Monday, September 27, 2010


At some panel event many years ago (I think it may have been a Museum of Radio and Television function), Victoria Wyndham (Rachel; AW) related how people coming up to her always said, "Oh, you're on my stories."

I gather it's a rather common way in which to refer to soap operas, but having grown up in a non-English speaking household, I'd never heard it until that night, and so it stuck with me.

It also resonated. Because to me, soaps are first and foremost stories.

Yes, I've had my requisite crushes on actors through the years, my couples that I "shipped" rather desperately.

When I came to work in daytime, first at E's Pure Soap talk-show, then ABC, then PGP, I even got to know many actors and to respect them not just for their work on-screen but also as human beings (it was awfully nice when I could enjoy both aspects equally; alas, it rarely works that way.)

But, first and foremost, to me it was about the story. Does this story hold my attention? Does it make me want to tune in tomorrow? Does it make me want to discuss it with other people and hear what they thought and how it would turn out?

Since starting to watch soaps in 1980 (Luke and Laura, what else?), I eventually went on to sample them all. And the reason was always story, story, story.

I have never turned the dial for a particular actor or couple. It had to be a particular actor or couple engaged in a great story. (It's also, I presume, why I initially dreamed up the concepts for Another World Today and Mindy's Twitter. Actors are wonderful, actors are great, I know whenever I've written a script, actors have inevitably brought more to it than I ever could have imagined, but, in the end, the story was still the driving force.)

But, maybe that's just me.

How about the rest of you?

What do you think is the most important and compelling aspect of a soap opera?

And while you're pondering the question, if you're interested in a glimpse into my deep, dark, just starting out in soaps past... check out the below Pure Soap clip. I'm the first... uh... victim.


Lois said...

Oh boy. . . well, in short, I don't think you can have one without the other. You can have a great story, but if an actor is just not resonating with viewers, the story won't matter; and then if you have great actors, a lousy story won't do much to keep viewers.

But (or maybe not, I'll see as I go along LOL). . . when I first saw the question and thought about it, I was going to say that maybe for me it's actors/characters. I only watched GL and during the last some years of it, I kept seeing people complain about the stories. Me, I just really couldn't agree much because I just long time ago saw it as I'm not the writer, I'll just take it as it happens. Doesn't mean I like every single thing that happened, but I just took it as it happened. And I think it's because I wanted to see my favorite characters (and actors) and just about didn't mind what they were doing, as long as they were doing it for me to watch.

However, most people are probably not like that. Hence need to go back to my first paragraph. LOL


Shamos said...

For me it comes down to both actors & plot. As a long time GL fan, the show took a nose dive plot wise after 1992, yet the brilliant actors really earned their paychecks by performing the hell out of scripts that were so light & ludicrous that they would take a week to hit the ground if dropped from a highrise building. Sadly, the genre is dying and I do not forsee any way of changing this. The heydey of the soap opera was in the 80's, but technology is basically to blame for the demise. Thank you for creating continuations of the dearly departed shows, I especially love Mindy's Twitter since Krista Tesreau's Mindy was my favorite character. It is bittersweet, but it keeps the light shining. Ratings, advertising & lack of diversity (both in front of and behind the scenes - this is of CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE people!)are the major hurdles that need to be overcome. The simple fact that there is only now one soap filmed in NYC scares me. No offense but it is no secret that East Coast soaps always churned out better actors. So many promienent & popular actors started on soaps & as Lois said in the previous comment concerning actors & plot: I don't think you can have one without the other.