Best Soap: Days of Our Lives and General Hospital (tie)
Hey, we tried to pick one over the other — really, we did — but we simply couldn't. NBC's Days of Our Lives, the soap that once costarred Satan, continued to wow us with its awesomely trashy shocks: Stefano hires a hit man to cut off Rafe's penis! Sonny is forced to deliver his boyfriend's baby! Kristen beds a drugged-out priest and gets it all on video! But mostly Days did what it does best — bring us deeply involving relationship drama with characters we've loved and cherished for decades. Its Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama in June — the show's first in 35 years — was well-deserved.
Meanwhile, ABC's General Hospital not only made 50 look pretty damn fabulous, but it also drew its best ratings in nearly six years and gave the entire soap industry a much-needed kick in the keister. It even managed to spin a potentially crippling lawsuit from rival producer Prospect Park into shimmering gold. GH took us from the sublime (the soul-wrenching battle over Maxie's baby) to the sublimely ridiculous (doesn't anyone stay dead in Port Chuck anymore? Thankfully, no!), leaving us breathless and dazzled
Best Actress: Maura West, General Hospital
There's no embarrassment with these riches! It's been an epic year for leading ladies — Days' Eileen Davidson (Kristen) and Alison Sweeney (Sami), GH's Finola Hughes (Anna), The Bold and the Beautiful's Heather Tom (Katie) and All My Children's Debbi Morgan (Angie) all blew us away with their trophy-worthy work. But when the dust settled, West stood above the rest. Her performance as high-strung, power-mad mob spawn Ava Jerome is a noirish marvel — deadly, campy and defiantly sexual. There is nothing like a dame.
Best Actor: Billy Miller, The Young and the Restless
Make no mistake: We detested the show's decision to kill off little Delia in a hit-and-run — child slaughter is such a cheap, easy, overused way to work up audience emotion — but we cannot fault Miller. As grieving dad Billy Abbott, he hit levels of guilt and despair that were uncomfortably private and broke our hearts 10 times an episode. Miller will exit Y&R in January but likely won't be out of sight for long. This man is made for primetime
Best Supporting Actress: Meredith Scott Lynn, Days of Our Lives
Doesn't America have enough heath-care problems without this hospital administrator from hell? The phenomenal Lynn is a hoot as Salem's witchy human resources chief Anne Milbauer, a role made all the more fantastic by the funny girl's wild resemblance — in looks and delivery — to Barbra Streisand. Anne isn't one of those misunderstood baddies driven by inner turmoil and haunted by angst. She just loves to screw with people. And we love her for it
Best Supporting Actor: John Aniston, Days of Our Lives
What do you get when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Victor Kiriakis! Salem has long been run by this wicked puppet master — as monolithic as any of those guys on Mount Rushmore — yet never has he been so deliciously acerbic and pee-your-pants hilarious! Isn't it time Aniston had some Emmy love? After 38 years in the suds, this grand vet has never been nominated — and that's a crime far worse than any Victor has ever committed.