Our Soap Shrink Wonders: Why So Many Bloody Brides?

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Jason laments, “I think the problem with soaps these days is they try to distance themselves from what they should be centered upon, which is love and romance, and turn to violence” … while Deep Dish,  favoring balance, suggests, “I think there’s room enough on soaps for both the traditional romantic weddings as well as the bloody bride interruptus ones” … and more.  See Comments below. 

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BrideBy Damon L. Jacobs

Savvy daytime fans know the value and vindication of the classic soap wedding.  But more and more this great tradition is being replaced with a trend that promotes gore and carnage:  The iconic bloody white wedding dress.

I, for one, fail to see the benefit or payoff for covering our heroines in blood.  It certainly can’t.t be for shock value, since anyone old enough to remember Sissy Spacek in Carrie is no longer surprised by the contrast of innocence and red liquids.  In my opinion, this trend is one of many ways the current shows are sending a message of defiance into the faces of long-term viewers, as this once sacred and uplifting wedding episode is now frequently mired in violence and bloodshed.

And yet I can’t help but wonder how others perceive it.  It used to be that viewers would get to witness a couple spending several years coming together, making up, breaking up, then overcoming emotional and diabolical obstacles to make it to the

As Coop’s hemoglobin seeped deep into Beth’s gown … a dying man’s blood on her dress tragically seemed to give her new life, new courage, and continues to fuel her determination to stand up for herself now.

altar.  Once they finally did, it was a complete celebration of triumph over defeat, hope over despair, love over fear.  It validated our loyalty as viewers, and provided us with an optimism that things could turn out positively in our own lives.

The first weddings of Doug & Julie, Luke & Laura, Rachel & Mac, Reva & Josh, Hope & Bo were but a few examples of such wonderful occasions.  Can you imagine any of these events interrupted with blood and gore? Historically, the incidents of brides and blood are few and far between.

Iris Cory was infamously covered with her new husband Alex’s blood on Texas after he was shot during their ceremony.  Years later, Iris became the shooter as she gunned down Carl during her step-mommy Rachel’s wedding on Another World, thereby covering Rachel in, you guessed it, Carl’s blood.

This recent era of soiled dresses, however, was ushered in by none other than the recently departed James Reilly.  He penned the gothic style New Year’s eve 2004 wedding on Days of Our Lives between Kate Roberts and Roman Brady.  After taking vows, Roman was stabbed and “killed” by the Salem Serial Killer in the kitchen at their wedding reception.  Kate found his body, and proceeded to shriek and cry in front of her guests with her gorgeous wedding dress soiled in Roman’s bodily fluids.

This newest wave of grisly gowns has also included Kate Howard’s shooting during her wedding to Sonny on General Hospital, Sami Brady’s covering with EJ’s blood after he was shot during their wedding on DAYS, as well as Annie Lavery getting Erica’s blood all over her dress when she stabbed poor Erica prior to her delusional wedding to Ryan on All My Children.

But perhaps the only ensanguined incident with any authentic psychological gravity took place recently during Beth Raines’ wedding to Alan Spaulding on GL.  No one was rooting for this ceremony to occur, as we all knew her heart belonged to her young lover John DriscollCoop. Coop totaled his car on the way to stop their vows, and was pulled out bloodied and bruised by a back-from-the-dead Philip Spaulding.  Philip then rushed to the church to interrupt the wedding ceremony himself.  Beth collapsed in shock in Philip’s arms, thereby resulting in her dress also getting covered in Coop’s fresh blood.  As his hemoglobin seeped deep into her gown, it gave Beth a newfound strength and resolve to finally reject Alan, and rise up to defend her love for the doomed Coop.  A dying man’s blood on her dress tragically seemed to give Beth new life, new courage, and continues to fuel her determination to stand up for herself now.

How do the Thinking Fans feel about this trend?  Are there other soap brides I have left off my list of bloodied brides?  And what is the deeper meaning behind the symbolism of these incidents?  The Soap Shrink wants to know what you think!

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Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of  Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve.  He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.

Comments

  1. Matthew J. Cormier says:

    Well I agree with most of what you said, it’s a sad state of affairs that we have in daytime right now when even weddings are turning into massacres. But we must not forget one of the most henious acts of violence committed at a wedding: The shooting of Todd Manning by psycho Margaret Cocharan before his wedding to Blair Cramer. Remember that Margaret was obsessed with Todd and thought that Todd was in love with her, she viewed Blair as a cheap tramp that was trying to steal her man, she was dillusional. Todd was confidant that her obsession and love for him would prevent her from shooting him; but he was wrong and when he taunted her she shot him with a machine gun as he was dressing for his wedding to Blair. The result was that the story progressed into an even more violent nature as the months went on, eventually leading to Margaret’s death and an insane story involving Spencer Truman.

    The wedding was a non-factor, really. It was just another way for the insane Margaret to torture Todd and Blair.

    It’s sad but lately weddings aren’t treated as weddings but as mere pit stops on the way to even more gore and violence.

