Quite possibly the definitive Guilty Pleasure
of a daytime Soap Opera
. Had a particularly large fandom in the United Kingdom
during its heyday. Such was its popularity over there that petitions were sent to the UK broadcaster (Channel Five
) begging them to have it uncancelled
in America. This was despite the fact that the quality fell into So Bad, It's Good
status several times. Wobbly scenery, dodgy dialogue and woeful acting were abound.
The plot featured Meg
who, after discovering that her fiancÚ was cheating on her on their wedding day, packs her bags and leaves her Kansas home-town for a Handsome Stranger
with whom she has been conversing via e-mail for months. She arrives at his home-town of Sunset Beach. At first she finds Ben
withdrawn and unsociable, which she later finds out is due to the death of his first wife at sea. He even keeps a large portrait of her dressed in white, on a swing-set in his living room.
Meg finds a rival for Ben's affections in his childhood friend Annie Douglas
who takes an immediate dislike to her. The Ben, Annie and Meg Love Triangle
takes up the first story arc of the series, expanding to include the other residents of Sunset Beach in various yet interlocking story-lines. Gregory Richards
, the mogul of the town, owns the newspaper for which Meg works. His wife Olivia
is a secret drunk. Their daughter Caitlin
is involved in a torrid love affair with Cole Deschanel
, a con-artist whom Gregory despises and with whom Olivia slept with without realizing his connection to her daughter. Ben finances some of Gregory's operations. Meg makes friends with the local lifeguard Casey
who at the time was briefly dating Rae
, who is also Meg's doctor... Phew, got that yet?
Now, Casey is also friends with Michael
, a lifeguard, later sports physician, who is currently dating Vanessa
, a plucky reporter with a nose for trouble. Vanessa also works for the same newspaper as Meg. Olivia's best friend Bette
, who is the town gossip and dispenser of sage advice, provides Meg with a kind ear and information about Ben's past. Ricardo
hates Ben because his first wife was Ricardo's sister. Ricardo is in a relationship with Paula Stevens
, a fellow police offer. Both are involved in Long Lost Sibling sideplots
. Together all these shared lives and histories form the basis of plots for the series.
Tropes featured in the show:
- All Just a Dream: subverted. In the series finale, following the double wedding of Meg and Ben and Michael and Vanessa, Meg wakes up in Kansas, and realizes that the past three years in Sunset Beach have been a dream and that the characters in the show were actually her friends and family in back home, in a homage to The Wizard of Oz, only to wake up from THAT dream the day after her wedding to Ben.
- Bed Trick: Ben's evil twin seduces Meg by pretending to be Ben, essentially raping her. Even worse, he forces Ben to watch through a two-way mirror. This is a reversal of a plot that occurred in the show's first year, when Meg broke into Ben's house and dressed up as his dead wife Maria, and later had sex with him after he'd suffered a serious brain injury and believed he was with Maria. Although Meg knew Ben was delusional and believed she was Maria, she decided to go through with sex with him anyway. When Ben discovered weeks later that he had slept with Meg, he was not upset, only unhappy she was so upset he didn't realize they'd slept together.
- Betty and Veronica: For Ben, Meg was the Betty and interchangeably Annie/Maria were his Veronicas. For Meg, Ben was her Veronica and Tim was her Betty.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Richards family, as headed by their patriarch Gregory.
- Dead Man's Chest: Annie's friend Tim gets stuffed into a chest temporarily after being murdered, before finally being buried in cement.
- Dream Sequence: Often provided by Annie, but a feature of the other characters as well. Sometimes these would segue into flashback scenes. About halfway through the show, the surreal scenes mostly disappear, however, as they stop fitting into the tone of many of the storylines.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Casey. He does get his girl in the finale, though.
- Evil Red Head: Annie, who is responsible for most of the trouble in the show. Despite this, she is generally portrayed sympathetically, as she is more petty and mean-spirited than anything, and her plots, while stressful to the rest of the cast, are generally limited in the amount of harm they are designed to cause. Downright villainy is left to other characters, although she is often coerced into aiding them in some way.
- Hot Men At Work: Everyone, but the lifeguards are impossibly ripped.
- Hot Mom: Olivia, Tess. Quite a few actually. The show was fairly equal opportunity when it came to attractive cast members.
- Karma Houdini: Annie is more pitiable than anything, but she manages to talk her way out of an astounding amount of trouble; despite causing the majority of the problems on the show, she never gets punished aside from being mistrusted.
- Money, Dear Boy: There were some notable actors among its cast list, namely Lesley-Anne Down and Sam Behrens who clearly enjoyed hamming up their scripts.
- Mr. Fanservice: Most every male. Special mention goes to Cole Deschanel as played by Eddie Cibrian.
- Pair the Spares: Annie ultimately ends up with Jude. In the final episode Maria meets a new man her psychic mother predicted would be her truth love.
- Replacement Love Interest: Meg thought she was this for Maria.
- Shirtless Scene: It wouldn't be Sunset Beach without it.
- Surfer Dude: Casey, the lifeguard. His occupation is mostly an excuse for him going shirtless a lot of the time.