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The General Hospital Articles Pages

2002 General Hospital Opinion Articles and Essays!

Vampires and the Women Who Love Them by Anonymous

Vampires!  They’ve got vampires in Port Charles, New York!
2001 GH fan weekend

Thirty-some years ago, when the Vietnam War was still winnable and all moms were housewives, I would periodically play hooky from school for all the wrong reasons.  As I lay on the couch, wheezing through another bout with asthma, I would be treated to NBC’s entire daytime lineup, starting with the Today show (Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters were the hosts back then) and finishing with a pre-Trebekian version of Jeopardy.  And at 12 noon, as reliable as sands through the hourglass, so were the Days of Our Lives.

In those days, soap operas were about love—love triangles, love quadrangles, an occasional love trapezoid.  Back in the early 70s, the big question on Days was whether Mickey would ever discover that his son Mike was really the offspring of his brother Bill, who had once raped Mickey’s wife Laura on her hospital bed.  Then, as now, soaps treated rape as a courting ritual, and Bill and Laura were, of course, secretly in love.

So what was my point here?  Oh yeah, for about two years, every time I would miss school, poor clueless Mickey would always be that close to learning the truth about little Mike’s paternity.  All conversation would stop when he’d enter the room.  He’d find hospital records missing.  He’d see Bill and Laura holding hushed, anxious conferences out on the patio.  And he would still have no idea!  On the show, Mickey was a lawyer, but if this guy had been Perry Mason, we’d all be watching reruns of Hamilton Burger, D.A.  I think maybe Mickey finally learned the truth some time during the first Bush administration.

And now, instead of love triangles and suspicious pregnancies, they’ve got vampires on a soap opera called Port Charles!  It is obvious that I have quite a bit to learn about soaps in the new millennium (aren’t you sick of people using that rhetorical crutch?).  So I made my way to Los Angeles to meet the fans and actors of General Hospital and Port Charles—GH and PC to the soap cognoscenti—to learn what happened in the years between blood tests and bloodsuckers.

If Port Charles is the current offender in the world of the supernatural, it was General Hospital that lit the fuse.  GH was, of course, the show that gave the soap world its first “super couple”, Luke and Laura, who were wed in a Charles-and-Diana ceremony back in the days of Pac-Man (prior to which, you may have heard, Luke raped his beloved, an untidy bit of pre-feminist business that the show is still grappling with today).  But even before the two exchanged rings, GH decided to unveil a story line about an evil man who had a machine that was going to freeze the entire planet.  They followed up that little Batman interlude with an even less believable tale of a decidedly Caucasian young blonde who was supposedly an Indian princess (her mother’s name must have been “Dances With Swedes”).

Anyway, in late July, I packed my bags and headed to Studio City for “General Hospital Weekend”, a celebration of both ABC’s venerable daytime franchise and Port Charles, a GH spin-off set in the same city.  It is actually my second pilgrimage to the event, but I knew much less when I came out in 1999, and now it is time to get some answers.  As I did before, I will talk to the fans, sneak into a few events, down a couple of Budweisers, and contemplate the world through the smoggy metaphor that is Los Angeles.

WEDNESDAY

            What makes someone a celebrity?  Are there different levels of celebrity?  Does Desi Relaford qualify?  And why am I pondering all this in the parking lot of a Ralph’s supermarket at nine in the evening?

            The last question is the easiest to answer.  I have just seen Bernie Mac.  Or, more correctly, I have just seen Bernie Mac’s clothing.  His back was turned to me and he was wearing a long coat and a big hat, so I had to trust the cashier’s word that this was the one and only Mr. Mac.  You can certainly appreciate my immediate response:

            Who in the hell is Bernie Mac?

            It turns out that he is an actor/comedian who has been a sitcom regular on both the WB and UPN networks.  As you are no doubt aware, these are the networks that fight it out for last place in the television ratings and will continue to do so until one or both of them take their place alongside 1950s entry DuMont in the TV graveyard.  In other words, Bernie Mac’s television career to date has been viewed by an audience roughly the same size as the number of people who still believe that Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman were killed by Colombian drug lords.  Soon, however, he will have his own show on the FOX network, meaning that his ratings are about to skyrocket from virtually non-existant to pretty damn bad.

            Does the fact that a couple of check stand clerks at Ralph’s recognize him make Bernie Mac a celebrity?  Exactly how many people have to know your name before you attain that status?  Was Gary Condit a celebrity back when his only televised appearances were on C-Span?

