As most of my followers on social media know, I am a soap opera fan. The concept of me watching anything soap related was passed down to me from both my mother and grandmother. Hell, even my father watched soaps from time to time. Imagine my surprise when he said the name, “James Stenbeck,” when we were watching “As The World Turns” in his house.
As both my parents tried to get me to stop watching, I could not help but turn on the TV to see what was happening in the fictional towns of Genoa City, Oakdale, Springfield, Pine Valley, and others. I kept asking myself, “Why, though? What’s the harm? It’s not as if I am going to blackmail my next door neighbor with snapshots of them doing the mailman in the front yard or something.”
As I got older, I became more aware that it was not just my parents who did not like the “soap opera” terminology, but also industry makers. It seemed to be a death trap in many a mind. I can’t tell you how infuriating it is to hear people in movies and primetime television say that soap operas are beneath them. Those said people need to take a moment and realize how much HARD WORK these actors, actresses, and production teams put into making a single episode 5 days a week. Some shows now do two episodes a day, memorizing 60-80 pages of dialogue every day. Primetime and movies see actors memorizing the same script every day for at least one week.The fact they downgrade a soap opera, mainly a daytime soap opera, is blasphemy.
It’s not just those in the industry. Several outsider fans even comment about how daytime soaps are still on the air. Did it ever occur to them that maybe they are on the air still because people still watch them? I really need not say it like that. While people still watch them, they still got canceled. “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” anyone? Not once…but twice. As much as fans still hate the fact Mr. Brian Frons had his hand in getting rid of the two at ABC Daytime in the first place, the fact that fans sparked up an interest about the loss of the show and the characters fell in love with was astounding. You cannot deny how LOYAL a daytime soap fan is.
Frons said that fans want information, not entertainment, in daytime. Some say that the soap opera game is a dying breed. In the past two years, these “theories” proved false as the state of the daytime soap spiked up tremendously in the ratings. Look at “General Hospital,” ABC’s lone daytime soap. What many thought, myself included, was going to be put out of its misery in 2012, Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini came in and CLEANED HOUSE, making it one of the best turnarounds it has ever seen. Say what you want, but it still gets people talking both positively and negatively about the show, and people still continue to watch on a daily basis.
“The Young and the Restless” just celebrated 25 years as being the #1 daytime drama on CBS Daytime, a streak that has not been broken since December 26, 1988. That is an amazing feat. Let’s not forget that there are weeks when “Y&R” is watched more than a primetime show episode. What does that tell you?
Speaking of primetime, soaps are not just restricted to daytime. Primetime has many, MANY soaps airing. Look at “Revenge,” a show I love to watch every week. Blackmail, cat fights, and revenge tactics definitely make it soap worthy. “Scandal,” which just aired its winter finale, is one of the most buzzed about primetime soaps in social media. No matter what Shonda Rhimes tells you, you cannot sit here and say that “Scandal” isn’t a soap. The way they blackmail each other, and commit murder and adultery as if it was just a normal day at the beach having a picnic, yes folks, that is SOAP.
I recently chatted with a friend on Twitter about the old NBC sitcom, “FRIENDS.” While it was a sitcom, the show took on massive soap opera undertones. Ross & Rachel, for example, was very soap centric throughout its 10-year run. Also, the creators of the series named the six friends after “All My Children” characters. How about that for some TV trivia?
My point throughout all of this is that we are seeing more and more people talk about the term, “soap opera.” It’s interesting because we never saw this much BUZZ about it in a long time. Now, all of a sudden, it is the best thing since a surprise iTunes album drop. Soap operas never died, or came back to life. They have always been here in different forms. It was just never acknowledged until much recently. The stigma surrounding daytime soaps, though, has dwindled a little bit, but it is still there. The cringing by some is real, and is upsetting. Why hate on the genre? They are doing the same thing as the other actors you watch on other platforms. Some of your favorite actors in primetime and movies started out on a daytime soap opera, and some pay tribute to their start there. I think that’s pretty awesome.
Never think of soaps as a downgrade. Think of it as a way to strengthen your craft. You can’t get that amount of training anywhere else. Hope the term, “soap opera,” and the shows surrounding said term, live on for many years to come.