Though I majored in Broadcast Communications in college, which included a substantial block on analyzing television content via semiotics, feminism, postmodernism, Marxist theory, etc... courses on soap operas were few and far between.
And when I say few and far between, I mean there was exactly one graduate seminar on Writing the Soap Opera (taught by a professor who not only didn't write soaps, didn't watch soaps, he didn't even like soaps!!!!).
As a result, Everything I Learned About Taking Soaps Seriously and treating them with the respect shown other art forms, came from reading the writings of Michael Logan, Mimi Torchin, Alan Carter, Robert Schork, Carolyn Hinsey, and Marlena De Lacroix (whom I later learned to be a pseudonym for Connie Passalacqua Hayman).
All of the above frequently took soaps to task - not because they were making fun or dismissing them, but because they knew what soaps were capable of, and spoke up when they felt a story, show or actor wasn't living up to their potential. (It also didn't hurt that they could be hysterically funny in their observations).
Connie's Marlena cast such a giant shadow on the soap world, that Guiding Light's romance novelist Blake adopted an eerily similar nom de plume: Darlena LaCrosse (she even had her own website, with excerpts from her books where I... I mean, uh, Blake... fictionalized the love stories of her and Ross, Miguel and Selena, and more...).
When putting together Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, I asked Connie/Marlena to contribute an expert opinion, leading to an entry on Another World's classic Rachel/Steve/Alice triangle. (I was also fortunate to get Mimi Torchin writing on One Life to Live's Karen on the witness stand, and Alan Carter on General Hospital's BJ's Heart.)
And now for some truly exciting news! After an interminable hiatus, Marlena (and Connie) are back!
She (they?) are blogging regularly at: http://marlenadelacroix.com/, taking on GH, Y&R, B&B, DOOL, the Daytime Emmys, Hollywood Heights, and the entire soap genre!
If you believe soaps deserve to be taken seriously - but with a sense of humor (in capable hands, it is not an oxymoron), make sure to check it out, you are in for a treat!