            And what about the folks who are going to be showing up in the next few days across the street at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel?   Are the actors on GH and PC celebrities?  Every one of them?  Even the guy who just plays the cop on General Hospital and appears on camera only to interrogate and arrest?  Sure, the actor, Réal Andrews (his réal name, I’m told), has a fan club.  But is he actually a celebrity?

            Which brings me to Desi Relaford.  Desi is a backup infielder for the New York Mets, which means that he’s a better ballplayer than all the people you’ve ever met in your life (unless you live next door to Mike Piazza or something).  But I am willing to bet the cost of a guided tour of the General Hospital set—which will be auctioned off this weekend for over $3,000—that almost none of the attendees at GH Weekend have any idea who Desi Relaford is. 

Now, given the overall ratings of most soap operas, it seems safe to say that more people have seen Relaford play ball than have seen Andrews perform on screen.  Yet when I punch up “Desi Relaford Fan Club” on the Google search engine, I get zero hits; when I type in “Réal Andrews Fan Club”, I am rewarded with 38 different web pages, one of which breathlessly, if a little ungrammatically, informs me that “Réal Andrews more than just a man…He’s a IronMan”. 

Clearly, celebrity has a number of components, and visibility is just one of them.  Another is devotion.  Today and tomorrow, scores of women and a handful of men will be flying in from all over the world and paying hundreds of dollars to spend a few hours with actors and actresses from two soap operas, one of which (the ratings-starved Port Charles) may be canceled at any time.  Meanwhile, Relaford’s dreadful Mets can hardly convince New Yorkers to cross the Triborough Bridge and pay ten bucks to see them lose.

What we have here, I suppose, is something called niche celebrity.  To hardcore soap followers, these actors are celebrities.  Meanwhile, at Shea Stadium, eager young baseball fans line up for Desi Relaford’s autograph.  There are, to be sure, transcendent celebrities, people everybody knows and recognizes like Madonna or Jerry Seinfeld or Monica Lewinsky.  But there are a lot more of the other kind, folks who can travel unnoticed on any airliner unless just the right sort of fan happens to be on board.

The dividing line is clearly not talent.  Without having seen him on TV, I can still say that Réal Andrews is almost certainly a better actor than Madonna.  Probably a better singer, too.  Seinfeld?  Come on, without George, Elaine, and Kramer, that show would have tanked even on the WB.  And we won’t attempt to speculate as to the quality of Ms. Lewinsky’s talents.  The fact is that the most celebrated modern artist in America or the most accomplished opera singer will never hear his or her name called out on Entertainment Tonight.

Where all of this leaves Bernie Mac, I have no idea.

THURSDAY

            Just after lunch, I find myself surrounded by three soap opera fans tooling down the Ventura Freeway in a minivan.  We are discussing, naturally, vampires.  True soap fans are always on guard for hints about who might be leaving the show.  Death is obviously the most common form of exit, usually resulting in a cast member departing for prime time, unemployment, or prime time followed by unemployment. 

Fans hate it when the actors leave, but it is one of the few constants of daytime television.  At the 1999 GH Weekend, one of the featured events was a session with two performers named Julian Stone and Jackie Zeman.  Within a few weeks of that event, Stone had been replaced by an actor called A Martinez.  That’s Hollywood—one day you’re on top and the next day you’re pushed aside by a vowel.

Anyway, it has occurred to the women in the van that vampires are, by definition, dead.  Thus, when the current story line concludes, a lot of the characters will find themselves deceased, including some fan favorites.  How will this dilemma be resolved?  Will all these people have to leave the show?  Should we start writing letters to the producers, the sponsors, the writers, our congressional representatives?  (“Dear Congressman Condit:  I hope you can find time in your busy schedule to…”)

Fortunately, these ladies have some ideas.  Maybe it’s just someone’s dream, and they’ll wake up to find that it didn’t really happen after all, and the characters can laugh about it over a bowl of Count Chocula cereal.  But no, the dream idea was discredited when they used it to erase Bobby Ewing’s death on Dallas back in the 80s.  Again, dejection, followed by another insight.  Isn’t it true, someone asks, as though debating a scientific theorem, that if you kill the head vampire, then all the other vampires return to human form?  This is apparently a device that has been used in movies, and it gives the women here a small degree of hope that not all who are dead will remain so.  Maybe that’s the way it will turn out, but I don’t like it—I much prefer the idea of a bunch of attractive young vampires showing up in Pam Ewing’s shower.

