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Angst and soap couples


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#1 DRW50

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 11:13 PM

I don't know if this will get any responses, but it takes my mind off Sandy and other things, so...

Angst has always been a major part of dramas, including soaps. In recent years, this seems to have blown up, with the advent of all the moody, endlessly covered material like Twilight or Hunger Games, and with Youtube and tumblr which can be devoted to a million fanvids and gifs of sad music or sorrowful, longing stares.

You might say soaps wrote the book on angst, since they used to say fans should wait, wait, wait for a happy ending, that when couples are happy, they are dull, so it's time for more trauma. Yet soaps have completely failed in tapping into this new era of angst.

Why is that?

I'd say it's because of horrid pacing. 5 days a week should be a gift in building up these relationships, but instead most soaps just have the same few scenes again and again, while rushing through buildup, never bothering to focus on consequences.

There's also no time in-between for happy moments. On GH, Sam and Jason were back together with baby Danny for about ten seconds before Jason was killed off. You could say that was great, Jason sucks anyway, but it just sort of makes the whole thing an anticlimax.

Do you prefer happy couples, couples who constantly have trauma and fight their way through trauma, or somewhere in-between?

I guess I'd say in-between (Cass and Kathleen, Tom and Margo up to the mid 90s).

Who do you consider the most angst-ridden couple on a soap? There are so many, but I'd probably say Shane and Kimberly (someone on jwsel's blog for them once said they were the only "supercouple" Stefano never targeted because they were already very good at tearing each other apart).




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#2 Days22

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:06 AM

Oh man I couldnt take Kim and Shane I found them a bore. Perhaps maybe too much angst haha. No I don't know if too much angst but they seemed like there was rarely much happy between the things that brought them apart.

My faves I'd say Bo and Hops first run.
Jack and Jenns first run.
Are my two faves from Days.




Edited by Days22, 30 October 2012 - 01:09 AM.

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#3 Days22

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:08 AM

Well I reread ur post to see the actual question haha. So yes Kim and Shane were def. the most angst ridden then. Because they went through a lot of serious crap!

Tho Jack and Jenn sure have had a ton of crap done to them over the last two decades too. But mostly because of awful writing.

Edited by Days22, 30 October 2012 - 01:13 AM.

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#4 DRW50

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:21 AM

It's funny, because I was going to mention Jack and Jennifer as an example of the failures of modern soaps. Jack returning after being tortured and having severe PTSD, and Jennifer giving up on his love for her, should have been incredible, beautiful angst, a story that should have lasted for a long time and provided them with fantastic material.

The decision to instead have this as an obstacle for her love for Daniel (!) was when I think I truly gave up on MarDar.

That "rape slap" clip is the type of soap angst which just kills the viewer, and has so many layers. And, sadly, what we don't get anymore.

Edited by CarlD2, 30 October 2012 - 01:21 AM.

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#5 Days22

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:25 AM

It's funny, because I was going to mention Jack and Jennifer as an example of the failures of modern soaps. Jack returning after being tortured and having severe PTSD, and Jennifer giving up on his love for her, should have been incredible, beautiful angst, a story that should have lasted for a long time and provided them with fantastic material.

The decision to instead have this as an obstacle for her love for Daniel (!) was when I think I truly gave up on MarDar.

That "rape slap" clip is the type of soap angst which just kills the viewer, and has so many layers. And, sadly, what we don't get anymore.


I agree one hundred percent and did the same when Mardar screwed that up. The PTSD angst would have written itself. But incompetence of everyone running the soaps now is just at an all time high. Sigh.
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#6 Days22

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:32 AM

Who do you think had the last good angst Carl?
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#7 DRW50

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:43 AM

Who do you think had the last good angst Carl?


I can't even really say, the memory would have to go back a long way. The last time I even cared that much about a soap couple would probably be...damn, it's been a long time. Probably someone on OLTL. I thought Natalie's grieving over Jared was very powerful, until they dropped it in a hot minute. Some of the Kyle/Fish stuff, early on, before Stacey got pregnant.
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#8 Cheap21

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 04:56 AM

The most angst ridden soap couple was Ethan and Theresa on Passions. They had fleeting moments of happiness but overall it took them 8 years and cancellation to finally get them together once and for all with no threat of drama looming to end them
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#9 dragonflies

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:48 AM

Zach and Kendall on AMC all they got was non stop angst. Even as someone who shipped them it got to be too much after awhile. It's like the show was afraid to allow them 5 seconds of happiness. They had alot of angst in a short period of time to top it off

Mallory from serial drama once commented on this:

