail finally emerged and told Stefan in no uncertain terms that she did not want him touching her or kissing her, and in fact she wanted him to get away from her.
His response was to continually call her Gabby in the hopes that Gabby would take over so he could have sex.
That happened, and Chad walked in just in time to see the afterglow.
I do not doubt that Chad will assume Abigail cheated on him, and the issue of Stefan using her mental illness against her to get her to have sex she couldn't consent to will never come up.
I don't know what's worse, this or the fact that DAYS went down this road already with JJ, and instead of paying attention to disgusted fans who don't like seeing rape written as consensual or the victim labeled a cheater, they went ahead and wrote the same story again with JJ's sister.
In the fall of 2016, it was revealed that while off-screen, JJ had got so drunk that he remembered nothing the next morning and only knew he had sex because he'd woken up to find that he was naked and someone had left a note.
Nobody, not even Jennifer -- who always assumes her kids are right and the world is wrong -- even questioned the idea that the sex was consensual.
JJ was labeled a cheater and a bad guy, nobody seemed to realize he was incapable of consent, and nobody was concerned about his apparent abuse of alcohol that contributed to this situation even though he had a history of substance abuse.
DAYS ignored fan outrage about the way JJ's rape was treated. They put him and Lani together, and even after a change in the writing regime, nobody on the show ever acknowledged that JJ and Lani's first sexual encounter was not consensual.
Instead, Lani is continually treated as a hero.
The fact that their entire relationship has been nothing but her trying to force JJ to be with her over and over has been ignored, and after Lani pretended JJ was the father of her baby and used his mental illness as an excuse for the lie, nobody blamed her and JJ was angry for 30 seconds before forgiving her because he's told lies in the past too.
And now on top of ignoring the fact that Lani is a rapist and liar and not a hero by any stretch of the imagination, DAYS is repeating JJ's rape with Abigail and again framing it as a love story.
Kate: Well, you know, I... I understood that she was distracted because she was grieving, but I really thought she had put her mental problems behind her.
Vivian: Oh, that girl's always been one hop, skip, and jump away from Looneyville. Look at her family. Look at her grandmother.
Kate: That's true. Laura is as crazy as they come.
Abigail's mental illness is a plot point just like JJ's suicide attempt was. It exists for the sole purpose of giving Stefan an excuse to get his way with her and call it love.
Vivian and Kate spoke in disrespectful terms about the mental illness that runs in Abigail's family, too, and Marlena made no effort to correct their behavior other than pointing out that Laura didn't cause Abby's DID.
It would be one thing if Days was trying to raise awareness about mental health issues and wrote a proper story about Abby and/or JJ struggling with mental illness.
A proper story would focus on the way the illness affects the character and his or her family, and if the character were not ready or able to seek help, it would include loved ones trying to intervene and trying to get them that help anyway.
Days came close to this when Gabi rescued JJ from his suicidal feelings and insisted he see a therapist, but then they dropped the ball by having him see his mother's boyfriend instead of a real therapist and making his suicidal feelings magically disappear so that he could cling to his rapist and call it true love.
And now Abby's story is not about her having a mental illness, but about Stefan being in love with an altar.
Oh Abigail. It was you, wasn't it? It's been you all along.Kate
In addition to the bad messaging, the story makes no sense.
The Gabby alter has, to date, knocked three people unconscious by hitting them over the head and has no remorse about harming them, yet we are supposed to believe that the host personality is the one who struck a fatal blow to Andre's skull and that the alters were not created until later.
Plus, even though the alters supposedly didn't exist until two months ago, Gabby makes references to things that happened to Abigail years ago, like hiding in her mother's attic or spending time in a mental hospital.
And the Dr. Laura altar has completely disappeared for no apparent reason, except maybe because it suits the Gabby vs. Abby power struggle plot better if she isn't around.
Vivian: What happened to you? When I first brought you here, you were strong and ruthless. But she's changed you.
Stefan: Don't worry. I'm as strong and ruthless as I've ever been. But you're right about one thing. My love for Gabby has changed me.