We might have continued with this dissertation on vampirology, but a more pressing matter attended us: we were scheduled to take the 1:30 tour of the Warner Brothers’ Studios.  If you like seeing large warehouses, then this tour is for you.  It was expensive, it was hot, and it was interminable.  The centerpiece of the tour was a studio museum that contained old costumes, props, and even the Academy Awards that Warner Brothers won for their motion pictures  (“See, those dummies really did give us an Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy”).  We also saw the sets of Friends and The Drew Carey Show, but most of the furniture had been moved or packed away, so it didn’t feel very familiar.  For me, the highlight of the afternoon was when a young woman, glassy-eyed and very pregnant, insisted to the tour guide that she had never heard of Humphrey Bogart.

For those who are less amused by gaping cultural illiteracy, the real highlight of the tour was probably an unexpected opportunity to view the filming of a scene from The Gilmore Girls, a recent addition to the WB network’s prime time lineup.  If you’re a fan of this show, I can now give you a sneak preview of the action as it was committed to videotape.  During this pivotal scene, which will air some time in the fall, two attractive teenage girls cross the street and enter the diner.  I saw it with my own eyes, so you know I’m not making it up.  I hope it doesn’t spoil the episode for you.  It was clearly a critical moment because they spent something like twenty minutes to capture approximately six seconds of television.  A couple of women on the tour remarked that they will now have to start watching The Gilmore Girls to see what happens, but I am not similarly inclined.  Now that I know that the characters don’t get run over crossing the street, all the suspense is gone.

By the time we return to the Sportmen’s Lodge, it is clear that most of the fans have arrived.  They are immediately identifiable by their t-shirts and buttons, many of which sport pictures of their favorite actors.  But the fans are not alone.  Another group is here, too, about twenty wannabe performers who are enrolled in some sort of actors’ workshop.  All are young and two or three are even as attractive as they think they are.  To kill time while sipping beer by the pool, I divide them into three categories: future waitresses, future bartenders, and future parking valets.  The warmth of the Southern California afternoon has put me in a good mood, so I leave out a fourth category: future porn stars.

FRIDAY

I join seven GH fans for lunch at a converted Denny’s on Ventura Boulevard that is now known as Twain’s Diner.  One of the common pastimes at General Hospital Weekend is complaining about the writers.  The head writer has changed since 1999, but the complaining has not ceased.  Apparently, the new writer, Jill Something-Hyphen-Something, is stacking the show with actors from her previous gig on Another World, and the fans are worried that long-time faves are about to be squeezed out of the action.  The new faces are dismissed as “Friends of Jill” or “FOJs”.  Someone even wishes out loud that the previous, much-maligned head writer were still with the show.  I guess soap operas are no different from anything else.  You get Clinton, you want Reagan; you get Bush, you want Clinton.  I’m guessing that by next year’s get together, after the new characters have been fully integrated into the cast, fans will be waiting excitedly in line, clamoring to have their pictures taken with the former FOJs.

In the meantime, someone is explaining to me the latest gimmick employed by the producers of Port Charles, who remain desperate to save their flagging soap from daytime’s dustbin.  The writers are now using “story arcs” that begin and end in a set amount of time, say six weeks.  This is, to say the least, quite a departure from the tried and true soap opera practice of weaving plot lines and characters together in intricate ways that make it seem as if the story never ends.  The vampire plot is the third such arc and is due to conclude shortly, which is why fans are so nervous about the post-Transylvanian aftermath.  For some reason, these story arcs are being labeled with names from old pop songs.  The last one was “Time in a Bottle”; the current is “Tainted Love”.  I’m pulling for the next arc to be titled “Ballroom Blitz”.

  Suddenly, excitement fills the air.  We are, it seems, seated just adjacent to none other than Charles Keating.  Now, I know who Charles Keating is.  He’s the guy who swindled all those little old ladies out of their retirement money in the Lincoln Savings scandal a dozen or so years ago.  I am just about to go spit in his Caesar salad when I learn that I have the wrong man. 

This Charles Keating is an actor, played Zeus on the show Hercules and is rumored to be joining the cast of Port Charles in just a few weeks.  He is spending his lunch hour studying a script, which everyone at the table assumes must be from the new story arc.  There is some debate about whether or not to disturb him and ask for autographs, but some of the fans vehemently object to doing so, and the others figure he’ll be at the PC reception scheduled for this evening (he won’t, as it turns out).

So now the way I figure it, if you count the two actresses from The Gilmore Girls, I have seen four celebrities in three days and I have never heard of a single one of them.  I don’t know if that says more about the nature of celebrity or about my shaky acquaintance with modern pop culture, but it does leave me feeling a little behind the curve.  But at least I know who Humphrey Bogart was!