"All My Children could benefit from some good cheer, starting with Zach and Kendall. I know they say a happy soap couple is only meant for the back burner, but the rapid-fire succession of obstacles thrown at the pair is downright comical; a serial killer, critically ill sons AND being trapped in a bomb shelter? That's a parody of a soap."
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#10 ChitHappens

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:51 AM

The most angst ridden soap couple was Ethan and Theresa on Passions. They had fleeting moments of happiness but overall it took them 8 years and cancellation to finally get them together once and for all with no threat of drama looming to end them


Not counting the doofus who fell for his stalker. One of the most vomit inducing pairings EVER! Luis and Sheridan had way too much angst. Reilly tortured the chit out of them and didn't even give them a happily ever after - not that I could even stomach the end or anything close to it.
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#11 Cat

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 12:04 PM

I don't know if this will get any responses, but it takes my mind off Sandy and other things, so...

Angst has always been a major part of dramas, including soaps. In recent years, this seems to have blown up, with the advent of all the moody, endlessly covered material like Twilight or Hunger Games, and with Youtube and tumblr which can be devoted to a million fanvids and gifs of sad music or sorrowful, longing stares.

You might say soaps wrote the book on angst, since they used to say fans should wait, wait, wait for a happy ending, that when couples are happy, they are dull, so it's time for more trauma. Yet soaps have completely failed in tapping into this new era of angst.

Why is that?

I'd say it's because of horrid pacing. 5 days a week should be a gift in building up these relationships, but instead most soaps just have the same few scenes again and again, while rushing through buildup, never bothering to focus on consequences.


Thank you for opening a thread like this. I have often asked myself this question. In fact, I think it is THE question plaguing soaps today. I used to watch Daytime for some proper romantic escapism. I don't mean some cheap parody of what a smart-aleck, very meta writer thinks is "romantic escapism," but the real thing -- beautiful written, heartfelt, convincingly played, honest-to-god romantic feeling. Writers like Pam Long, Bridget and Jerome Dobson, and Sheri Anderson were master of this kind of writing. And at one time JER and Claire Labine were, too.

You mention Twilight or the Hunger Games. I think the fans of these book/movie franchises (and I admit I couldn't put the first Hunger Games novel down) are not really catered to in many other forms of media. These fans would and should be prime target audiences for Daytime soaps. Back in the 80s and some of the 90s, their desire for sweeping, continuous romance-filled drama would have been partially satiated by what Daytime had to offer. It is also no coincidence that when I first started watching Daytime in 1987, my consumption of romance and historical novels by authors like Celeste de Blasis soared. One genre seemed to feed into the other.

Your point about the horrid pacing is the most valid answer. I remember MAB not so long ago talking about "her" supercouples on Y&R. She mentioned Phick (barf but I understand why she picked em), Nikki & Victor (who only have to stand on an empty soundstage for the audience to project their long, tumultuous history onto them) and Victoria & Billy. The last pairing stunned me. They got drunk and went to Jamaica... got married, 3 weeks later they were married for real, in love (allegedly) and talking about founding a family. No build-up, no nothing. Back in the day, it would have taken YEARS to get to that particular result. I think it illustrates a profound lack of imagination and patience amongst HWs today.

I would also say that soaps were once written by women (in some, not all, cases) and expressly FOR women. They catered to their audience knowing they wanted drama, angst and romance. Writers like Long and Anderson seemed to enjoy writing that kind of dramatic, intensely romantic fare. Nowadays, HWs write to please their bosses (usually male, usually deeply uninterested in Daytime as a genre in its own right, and usually obsessed with the bottom line) rather than the audience. They also write to cater to a select handful of diva actors they feel pull in what little audience is left.

I, for one, would really love the romance back, but I think you already probably guessed that, lol.
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#12 Cat

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 12:21 PM

Do you prefer happy couples, couples who constantly have trauma and fight their way through trauma, or somewhere in-between?

I guess I'd say in-between (Cass and Kathleen, Tom and Margo up to the mid 90s).

Who do you consider the most angst-ridden couple on a soap? There are so many, but I'd probably say Shane and Kimberly (someone on jwsel's blog for them once said they were the only "supercouple" Stefano never targeted because they were already very good at tearing each other apart).


There is no such thing as happy couples on soaps! But in the past there was balance where certain great supercouples had some happiness and together-time before the next great drama came sweeping into their lives.

