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Daytime Opinion Article


Poor Dead Children By Suzanne

What are soap opera writers thinking? I ask this question a lot, but lately it's even worse. I like to complain, sure--so does every TV fan. And with the daytime soaps in the past 20 years, there's a lot to complain about. There's a very good reason they are getting low ratings and being canceled. The writing sucks. They just use the same stories over and over. Everything is boring and predictable.

Occasionally, the shows become worse than boring - they become darned aggravating. That's what has happened this year with all the dead kid storylines.

NOTE: I am equating pregnant women's fetuses here with grown children, for the purposes of this article. In real life, I do not consider a fetus as the moral or legal equal of a child. However, if a woman is planning to carry the child and keep it, as soap opera characters almost always do, then I think it's safe to say that we can make them equal in these particular cases. In most of these stories, too, the fetuses mentioned were very close to being born, so the mothers had grown very attached to them and grieved almost as much as if they were newborn.

In March of this year, Melanie on DOOL miscarried. Okay, I don't really care that much about Melanie, or her unborn baby. However, it seemed to quickly start a trend (and honestly, before this year, they already had WAY too many stories like this, so why do they need more?). Not too long after that, GH killed off Jake, the little boy of Lucky and Elizabeth (Jason was his biological father). They also made little Jocelyn sick so that Jake could save her with an organ transplant (which has been done, again, way too many times on soaps).

A few months later, Angie lost her newborn baby on AMC (although she still doesn't know it because her husband, Jesse, switched another little baby with hers). Then a month or so later, Madison miscarried. Two on one show! This is just too depressing.

Now, on One Life to Live, where they have lots of kids, especially teens, it looks like young Matthew is going to die, so that his ailing Uncle Clint can have his heart. This is really stupid and awful, not to mention that we have seen it coming for a long time now. There isn't one person who wants to see this story continue, and yet, it probably will. Even though Bo already lost his other son, Drew, so the odds of his only other son dying are pretty ridiculous.

Thankfully, they have not killed any children lately on Bold & Beautiful or Young & the Restless. Yay for them! Not that they get many points, since they have some pretty stupid storylines of their own. They just don't happen to involve dead babies...yet.

Maybe the writers of these shows think we shouldn't care, since they are all being canceled anyway...??? But we do. At least, those of us who are still left watching do care.

Soaps do thrive on drama and tragedy, no question. Moreover, they have lots of children and mothers, so this is a "natural" story to tell. However, it's been done to death, over and over again. It is too depressing. Given that most of the soap watchers are women and probably moms, why would they think that we want to see this kind of storyline at all, let alone over and over? It's not just the deaths of the kids that is depressing, but of course all the fall-out. We get to see weeks and weeks of parents and other family members crying and wailing about their poor dead kid.

If they are going for shock value, it is too late for that. If you do something repeatedly, it is no longer shocking. It is now simply disgusting. No wonder soap fans have had it.

As I keep saying, daytime soaps need to look at primetime dramas for inspiration. They have improved a thousandfold since the 1980's (daytime soaps have gotten worse). There are plenty of primetime soaps, and yet most of them do not routinely kill of the characters' children. When was the last time you saw that on Grey's Anatomy, or Desperate Housewives, or Brothers & Sisters, or any of the other primetime dramas? You won't see it happen very often, if at all. They come up with more original ideas that don't depress their audiences.

Page updated 12/27/11

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