They used to be a staple of daytime TV, from 12:30 to 4:00 all three major networks had offerings — something for everyone. Mythical towns. Perfectly groomed people living fabulously dramatic lives. There were soap opera awards and fan magazines devoted to plot summaries and interviews. There were events with select cast members. There were even times when the wedding of a beloved couple would disrupt normal life. In those days before the internet and social media, that kind of attention was huge.
These days there are but four stubborn holdouts —General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful – testaments to an era that has come and gone.
What’s endearing (or annoying) is that if you watched either of the remaining holdout soaps in their heyday you’d recognize the same crop of actors, the same storylines and villains, the same impossible aging, suspension of reality and astonishing lack of productivity these shows have always had. It was what we loved (and hated) about them. It was why we watched.
I must admit to being a little sad to see the soap opera fading away. I bonded with many people in bygone days about the happenings on those shows. Probably a lot like what we do today for Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. To a whole generation soap operas were pretty important, storylines could shock or offend; but that was in the days before You Tube and gazillions of cable channels, the internet and handheld phones.
Maybe we all just got too busy living life to watch it being lived. Reality television and trash talking TV shows took hold, slowly but surely, salacious step by step they made the once edgy soap seem stale and scripted. Reality it seems is still better than any TV drama to be produced.
Isn’t that what’s behind the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction”?