    I often wonder what new viewers of soaps think of this — people who didnt’ get a chance to witness the glory days of soaps must think this genre totally unoriginal.

    Damon says: Thank you Matthew, I had forgotten all about this wedding you mentioned. Why do YOU think this gore and violence has become so prominent on soaps?

  2. Damon, I think to me the blood and guts intersecting with weddings is a very visual representation of how much the networks and certain writers (*cough* Bob Guza and Charles Pratt*cough*) see romance as something to be embarrassed about, or ashamed of.

    I mean, why show love, family and the compassion of elders when you can have young pretty people throwing each other under a bus? (And changing allegiances every day.)

    The Coop/Beth story on GL did seem to be more rooted in true tragedy and heartbreak, versus misogynistic grandstanding.

    Damon says: Exactly Patrick. I actually liked the way GL used the symbolism to convey something meaningful to the character as opposed to a gratuitous stunt. LOL about Beth but if Reva Shayne can get away with wearing white then so can Beth Raines.

    (Though the bigger mystery might be……Beth wore WHITE????!!!!?????)

  3. antmunoz says:

    Beth and Alan’s bloody mess of a wedding was the third that Alan has been involved in. He was shot by Ashlee after his marriage to her mother, Doris, and Doris got blood on her gown, I believe. Alan also accidentally shot his son, Phillip, during Phillip’s wedding to Blake, and I think Blake bloodied her dress as well. (If not, in both cases, hands at least…maybe the gowns were on loan!)

    Kind of makes you reconsider why Marina wanted to elope with Mallet…

  4. Jason says:

    Hey Damon…again, great column! I think the problem with soaps these days is they try to distance themselves from what they should be centered upon, which is love and romance, and turn to violence. I do not know of any soap fan who wants more violence on a soap in place of a love story. It seems to me that the executives of the soaps (and of the networks that air them or, in the case of CBS, Sony Entertainment and P&G) seem to believe that it shocks the audience to see a bloodied up bride. What is so shocking about someone covered in blood when almost every time they build up to one seeing blood and gore? It is not like they just, out of the blue, dump a bloodied up bride out in the open. Usually, you see, beforehand, how they wind up looking like roadkill so there goes the “shock.” What soaps should do, when it comes to storytelling, is create suspense and build it up properly rather than believe you can entertain people with bloodied up people. Take a look at Alfred Hitchcock (one who knew how to shock viewers and build suspense without blood, guts, and gore)and “The Silence of the Lambs” vs. “Hannibal” (SOTL had much suspense and less gore..Hannibal was much gore and less suspense, although I love both films) for pointers.

    Damon says: You mention some excellent points, Jason. In a world of constant spoilers, it seems they’ve given up on building suspense, and therefore sabotage any hope of suspense. I also don’t know of ANY soap fans who want more violence and less love stories.. If anyone reading this does prefer violence, please write us and let us know!

  5. Deep Dish says:

    Damon, I think there’s room enough on soaps for both the traditional romantic weddings as well as the bloody bride interruptus ones. If the latter is now becoming the norm, well, that is a concern because soap operas need their love and romance–and we all want to see our long-suffering supercouples finally make it down the aisle to short-lived happiness. They can get shot or die in a jet-ski tragedy later on after the wedding.

    However, sometimes it’s just fun to see a wedding go awry–and usually the bride ends up with some blood on her dress in the process. As long as the soaps balance the two, I’m happy. Romance shouldn’t be something soaps avoid showing because that’s the main purpose of them. But a “thwarted” romance is also a mainstay of the soap. A mixture of the two is what is needed, and if the writers/producers of today are choosing to feature more blood and violence than romance, then I fear more folks will be tuning out.

    Damon says: Good point Marc! A balance would be nice, I just feel like I’m seeing way too much hemoglobin recently on my shows

  6. Derek C says:

    How fun to see the reference to Iris Cory Carrington Bancroft Wheeler’s wedding on Texas. The clips from those episodes and the subsequent ones where Beverlee McKinsey’s Iris discovered her husband Alex Wheeler was still alive are on You Tube. Check out the Texas postings from You Tube poster hfxmusicman. Texas struggled with poor writing and storylines at the start, but McKinsey’s performance are still riveting almost 30 years later.

  7. Matthew J. Cormier says:

    I think that what has happened is simple. Writers stopped being original, they stopped focusing on what soaps are supposed be about: Love, Romance, Family and Tradition. They stopped focusing on stories that take months to build up to a dramatic conclusion, they’ve given into instant gratification and in this way everyone is suffering.

    Using the Todd/Margaret example again, they could have focused this story on the psychological reasons why Maragret was so obessed with Todd and why Todd and Blair keep choosing one another. But instead they made it a cheap stunt that was meant to shock the viewer … The only issue is once the inital shock wore off the story went nowhere and had no permanant impact because once again Todd recovered, Todd got angry, Todd used violence against a woman and Blair ended up getting hurt (again).

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