Thinking Fans Comment Update: renee argues, “Soaps have tackled so many great social issues and done them well, but those in charge of soaps today are suspect and will not handle the topic (of joblessness) with respect” … DSO816 hopefully suggests, “I believe the dramas currently on air can craft timely stories of some characters’ layoffs, but it would have to be balanced, and believable” … while Steve charges, “If they really cared about focusing on the economy, they would try to go back to the escapism that viewers really want to see” … and more. See Comments below.
By Marlena De Lacroix
After I got out of grad school three years ago, I spent the most miserable year of my life looking for a job. Through fifteen interviews (the teaching job I was looking for was very specific), endlessly rewritten resumes and countless rejections, there was only one thing that kept me sane: soap operas.
When I was aching and depressed about my job search, at least I knew I could sit down every day and escape into my favorite shows. Even though at the time they were not so great (Higley was writing One Life To Live, B&E All My Children and LML The Young and the Restless), the soaps were gthere every day to make me feel safe, to give me something concrete to look forward to.
The last thing I want to see on a soap is moi! And certainly not me looking for a job or me even knowing there’s a cold cruel depression outside of my warm, warm afternoon TV set.
The far away antics of my fave characters — Dorian, Viki, Big Steph, Ric Lansing, snappy Jack and crazy Gloria — kept me occupied, and, for a while, kept my mind off my troubles. The LAST thing I wanted to see on these shows was anyone who was emulating my life looking for a job.
Now a website called Media Channel quotes Craig Tomashoff, TV Guide’s executive editor, reporting that soaps will be the first drama shows on television to tell stories based in the current economic nightmare — as real as the real world gets these days. But, but, I protest! I don’t watch soaps for the real world! I watch soaps to escape the real world! Especially now!
Having our favorites characters suddenly been made poor, update their resumes and feel the heartbreak of a bad interview is the DUMBEST THING I ever heard! It might work in a few comic situations, as they have begun to set up with the
“Reps from ABC affirmed recession-related plots, like company slowdowns and job-hunting issues would crop up on all three of its daytime dramas, General Hospital, All My Children and One Life to Live.” — Media Channel
Cordtlandts losing their dough on AMC. But can you imagine AMC‘s Erica Kane shopping at Target? I should say not! Likewise, I don’t want to see The Bold and the Beautiful‘s Forrester family move into a trailer park! All of these characters have always been and are rich for a reason: Darlings, soaps are about fantasy! (I’m not against poor characters–what I’m against is the new Depression being superimposed on our favorite characters–rich or poor!)
And yes, even in the most “real” situations — social issue stories about rape, kids with leukemia or kids who are paralyzed — soaps are usually far away from our everyday circumstances. Soap tragedies bring out the commonalities in our feelings. But as much as I despise OLTL‘s Todd, I’d much rather see him in a leather jacket than in a soup kitchen!
In the past, the coming down of “rich” characters was played to test character, not to mirror reality. Remember when B&B‘s Stephanie was a bag woman? OLTL‘s Viki, AMC‘s Erica, and Y&R‘‘s Katherine have all stepped out of their wealthy lives BRIEFLY to become waitresses. Even Y&R‘s industry titan Victor has gone on the road incognito as a regular guy. These stories were done one time only for variety. I don’t want to see General Hospital‘s Tracy scavenging for food, and Luke making and drinking moonshine!
Which reminds me: remember during the second short reign of GH‘s legendary Gloria Monty, when she had the “brilliant” idea of bringing on a working class family called the Eckharts. Tony Geary played their son (Luke’s cousin) Bill. Well, Mrs. Eckhart was Italian (played by West Side Story‘s original Maria, Carol Lawrence) and they’d have these dinner scenes in which they sat around eating spaghetti and yelling at each other.
The story (which was a bomb) made me itch. As someone who grew up in working class Queens, I spent my half-Italian childhood being yelled at by my parents and yelling back at them while eating spaghetti. The last thing I want to see on a soap is moi! And certainly not me looking for a job or me even knowing there’s a cold cruel depression outside of my warm, warm afternoon TV set.