Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unreality TV

With the impending death of All My Children, I just had to repost this with a few updates

Before there was "Reality TV", there were Soap Operas. I confess, I TiVO "All My Children" every day and watch it every night. My sister and I will usually devote at least 15 minutes of our daily phone calls to discussing what happened in Pine Valley that day, as though we were talking about people we actually know.

And in some ways, we do know them. We've been watching since the beginning, and Erica Kane reminds us SO much of our middle, evil sister that we feel completely familiar (and familial) with her.

Soap Opera life has some very distinct advantages, as well as some general oddities that seem to exist in every sudsy town:

- Most people appear to have jobs, but few ever have to show up for work.

- Almost everyone in town works at the hospital. This usually leads to family members treating other family members (when and if those medical professionals actually show up for work). There are no doctor's offices, no pediatrician's offices. Kid gets a cold? Take her to the hospital!

- People frequently commit crimes (trying to kill others, for example) but the police are rarely called. Pine Valley has a Police Chief but he usually lets the would-be murderer go free once he gets the nod from the would-be murderee. (And he just illegally swapped his dead newborn with a box o' baby that was left in a patrol car. Nice one, Jesse.)

- Soap opera people never get colds but they frequently lapse into comas, go blind, get trapped in floods, develop amnesia, get stuck in quicksand and get kidnapped.

- Soap opera houses (even mansions) are never locked. People walk in and out at will.

- Only in soap operas are housekeepers named "Lucretia".

- Soap opera people often fake their own deaths. Generally, if a body is not found, you can be fairly certain to see the "dead" person again once their attempt at non-daytime TV fails.

- Soap opera people never say "goodbye" when they finish a phone call, have only recently started using cellphones and NEVER watch TV unless someone in town just got arrested.

- Pregnant women develop a belly, but don't gain weight anywhere else.

- Soap opera kids should be morbidly obese because moments after entering a room they are always whisked away for cookies or ice cream.

- No one ever has pets.

- People frequently come back to town looking like someone else, after "amazing plastic surgery" which apparently also involves a voice transplant.

- Soaps take "love/hate relationships" to a whole new level.

- One of the aforementioned hospital jobs is apparently "hair and makeup", since comatose women continue to be completely madeup and coiffed.

- Almost everyone winds up finding out they have children they didn't know existed, including the women.

The best soaps are the ones that don't take themselves seriously, which is why I love AMC. My favorite Erica line of all time was years ago, when she was married to and hated Adam Chandler. Adam had been kidnapped and Erica was getting ransom notes. She suggested to her mother that a good way to get rid of Adam would be to refuse to pay the ransom. When her mother looked horrified, a reassuring Erica explained, "But Mother! I'M not going to kill him... the kidnappers are!"

Gotta love it. Gonna miss it.