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Soap Opera Archetypes


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Published in 1976, this book has a chapter dealing with archetypes,claiming that today (76) characters are seldom superficial and merely Good or Bad. The archetypes have depth and individuality.

I thought it might be interesting to see if this holds true of today's soaps. I'll present the description and the characters cited back then and we'll see if the same can be found now...

First up

The young and vulnerable romantic heroine.

Liza SFT

Cal LOL

Kitty AMC

Peggy Y&R

Trish DOOL

Hope GL

Leslie Y&R

Tara AMC

Probably the most appealing of all soap opera types is the young romantic heroine. The role may be played as the wholesome ingenue (Hope Bauer TGL) or the chaste and trusting young wife (Carol Stallings ATWT ,Liza Kaslo SFT). Or it may be played as an insecure woman with a romantically troubled past (Kitty Carpenter AMC, Sharlene Matthews AW). It is , however, almost always played by a slender actress with long hair. And it's an emotional role: our heroine is strong in her feelings and indecisive in her actions- which means she is "torn". In this weakened emotional state, she is prime target for villianous plots and cruel Fate. These are good girls who trust too easily and fall too hard. The viewers see it coming- and that's where the handwringing comes in (it's not all done on screen).

Do you think these characters exist today? Or are they seen as too old fashioned?

More to come...

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My favourite archetype is a classic: The Bitch. Every soap in existence has had one, if not many of them. Sometimes the Bitch is the lead of the show, sometimes she is a saucy supporting character, but always she is an attention grabber. Usually a touch more mature, age wise, than her competitors, the Bitch lets nothing stand in her way. She is a feminist who doesn't feel compelled to give up her high heels and usually has the cash to back herself up.

That being said, this archetype has seen a dramatic decline in the last decade as strong, powerful women have become scarce in daytime.

Whose Left...

Dorian OLTL

Kate DAYS

Jill Y&R

Stephanie B&B

Erica AMC

Who Blazed the Trail...(an incomplete list to be sure)

OLTL: Dorian, Tina, Alex, Gabrielle

DAYS: Kate, Vivian, Anjelica, Celeste, Julie

Y&R: Jill, Katherine, Diane, Lauren

AMC: Erica, Phoebe, Marian, Mary

GH: Tiffany, Lucy

ATWT: Lisa

AW: Donna, Iris

B&B: Stephanie, Sally

These women are DIVAS. They are VIXENS. They can lead story or simply add their distinctive flair to the blandest story or scene. Where would we be without them?!

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My favorite archetype is the ruthless business tycoon.

AMC had two of the best in Palmer and Adam

DOOL has Victor

GH had Edward (although he was always more comedic)

OLTL had Asa

It's always the same story with these guys: they are the richest man in town, they don't like anybody and nobody likes them. :lol:

But they are always devoted to their family to the point they're nuts, and there is always a true love that sees through their evil facade and is their true weakness.

You just can't have a small town without having the richest man in it.

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daytimefan,

Tiffany was never a bitch, she was always the quirky, lovable best pal to everyone. I think you are thinking of the supreme;y perfect Heather Webber who was portrayed by Robin Mattson. She wreaked havoc on part of the town, Scotty did the same for the rest of the town, and then eventually they joined forces for extra evil goodness. Lucy sort of took over Heather's role.

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The Rival

Jennifer SFT

Erica AMC

Olive AW

Valerie ATWT

Iris AW

Some women are always devious in their pursuit of a man who doesn't - and shouldn't - belong to them. in love, they are the natural rivals to the good characters. Too often they create misunderstandings and misfortune for purely selfish reasons;too often they oppose the true love relationship we wish to see fulfilled. generally, the rival is a woman who is not completely comfortable with her environment or its prevailing values. She is on the move;she is money-and atatus-conscious;she's dangerous for now but sure to be unhappy in the end. Because the storyline allows her to pursue one man after another, she may be seen as sexually aggressive. examples range from overdrawn neurotic types like Iris carrington and Erica Brent, to threatening but otherwise sympathetic types like valerie Conway. The Rival is sometimes referred to as Bitch-Goddess-because that's how we tend to see our rivals,isn't it? she is invariably beautiful, with clothes to match.

Interesting that in the 70's the Alexis type didn't exist.Women were not allowed positions of power and the set up of soaps at the time didn't allow for mega wealthy characters.

In later years,characters like Iris, Erica, Rachel, Dorian and Jill became wealthy business women but the 70's wasn't ready for that.

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It's probably more of a British soap archetype, but I love the Tart With a Heart.

They tend to be female characters who are deeply damaged women, who put on a strong and courageous front when they odds are against them, and they use their sexuality and outrageous fashion and makeup as a front to cover up their insecurities, but they can't fully do that, and their vulnerabilities are always on display, even when they put on their loud and proud act. Examples include Elsie Tanner, Bet Lynch, Pat Butcher, and Kat Slater.

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The Rival

Jennifer SFT

Erica AMC

Olive AW

Valerie ATWT

Iris AW

Some women are always devious in their pursuit of a man who doesn't - and shouldn't - belong to them. in love, they are the natural rivals to the good characters. Too often they create misunderstandings and misfortune for purely selfish reasons;too often they oppose the true love relationship we wish to see fulfilled. generally, the rival is a woman who is not completely comfortable with her environment or its prevailing values. She is on the move;she is money-and atatus-conscious;she's dangerous for now but sure to be unhappy in the end. Because the storyline allows her to pursue one man after another, she may be seen as sexually aggressive. examples range from overdrawn neurotic types like Iris carrington and Erica Brent, to threatening but otherwise sympathetic types like valerie Conway. The Rival is sometimes referred to as Bitch-Goddess-because that's how we tend to see our rivals,isn't it? she is invariably beautiful, with clothes to match.

Interesting that in the 70's the Alexis type didn't exist.Women were not allowed positions of power and the set up of soaps at the time didn't allow for mega wealthy characters.

In later years,characters like Iris, Erica, Rachel, Dorian and Jill became wealthy business women but the 70's wasn't ready for that.

There was Rae Woodard on RH. I wonder if she was the first.

I'm surprised they didn't have Joyce or Natalie from ATWT on this list. Wouldn't they fit more than Olive? I thought Olive was just a nut.

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These women are DIVAS. They are VIXENS.

There's a difference between Bitches & Vixens though.

Blair Cramer is a Vixen while Dorian Cramer is a Bitch.

How about the Bad Boy/Player?

Tad Martin (in the 1980s) is the first that comes to mind.

Brad Vernon?

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It's probably more of a British soap archetype, but I love the Tart With a Heart.

AMC tried that with Krystal and Babe..... and it failed miserably..... mostly because they had more tart than heart.

I guess "Tart With a Heart" would be the same as "Hooker With a Heart". AMC (successfully) had Donna Beck and Estelle LaTour.

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AMC tried that with Krystal and Babe..... and it failed miserably..... mostly because they had more tart than heart.

I guess "Tart With a Heart" would be the same as "Hooker With a Heart". AMC (successfully) had Donna Beck and Estelle LaTour.

Tart with a heart means tough women who make a lot of mistakes but are vulnerable underneath. Donna seemed to be an ingenue type.

I think Natalie, at least pre-rape, is the closest AMC has ever come to Tart With a Heart. Babe was too sanctified for that.

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