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Daytime Opinion Article


Watching too many soaps
by Julio

The great Douglas Marland once said there are only seven basic storylines in a soap opera. If a person follows more than one or two soaps, the plotlines can become repetitive. I am aware of the happenings on 7 of the 9 soaps on the air: ATWT (which is my favorite), B&B, GL, GH, AMC, Days and Passions. Watching too many soaps is often a nuisance as similar storylines play out simultaneously on different shows.

In 2004 alone I endured many storylines revolving around murder mysteries and murder attempts: ATWTís Rose DíAngelo Murder Mystery, Daysí Salem Stalker, AMCís Michael Cambias Murder Investigation, Zach Slaterís Murder Game, and now the show has began to expand on the murder of Paul Cramer, who lived in OLTLís Llanview, yet played an important role in the lives of the citizens of Pine Valley, GLís Maryanne Carruthers and Who Killed Phillip Spaulding? a storyline which is still playing out. GHís had a Skye/Luke/Helena murder mystery regarding the death of Det. Ross Duncan, so did Passions with a Poisoning Mystery surrounding Alistair Crane. Trying to stay up with all these storylines is virtually impossible, not many individuals can dedicate 4 to 7 hours a day to watching soaps. The typical murder storyline is virtually the same: unexpected murder, suspects, wrong person is arrested, everyone frames everyone, weeks of confusion and finally the killer (who is usually the person you least expect) is caught. Daysí Salem Stalker storyline was extended for months and after a while many viewers, myself included, did not care who was behind everything. The big reveal was one of the biggest letdowns in daytime history. As soon as the Salem Stalker storyline was wrapped up a new murder mystery began on GL with Phillip Spaulding. Although I was reluctant to the idea of watching yet another murder mystery this storyline has been cleverly written and has better twists and turns than any other murder storyline from 2004.

If there is one overused plot in soaps its amnesia, which is the most convenient, predictable and plot driven storyline. Jack Snyderís bout with amnesia on ATWT was very well written, giving the show a much needed central storyline and revitalizing the relationship between Jack and Carly. Over on GH Nikolas Cassadineís unfortunate memory loss showed a new side to the character, which I loved. I was deeply saddened when he regained his memory and went back to being the same, stale Nikolas as always.

GHís amnesia story was not perfect, but it was still miles ahead of GLís disastrous amnesia story arc with Michelle Bauer. In times when GL was improving greatly the show was being dragged by the terrible Island Story in which Holly, Sebastian, Danny, Tony, Marina and especially Michelle were involved in. I stopped caring for Michelle months ago, I donít care if she regains her memory or nor. I just want her out of the TV screen.

It took 9 months for AMCís infamous Baby Swapping storyline to be resolved, an another 9 months for B&Bís baby saga between Nick, Brooke and Ridge to be wrapped up. Both storylines were extended more than they should have (especially on AMC) and characters were changed radically (David Hayward and Tad Martin). I am sick of baby stories, even GHís brilliantly acted arc in which Samís baby died and little Kristina was saved from death proved to be repetitious and unoriginal.

Whether it is a baby switch, amnesia, a murder mystery or any other typical soap story, I feel I am watching the same storyline over and over. It is obvious stories have to be repeated or revisited however they must be addressed creatively and with originality. It is unfortunate to say so, but soap operas are a dying breed. Budgets are being cut down every years, veteran actors are exiting to give way to the teen crowd which The Powers That Be (TPTB) think will appeal to the younger audience they are aiming for. Soap operas need to be REVITALIZED; a major creative change has to take place in order to maintain the viewers tuning in each day. We do not want to see the same old story played every year; we want to see new ideas which make the show grow in quality. I am sure there are plenty of possible possibilities found in each showís history.

Ratings improve when the storytelling is good and new elements (Note: New does not mean teens taking over and ignoring characters viewers have grown to love). Action and adventure need to be toned down to make way for romance, which is what a soap is all about.

If all soaps are doing different things from one another multiple soap opera viewers will feel motivated to tune in and observe the changes being made and the new developing storylines. Currently, I feel watching one soap is like watching them all, same stories with minor differences here and there.

Page updated 12/27/11

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