Meanwhile, Vivian -- a robust and ruthless villainess who has buried people alive before -- was easily overpowered by Stefan and locked in the secret room in the tunnel, and Kate -- another strong woman -- was also easily tied up and dragged there.
Once the three women found themselves in this plight, they sat around talking about Abigail's mental health and made no effort whatsoever to plan their escape. Instead, they hoped Chad would rescue them when he came home, just like Marlena has been praying for John to rescue her since her imprisonment began.
Having these three stuck together could be fun, but there's no need for them to be damsels in distress like this. These are three more than capable women, and they should be focusing on themselves and leave figuring out the cause of Abigail's nervous breakdown for after they're out of danger.
Gabi received two visitors while in jail: Eli and Chad.
I could overlook some of the non-realistic aspects of this situation if the right people were visiting her. Eli makes sense, I guess, since he wants to win her back, even though in reality Gabi would have to put him on the list of visitors she wants to be able to see her, so he wouldn't be able to surprise her when she wanted him to stay away.
Anyway, Chad should not have been there at all.
He should have been at home trying to get to the bottom of what was going on with his wife. When the Gabby alter claimed to be at Marlena's office, he should have gone there too regardless of her insistence he didn't have to, to support her.
He said he was going to the police station to talk to Rafe about the case, but instead, he went right to the prison to have an endless visit with Gabi in which he tried to convince her that Abby was a good person who didn't mean to get her locked up for murder.
Instead of all that, Chad should have been at home and JJ should have been visiting Gabi.
Gabi saved JJ's life when he was suicidal, and I'm sure he would want to return the favor. When written properly, JJ also has sharp investigative instincts as well as an uncle who is a private investigator!
He also needs something to do to distract himself from the pain of learning Lani's baby is not his.
And in the summer of 2017, he spent a couple of months in jail himself when he was falsely accused of Deimos' murder, so he understands what Gabi is going through.
So the only reason I can think of that he wasn't there was because the writers decided that the thing to do with JJ now is pulling out all the stops to put him back together with his rapist, and that means turning him into a crappy friend who doesn't support the woman who saved his life.
Instead, JJ got exactly one day's worth of scenes, in which he literally ran into Lani in the hospital, and she continued the pattern of attempting to force him to be closer to her than he wanted to by demanding he keeps talking when he tried to walk away.
JJ's mental illness kicked in, and he decided Lani's latest manipulation was forgivable because he'd told lies that hurt people in the past. He also worried about her baby's health and looked sad when she and Eli walked off together.
I'd like to think that sadness was about not getting to be a father, but it looks like Days is moving this horrible excuse for a couple back towards each other and reinforcing the lie that JJ is somehow the bad one who doesn't deserve Lani when it's the other way around.
Another couple that absolutely should not be together is Brady and Eve, but unfortunately, they reunited.
In a way, it makes sense. Theresa should be returning sometime in May, and sisters are fighting over a man is a soap staple.
However, Brady and Eve's relationship is yet another casualty of the awful Face of Bella competition storyline, and I was enjoying seeing Eve be strong enough to resist Brady's advances.
Eve broke up with Brady after she found out that he was only dating her in an attempt to steal her company from under her, and ever since he's been stalking her.
Claire cheated to win the Face of Bella competition, and Eve had agreed that if Claire won she would give Brady a second chance. At first, she stayed strong, but then inexplicably said yes.
The message here is that stalking pays. Also, Eve is the second woman in Salem who has been at risk of having her business stolen from her by a man, which is not a good message to send to female viewers who may someday want to go into business for themselves.
While all this was going on, there was absolutely no movement on Steve and Kayla's storyline.
They were absent altogether, which was a shame. Their story is moving, realistic, and romantic, and it makes the violence and lack of logic in most of the other stories bearable. These two should be front burner, not backburner, and I hope they return soon.
What did you think of Days of Our Lives during the week of 4-16-18?
Is the Abby/Gabby story compelling, offensive, or something in between?
Would you rather have seen JJ visit Gabi than Chad?
Are you glad or mad that Eve and Brady got back together?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.