26 June 2006

Soap Operas

Every day I head home after work, and am greeted with the latest recordings on my Tivo. Always there, like a faithful companion, is that day's episode of General Hospital. For an hour a day (usually less because I have to fast forward through so much of the crap and characters I can't stand), I fall into the world of Port Charles, into the world of these friends I have known for as long as I can remember.

Like many people, I grew up with soap operas. My mom watched (and sometimes still watches) the ABC soaps-- All My Children, One Life to Live and General. My Grammie always watched the CBS shows-- As the World Turns and Guiding Light (and the other one, but I can't remember the name). I, of course, watched them all with them. The story lines weren't that complicated, the characters remained relatively the same, and my mom, Grammie, and aunts all talked about the soaps so it was easy to keep up.

As I got older, I gravitated mostly to General Hospital. For a while I tried Days of our Lives, because it seemed to be "the thing" to watch, but I found myself back at GH. They are addicting, these soap operas, and sometimes they are even compelling.

In 1994/1995, there was what I consider one of the best storylines ever on GH. There had been a lot going on that year...I believe that was the year BJ died and Maxie took her little heart, Jagger and Karen and Jason had a wicked love triangle, and Stone Cates arrived on the scene, enamouring Robin Scorpio. Robin was my age, and Stone was hot, and dangerous, and all was well in PC. Until Stone was diagnosed with AIDS. I remember crying on the day Stone died on the show...many of us were crowded into the University Union at Cal Poly watching him take his last breath and crying with Robin. This story hit home, I guess, with many of us.

I think I cried one more time when Lucky "died" in the fire, and a distraught Elizabeth tried to make sense of it all. Lucky and Liz's love story-- Lucky was originally in love with Sarah Webber, Liz's sister, who was in love with Nikolas Cassadine, Lucky's half-brother-- was so sweet. I feel like I know these people.

And therein lies the problem with soaps...they draw you in, and because people are, by nature, nosy, we stay glued to the set to see who the father of the baby is, or when she will get over anmesia, or if he is really dead. These things wouldn't really happen in real life, or, if they did, not to the same people over and over again....I mean, really, don't people ever learn a lesson? Soaps are formulaic (one night stand with someone's husband/boyfriend= instant pregnancy; new baby=unsure paternity; someone falls off a boat and dies, but there is no body= return of character in 5 years), but it works.

These people have been more consistent in my life than most I have known in real life. Although I don't watch it, I can turn on ATWT and still see my Grammie's favorite Lily and Holden, although their trial of the month will be different. Now I turn on GH and Robin is back, Robin that I grew up watching, played by the same actress. She has been on since she was about 8... I don't know how many people I am still in touch with after 22 years.

In a world of change, soaps are a constant.

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