What are the last real issue plots on American daytime soap operas?
For Days of Our Lives, it would be Will and Sonny's wedding as same-sex marriage is now legal in many states within the US. The other story would be the Brady's continuing struggles with drug addiction. For The Young and the Restless, it would be organ donation as Paul received a liver transplant from Dylan. For The Bold and the Beautiful, their 2014 issue story was about animal adoption. We saw Liam and Hope interacting with real employees of a shelter. Bob Barker even stopped by to discuss helping animals. For General Hospital, the Nurses Ball would have been the last time any serious issue was mentioned, though there was little discussion of HIV and AIDS. Last year, the online version of All My Children had a major social issue plot. All My Children's Cassandra was kidnapped into sex slavery, became addicted to drugs, and had an abortion in less than 50 episodes. One Life to Live had Dorian trick Viki into a Ponzi scheme, which is ripped from real life, but due to how it was handled it wasn't a true social issue plot.
While I'm not a huge fan of social issue stories, I feel like they aren't told very often or merely exist to provide material for Daytime Emmy reels. Y&R got nominated and won so many awards for the story surrounding Delia's death. From Days, both Eric Martsolf, who plays drug addicted Brady, and Chandler Massey who played Will got Daytime Emmys. B&B tends to do the yearly social issue, like homelessness or the woes of people who aged out of the foster care system. Days hasn't been doing regular social issue plots for decades, so I tend to be surprised when the program does focus on something within the genre beyond the occasional plot with an addicted character. General Hospital was known in the 90s for their social issue material, but today the program is more focused on camp than a serious discussion of any issue.
This was just a quick write up on social issue stories as they are in soaps today. This obviously didn't provide insight to the strong and intelligently written plots of the past.