Will Horton

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For other people named William Horton, see William Horton (disambiguation).
Will Horton
Guy Wilson as Will.png
Guy Wilson as Will Horton
Days of Our Lives character
Portrayed by
Duration
  • 1995–2015
First appearance November 16, 1995 (1995-11-16)
Last appearance October 13, 2015 (2015-10-13)
Created by James E. Reilly
Introduced by
Classification Former; regular
Profile
Other names
  • William Robert Horton
  • Will Roberts
  • Will Reed
Occupation
  • Student
  • Pub worker
  • Business intern
  • Political campaign staffer
  • Screenwriter
  • Journalist

Will Horton is a fictional character from the American NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, most recently portrayed by Guy Wilson. The son of Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) and Lucas Horton (Bryan Dattilo), the character first appeared on November 16, 1995, as a newborn child. His mother Sami acts as if Austin Reed (Austin Peck) is the father so Austin might marry her. The ruse is ultimately revealed, and Will has a "turbulent upbringing" due to his parent's complicated love lives, and the machinations of his mother and his grandma Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow), as they fight over Will. As a child, Will does everything he can to bring his parents together, so they can be a "real family". Luke Kerr of Daytime Confidential called Will an "important role" on Days.[1]

A succession of child actors portrayed Will, with Christopher Gerse playing the role (then called Will Roberts) from 2003 to 2008, with the character and actor "growing up on screen". After a year hiatus, Will was reintroduced in 2009 with Dylan Patton as a sixteen-year-old,[2] and then Chandler Massey (2010 to 2014) took the character into adulthood. Chandler Massey's era is noted for Will struggling with his discovery of his sexuality, and then coming out as gay, and beginning a same-sex relationship with Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith). Massey said he hoped his storyline would challenge people's views on homosexuality and promote tolerance. Will and Sonny become the show's first same-sex supercouple (commonly referred to by the portmanteau "WilSon").[3][4] In 2014 Guy Wilson took over the role, and played Will as Days broadcast the first male gay wedding in US Daytime history.

Patton and Massey were both nominated for Daytime Emmy Awards for their portrayal of Will, and Massey won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series in 2012 – the first time the award had been won for a gay character[5] – and Massey repeated his win in 2013 and 2014.

The character of Will was killed off on October 9, 2015,[6] a month before the show's 50th Anniversary,[7] by new Headwriters Dena Higley and Josh Griffith.[8][9] This generated "major" fan backlash,[10][11] and criticism in the soap press,[12][13] as well as accusations that Days of Our Lives was pandering to anti-gay sentiment in its audience base.[14] Alison Sweeney, who had left the show, but returned to shoot the funeral, said "it was a huge mistake to kill Will, especially for the show's 50th anniversary".[15]

Casting[edit]

Identical twins Shawn and Taylor Carpenter originally played Will. They were only six weeks old when they started, and they portrayed Will from babyhood until six years old (1995 to 2002).[16][17] In 2002, Days decided they wanted a trained young actor playing Will, and nine-year-old Darian Weiss was cast,[16][18] and the character was rapidly-aged[17] three years. A year later (2003), Christopher Gerse took over as Will. Gerse told Soap Opera Digest that he had previously auditioned for Will, and another part, but had not landed either. Finally successful, Gerse said "I was so happy to get on DAYS ... I've always wanted to have a recurring part on a TV show."[19] In 2005, Days were again planning to rapidly age Will, and were "actively seeking out a new actor to play the role" – but the plans were shelved when new storyline for the younger Will "became available", and Gerse was retained to "preserve the believability of Alison Sweeney and Bryan Dattilo as his parents".[20] Will was not aged again, and Gerse continued until 2007,[16] plus a one-episode appearance in January 2008. Will was then written out (by having the character go to live with his Uncle Austin and Aunt Carrie in Switzerland). In 2009, Will now sixteen,[2] was reintroduced with actor Dylan Patton,[16] and then in 2010 the role was again recast with Chandler Massey, a newcomer to daytime television, reportedly to facilitate a new storyline.[21] Before he started, Massey watched as many episodes of the series as he could find to familiarize himself with the character.[22] Massey's younger brother Christian Massey was employed to play Will in flashbacks for the episode of February 8, 2013.[23]