The couples that had me tingling [I know that sounds weird, but I was literally breathless in anticipation after school was over as a kid, rushing home (if I didn't have sports) to catch a show and see what was going on with the couples I loved] were:

- Cruz & Eden (SB), probably the most tortured, angst-filled couple in soaps, to the point where you knew it was going to end tragically with these two.
- Steve & Kayla (Days). So many romantic, tender moments!
- Mason & Julia (SB). The best writing I have ever seen on TV for a couple -- reminded me of great old movie like It Happened One Night and The Philadelphia Story.
- Carly & Lawrence (Days).
- Billie & Bo (Days).
- John & Marlena (Days).
- Duke & Anna (GH).
- Sonny & Brenda (GH).
- Caroline & Ridge (B&B )
- Lily & Holden (ATWT).
- Jake & Marley (AW).
- Vicky & Ryan (AW)

The last angsty coupling I really got into was Carly & Lorenzo on GH and Vicky & Ryan on AW (which I only discovered after its cancellation).

Edited by Cat, 30 October 2012 - 12:22 PM.

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#13 MissLlanviewPA

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:33 PM

I would argue that they own this thread, thank you very much :D :




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#14 carolineg

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 03:01 PM

Sonny and Brenda and John and Marlena were my fave couples in the 90's and they were so angsty. I don't know how I sat through the YEARS of misunderstandings and almost reunions. I think the key to both those stories were interesting interlopers (Jax and Kristen) and stories that weren't totally played out at the time (ie. Sonny's abuse as a child and fear of a loved one getting hurt by his business were actually fresh at the time). I like angst. It keeps a story interesting, especially when you know they are endgame.
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#15 DramatistDreamer

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 06:44 PM

Today's soaps just don't know how to do well written angst, or pathos.

I can remember though, watching in the 80s and 90s and the angst was so darn palpable, one could barely stand it!

One angst ridden couple I can think of were 80s Craig & Sierra-ATWT.

There's a couple of scenes in Spring of 1986 where Craig and Sierra (who was married to someone else) almost combusted but the scene ended in a near scandal between Craig and Lucinda (it's almost too complicated to offer a concise explanation).

My favorite lines are when Craig is kissing Sierra, who's attempting to resist (but not really) and she asks plaintively "What are you trying to do to me?!" and Craig replies something like (and I'm paraphrasing) "Baby, when I'm in bed alone, I think of you... and when you're in bed with Tonio, you're not thinking of him, you're thinking of me!" Oh, my!Posted Image Even back then my adolescent know that was exciting and it's even hotter now, years later.

But the couple was always being torn apart by secrets, lies, misunderstandings, meddlers and even wars and revolutions. They were largely an unexplored couple but they burned HOT for the brief time they were on ATWT.

Edited by DramatistDreamer, 30 October 2012 - 06:46 PM.

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#16 Quent

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:27 PM

I think ATWT's most angst-ridden couple had to be Steve and Betsy, from the Eighties. For two solid years, they were kept apart by fate,by Criag, by their own pride, by Craig, by miscommunication, by Craig, by Diana McColl, by Craig, by Illya Kuriaki (The Man From Uncle)/Ducky (NCIS), by pregnancy and oh, yes, by Craig.
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#17 DRW50

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:39 PM

Zach and Kendall on AMC all they got was non stop angst. Even as someone who shipped them it got to be too much after awhile. It's like the show was afraid to allow them 5 seconds of happiness. They had alot of angst in a short period of time to top it off


I thought most of this worked up to the time they started the sick babies and then the bomb shelter and "grief sex". Then it stopped being about Kendall at all. What I saw of the Madden stuff was fairly balanced angst, well-acted, and which at least kept Kendall's perspective in a way that made sense.
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#18 DRW50

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 10:44 PM

But the couple was always being torn apart by secrets, lies, misunderstandings, meddlers and even wars and revolutions. They were largely an unexplored couple but they burned HOT for the brief time they were on ATWT.


And you can't get much more angst-ridden than Craig returning from the dead, planning to reunite with Sierra, only for Sierra to be taken prisoner and "killed" a few days later! (Even Marland was reportedly unhappy with this decision, as it happened during the writers' strike).



Meg/Josh were also very angst-ridden. The actors played this superbly, where you could tell that it was just tearing the characters apart inside. My favorite scenes were when Meg was lying to Josh that she didn't want to be with him, because Tonio told her he'd have Josh arrested for beating him black and blue unless she rejected Josh. There's a wonderful scene where she says to herself, "Forgive me...I do love you..." and it just kills me.

