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The Essence of Soap Operas


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I was feeling a little sentimental and re-watched the opening to the 1988 Daytime Emmys. You remember, the number with intrepid reporter Lois getting in people's faces while looking for a story? Poor Sharon Gabet/Melinda Cramer looks a little frightened. (Alas, it can't be embedded.) The song may be cheesy and I'm a little surprised that Stephen Schwartz wrote it, but darn if those last few lines don't get me all choked up. It really sums up why I love the genre, if not the current form:

 

"In this age of media blitzes, in this era of kiss and tell

Everybody's fighting for the right to know!

All the thrilling stories, we want to know your stories

We want to see what Tina plots and Erica connives!

Tell us of the witches and the wives

Show us the ambitions, dreams and drives

Let us know that tears may fall, but love survives!

You're telling us the stories of our lives!"

 

Anyway, what to you is the essence of soap operas?

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If we are talking about "Daytime Dramatics" only I'd say soaps are character studies.  I never understood why certain themes are frowned upon, such as, Action/Adventure and Sci-Fi.  Done right, they serve the same purpose.  Look at Star Trek and the first SW Trilogy or video games like Mass Effect and The Last of Us.

 

It seems as if effective soaps have a certain theme or core built in.  DAYS's is built into each opening.  Guiding Light was that old poem "There is a Destiny that makes us Brothers..." its spinoff, RtoH, was that if you only consider your own happiness you'll endanger other peoples happiness.

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I think the shows are about community, and how those bonds between people develop and react.

 

For me, the type of story can be pretty much anything as long as you use the characters well within it.  On GH Casey the Alien was stupid AF, but Faison became their best villain, and Anna’s history with him made the story riveting.

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