Following his second Emmy win in 2013, Massey revealed he would vacate the role to return to college after his current contract expired.[24][25][26] Executive Producer Ken Corday said, "I wish he would stay. I keep telling him to change his mind, don't go away ... The door will always be open here to Chandler. We are not going to recast Will, but I wish him well".[27] Massey expressed he would support a recast, saying "If they decide to bring someone else to play Will, I won't be upset and bitter. I want what is best for WilSon!"[28] However, on August 23, 2013, it was reported Massey had left the show effective immediately, and the show would go ahead with a recast due to the character's current storyline.[29]

On September 12, 2013, it was announced that Guy Wilson was cast in the role of Will.[30] His costar Freddie Smith revealed the switch between Massey and Wilson would happen as quick as the news of the recast, saying, "If you blink and open your eyes, you’ll be like, 'Wait, there's a new Will?!' ... It’s literally just 'BOOM!'"[31] Massey made his final appearance on January 2, 2014 and Wilson made his first appearance on January 8, 2014.[32] Guy Wilson took a brief hiatus on October 30, 2014 as Will accompanies Sami out of town, coinciding with the exit of Alison Sweeney from the series.[33] He appeared on December 1, 2014,[34] and then returned full-time on December 11, 2014.[35] In September 2015, it was announced Wilson had been let go and the role would not be recast.[36] Wilson's last appearance was on October 13, 2015.[37]

Development[edit]

Characterization and family[edit]

The character is originally named William Reed. In the show, "William" is after his aunt Billie Reed (Lisa Rinna),[38] who is both the sister of Austin Reed (who's believed to be Will's father when Will is born), and half-sister to Lucas (Will's real biological father).[38] Two years later, when Will's real paternity is publicly revealed, Will gets a new surname. As Lucas is using his mother's surname of Roberts, Will becomes Will Roberts. Several years later, Lucas changes both their surnames to that of his father, Bill Horton.

Will's parents, Sami and Lucas, have an on-and off-relationship over the years, which has a negative effect on Will. The Sony Pictures website for Will stated his "turbulent upbringing" makes the young Will "moody and suspicious",[39] but About.com's profile on the character says Will overcame the turmoil of his upbringing, and grew up to be a "kind-hearted" and "level-headed" teenager.[40] Will has a streak of optimism, demonstrated in his childhood ambition to get his parents together as a couple, against all odds.[38] Will has a "strong bond" with his one-time "father", his "beloved" Uncle Austin, and his Aunt Carrie.[38] Will also has a close relationship with his Grandma Marlena (Deidre Hall), who helps him through his struggles to come out.[41] She tells Will he is "one of the bravest men I've ever known".[42]

Massey talked about how Will "being insecure" creates drama, but that Will and Sonny were "by far the most stable, most logical and loving" couple on the show.[43]

Will has a long-time best friend in Tad "T" Stevens[44] – played by Brendan Coughlin,[45] who has played opposite Patton, Massey, and Wilson.[46]

Sexuality[edit]

When Dylan Patton played him, Will was characterized as straight.[47] Will (aged 16–17) had a girlfriend in Mia McCormick (Taylor Spreitler), and Patton was unaware of any intention to make Will gay.[47] At the start of Chandler Massey's era, Will was also characterized as straight. Massey told Afterbuzz TV "It wasn't till later" and "I guess something that I was doing made them think, 'this guy should be gay! And this will be great!'". Massey explained: "They sat me down and told me 'we have this great story for Will – he's going to be coming out – and we want to let you know that's the direction we're going in.'"[48]

Chandler Massey (pictured) hoped that Will's gay storyline would promote tolerance.