And then Lily was nothing but angst in the 80s. I wasn't a fan but I can see where she was able to gain a following with younger viewers, viewers in general - now teens on soaps seem dead inside.
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#19 DRW50

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:47 PM


Thank you for opening a thread like this. I have often asked myself this question. In fact, I think it is THE question plaguing soaps today. I used to watch Daytime for some proper romantic escapism. I don't mean some cheap parody of what a smart-aleck, very meta writer thinks is "romantic escapism," but the real thing -- beautiful written, heartfelt, convincingly played, honest-to-god romantic feeling. Writers like Pam Long, Bridget and Jerome Dobson, and Sheri Anderson were master of this kind of writing. And at one time JER and Claire Labine were, too.

You mention Twilight or the Hunger Games. I think the fans of these book/movie franchises (and I admit I couldn't put the first Hunger Games novel down) are not really catered to in many other forms of media. These fans would and should be prime target audiences for Daytime soaps. Back in the 80s and some of the 90s, their desire for sweeping, continuous romance-filled drama would have been partially satiated by what Daytime had to offer. It is also no coincidence that when I first started watching Daytime in 1987, my consumption of romance and historical novels by authors like Celeste de Blasis soared. One genre seemed to feed into the other.

Your point about the horrid pacing is the most valid answer. I remember MAB not so long ago talking about "her" supercouples on Y&R. She mentioned Phick (barf but I understand why she picked em), Nikki & Victor (who only have to stand on an empty soundstage for the audience to project their long, tumultuous history onto them) and Victoria & Billy. The last pairing stunned me. They got drunk and went to Jamaica... got married, 3 weeks later they were married for real, in love (allegedly) and talking about founding a family. No build-up, no nothing. Back in the day, it would have taken YEARS to get to that particular result. I think it illustrates a profound lack of imagination and patience amongst HWs today.

I would also say that soaps were once written by women (in some, not all, cases) and expressly FOR women. They catered to their audience knowing they wanted drama, angst and romance. Writers like Long and Anderson seemed to enjoy writing that kind of dramatic, intensely romantic fare. Nowadays, HWs write to please their bosses (usually male, usually deeply uninterested in Daytime as a genre in its own right, and usually obsessed with the bottom line) rather than the audience. They also write to cater to a select handful of diva actors they feel pull in what little audience is left.

I, for one, would really love the romance back, but I think you already probably guessed that, lol.


When I started watching soaps, I didn't watch for angst - I sort of got annoyed by it most of the time, with some exceptions (Frank/Eleni was a very angsty relationship and I loved that). Now I do miss this in soaps, and I wonder where it went. I think it's part of those who now run soaps being ashamed of soap storytelling. If you watch, as you mentioned, Pam Long stories, especially in her first GL run, you see so much passion and anger and drama. Sometimes this becomes a parody, but it can also draw the viewer in and sweep them up in it.

I see dozens of fan videos or gifs for two characters who are not even romantically paired, and never will be, but who have such painful, emotional, dramatic relationships that people still become obsessed with them. I don't know where that is for anyone on soaps now. Now you just get a lot of, "This couple is awesome, we're telling you this, believe it," as you mention with Bacteria.

And there is also no real attempt to make fans feel like they "discover" a couple, help build that couple, etc. I think that's another part of the appeal.
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#20 carolineg

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:03 AM


When I started watching soaps, I didn't watch for angst - I sort of got annoyed by it most of the time, with some exceptions (Frank/Eleni was a very angsty relationship and I loved that). Now I do miss this in soaps, and I wonder where it went. I think it's part of those who now run soaps being ashamed of soap storytelling. If you watch, as you mentioned, Pam Long stories, especially in her first GL run, you see so much passion and anger and drama. Sometimes this becomes a parody, but it can also draw the viewer in and sweep them up in it.

I see dozens of fan videos or gifs for two characters who are not even romantically paired, and never will be, but who have such painful, emotional, dramatic relationships that people still become obsessed with them. I don't know where that is for anyone on soaps now. Now you just get a lot of, "This couple is awesome, we're telling you this, believe it," as you mention with Bacteria.

And there is also no real attempt to make fans feel like they "discover" a couple, help build that couple, etc. I think that's another part of the appeal.



I have to agree that pairings are rarely organically planned now. It's all this is your new supercouple, love them!!! They are amazing!!! That is why I loved my angsty S&B. Sonny isn't really a likeable character, but the way things played out with Brenda very slowly made him rootable. They came together in a way that was great for the audience over a long period of time and that is just not something that happens in soaps today. I am using one couple as an example, but there are a ton of couples from the 70's, 80's, and 90's that fit this mold. I need a couple that has a clear beginning, middle, and even end that seems genuine and well thought out. Couples are just slapped together now and romance is almost gone.
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