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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Soap Drama: Submergence and Emergence

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Goodbye Erica Kane, so long Adam Chandler,  Ciao Tad Martin. Is this an end of an era? The popular media seems to think so as they comment on the finale of All My Children, a 41 year daytime soap which takes place in Pine Valley and is broadcasted daily on ABC. It may be the end of this era but it certainly won't be the end of daytime soaps. New, more progressive shows about entertaining, lifestyle, and homemaking like The Chew may replace "the drama" but fans and soap stars are still out there. The daytime soap phenomenon will submerge from mainstream, evolve in silence (like Detroit Lions Football), and re-emerge in a decade or so as a Superbowl team.

The show ended with intense cliff hangers sure to keep those who are curious on a daily basis, intrigued and even those who were 'sick day' visitors to Pine Valley. One could always come back as Stewart Chandler, the heart of Pine Valley, shot by his twin brother two years ago, could re-emerge from death that day due to advances in stem cell research.  Likened to science fiction, this daytime soap story line was a far-fetched dreamscape that is plausible in the future.
Who Shot Jr? This was a cliffhanger in the CBS Network prime time soap opera Dallas which started as a mini-series and ended up as a 13 year primetime soap from 1979-1991. Dallas was an Emmy winning program that revolved around a wealthy Texas family, the Ewings. It was known for its cliffhangers and bizarre narrative concepts i.e. "Dream Season" (Season 8) where the entire season was revealed as someone's dream. Dallas was successful, so much that it is now re-emerging in 2012 on the TNT Network. This will not be a remake but a continuation from 1991. 

The dissolving of daytime soaps in American culture suggests several issues: there are more people working during the day, the absence of a certain type of viewer, those who are at home are busy doing other things, viewers do not have time for drama or are finding it elsewhere, etc.

What does bringing back a popular prime time program about family and wealth say about current American culture?   Have Americans had enough of night time reality television? Is the reality era dissolving? Is this a residual affect of the economic climate? Are the current prime time television programs entertaining? Could there be a Twin Peaks or Dynasty 2013?

'End of an Era', okay. End of daytime soaps? Well, we still have yet to find out "Who JR Chandler shot?" in Pine Valley. 

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