After Massey learned of this in February 2011, uncertainly was cast over the storyline, as Days of Our Lives changed head writers and executive producers.[49] Massey said that, while he was not told whether or not they would proceed, he played Will "with his sexuality in mind". In August 2011, Massey told Damon L. Jacobs from We Love Soaps that he did not know if the series was going to proceed with a gay storyline for Will. He claimed he was yet to receive any scripts to suggest that Will would.[22] In November 2011, Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly announced the serial was going ahead with Will's gay storyline. Will's story received approval from NBC and Sony Pictures Entertainment, who air the show. Days of Our Lives Co-Executive Producer Greg Meng told Rice "we are excited to have the encouragement and support from both NBC and Sony to tell the inspiring story of a young man learning who he is as he defines and creates his relationships with others."[50] Massey said that he was "thrilled" to play Will in an "empowering way that will show his struggle to accept who he is". He wanted the storyline to help other people to accept themselves for who they are.[50] Amelia Proud from Daily Mail reported that the storyline's inclusion was part of the series focus on attracting a younger audience.[51]

It was originally reported Will would be coupled with Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), a gay character who is a year older than Will, and who was introduced to the show on June 23, 2011,[52] but Smith said Sonny might become involved with another character.[53] At that time, Will was dating Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus). They both become friends with Sonny, and Massey told Jacobs of We Love Soaps that Will has a close relationship with Sonny. Will looks up to and respects Sonny because he has encountered hate in Salem but remains confident and comfortable with who he is. Massey said Will cannot help but admire these qualities in Sonny as "they are rare to see." The two characters share a "bromance" more than anything else.[22]

In the show, after Will meets Sonny, he starts rebuffing his girlfriend's Gabi Herdandez's attempts at intimacy; and when she ends her relationship with Will, he becomes slightly unhinged. Massey told a reporter from Gay Star News that the scenes were fun to film, but a "challenge to do them convincingly".[49] Massey said that Will's struggle with his sexuality that follows would not be romantic. The character had a lot to deal with and throughout his life "he has put his sexuality on the back burner and hasn't really dealt with it." Massey said that the storyline would reach a "big audience" and hoped that it would promote tolerance.[49]

Massey told Robert Waldron of Soap Opera Digest that Will was keeping his "self-loathing and disgust" over his sexuality to himself, which results in him becoming "tightly wound". In the show, Will drinks alcohol to make himself feel "less awkward", and in turn this makes him do something he wouldn't when he is of a sober mind: Will shares a kiss with Neil (Jesse Kristofferson), which is witnessed by Sonny. Massey added being caught by Sonny is "one of those moments when Will wishes he could turn invisible".[54] Bryan Dattilo, who plays Will's dad Lucas, told Michael Logan of TV Guide that Lucas is "in shock when he sees Will flirting with another guy". Lucas is worried Will may be persecuted because of his sexuality and fall victim to hate crimes. Dattilo said he was proud of the writing, which he said "stayed true to Lucas" as he is a "very loving and accepting guy". He added Lucas would "do anything" to protect Will.[55] Will comes out to his parents when he is left feeling "vulnerable and exposed" after he finds out that Lucas is resuming his relationship with Sami (something he is no longer keen on, as Will has despaired of his mother's inability to maintain a relationship, and his own relationship with his mother has soured). Will lashes out at Lucas and reveals he is gay. Dattilo praised Massey's performance in the scenes. Dattilo previously had only worked alongside Massey on a few occasions before Dattilo's hiatus from the show in 2010, and he said it was like meeting a new actor because Massey just "rips up every scene".[55]

Storyline[edit]

1995–2008[edit]

Will is born to Sami via Caesarean section. Sami has convinced herself, and everyone else, that Austin is the father, and Austin welcomes Will as his own. But when Will has an accident as a child, his blood is tested, and Sami then realizes that Lucas must be Will's real father. In order not to lose Austin, Sami says nothing, and changes hospital records so no one knows – but her brother Eric (Jensen Ackles) and sister Carrie (Christie Clark) uncover the truth, just before she is going to get married to Austin. The wedding is called off, and over the following years, Will is centric to several custody battles between his parents. In addition, he is caught up in the bitter feud between Sami and Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow), who is the mother of both Austin and Lucas.

Despite his turbulent upbringing, for many years Will is a quiet, eager to please little boy (played by Shawn and Taylor Carpenter). He loves both Austin and Lucas, and he gets upset when he cannot see them, and when his father Lucas is in a coma after a fire. However, after Lucas takes him on holiday to Africa in the summer of 2002, Will (now Darian Weiss, and nine years old) becomes spoiled and obnoxious. He talks back to his parents and calls them by their first names. He also starts to play rough with other children and ends up hurting his cousin Abby on more than one occasion. Everyone worries that his unstable home life is the cause of his antics.

