This is not a library post.
Yesterday those queens of daytime television “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” were cancelled. Apparently people want more “lifestyle” programs. To quote my good friend Wendy Burton, “Transformations, health, and lifestyle shows? What do they think soap operas are ABOUT?”
I started watching AMC when I was three. My babysitter Liza would not take us to the pool until the trials and tribulations of Erica Kane were viewed, with a Diet Coke. I loved how I could go for years without watching and pick right back up. I just needed a few minutes to see who was new (insert gender-neutral name here), who was still there (Erica, Opal, Tad, Jack) and what standard soap opera roles were being filled (same ones, glad to see AMC never went the route of evil sorceress or Satan.) Erica was getting married…again…to Jack…again. The biggest changes were the inclusion of Facebook and blogging as plot points.
Which leads me to the fact that soaps are early adopters. Much like librarians are early adopters of technology, watch a soap to figure out what the rest of the TV world will be like in 15 years. I saw interracial romances on soaps. I learned about AIDS and saw characters battling its stigma on “Another World” some 20 years ago. Long before “GLEE” featured gay characters totally okay with being gay and folks with disabilities having sex lives, soaps were there. They handled rape, domestic violence and other social issues with sensitivity and gave faces we cared about to issues we tried to avoid. I am convinced soap operas have a socially liberalizing impact.
And don’t forget, Nathan Fillion got his start on soaps.