2012-04-12 / Lifestyles

Soap Du jour

Lois A. Corcoran Lois A. Corcoran My teenage son viewed his first– and probably last–soap opera the other day. He would have walked out had he not been stuck in a waiting room at the time.

I won’t name names, but in one short hour, he learned about a woman’s extra-marital fling, a business deal gone wrong, and a seriously dysfunctional family.

Each scene lasted but a moment and ended with a teaser like, “You’ll never believe this...” Then music played as the camera zoomed in to show people’s overdramatized reactions. These ranged from elation to wrath, depending on the development.

Like real life, soaps have more than their share of death. The difference is that “deceased” characters aren’t prone to staying that way. Often they return to the show at a later date as if they somehow regenerated. While this pleases some fans, others wish they’d die already.

Another peculiarity of this genre is that it offers no reruns. Five days a week, 52 weeks a year, we see new – if somewhat nauseating –material.

This posed a problem for me in the 70s. Though I no longer follow daytime dramas, my early 20s saw me hooked on “The Young and the Restless”. VCRs had not yet debuted, and with no reruns to fall back on, I hated to miss an episode. Consequently, my lunch hours found me glued to the tube.

In the three decades since then, plenty of new characters have come on board to keep the title accurate. Frankly, though, I’d like to see the original actors return. And if that merits a name change, they could call it “The Old and the Rest Home”.

Chances are there are plenty of current viewers who remember the early days. They stand around the water cooler discussing who did what to whom and why. You’d swear they know these characters personally.

To further their addiction, they read soap opera magazines. And if watching, reading and talking about soaps isn’t enough, they can log onto web sites for an online discussion.

But what happens when they can no longer get a fix? I asked myself that when “As the World Turns,” which was older than I am, ended production. Would its longtime viewers suffer withdrawal symptoms? Would they switch their allegiance to a new soap? Or would they morph into the characters they watched for so long?

Tune in tomorrow to find out...

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