Eventually his childish behavior subsides. But when a serial killer (the Salem Stalker) begins offing his relatives he gets afraid - and it doesn't help that both his parents are, for a time, suspects! Will (now Christopher Gerse) comes home from school one day with a black-eye, after he has gotten into a fight defending his parents honor. Will does everything he can to get his parents together, so that he can be like "other kids" with a father and mother who live together. Several times it seems that Will's dream is going to come true, but Sami, or his grandma Kate, usually manage to throw a spanner in the works. So when Lucas marries Sami's sister Carrie Brady, and Sami gets engaged to Austin, Will is happy, as he loves both his aunt and uncle, and his parents. But when Sami and Austin separate again, Will cannot cope and runs away to Chicago. Sami fears he has been kidnapped and goes onto the news to plea for his safe return. When Will returns, he is surprised to find out the kerfuffle he has caused.

After Carrie has an affair with Austin they leave town together, and Lucas moves back in with Will and Sami. Will is pleased to have his parents together once more, and to his delight, Lucas and Sami become engaged. They marry despite Kate's attempts to stop them, and Will is over-the-moon that his dream has finally come true. But his happiness does not last, as Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) tells Sami she has to divorce Lucas and marry Stefano's son EJ DiMera (James Scott) to end the longstanding Brady-DiMera feud. Sami, in order to protect the lives of her family, reluctantly agrees, but Will cannot cope with his parents' latest split and lashes out at Sami. Will is so upset by Sami's upcoming marriage to EJ, that he does something very rash, that is only revealed years later. Will is sent to stay with Austin in Switzerland in order to protect him from the DiMeras. He briefly returns – but he is still angry with Sami, and clashes with her and Lucas – and when Will is caught underage drinking, they send him back to Switzerland.

2009–13[edit]

Actor Dylan Patton pictured at the 2010 Daytime Emmy Awards.
Dylan Patton (pictured) played Will on his 2009 return from Switzerland.

Will (now Dylan Patton, and aged 16) returns to Salem to live with Sami in February 2009, meeting and eventually dating Mia McCormick (Taylor Spreitler). The new relationship is complicated by Mia's past with Chad DiMera (Casey Deidrick), with whom she secretly had a daughter who was then illegally adopted by Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker). When Will finds out, he is initially upset that Mia has lied to him, but he understands, and becomes very supportive of Mia, as she fights to do the best thing for her daughter, as the adoption, which Mia thinks is the best thing for her daughter, begins to fall apart. However, Mia still has feelings for Chad, and when she two-times Will, he breaks up with her.

In 2010, Will (now Chandler Massey) hates EJ, and encourages Sami to date the respectable Rafe Hernandez (Galen Gering) instead, even moving in with Kate and Stefano to avoid EJ. Will begins dating Rafe's young sister, Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus). They graduate high school together, and on graduation day, they meet and befriend Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), who has just returned to town after traveling the world. Will is surprised to learn Sonny is gay, and after meeting Sonny, Will avoids being intimate with Gabi, and she eventually ends the relationship. Angry after catching Sami cheating on Rafe with EJ, Will goes to a party with Sonny, gets drunk and kisses a man named Neil (Jesse Kristofferson). Will talks about the kiss with his grandmother Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall), who promises her support and tells him she always knew he might be gay. Will confides in Sonny that he is not ready to come out as gay, and has a one-night stand with Gabi that results in a pregnancy. As Will enters into a relationship with Sonny, Gabi pretends that the baby has been fathered by her new boyfriend Nick Fallon (Blake Berris). Will and Sonny split when the paternity of Gabi's baby is revealed, but soon reunite. Not wanting Will involved in the coming baby's life because he is gay, Nick discovers that Will had shot EJ years before, and blackmails Will to sign away his parental rights. After Will is later shot while trying to save Nick's life, Nick relents, and Will is named as baby Arianna's father on her birth certificate. Gabi and Arianna move in with Will and Sonny, and together they form a family, with Gabi, Will and Sonny bringing up Arianna together.

