Wednesday, August 12, 2015


For the second summer in a row, IFC has debuted, with grand fanfare—including multiple ads and billboards in major markets like New York City—a miniseries “event” along the lines of 1980s classic TV fare The Winds of War, The Thorn Birds, Lace, and the combined Sidney Sheldon/Judith Krantz oeuvre.

The difference is, those shows played it straight, while IFC is going for (deliberate) laughs.

Online now is The Spoils Before Dying. Last summer it was The Spoils of Babylon.

Both mock typical miniseries and soap-opera conventions such as dramatic rags-to-riches backstories, overly complicated (slipping into incestuous) family trees, corporate (and sexual) shenanigans, secret pasts that Could Destroy Everything™, star-crossed lovers, innocents accused of murder, cliffhangers, far-flung location shoots, and over-the-top wardrobes.

In other words, all the good stuff. The Babylon sagas aren’t the first to have some fun with soap operas’ classic tropes. But they’re hardly the best. (For some reason, both series felt the need to employ the sight gag of really large brandy glasses. We get it. Those are some very large brandy glasses you’ve got there. But if that’s the best you can do when it comes to getting laughs, it suggests that maybe you don’t trust your material.)

Here, instead, are five shows that managed to bring both the soap and the humor. Tell us if you agree at Entertainment Weekly!

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