Watching soaps can be a blessing and a curse. There are highs— such as the amazing work by Melody Thomas Scott and Trevor St. Johnlast year— and there are lows— such as anything on The Bold and the Beautiful at the moment. Because watching soaps are addictive by nature— we as fans are often reluctant to give up on our favorite show. Instead we prefer to stick by it in the hope it will be struck by lightening and improve.
Recently I've been thinking about what a fan must do to survive watching a soap they've all but given up on - in my case All My Children - until the soap gods look down from heaven and bestow upon it good writers, executive producers or a miracle in the form of the next Grant Aleksander.
I've come up with six things that can and will help soap fans, such as myself, who are waiting for the next soap messiah to return. I'm certain there are countless more and look forward to reading soap survival tips in the comments.
Find Humor In The Good Things and The Really Bad Things.
Have you ever been in a situation where something was so depressing or sad there was nothing else left to do but laugh? Watching soaps can feel like that sometimes. The Bold and the Beautiful and All My Children are current examples. The Bold and the Beautiful is so bad it is easy to laugh about. All My Children has been so bad for so long I had forgotten how to laugh with it, or at it.
I came to this realization after The Pine Valley Podcast's Ashley and Jordan brought their hilarious perspective on All My Children to an episode of Daytime Confidential. I actually had more fun discussing All My Children with them than I have had watching it, in months. What is the old saying? If you can’t beat them, join them? If you can’t laugh with a soap, laugh at it. If you are lucky enough to be watching a soap that is good, laugh at the good things. Take pleasure in them. Good soap is great, but it doesn’t last forever.
Find Other Soap Fans You Disagree With and Enjoy the Debate
Never underestimate the value of having a friend or group of friends with whom you enjoy arguing about soaps. Consensus can be overrated, but arguments are often inspiring. When watching soaps becomes unbearable, debating a topic with friends is therapeutic. Trust me, I know. I often find myself on the island of unpopular opinions. I love moustache twirling villains, Jamey doesn’t. I love Gloria on The Young and the Restless, Mike, Jamey and Jillian don’t. I’m a fan of Trevor St. John’s Todd Manning, Tina would do almost anything to get Roger Howarth back in the role. When watching All My Children feels like going to a dentist to have a tooth pulled without anesthetic, my all time favorite debate – whether or not the Martins are as upstanding as they claim to be – is a topic guaranteed to get me watching All My Children again, if only to gather more ammunition for my point of view.
I am so thankful that Daytime Confidential has brought a wonderful group of people into my life with whom I get to argue and debate about soaps on a daily or weekly basis. I would highly recommend finding your own group of soap fans to debate the ins and outs of the genre with.
DVR’s may bring about the demise of soaps, but for me they are the difference between not watching and keeping up on daily basis. The first benefit is obviously the ability to fast forward through commercials. It saves at least 15 minutes per show and when you watch as many soaps as I do, it only takes watching four soaps to save an hour of time. The second benefit is that once a soap is programmed into the DVR, it will almost always record and I rarely have to worry about it.
The third benefit is that it allows one to create their own version of a show. For example, the As the World Turns I watch isn’t the As the World Turns you may watch. On my As the World Turns the Paul, Meg, Dusty, Lucy storyline does not exist, other than as a blur as they flash by at warp speed. On my As the World Turns Casey is a great character because I don’t watch him opposite Alison, unless they are sharing scenes with Margo, Tom or Emily. On my As the World Turns Henry, Vienna, Brad and Katie are really zombie characters controlled by aliens. Once Mulder and Scully give the characters a much needed anal probe – not to be confused with SORAS – I’ll believe that these characters are really who they claim to be.
My As the World Turns revolves almost entirely around Carly, Jack, Janet, Parker, Liberty, Craig, Luke, Noah, Lily, Holden, Tom, Margo and the occasional appearances of Bob, Kim, Barbara, Susan and Lisa. I’d put my As the World Turns up against The Young and the Restless or One Life to Live any day. The As the World Turns the executives try to shove down our throats doesn’t deserve to be in the same room.
If you don’t have a DVR, I would highly recommend you get one. It’s almost impossible to survive watching soaps without one, unless you just quit watching completely.
Hope, Balanced By Reality
The daytime soap genre is dying. There are no if's and's or but's about it. However, even amid plummeting ratings, budget cuts, actor firings and executive manipulations, it is possible for a show to make a comeback. A few years ago, HoganSheffer brought As the World Turns back from the brink, boosted ratings and earned the show well-deserved Emmys . Since then, As the World Turns has stumbled in both quality and ratings, but we know there is hope. With the downfall of Lynn Marie Latham and Dena Higley at The Young and the Restless and One Life to Live, both shows have rebounded under steady hands of Maria Arena Bell, Hogan Sheffer, Scott Hamner, Paul Rauch, Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini. More recently Guiding Light has done what few, if any, soaps have ever done, a complete turnaround in under six weeks. While it is too early to say for certain if Guiding Light’s turnaround will last, for soap fans it provides hope that cancellation is no longer inevitable.
Vote With Your Remote
Bad soap isn’t worth one’s time. It just isn’t. On the podcast Jamey has encouraged people to “vote with their remotes” and not support bad soap. If you are dissatisfied with your current soap, change the channel and look for a new one.
There are at least seven other soaps to choose from. Think of these other shows as an appetizer platter at Applebee's, try them all and you might find one you like. Spend a week watching one of the other soaps. If there is something you like about it, give it another week. If not, move on to the next one and give it a week, and so on. If, after giving all the other soaps a fair chance you’ve decided none of them are for you, you will either have a new appreciation for your original soap or you may have come to the realization that it’s time to give up soaps completely.
Unfortunately, because of Daytime Confidential, voting with my remote for or against shows I don't enjoy isn't something I can do. If it was, I certainly would.
Relive your favorite soap moments vicariously through You Tube.
If watching “your soap” has you down in the dumps and “voting with your remote” isn’t an option, might I suggest a classic clip coma, compliments of You Tube. Even if you are new to soaps, watching vintage clips can provide a wonderful history lesson. If you watched the soap back in the day, it provides a great opportunity to relive the “glory days”. At best, watching classic clips can reinvigorate your love for the genre, at worst it will make you wish for what once was even more.
Now it is your turn. What tips do you have for surviving your soap addiction, when all looks lost to the world?