2014-15[edit]

Will (now Guy Wilson) marries Sonny in April 2014. Gabi rekindles her relationship with Nick, causing Will to again fear that he might lose Arianna. Will is negotiating a joint custody agreement with Gabi in May 2014 when Nick is shot and killed. Thinking that Sonny did it, Will confesses to protect him. On June 2, 2014, Gabi admits to killing Nick, who she felt was a threat to her and Arianna. Gabi accepts a plea deal and goes to prison, leaving Arianna in the care of Will and Sonny. In October 2014, Will leaves Salem temporarily with Sami, who is mourning EJ's death, but returns in December 2014. Will's absence and Sonny's financial troubles with his new club have strained their relationship, and Will plunges himself into his new career as a journalist. He begins interviewing injured star baseball player Paul Narita (Christopher Sean), whom Will soon realizes is gay but closeted. Meanwhile, Paul reconnects with Sonny, the love of his life whom he let slip away to pursue his career. Sonny's heart had been broken, but he assures Paul he is now happily married. Not knowing their mutual connection to Sonny, Will and Paul fall into bed together in January 2015, and Will is immediately remorseful. Sonny finds out about Will and Paul, but is stabbed in the park before he can confront them. Sonny's memory is impaired while he recovers, but when he remembers what Will did, Sonny rejects Will and leaves Salem to convalesce. When he returns, they struggle to mend their relationship, but Will's indiscretion is made public and the Kiriakis family turn against Will. Desperate to repair his marriage and terrified of losing Sonny to Paul, Will does all he can to get Paul to leave town. Will discovers Paul's mother, Tori Narita (Hira Ambrosino), is keeping a secret from Paul, and threatens to tell Paul if Tori does not convince him to depart for good. Sonny is furious when he finds out about Will's machinations, and leaves town again, ostensibly to take care of Kiriakis family business. Will is distraught, but as time passes, Will respects Sonny's need for time and space, and holds onto the hope that they will be re-united.

Ben Weston (Robert Scott Wilson) asks Will to be his best man in his upcoming wedding to Will's cousin, Abigail Deveraux (Kate Mansi). Will calls on Abby at the apartment she shares with Ben, to give her wedding venue information that he and Sonny had put together when they were engaged. Abby has to go out, but the cable guy is due to come that day, and Will offers to wait in the apartment. While at the apartment, Will leaves Sonny a hopeful and loving voice message, admitting his fault in their breakup, and expressing his love for Sonny. Unfortunately, Will then notices a red necktie in Ben's trash can. This surprises Will, and makes him think of the serial killer currently at large in town who has murdered two women by strangling them with such a necktie, (which is left with the body). Ben arrives just as Will is holding the tie and thinking about this. Ben acts alarmingly, and Will realizes Ben is the Necktie Killer. Will tries to leave, but Ben knocks him out. Just as Will is coming to, Ben strangles Will to death with the tie. Will is killed on October 9, 2015.[6]

Sonny is ecstatic to get Will's message, and immediately gets ready to return to Salem, to re-unite with Will. But before he leaves, his Uncle Victor (John Aniston) phones him to say Will has been murdered. Sonny is devastated, and he returns to Salem to bury his husband rather than reconcile with him. Meanwhile, Ben has made sure Chad DiMera is the prime suspect in the murders; but as Ben's relationship with Abigail self-destructs, he becomes increasingly violent and unhinged. After he nearly murders Abigail and Chad, Ben is arrested and publicly revealed as the Necktie Killer.

