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I recently heard a podcast episode on the history of ‘soap operas’: what they were and will they keep going. As a boy, I did not watch the classic types on in the afternoons. I heard about them though. Carrie, the cleaning lady, would watch them as she tidied the house. I’d come home from school and ask her ‘what happened on “One life to live” today?”,and she would tell me. I was bewildered why she bothered. It seemed the men were all louses and the women co-dependent victim-types, and what sort of entertainment is that?

Later in life, I became curious to watch ‘Dark Shadows’. I was hoping to find a dark serious drama only to discover it is ‘camp’ with a capital C. * I never finished it though. I plan someday finishing the series if only to find out what happened to Victoria Winters, who was last seen stuck back in time in a throw down with Angelica.

Someone likes to watch TV series, which he does in binges. I once tactlessly pointed out they looked like soap operas, and he took umbrage. These are serials, he explained, not soap operas. I thought of the time I was in second grade when I was the only boy who raised his hand to the question ‘who plays with dolls?”. When asked to explain, I said I played with GI Joes. The boys rose as one, an orchestra of scorched cats. ‘GI Joes are not dolls!’ they shrieked, ‘they are action figures!’. With that said, the podcast spent some time trying to define and discriminate ‘One life to live’ from ‘Friends’.**

Back in the 80s, I didn’t watch ‘Dynasty’ or ‘Dallas’ (much) but my friends did; they often gathered the next day to talk about last night’s episode. They too took umbrage these shows were not soap operas. “Who shot JR?” seemed quite the thing one wonders about in a soap opera. Not only did they take umbrage they threatened to take away my gay card.

I got the gist soap operas are more open-ended ongoing things, while series have specific ends – until they decide to make more. Regardless, they look like people with problems spending hours dialoguing about it all. I listen to that sort of things all day long, and I get paid for it. The last thing I want to watch is more. When I watch TV I go for fantasy-nonsense escapist rubbish, something that doesn’t require a lot of in-depth analysis or even full attention.

Spo-fans: do you watch soap operas, in any form?

‘Barnabas! You can’t do that! There would be great danger!” “Dr. Hoffman, do not try to stop me!”

*Initially I was quite disappointed, but in time I grew to enjoy the over-the-top acting, the forgotten lines, and a drunken Joan Bennet. Once I put on an application as a reference my colleague, Dr. Julia Hoffman.

**I don’t remember what does discriminates the two. I didn’t see either show.

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October 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018