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The Story of Soaps Primetime Special

Marco Dane

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16 minutes ago, Wendy said:

I think only the first two seasons of The Real World were sort of real, in terms of situations/human reactions. After that? It was just exaggerate EVERYTHING and make the housemates act as disgusting as possible.


But the very first cast will always have a place in my cold heart. 

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Helps that I was about their age when that first season went down...


I watched the first 4-6, some of 7-9. Watched SF live. I remember Pedro.


I knew this special would double down on rationalizing killing them on behalf of the networks, which is ironic as the last decade has proven good soap in any timeslot, outlet or genre is still relevant - and certainly programming during this pandemic.

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Susan Sullivan?


I mean, they aren’t wrong in the ultimate fate of soaps and how they’ve mutated into new forms (any astute observer of pop culture knows that), but it’s telling that they are writing this epitaph when a daytime soap is still airing on their network. GH runs out of original episodes in two days.

I want a proper documentary now. One that delves into the roots. Gotta do it soon before we start losing even more of our early veterans.

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Things I enjoyed:


1. Addressing the fact that soaps can't survive on their meager budgets. 

2. Soaps are an actual respectable art form that have been widely misrepresented and disrespected. 

3. They touched upon why soaps are a medium for storytelling like no other. There is a connection to characters that builds when you watch a character everyday.

4. They didn't solely blame the OJ trial for the demise of soaps and touched upon other things that have harmed soap viewership. 

5. Seeing familiar faces.


They tried to address a lot in the limited timeframe, but ended up saying very surface things and showing viewers very little. Many of the clips were really bad and it was heavily ABC focused which make sense since it's a special on ABC, but I would have expected more love for the remaining 4 soaps. 


Great that they mentioned soaps inspired reality TV and some of it was relevant but could have probably done without all of the primetime talk especially about programs that don't exactly fit the mold when you're doing a special about soaps. 

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10 minutes ago, Alan said:

The essence of this "doc:" Everything is a soap! LA Law, Real Housewives, the Real World and PewDiePie are soaps!



Exactly. "Birds are the new dinosaurs so quit crying in your cornflakes when we cancel your Triceratops."

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16 minutes ago, YRfan23 said:

I will say I love how much Bryan Cranston is supportive of the genre. He’s someone that seems like they’d be happy to do a guest stint on one of the 4 at some point.



I’m quite sure that Cranston is probably very grateful and humble for how his career turned out. His Loving days way long past, it’s interesting he had a guest starred in an X-Files episode at its height that he was well remembered by Vince Gilligan for that single ep as opposed to anything being the dad on Malcolm in the Middle. 

7 minutes ago, Faulkner said:

Susan Sullivan?


She was the actress Harding Lemay adored the most on AW

Edited by soapfan770
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I wasn't expecting much, but this "documentary" was so scattershot. There was no sense of chronology or coherence - it was disorienting to watch. This wasn't helped by the zoomed-in 4:3 ratio clips, many of them apparently ripped from youtube.


I am confused by the argument that reality shows have displaced soaps. Most reality is programmed in primetime, is it not? The only daytime episodic reality show I can think of is the early 2000s show Starting Over, produced by Bunim and Murray. Talk shows did more damage to soaps as counter-programming. I mean even ATWT, OLTL, and AMC were all directly replaced by talk shows!


What if the producers imposed some narrative and chronology on this special:
Quarter One: The origins of soaps on radio, Irna Phillips, the structure, logic, and economics of the daytime soap opera, their importance to early tv
Quarter Two: Social issues in soap opera, Agnes Nixon, controversies, milestones, expansion of soaps to an hour, importance of soap ad revenue to network budgets
Quarter Three: Inter-generational soap watching and soap fandom, Supercouple era, Luke and Laura, diversity issues in daytime, rise of primetime soaps
Quarter Four: Decline of soaps, competition from talk shows, OJ, the erosion of network daytime divisions, desperate stunts and diminishing budgets, legacy of serial drama on the current peak tv era

Edited by Alan
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Bryan Cranston was enjoyable in this, for sure. I told y’all Andy Cohen was gonna be annoying. Run me my coins.


So many important people and things were glossed over while still being present, and it left a weird feeling. There was a great b/w Charita Bauer clip in there but no real discussion of Guiding Light. Santa Barbara was not mentioned - not even Passions when it came time to talk about soaps getting crazier. Dark Shadows was shown a few times, but nothing was said about it and its significance.


Idk. It was more thematic than chronological, but the themes they focused on were so weak and then poorly developed. There was a lot of talk about things and lots of butt-ugly clips without actually name-dropping specific soaps and characters outside of special features on Luke/Laura and Who Shot JR?

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