Armed with that small reassurance, I join the brunch bunch as they gather around a table at poolside back at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.  In a few minutes, Réal Andrews will be on hand to sign autographs.  He may not be the biggest celebrity on the planet, but the crowd by the pool is clearly smitten.  I suspect that if Bill Clinton suddenly waded into the shallow end (would the Secret Service guys still wear suits as they followed him in?), he might well go unnoticed.

Clinton does not show, of course, but Réal Andrews does and grown women swoon at the sight of this tall, handsome actor.  Andrews is wearing a sleeveless t-shirt bearing the slogan, “Jesus Is My Sponsor”.  Not only is he incredibly buff, he is also, I am informed, the owner of a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  The next time you think that life is fair, consider this: Réal Andrews can not only beat you to a pulp, but he can also pull your heart out of your chest and show it to you before you die (not that he would).  All I can think as I watch this living, breathing Greek sculpture is this: “Réal Andrews more than just a man…He’s a IronMan.”

Andrews’s appearance is followed by an autograph session featuring Brad Maule, a good-natured Texan who has been on General Hospital since the 1980s.  The fans seem to like Maule just fine, but he generates none of the buzz that Andrews did despite his much longer track record.  Note to Jill Something-Hyphen-Something: you’ll be just fine—all you have to do is to stick some well-toned pecs in front of these folks and they’ll forget all their old loyalties faster than you can say “sweeps month”.

And now a word from Réal Andrews’s sponsor: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Judging by the behavior of many of the fans at the Port Charles dinner, the crowning event of the evening, some of the most ardent PC supporters have an especially large inheritance coming.  From a distance, they speak of these actors as though they are old friends; but when faced with actually meeting them, some can barely vocalize a greeting.  Don’t they realize how badly the actors need them?  Hell, given the show’s sorry ratings, it’s possible that two-thirds of PC’s entire fan base is gathered in this very room.

The fans may not realize how important they are, but the actors clearly understand.  Even the meekest fan is made to feel welcome by the entire cast, including Kin Shriner, who appeared to treat the 1999 fan event like a trip to the dentist.  They say that a near-death experience makes you appreciate everything you have, and the actors and actresses of Port Charles are currently sharing the TV version of a near-death experience.  They desperately want to be at this event next year and they know that these devoted fans are the people who stand on the front lines between employment and cancellation.

I have no particular interest in the fate of Port Charles, but I have a significant stake in the health of my own ego, and right now it’s taking quite a beating.  There’s nothing like standing in a room full of soap opera actors to cause a normal looking person to feel like a troll.  The experience makes you want to smash every mirror you’ve ever owned.  Even the older actors are gorgeous.  I feel like running outside and warning the acting students over by the pool what they’re up against, but I’m pretty sure they already know.  Besides, I’d probably just interrupt them while they were studying their lines.  But having seen how high the bar is set, I can think of only one line that most of them should bother learning: “Would you like to Super-Size that order?”

SATURDAY

            The big event of the morning is the Quartermaine family brunch in Universal City, featuring all the members of General Hospital’s leading clan.  When you speak of family on soap operas, you have to remember that you’re talking about grandparents, parents, children, bastard children, stepchildren, the bastards who married the stepchildren, and so forth.  How they keep this all straight without violating society’s incest taboo is beyond me.  And beyond them, too, as it turns out.  One of the jokes of the afternoon involves Monica Quartermaine’s intimate relationship with a man who was later discovered to be her nephew (though only by marriage).

            One of the fans wins a raffle and receives one of Edward Quartermaine’s old ties, which she promptly donates to my wardrobe.  The Quartermaines are the wealthy family in town, and the tie is, appropriately enough, from Bergdorf –Goodman of New York.  Unfortunately, it does not go with any of the jackets I own, so I jokingly suggest that the fan should enter another raffle so she can win Edward’s suit for me, too.

            Back at the pool, the conversation turns to Maurice Benard, the actor who portrays gangster-with-a-heart-of-gold Sonny Corinthos.  All of the fans at GH Weekend are, of course, true believers.  But Benard’s fans are the poisonous snake handlers, the speakers in tongues, the fall-out-of-the-pews-and-roll-on-the-floor worshippers.  They are the devotees against whom all other devotees are measured, and many of the other fans find them both annoying and more than a little disturbing.

            A fair number of Benard’s flock have signed up for Réal Andrews’s fan club event, scheduled for this evening, after hearing that their hero will also attend (he and Andrews are apparently close).  Now comes word that Maurice has decided instead to take in a boxing match downtown.  The disappointment is palpable, but nobody blames Benard. “Maurice is very shy,” one fan explains to me, as if she’d have any idea.  But not all is lost.  Benard has scheduled a surprise fan event for Monday (the day after GH Weekend officially ends), and some women talk about paying the airline penalty and changing their flight reservations in order to see him.  Others take comfort from the fact that the actor will at least be in attendance at the General Hospital brunch tomorrow.

