The great Douglas Marland once said there are only seven basic storylines
in a soap opera. If a person follows more than one or two soaps, the
plotlines can become repetitive. I am aware of the happenings on 7 of the 9
soaps on the air: ATWT (which is my favorite), B&B, GL, GH, AMC, Days and
Passions. Watching too many soaps is often a nuisance as similar storylines
play out simultaneously on different shows.
In 2004 alone I endured many storylines revolving around murder mysteries
and murder attempts: ATWT's Rose D'Angelo Murder Mystery, Days' Salem
Stalker, AMC's Michael Cambias Murder Investigation, Zach Slater's Murder
Game, and now the show has began to expand on the murder of Paul Cramer, who
lived in OLTL's Llanview, yet played an important role in the lives of the
citizens of Pine Valley, GL's Maryanne Carruthers and Who Killed Phillip
Spaulding? a storyline which is still playing out. GH's had a
Skye/Luke/Helena murder mystery regarding the death of Det. Ross Duncan, so
did Passions with a Poisoning Mystery surrounding Alistair Crane. Trying to
stay up with all these storylines is virtually impossible, not many
individuals can dedicate 4 to 7 hours a day to watching soaps. The typical
murder storyline is virtually the same: unexpected murder, suspects, wrong
person is arrested, everyone frames everyone, weeks of confusion and finally
the killer (who is usually the person you least expect) is caught. Days'
Salem Stalker storyline was extended for months and after a while many
viewers, myself included, did not care who was behind everything. The big
reveal was one of the biggest letdowns in daytime history. As soon as the
Salem Stalker storyline was wrapped up a new murder mystery began on GL with
Phillip Spaulding. Although I was reluctant to the idea of watching yet
another murder mystery this storyline has been cleverly written and has
better twists and turns than any other murder storyline from 2004.
If there is one overused plot in soaps its amnesia, which is the most
convenient, predictable and plot driven storyline. Jack Snyder's bout with
amnesia on ATWT was very well written, giving the show a much needed central
storyline and revitalizing the relationship between Jack and Carly. Over on
GH Nikolas Cassadine's unfortunate memory loss showed a new side to the
character, which I loved. I was deeply saddened when he regained his memory
and went back to being the same, stale Nikolas as always.
GH's amnesia story was not perfect, but it was still miles ahead of GL's
disastrous amnesia story arc with Michelle Bauer. In times when GL was
improving greatly the show was being dragged by the terrible Island Story in
which Holly, Sebastian, Danny, Tony, Marina and especially Michelle were
involved in. I stopped caring for Michelle months ago, I don't care if she
regains her memory or nor. I just want her out of the TV screen.
It took 9 months for AMC's infamous Baby Swapping storyline to be resolved,
an another 9 months for B&B's baby saga between Nick, Brooke and Ridge to be
wrapped up. Both storylines were extended more than they should have
(especially on AMC) and characters were changed radically (David Hayward and
Tad Martin). I am sick of baby stories, even GH's brilliantly acted arc in
which Sam's baby died and little Kristina was saved from death proved to be
repetitious and unoriginal.
Whether it is a baby switch, amnesia, a murder mystery or any other typical
soap story, I feel I am watching the same storyline over and over. It is
obvious stories have to be repeated or revisited however they must be
addressed creatively and with originality. It is unfortunate to say so, but
soap operas are a dying breed. Budgets are being cut down every years,
veteran actors are exiting to give way to the teen crowd which The Powers
That Be (TPTB) think will appeal to the younger audience they are aiming
for. Soap operas need to be REVITALIZED; a major creative change has to take
place in order to maintain the viewers tuning in each day. We do not want to
see the same old story played every year; we want to see new ideas which
make the show grow in quality. I am sure there are plenty of possible
possibilities found in each show's history.
Ratings improve when the storytelling is good and new elements (Note: New
does not mean teens taking over and ignoring characters viewers have grown
to love). Action and adventure need to be toned down to make way for
romance, which is what a soap is all about.
If all soaps are doing different things from one another multiple soap opera
viewers will feel motivated to tune in and observe the changes being made
and the new developing storylines. Currently, I feel watching one soap is
like watching them all, same stories with minor differences here and there.