Reception[edit]

Coming out story[edit]

Rick Nelson of the Star Tribune said Will's coming out storyline was addictive viewing.[56] Anthony D. Langford of AfterElton.com said Will suffered from "the fate of most TV gays" who are "basically nice guys" with an absence of dark characteristics. He added this stereotype does not "exactly make riveting television".[57] He later bemoaned the slow pace of Will's coming out storyline. He said it was "hard to believe" the scenes took one year to air following their announcement and "many wondered if the moment would actually come". Langford quipped it would probably take another year for his family to find out.[58] Pascal Parvis of Têtu noted Will and Neil's kiss was "not a little" and said "What could be better" than the serial's first gay kiss lasting two episodes.[59] Online blogger Perez Hilton described the scenes as "incredible" and "absolutely wonderful". He praised the serial and NBC for not "bowing down to bigoted pressure" and showing a "hot steamy make-out" session as opposed to a kiss.[60] A columnist for The Huffington Post said it was fortunate the "much-hyped" scene was more than a kiss.[61] Sara Bibel of Xfinity said Will and Neil got the "full soap treatment" because other soap operas pan the camera away during same-sex kisses. Bibel said the subject of homosexuality is no longer "taboo or groundbreaking", but said it was a development for a soap is usually "socially conservative".[62]

Joachim Ohnona from Pure People said it took the serial more than ten thousand episodes to air their first gay kiss. He added it was "better late than never" and opined some would call it a "non-event" for the soap opera.[63] Dan Avery of Queerty said the serial "made television history yesterday when it became the absolutely last show to show two men kissing". Avery felt it took too long to show the gay kiss and quipped "he’ll get some bed scenes by 2016".[64] Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice branded the storyline as "Project Get-Fans-Talking" and "the latest effort to remain relevant at a time when soaps are desperately losing their luster".[65] Langford later criticized the storyline for not developing fast enough. He said Will's scenes with Marlena were "nice" because Massey and Hall have "terrific chemistry".[66]

Gay romance[edit]

Will Horton's romance with Sonny Kiriakis has been generally well received by critics and the audience. TV Guide said that "while it took 45 years for the show to introduce its first openly gay character (Sonny) and another year and a half to have him find a male partner (Will), the wait was well worth it. This steamy, star-crossed saga has had drama to spare (Paranoia! Blackmail! Impossible parents!), but its real success lies in the fresh, easy charm of these two young men."[67] TV Source Magazine named Will and Sonny Best Couple of 2012 in the Days of Our Lives series, saying "One of the most refreshing things about Will and Sonny’s relationship is it's portrayed just as any heterosexual couple would be. Watching them grow from friends to being in love was one of the highlights of the year for DAYS."[68]

Murder[edit]

Former Days writer Kola Boof,[69][70] tweeted "I think the killing of Will Horton is one of the biggest dumbest mistakes in Days history. On many levels."[71] Soap Opera Digest condemned the killing, saying it was "sick and violent", and "it got people talking all right, but not in a good way," and whilst realizing the show needed to boost ratings, "killing off a legacy character like Will was not at all the way to do it." They said "Will holds a special place in the hearts of Days viewers", because they watched him "grow up on-screen after his birth in 1995", and "his sensitive coming out tale in 2012" added to his "cherished status".[12] TV Guide Magazine's Michael Logan tweeted "Killing Will is a dumb-ass move. He's not just a legacy character & LGBT icon, this crazy hot mess was storytelling gold. Insane."[72] Logan expanded in his end-of-year review, saying it was "dead wrong" and "idiotic" and "the murder of Days of Our Lives’ landmark gay character Will Horton via brutal strangulation meant the loss of an insanely fascinating fire-starter who had kept the show spinning for years," adding "many are calling the move homophobic."[13]

Michael Fairman[73] labelled the killing as "The Worst Decision" in soaps in 2015, saying "to kill the legacy character of Will Horton by having him brutally murdered ... sent a message to the LGBT community, and the viewers, that caused a major negative backlash." Fairman gave the runner-up for "Worst Decision 2015" to Days not having Will's husband upfront at his funeral, "Will’s husband Sonny was relegated to the second row ... Not cool!"[10] Tony S., a columnist at soapcentral.com, said the family photograph of Will, Sonny and Arianna blowing off Will's grave "came across as a promise from someone in charge to homophobic fans ... as, 'Congrats, you won't have to worry about their kind anymore.'"[74]

