Thursday, October 17, 2013

SOAPS SHOW SPIRIT!

Originally published on 10/19/11

IN THE SPIRIT OF THE DAY

Spirit Day got me thinking... When I asked fans to contribute which scenes demonstrated soaps at the very top of their game for Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, the final tally included All My Children's Bianca coming out to Erica, As The World Turns' Holden filling in Emma about Luke being gay, and Guiding Light's romance of Olivia and Natalia.

As it turned out, these three very different stories ended up with three very different write-ups in the enhanced e-book, as actress Eden Riegel, writer Jill Lorie Hurst, and soap scholar Sam Ford approached their respective entries from three unique perspectives which, together, formed an interesting overview regarding how LGBT issues have been handled on daytime in the 21st Century, and what they meant both to their creators and their viewers.

Eden Riegel: The story was told so beautifully and with such sensitivity and respect. Audiences already loved and were invested in Erica and her daughter, and went on the journey with Erica as their surrogate. Over time, they began to embrace Bianca along with Erica. And soon Bianca was one of the most popular characters on All My Children, even among housewives in middle America who never even met a gay person before. This story is proof positive that soaps have great power not only to tell dramatic, engaging stories, but also to help change hearts and minds.

Jill Lorie Hurst: The writing team, the producing staff and the actors fell in love with the story the moment it was pitched. The network and P&G were a little more cautious, but they never told us NOT to tell it. Their hesitation didn’t really hurt the story because we played the emotional beats full out from day one until the last episode. Committing to and telling a slow building love story was a joy. Not rushing them into a romance allowed us to have a wonderful time with every moment. Everyone working on the show became invested in the couple! We had a great time figuring out who would support their love and who would oppose them.

Sam Ford: Just as soap operas at their height drive discussion amongst characters throughout the canvas about "what's happening," the actions of characters drive soap opera fan discussion as well. As this story played out, fan communities that often did not talk about politically and morally charged issues found their discussion of Luke's story soon spilling over to conversations about larger issues surrounding homosexuality and the struggles of coming out in the U.S. While occasionally conversations grew a little contentious, many fan discussions presented a wide range of opinions, stories, lived experiences, and debates among fans with a wide spectrum of opinions.

Read more from Riegel, Hurst, Ford, and dozens of other daytime actors, writers, producers, and experts at: http://tinyurl.com/SoapMomentsEBook

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