It’s the end of an era on “Days of Our Lives” this week, but since it comes with so little fanfare, you might not even realize the significance.
This week marks Kristian Alfonso’s last appearance as Hope Williams Brady after playing her on and off for 37 years. I’m writing this before the episode airs, but all indications are that the exit will not even be acknowledged onscreen.
When the news broke in July that Alfonso would be leaving the series, I received numerous messages from people I didn’t even know watched “Days” lamenting her exit and wondering how the show could possibly continue. Alfonso leaving “Days” is like one of the big three exiting “This Is Us.” It leaves a huge hole on the show and in daytime in general. So, why wouldn’t the show give the departure more weight? And why is she leaving?
In November 2019, “Days” released its entire cast from its contracts in a drastic cost-cutting move. Once NBC renewed the show, the producers went back to the actors to renegotiate new contracts. Alfonso was told the show was finally ready to unveil the huge storyline for Hope they had promised her for months — a romance with a Navy Seal. However, they wanted to keep her off the canvas for five months before beginning the storyline. Alfonso decided that was her cue to go and did not sign a new contract. Since the show worked months in advance, the scenes she completed in November became her final ones. With no indication of her exit at the time, nothing was mentioned. So unless something was added after the departure was announced, a 37-year veteran and linchpin of the series will exit with only a whimper. But as much as I will miss Alfonso, I completely support and understand her decision.
For whatever reason, the show just couldn’t figure out what to do with one of its most popular characters after the departure of Alfonso’s longtime supercouple partner, Peter Reckell (Bo). Every time they would pair Hope with a new man, they’d tear the relationship apart. They gave her a front burner storyline when Hope was taken over by Princess Gina, but then drug it on too long. And we were teased a Hope-Rafe reunion, which we now know the show never had any intention of making happen. So it’s completely understandable that making Alfonso leave the show for five months to finally get the decent storyline she’d already been promised was the last straw. I would’ve walked out the door, too.
I’m hoping at some point the show will get a Hope story straightened out and will convince Alfonso to return. But in the meantime, I think she would be amazing in a Dick Wolf show like “Chicago Fire” or “Chicago P.D.” And if Hallmark hasn’t already spoken with her, they need to get on it immediately. Whatever she does, I will definitely be watching.
“Days of Our Lives” airs at 1 p.m. weekdays on NBC. You can also watch this week’s episodes on NBC.com, the NBC app and Peacock.