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The Complex, Contradictory History of the American Soap Opera

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Many of the topics discussed in the article have been bandied about on this messageboard but I really found it interesting that she talked about how DS introduced the idea of characters being revived from the dead and how other soap operas started to incorporate that in their shows. Probably because I'm not as studied on DS history and themes as others, but I don't think I've ever quite thought of it that way.

 

It was a pretty decent article and I'm going to assume that the book would discuss a more diverse array of soaps and topics even withing a moderately feminist framework. I would love to read the book sometime but I have a feeling that it will be quite awhile until I can get access to anything that is not an ebook or an audiobook download.

 

I've been saying for years that the daytime drama really deserves a Ken Burnsian docuseries.  The history is vast, spanning from radio to TV to the world wide web. 

It would be great if some podcast could interview Elana Levine.  I think one of the key elements to getting more respect for the soaps would be to open it up to more scholars to do podcasts and vlog interviews.

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I ordered the book, and I'll just cross my fingers that it'll get here when it gets here...hopefully within the next six months?

Lots of interesting things in the article, and the table of contents for the book is exciting. Have we had a general good soap book produced since the 90s? I'm looking forward to seeing what hindsight says about the dying days of the 2000s. Also looking for anything new in the parts about the 60s and 70s.

One part of the article that I was kinda meh about was how she seemed to praise the idea that Guiding Light could, in decade, be about the marital troubles of Bill and Bert Bauer but then, several decades later, have their sons running around in a jungle. To me, that was some of the most damaging sht to happen to daytime - not specifically GL men running through jungles but the fact that shows just so carelessly turned on a dime and went from domestic character studies to the type of stuff that only gets play in B action movies that are rerun on Saturday afternoons between WNBA games and Flipper reruns.

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9 hours ago, DramatistDreamer said:

DS introduced the idea of characters being revived from the dead and how other soap operas started to incorporate that in their shows

I don;t know that there is much of a connection there. DS was from the outset a particular type of show which took the gothic theme and extended into the supernatural. In the late 60's/70's it didn't become common as a result of DS. 

Other shows had used 'back from the dead' before and after but it was done sparingly  - and for story purposes - not to accommodate the return of an actor or a popular character..eg Phil GH, Paul Raven LOL

It wasn't until the 80's that it became the common trope whereby an actor departed , was killed off and then returned.

Days did it with Patch, Marlena, Hope etc when those actors departed/returned  and used it for other characters for a story twist.

There were the worse culprits but other shows did it too.

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12 minutes ago, Paul Raven said:

I don;t know that there is much of a connection there. DS was from the outset a particular type of show which took the gothic theme and extended into the supernatural. In the late 60's/70's it didn't become common as a result of DS. 

Other shows had used 'back from the dead' before and after but it was done sparingly  - and for story purposes - not to accommodate the return of an actor or a popular character..eg Phil GH, Paul Raven LOL

It wasn't until the 80's that it became the common trope whereby an actor departed , was killed off and then returned.

Days did it with Patch, Marlena, Hope etc when those actors departed/returned  and used it for other characters for a story twist.

There were the worse culprits but other shows did it too.

 

Like I said, this is all new to me since I really never followed DS all that much, nor do I claim to know its history or BTS dynamics. I was saying that this was an interesting statement because I'd never thought or heard of this before. I am intrigued to see what more is in the book and how she expands on her hypothesis. I'm no expert on this.

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4 hours ago, All My Shadows said:

One part of the article that I was kinda meh about was how she seemed to praise the idea that Guiding Light could, in decade, be about the marital troubles of Bill and Bert Bauer but then, several decades later, have their sons running around in a jungle. To me, that was some of the most damaging sht to happen to daytime - not specifically GL men running through jungles but the fact that shows just so carelessly turned on a dime and went from domestic character studies to the type of stuff that only gets play in B action movies that are rerun on Saturday afternoons between WNBA games and Flipper reruns.

 

I understand where you're coming from. I think you and I speak as fans of the show, while the author of the book addresses the issues much more from an academic perspective, ie. it's amazing what soaps resorted to in order to survive. In hindsight, it kinda worked...

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4 hours ago, All My Shadows said:

I ordered the book, and I'll just cross my fingers that it'll get here when it gets here...hopefully within the next six months?

Lots of interesting things in the article, and the table of contents for the book is exciting. Have we had a general good soap book produced since the 90s? I'm looking forward to seeing what hindsight says about the dying days of the 2000s. Also looking for anything new in the parts about the 60s and 70s.

One part of the article that I was kinda meh about was how she seemed to praise the idea that Guiding Light could, in decade, be about the marital troubles of Bill and Bert Bauer but then, several decades later, have their sons running around in a jungle. To me, that was some of the most damaging sht to happen to daytime - not specifically GL men running through jungles but the fact that shows just so carelessly turned on a dime and went from domestic character studies to the type of stuff that only gets play in B action movies that are rerun on Saturday afternoons between WNBA games and Flipper reruns.

 

The book certainly sounds like an interesting reading. It's an interview on a blog so I didn't expect for a fully fleshed out analysis on the genre but I certainly hope that there is more depth and breadth than what was presented in the interview. What I do like is the fact that the idea of a moderate feminist sensibility (with some caveats) is being explored and the acknowledgement that soaps were often denigrated and diminished in the eyes of many simply because its largest audience were women.

No offense to bloggers and such but, I think the genre needs more scholars who take a serious analysis if we're ever going to get a thorough documentary series (a la Ken Burns documentary series). 

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Once upon a time "back from the dead" stories weren't so outlandish, they were based upon women's men going to war, being declared dead in battle and then returning due to them being declared MIA or just being misidentified. I've told this before, but my grandfather was declared MIA/dead for two years during WWII. I can only imagine how common this was back in the day.

 

Later day soaps started messing with this concept though with people being seen as dying on screen and then returning back due to supernatural reasons. Hello Days of our Lives!

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Presumed dead was a common theme in all the old soap history books I read when they were published in the 1990’s.  Which was actually easier to deal with on the shows too.  
 

Roman (John) returning was the first time I remember watching what we would now call a back from the dead storyline.  Outlandish plastic surgery (his entire body type and height changed), brainwashing, amnesia, etc.

 

Look at all the mileage that GH got from Laura disappearing on the docks, Luke “dying” in the avalanche.  That was only a couple of years before the DAYS storyline. By the late 1990’s we had comatose Lesley back from the dead.  Another 15 years and Ron brings back Frank Smith (who was old AF in the 70’s), AJ and Duke just to wipe them all out again.

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14 hours ago, te. said:

Once upon a time "back from the dead" stories weren't so outlandish, they were based upon women's men going to war, being declared dead in battle and then returning due to them being declared MIA or just being misidentified. I've told this before, but my grandfather was declared MIA/dead for two years during WWII. I can only imagine how common this was back in the day.

 

Later day soaps started messing with this concept though with people being seen as dying on screen and then returning back due to supernatural reasons. Hello Days of our Lives!

 

That's so interesting. Thanks!

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