The days of my life have been pretty restless, and I'm not young enough to keep up with all my children anymore(children being the crappy things in your life that you love anyway) because I've only got one life to live and if I'm not careful I'm going to end up in general hospital again. So I've been light in the Logopolis posting this week.
But I've been inspired to write again because my activities last night loop back into IJMSSMO posts I've been making on other's blogs.
My inspiration: Chicago's own soap opera The Ville is back with a new episode at Mary's Attics Mondays this month. After the outstanding musical holiday season finale last year, I was worried that it wouldn't be able to top itself. And while I miss the brilliant songs of Jeff Bouthiette's brilliant songs, this year's debut was filled with emotional wallops that feel like a punch to the gut (I truly gasped at one point) and lots of laughs as well. The fallout from Terrance's death in Japan after the birth of his child with Greg and what that does to the expectations on birth mother Lainey and her girlfriend Liz was obviously going to be wrenching but unexpected plot turns and the excellent performances from those left behind hit me hard. I'm not too proud to admit that at certain points I was weeping... which I'd be embarrassed enough to do in a "real" theater, but in a bar I felt even more exposed... and it went from "oh I've got something in my eye" to "trying hard not to sob and convulse" (and it's nice to have a boyfriend who will hold you when you're crying, but then you realize he's just burying his face in your back so he can hide that he's crying too; crying is contagious like yawning, especially when you've had a couple stiff drinks.) So "traditionally manly" I was not. But it was that good. Characters you care about going through crap you can't imagine and reacting the way you expect based on past characterization -- classic soap opera.
Speaking of classic soap operas, as a fan of the genre, I was sad to hear that Guiding Light is getting extinguished in September after many, many years, though since I'm more accurately a former fan of the daytime aspect of the genre, I'm part of the problem. Mel had a fantastic post on this, which caused me to fill up her comments with my own thoughts on this dying breed, including a new addiction from across the pond that isn't EastEnders:
As you may or may not remember, Guiding Light was one of the few soaps that existed since the mid-80s never made my regular rotation. (As The World Turns is the other...) It was one that my mom watched sometimes at the flower shop when I was MUCH younger, but I never paid it much attention.
But as I write this, I am totally remembering that I DID watch Guiding Light regularly at some point when I lived in Chicago and was either working at home or straight up unemployed. It's on at 9 AM here, and that's such a TV deadzone that it was pretty easy to get hooked on... especially if I remember correctly it was the time with the ridiculous (as in "ridiculously AWESOME") plots on San Cristobel around the turn of the century (2000, that is) when Reva had been a Princess, yada, yada...
And when it went to its freaky hand-held camera cinema verite style -- with the real life locations and the "reality tv" look, I recorded a few episodes just to see what it looked like because I really like the idea of somebody doing something new in an attempt to save the genre.
But I can see why it didn't work. Like newspapers, soaps probably needed to change with the time to have had any chance to stay successful, but they (a) usually did the wrong things to stay "hip" and (b) had any sort of continuing success precisely because they didn't change -- it's like comfort food for those who watch them every day and for those who only check in when they're home with the flu.
Still though, I wish the show would stay on the air. Maybe they should just take it back to its radio roots and do 15 minutes podcasts episodes. (Hey, look, Mike just invented his own dream job.)
* * * * *
The saddest thing about the genre dying is that, like I hinted at earlier,
other than occasional brilliance from Y&R and One Life to Live,
most of the other shows may not actually deserve to live except for
their great histories. Four years back, I was hooked on All My Children
but it has become a mess like GH. And don't even get my started about
John and Marlena leaving Days... even though I'm sure I wouldn't care
about their plot if I was still watching it, Days without Deidre Hall
is not a Salem USA I'm interested in.
But if you want to get a crazy classic soap fix with a slightly modern twist -- and you regularly listen to podcasts -- let me suggest the BBC's The Archers... a radio soap which you can get daily for free through iTunes. It's about farming and British country folk and at first seems as dull as you can get... but I checked it out because I'm an anglophile and I'd heard about it for so many years (it been around since after WWII and was used, in part, to promote stuff like rationing and other government propaganda -- the history alone is fascinating) Anyway, you wouldn't think a soap about pig farmers and the women who love them and the class struggles of small town Britain -- would be so compelling. But it is. It's totally what I imagine old radio soaps used to be but about the 2009 financial crisis.
It might just be a fascinating cultural artifact because I'm from the US -- sort of like the other soap I got hooked on when I was unemployed in the early 2000s -- the twice daily reruns of Ryan's Hope on Soapnet which taught you more about the seventies we grew up in than any history books.