When soap fans think of supercouples, often names like Hope and Bo, Frisco and Felicia and of course, Luke and Laura come up. While Luke and Laura’s wedding will always remain a pop culture moment, we think there’s an even bigger relationship in soap history.
The return of Chandler Massey to Days of Our Lives this fall has been a huge watershed moment for NBC. The character of Will Horton and his love story with Sonny Kiriakis, played by Freddie Smith, was a groundbreaking one on television. It really is a romance for the ages.
Here are the reasons why we should consider Will and Sonny’s relationship the most important in soap opera history.
It took DOOL 45 years to embrace a gay character. Honestly, it took far too long to introduce Sonny Kiriakis as its first openly gay character, but the show’s writers gave this storyline major impact. Will Horton was brought on the show as a romantic partner for Sonny a year and a half later.
The storyline was so natural, it just felt right. The writers treated them like any other heterosexual couple on the show. It wasn’t about writing stories for gay characters; it was about writing stories for two people in love.
To get the storyline to feel organic, the show had to find the perfect pair to execute this story. Smith and Massey had a wonderful chemistry that made their characters feel like they were destined to be together.
Both Smith and Massey had a great understanding of how these characters were supposed to develop and the gravitas of what they were portraying to soap fans.
"As far as Sonny and Will go, I get the power couple thing between them and they have the healthiest relationship on the show, believe it or not,” Massey said to NewNowNext in 2013. “But life throws all these things at them and basically the only way Will can get through it is by leaning on Sonny so they’ll be staying together and only grow deeper in love."
After Massey left the role to return to college, Guy Wilson stepped into Massey’s big shoes to continue the love story, which eventually led them down the aisle.
The storyline began to play out in 2012, when few states had marriage equality. By the time the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage was a right in all 50 states on June 26, 2015, Will and Sonny were already married. DOOL had shown fans how important all types of love stories were and how they deserved representation on daytime TV.
Will and Sonny were the first male-male wedding on daytime TV and they were DOOL’s first male supercouple, who even earned the cute couple nickname, “WilSon.” They were 'shipped on by DOOL fans with numerous Tumblr accounts honoring their relationship and YouTube accounts creating video edits of their most romantic moments.
What’s even more fascinating is that both characters are the children of DOOL supercouples themselves. Will is the son of Lucas and Sami, while Sonny is the son of Justin and Adrienne. This gives the storyline and history an even greater impact.
The show not only had the viewers and critics applauding DOOL for this storyline, the series went on to win four GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daily Drama for their portrayal of Will and Sonny’s relationship. Massey went on to win three Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It was the first time an actor had been honored for playing a gay character. Smith went on to win the same award in 2015.
The greatest injustice done to this couple was in 2015 when Will Horton was killed in the show’s serial murder storyline of the Necktie Killer. Will and Sonny were not in a good place, but Sonny’s reconciliation attempt was thwarted by his husband’s death.
Not many people were happy about this turn of events on DOOL including Alison Sweeney, who plays Will’s mother.
“I thought it was a huge mistake to kill Will, especially for the show's 50th anniversary,” She told TV Guide magazine’s Michael Logan in June 2016. “It still makes me angry when I think about it.”
With Will back in Salem, it looks like the writers are setting up the fans for a love triangle between Will, Sonny and Sonny’s fiancé, Paul. Sonny can’t seem to let go of his love for Will even though he’s set to marry Paul. Is a WilSon reconciliation coming up on the horizon?
Let’s hope so because DOOL threw away one of their most impactful relationships in soap history for a salacious serial killer storyline.
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