When non soap-opera fans want to disparage the genre, they call it a romance novel. When non-romance novel fans feel obliged to dismiss the best-selling book category, they call it a soap-opera.
Both are wrong. (And not just because they erroneously believe either term is an insult.) They’re wrong because of one key difference between soap-operas and romance novels.
Robert Newman, who played Josh on Guiding Light, explains, “A romance novel is finite, while we have 16,000 episodes worth of shows that people who have been watching their entire lives are drawing on. A romance novel happens. It comes and it goes. A soap is more complex than that.”
And Susan Dansby, an Emmy-award winning writer currently working on The Young & the Restless, thinks that’s a good thing. “A romance novel is the story of a hero and heroine who are leading separate lives, who find each other and decide to join their lives together. On a soap-opera, you have one couple that's falling in love, you have one couple that's dealing with the challenges of new love, i.e. the: we've declared our love, now what? stage, and then you have a couple that's been in love for a while, but they have challenges like kidnapping or illness that they're dealing with. Because once you've told the story of their love, you've got to do something to keep the story going. You've got to break them up. Would we, as writers, prefer that they live happily ever after? Yes! Is it interesting to watch? No!" (Read more, here.)
And there’s your key difference: Soap-operas rarely have a Happily Ever After. They can’t.
Last week, Anthony Geary, who’s played the role of Luke on General Hospital on and off since the late 1970s, announced that he would beexiting the show this summer for the (presumably) final time.
The news came hot on the heels of Genie Francis’ (Laura) scheduled return. But if those fans who’ve rooted for the couple for over thirty years think that means their beloved L&L will be riding off into the sunset together, Geary is quick to squash that hope.
He pronounced, “Genie and I agreed several years ago that the love of Luke and Laura had run its course. They have children together and a very storied history and there's definitely still love there but I think they're toxic to each other at this point.”
This would never happen in a romance novel.
Neither would the other story currently playing out on GH, wherein Federal Agent Anna (Finola Hughes), after battling to free the love of her life, Duke (Ian Buchanan) from the mob only to believe him killed in 1989, return with a new face (plastic surgery, natch) and die again a year later, was reunited with her not-quite-dead husband in 2012. After three years of conflict, Anna and Duke have finally decided to forget their respective stances on organized crime: (Her: Bad; Him: Eh, it’s okay) and run off together to begin a new life.
Read more, including examples from Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light, All My Children and others, and leave a comment on the subject: Can the only Happily Ever After on soaps come with cancellation? at Entertainment Weekly: http://community.ew.com/2015/05/12/soap-operas-have-no-happily-ever-after/
Plus, don't forget, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, the book where you can read interviews with the actors, writers and producers who created the scenes fans voted best of all time - then click a link and watch them, is now available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!