Friday, March 11, 2005

Yes, but are they romance?

One of the things I've been doing to occupy my time during this unscheduled and unwanted vacation time is catching up on the soaps. Years ago I worked shift work so could keep up with the story lines pretty good. Once I started working 9 to 5 my soap watching ended. (I still have no idea how to program a VCR).
It took about a week to catch up on the story lines, six of them. Frightening isn't it? I alternate between quite a few of the soaps and have figured out what is happening in just about all of them. Passions, and General Hospital are the only ones I never got hooked on.
I have come to the conclusion that soaps are the antithesis of romance. They appear to be the visual version of a romance book but in actual fact nothing could be further from the truth.
Take for example, the required HEA in a romance book. Absolutely does not exist in soaps. They start out the same. Character introduction followed by character development. Both soaps and romance books then begin an attraction between two people. We the readers/viewers start to become invested in their romance. Problems arise between our couple whether external problems in the form of a villain or internal problems such as two different sides of the track. So far, not much difference. Then follows the couple finally, finally getting together and have their wonderfully romantic sex scenes. We are happy they finally made it. This is when soaps and romance books take completely opposite directions. In romance books the couple stays together and in the case of series such as the In Death books, we see their relationship grow or they may be secondary characters in following books. Soaps, on the other hand completely annihilate the HEA. They stomp it into the ground. An example of this that I will always remember happened many years ago in the soap As the World Turns. This is the soap I have watched the longest (over 40 years) and know the best. The couple - Betsy (played by Meg Ryan before she became a star) and Steve. They suffered, oh how they suffered in order to get together and I suffered along with them. They were a beautiful couple and deserved to be together but fate and Craig Montgomery kept them apart. I watched, agonized as they were continually kept apart from each other. Finally though, true love brought them together, they were happy, had a child and what happened? In the world of soaps they left the show. Some time later they brought Betsy back (a different Betsy as Meg 'made' it in Hollywood) sans Steve. It turns out that Steve, in order to care for his family, began smuggling drugs in Greece, was caught and sent to prison for the rest of his life. WHAT!!!!!! I had invested so much of my time and emotion in order for THIS to happen? I was devastated.
Think of all the couples in soaps; how many of them have stayed happily together?
Luke & Laura from General Hospital? I don't know if they are together or not. As I said I don't follow this soap although years ago I did watch their wedding as did everyone else at the time.
Bo & Hope from Days of our Lives? They each have died at different times only to be resurrected. They are together but still not happy.
Victor & Nicky from The Young and the Restless? They are together but not happily for any length of time.
Ridge & Brooke from The Bold and the Beautiful? Not really. The writers in their insanity actually had a relationship develop between Ridge and Bridget his stepdaughter who for years he thought of as his natural daughter. Big EEEWWW there let me tell you.

Erica and ??? ?????
Reva and Josh? They are so on again off again one gets dizzy.
I can go on and on but you get the picture.
Another way soaps and romance books are at opposite ends of the spectrum is in the treatment of villains. In romance books they always get theirs. Or in the occasional case, the villain reforms and becomes the hero in another book. Not so in soaps. The villain stays bad and never really dies. Can anyone say James Stenbeck, Adam Chandler, Asa Buchanan, Alan Spaulding, Stephano and/or Tony DiMerra?
Luckily my soap watching days are coming to an end. I just learned that vacation time is over and I will be entering the working world again. Yes I finally got a job and will be starting very shortly. But I will read in the recaps in the Saturday paper to see if Babe and Jamie ever get to live HEA.
Thank heavens, though my romance reading will continue on and I will experience the necessary and vital HEA.


Tess said...


I agree with you 100% on this. Was hooked on soaps for years (AMC, AW and GL), but finally got soooooo frustrated with the UNhappy endings for each couple that I stopped watching.

My fave couples they refused to keep together include:

Philip and Beth - GL
Rick and Mindy - GL
Tad and Dixie - AMC
Josh and Reva - GL
Nikki and Jack - Y&R (I never liked her with Victor)
Bo and Hope - 5DOOL
Cass and Kathleen - AW
Lorna and Morgan - AW
Jake and Vicki - AW
Marley and Jamie - AW

Kristie J said...

I liked Philip and Beth on GL but I think I liked Lujac (wrong side of the tracks guy)and Beth better. But typical for soap world, they killed off Lujac. Only to have him miraculously appear as David on AMC. And how could I possibly have forgotten to mention Megan and Jake on One Life to Live. I cried buckets and buckets when Megan died.
I was so proud of myself. Friday was my last unwanred vacation day and I didn't watch a one of them.

Rosario said...

Latin American soaps are much more similar to romance novels. For one thing, they actually end ;-) They usually last under a year and 90% of the time the last chapter is the hero and heroine getting married.

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