Antibacterial Soap Operas

Despite the Ghost-and-Mrs.-Murish intro, The Secret Storm was not scary

I was flipping through the channels yesterday and - did you know that soap operas are still on TV? I’m a little bit surprised. I thought the Soap Opera Digests that I saw in the grocery checkout line were collectibles.

I found two soaps on at 1 p.m. They both were in the midst of hospital scenes. In true soap fashion, one hospital room scene had a bride - long white gown and all - in a hospital room crying over someone who had just died.  The second scene had a Fabio with an eye patch. Isn’t it nice to know some things never change?

Soap operas have really dug in their heels on that working formula. 

I watched The Secret Storm and The Edge of Night with my sisters briefly in the 1960s. Then the summer after my brother got married, I practically lived at his house and watched All My Children with my sister-in-law all summer. During commercials she would fill me in on the backstories. It took us until mid August to get caught up, and that was just the stories about Nick, Joe, Phoebe and the girl who was in Saturday Night Fever.  In college, my roommates and I jumped on the careening, out-of-control bandwagon that was General Hospital. We used to tear out of our last class to get home to watch what Luke and Laura were up to. We scheduled extra time to hate the Quartermaines and Laura’s twerpy little sister, Amy Vining.  In addition to your run-of-the-mill affairs, illegitimate children and amnesia, GH offered up rape, murder, evil twins and a gay aerobics instructor in short-shorts.  I think this was also the beginning of soap stars having first names of states and geological formations. 

Despite its name, there were no minors in All My Children

The problem with having to be home and in front of the TV by 3 p.m. is that sometimes you were early, so you’d catch the tail end of the soap before it. It would only take a few days before you’d be sneaking home at 2:30 to catch the last half of that show. Soon you’re convincing yourself that afternoon classes are stupid and an associate’s degree is nothing to sneeze at. And who really needs a minor?

I heard later that soaps eventually introduced aliens and Satan into their casts and story lines. But there were still hospitals full of doctors and nurses who were so not dedicated to their jobs that they had time to stop and have coffee with Dakota or Siobhan, Ridge or Skye, Calliope or Snapper on their way into the hospital. It’s full daylight, so I can only imagine it’s about 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning and they’re all sitting around discussing Sierra’s birth mother’s arrival in Port St. Llanview.  

“Why is no one dispensing meds or emptying bed pans?” you want to shout at the screen.  I’m pretty sure Port St. Llanview has a gall bladder or two that needs to be removed. And there’s the amnesia victim that needs some followup.

No means . . . I do! Despite the fact that he raped her in a disco, Luke and Laura's romance was a top 1980s soap event.

I’m starting to wonder if they were real doctors at all. Who would let a guy with feathered hair and an eye patch operate on the love child of the hospital administrator?