Monday, June 2, 2014

Soap Opera Therapy

My mother hooked me on soap operas during my junior year of high school.  "Days of Our Lives" was my introduction to the genre.  My classes were over by 12Noon and I often came  home to find her watching this show while eating her lunch.  It was a fairly new soap opera at the time, a new generation of soap operas that included "General Hospital" and "One Life to Live".  I remembered my babysitters and elders watching "Edge of Night", "Guiding Light", "As the World Turns" and "Search for Tomorrow" but this was the first soap I really watched.  I watched it for the next seven years.
"Days of Our Lives" cast probably in the 1970s

My dad's secretary, Marty, loved "Days of Our Lives".  During the summers I worked in Dad's office, Marty and I watched it together. We took great pleasure guessing what direction the multiple stories might veer off in.  My mother eventually went back to work as Dad's bookkeeper and the three of us commiserated or rejoiced over the story lines.  I can see us now in front of the small b/w portable he had set up in the reception area.

By the time I married, I could no longer luxuriate in the drama of Doug and Julie (illicit romantic couple), Addie (mother of Julie; originally married to Doug until Julie stole him away), Dr. and Mrs. Horton (the patriarchs whose children were all screwed up). I now had a succession of  9-5 jobs and pathetic 30 minute lunch breaks.  "Days of Our Lives" was filtered through whatever my mom told me and, without the ability to watch, I gradually lost interest...or so I thought.

The invention of the VCR revived my interest.  I had accessibility again.  I was in my early thirties with a serious career and a husband who owned consumer electronic stores.  He brought home various VCRs and Sony's Beta machine hoping to predict which format would win the  video wars.  Most of the original characters were still in place, at least, the ones I really liked.  I became addicted for another few years.  Mother and I could, once again, ruminate on Doug and Julie's undying love and what the new generation of "DOOL" characters were up to.  

Once I had babies, I no longer had time to indulge.  My lunch hour was spent breast feeding and I was so tired at night I didn't want to watch an endless saga of adultery, divorce, love affairs, jealousy, double-dealing and the like.  

I eventually turned to evening soaps:  Dallas, Knots Landing, 90210.  My favorite episodic soap of all time was The West Wing.   Nowadays I watch The Good Wife, Scandal, Nashville, Suits and the always mysterious Mad Men.  I DVR everything so I may fast forward through commercials.   My husband and grown sons think it's all crap.  But I know better.  It's a mindless flight of fantasy and I have 41 minutes to lose myself in someone else's life.

Some people shop.  Some people drink.  Some people knit.  Some people exercise.  I watch soaps.

It's therapy.



bill lisleman said...

My first lesson in the differences between men and women came from catching bits and pieces of daytime soaps.
I'll admit I once got hooked on Desperate Housewives.

une femme said...

I used to work at a CBS TV station, and it was on all the time in the office, so I got hooked on all of the CBS soaps. Still sometimes watch Y&R on my lunch hour, though I hardly know who any of the characters are anymore except for Victor, Jack, Nikki, and a few others.

DJan said...

Years ago I watched General Hospital but remember nothing about the characters today. I am hooked on Mad Men, Scandal, and The Good Wife, too. I love those shows and the people in them. It's therapy! That a good way to think about these shows. :-)

California Girl said...

Bill, I LOVE it when men admit to watching or having watched soaps. It puts you guys that much more in touch with your "feminine" side(s).

California Girl said...

une femme, I remember when soaps really started around 11-11:30AM airing non-stop on most channels until 4PM. No more. I did a bit of research into "DOOL" & other soaps. There were so many; I'd forgotten how they dominated the airwaves during the day. Cheap to produce & developed viewer loyalty.

California Girl said...

I remember the national media coverage of Luke & Laura's wedding on "General Hospital" but I never watched it. You and I share the same taste in the nighttime shows. I wrote this post almost as a point of rebuttal to my family who make fun of me ALL THE TIME.

A Beer For The Shower said...

Yeah, not gonna lie. I watched a few soaps in my day, thanks to my mom. I'd come home from school and Days of Our Lives or One Life to Live or General Hospital would invariably be on, and you can't help but soak it up after a while even if doing something else. So that's what happened with me.

Oh, and as a dude, I have to insist that Mad Men is not crap. I love that show. Roger Sterling's snappy retorts are worth the price of admission in itself.

California Girl said...

Beer Boy: thanks for the honesty. I recall hearing about dorm room soap opera get-togethers in the 80's (or was it the 90's?. That was when many male viewers came out, so to speak.

"Mad Men" is addicting. It has its ups & downs, writing-wise, but I love the dialog, the characters, the drinking. My dad wore a felt fedora in LA his entire life. While it was de riguer on the East Coast, it was looked upon as an oddity in L.A. I always liked it tho'. He stood apart. He was an advertising man, btw, But he wasn't Don Draper! Roger is a scream. In the end, he makes the most sense.

injaynesworld said...

West Wing, Good Wife, and Mad Men are my faves, too. But speaking of DOOL, I had a "thing" with Josh Taylor in the 80's for a while. We had been in the same acting class. God, he was full of himself, but as sexy off screen as on.

California Girl said...

jayne, that's so FUN! He was a cutie. Great smile! Thanks for sharing!

Pat Tillett said...

I never liked soap operas at all, but I totally understand the escape value of them. There are things I watch religiously that my family can't stand.

California Girl said...

Pat, you should share that info with me becausee "inquiring minds want to know" :)


by Cole Scott