James Lott Jr of AfterBuzz TV said Will's murder was a "jump the shark moment", and "I just couldn't believe it!" He said Will was "a character that has been on since pre-birth", and is "related to almost everyone on the show", and "tied to so many people", and "I mean this is really ridiculous to me: to kill Will Horton!" Lott described his experience watching it happen and thinking "you're ruining the show right now - this is the biggest mistake you could have made," and "I was watching it, as the life was coming out of him, the life was coming out of me at the same time, as a long-time viewer."[14] Lott's Afterbuzz TV colleague Tony Moore[75] called Will's death "gruesome" and "hard to watch", and bemoaned "the whole gay storyline is just going to be done away with." He criticized the writing, in that Will didn't run, cry for help, or fight back.[14] Tony S did too, writing "Will was just as fit as any other Salem heartthrob, but was so discombobulated by a toss to the fridge that he couldn't fight back. Alllll riiiggghhhttt", and "he had a child and husband to live for – to fight for – yet the writers seemed like he couldn't die fast enough."[74] Several commentators criticized the lack of repercussions in the story. Laurisa, a columnist at soapcentral.com, wrote "the people of Salem were no more invested in solving this crime than they were before Will's death.[74]" Michael Logan wrote "Will’s death was pretty much forgotten by the people of Salem within days, even by his own mother,"[13] and Soap Opera Digest said "the end game" was "nil", and "people were giddily partying to honor Salem's birthday party mere weeks after his graphic murder!" [12]

Mark J Freeman of Afterbuzz TV talked in strongly critical terms about pandering to viewers who dislike seeing gay characters on TV: "instead of just saying 'a majority of middle america doesn't like the gay storyline: let's kill them' ... how about being the change?", And "if someone doesn't like Adrienne—are you just going to kill Adrienne? I mean where is the cut off to what you are going to listen to? Where are you going to start standing up ... and being the voice of change?" Freeman framed it in an historical context, saying, "there are things in American history, that a majority of people ... thought was right, and it didn't make it right, ... and it doesn't mean that change should not have happened."[14]

Fans expressed outrage via social media[11][76] and letters to Soap Opera Digest.[77] Social media fan reactions were published in Hollywood Life,[11] and 2paragraphs.com,[76] with one fan saying: "Will Horton was a beacon in the face of bullying and persecution. Today, you expect LGBTQ youth to watch his life strangled away".[11] Soap Opera Digest printed a letter saying: "In my 30-plus years as a Days viewer, I have never been more disgusted by a storyline than the violent strangulation death of a gay legacy character ... As the mother of a young son who was struggling with his sexuality, we were able to watch Will come out, fall in love, and get married ... Now I regret ever encouraging him to watch."[77]

In another published tweet a fan thanked Alison Sweeney (who plays Will's mother, Sami Brady) for "voicing our disgust" to the killing of Will.[11] Sweeney told Soap Opera Digest: "I was angry. I felt betrayed and hurt", and "this particular story point is something that I just don't agree with and I didn't from the moment they told me. And I don't understand why they did it." Sweeney said: "it breaks my heart that there is no Will anymore." [78]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Darian Weiss, Christopher Gerse, and Dylan Patton, were all nominated for Young Artist Awards for their portrayal of Will.[79][80][81] Gerse was nominated twice - in 2004 and 2005.[79][80] In 2010, Patton received a nomination for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series,[82] and the next year (2011), Chandler Massey was nominated.[83] Massey went on to win the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series—never before won for a gay character[5]—three years in a row, in 2012,[84] 2013,[85] and 2014.[86]

Days of Our Lives won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daily Drama in 2012,[87] 2013,[88] 2014,[89] and 2015,[90] in recognition of the characters and stories of Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis and related characters.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kerr, Luke (2009-12-07). "DAYS' Dylan Patton OUT, Chandler Massey IN as Will Horton". Daytime Confidential. Confidential Media. Archived from the original on 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  2. ^ a b Days of Our Lives. Season 44. Episode 11,036. March 12, 2009. NBC. I'm sixteen! 
  3. ^ "Media: Will & Sonny: Days of Our Lives' new supercouple!". E Wall Streeter. American Media, Inc. March 17, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Daytime TV Power Couple That May (or May Not) Surprise You". July 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Chandler Massey ('Days of Our Lives') could make Daytime Emmys history with third win". www.goldderby.com. Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
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