One of the things that most drew me to Days of Our Lives back in the late 1980s was the close-knit Horton family and especially its matriarch.
Alice Horton was always there with homemade donuts, smiles, and lots of love. She was always there for everyone in town to turn to, was gentle yet unafraid to speak up when one of her many younger relatives was going down a wrong path, and sometimes provided comic relief.
Her legacy is a lot to live up to, and Days of Our Lives hasn't been the same since Frances Reid passed away in real life, prompting an on-air funeral for Alice in 2010.
Nowadays, the sense of family and love that has always been the backbone of this show seems to be missing.
There's more than enough worried parents and angry children in Salem, but there is no loving, wise older person to hold the families together, and the focus seems to have shifted from family relationships to sex and violence.
Obviously, nobody can replace Alice, but putting someone else in the role of Horton family matriarch and mentor would go a long way towards helping this show get back to the family-centered stories that have made it a fan favorite for over 50 years.
Could any of these three women fit the bill?
1. Julie Williams
Julie is a natural choice to take over the Alice role. She is Alice's granddaughter and enjoys the privilege of being the only character featured in the pilot in 1965 who is still on canvas in 2018.
In addition, Julie sometimes reflects Alice's best qualities. During the week of 8-13-18, I was impressed with her advice to Jennifer, who was struggling with whether or not to tell Eric that his former fiancee Nicole had not left him by choice.
Julie reassured Jennifer that she was a beautiful woman who any man would be proud to call his own and encouraged her to pursue her happiness. Her words and mannerisms felt to me like what Alice would have said if she were still here.
Unfortunately, Julie has a mean, judgmental streak and sometimes says and does things that Alice would gently discourage if she were alive. During that same conversation, she also suggested tripping Eve Donovan to make sure she didn't get the bouquet at John and Marlena's wedding.
That might have been a joke.
But the harsh words she often says both to Gabi's face and behind her back are not, and when JJ went undercover in 2014 to catch a drug dealer, she went as far as saying Alice would be ashamed to have him in her family -- something that was patently untrue and suggested she didn't fully understand how accepting Alice was.
If Julie is to take over the matriarch role, she's going to have to lose that mean streak in a hurry, but then she wouldn't quite be herself.
2. Maggie Horton Kiriakis
Although she is a Horton by marriage, not by birth, Maggie has Alice's sweetness in spades!
She is usually optimistic, cheery, and has a helpful word for everybody in Salem, and she's always there for her friends and family. Maggie can often be seen counseling Salem's many alcoholics and addicts and helping them to believe in themselves and their abilities to transcend whatever's bothering them and tempting them to use.
And anyone who can deal calmly with Brady and his tendency to turn every woman he sees into the next love of his life qualifies for the sainthood!
Maggie might be a better choice to follow in Alice's footsteps, except for one thing: her marriage to Victor.
Victor and Maggie used to have a happy, if bizarre, marriage. Victor is an allegedly reformed mob boss, and supposedly Maggie's sweetness softened him. Maggie, for her part, used to love Victor for who he was, even if some of the ways he dealt with things are not to her liking.
But in 2018, Maggie and Victor fell into some annoying cycle where Victor secretly does something underhanded that affects Maggie's family and when Maggie finds out about it, she lectures him as if he is an errant kindergartener and forces him to apologize endlessly before she takes him back... until the next time.
That's not entertaining or loving, and it certainly isn't something the matriarch of the Horton family should be doing. While Alice's true love was Tom and the idea of her loving a criminal is laughable, if she did, she would accept him warts and all, not berate him for being who he was.
3. Jennifer Rose Horton Deveraux
It's sad that Jennifer has to be a distant third in the competition to take over Alice's old role.
Plucky, fiery Jennifer might have needed to learn to control her tongue better, but she was always Alice's favorite granddaughter. She lives in Alice's old house, for goodness sake, and she has Alice's big heart.
And she knows how to bake her Gram's donuts. That's been referenced a lot in recent years.
Unfortunately, Jennifer has become a watered-down, insecure shadow of the woman she once was. She's busy allowing Eve to blackmail her into keeping secrets from Eric because Eve keeps calling her a "dried up old twig". And when she's not feeling guilty and afraid, she's responding to Eve's taunts.
Plus, Jennifer often plays favorites with her kids, focusing almost exclusively on Abigail.
More often than not, she's oblivious when JJ is having a serious problem. Back in 2013, she was too busy getting ready for Christmas to pay attention when he tried to tell her Theresa was blackmailing him, and during the 2017 holiday season she appeared to have no clue that her son was struggling with suicidal feelings.
The whole point of an Alice type character is to support the younger generations, and Jennifer is failing that test miserably with her own children.
If Jennifer could become an older, wiser version of the woman viewers fell in love with back in the 1980s, she might be able to follow in her Gram's footsteps, but as it is, she just can't.
It's your turn, DAYS Fanatics!
Do you think anyone in Salem can truly follow in Alice Horton's footsteps, and if so, who?
Weigh in below!
Want more DAYS discussion? Check out the latest Days of Our Lives reviews.