            Two women are walking around handing out buttons, the sort you often see during a presidential election.  They are apparently campaigning to get Sonny and Alexis together.  Two years ago, the Maurice fans were vehement in their desire to see Sonny reunited with Brenda (who was, at the time, inconveniently dead).  This time it’s Alexis, but it probably doesn’t matter.  The writers could pair Sonny with Janet Reno and Benard’s fans would defend the former Attorney General as the epitome of womanhood (“Janet has so much more character than those young bimbos do!”).

            Standing in a line of people waiting to enter the Réal Andrews event (I’m not going inside, but I enjoy milling with the fans), I discover another unpleasant truth.  The actors are not only better looking than the rest of us, they are also better people.  Apparently, Andrews is selling “Jesus Is My Sponsor” t-shirts, with the proceeds to go to his charitable foundation, which gives money to researchers fighting cancer.  And he is not alone.  A number of the performers participate in charities devoted to such worthy causes as AIDS prevention and helping terminally ill children realize their fondest wishes.  It would be as if, in addition to building houses for the poor and bringing peace to the nations, Jimmy Carter also had a face like Tom Cruise and a body like Mel Gibson.  I think I’m due for another trip to the poolside bar.  

I miss the evening’s main event, a concert by a band called Kurth & Taylor, Kurth being GH actor Wally Kurth (aka Ned Ashton, the Quartermaine nephew who got it on with Auntie Monica).  I have no idea who Taylor is, but he is apparently not a soap star so nobody here really cares anyway.   It turns out that K&T are hawking a self-produced CD called Freedom, and I’m sure the profits will go toward healing the sick or raising the dead or something equally magnanimous.  One of the fans plays the CD for me.  It’s not bad, but if I were Kurth, I wouldn’t let my character get too close to any vampires, if you know what I mean.

SUNDAY

The high point of GH Weekend is the General Hospital luncheon, a huge affair that takes place in the main ballroom and lasts for several hours.  Tickets go for $100 and I’m told that some are even auctioned off on E-bay.  Security seems especially tight here.  For the first time this week, someone asks me to see the bracelet identifying myself as a paying customer.  Since I don’t have one, I stammer something about looking for somebody and walk away.  The guards are not really there to ensure that everyone pays up; rather, their main duty is to keep the stalkers out.  This would not, for example, be a good time for me to stare wildly at the security guy and insist that I am secretly married to one of the actresses, only she doesn’t know it yet.

While I eventually do manage to sneak in, I get most of my reports on the luncheon from some of the fans already inside.  Unlike the happy and solicitous cast of Port Charles, the GH folks spend a lot of time bitching about their story lines and their time (or lack of it) on camera.  Also in contrast to the PC dinner, not all of the actors from General Hospital are in attendance.  Some of the biggest names get a free pass. The no-shows include Luke and Laura (Tony Geary and Genie Francis, to their accountants), as well as Kristina Wagner, who plays Felicia, the one-time Indian princess.  For you aficionados of 80s trivia, Kristina was, until recently, married to one Jack Wagner, a former GH and Melrose Place heartthrob who earned one-hit wonder status in 1985 with a forgettable little number called “All I Need” (imagine a less bouncy David Cassidy singing a particularly wimpy Lionel Ritchie song, and you get the idea). 

I spend about an hour in the lobby waiting to make my move, passing the time by eavesdropping on various fans’ conversations.  Mostly they swap stories about their meetings with the stars, or they talk about what’s being said in the internet chat rooms.  One woman is trying to decide whether or not to attend an evening gospel concert being organized by Réal Andrews.  She wants to go, she tells her friend, but she can’t stand all the preaching.  (Preaching at a gospel concert!  Go figure.)

About that time a small entourage of attractive men whisks right by and heads out the door.  I immediately recognize their leader from the t-shirts.  He is the real life image of Sonny Corinthos, Maurice Benard himself.  He is a man on a mission, and his mission seems to be to get the hell out of here.  Actually, I am probably being a little unfair.  Benard is not the first performer to leave, and at least he had the courtesy to show up for this thing (unlike a certain early 80s super couple). Still, many of the remaining actors stick around for quite a while after Benard departs.

Shortly after Maurice’s exit, I notice that the security guards have become preoccupied with a wedding party next door, so I make my way into the ballroom.  I immediately recognize A Martinez, who is chatting amiably with a couple of star-struck fans.  He poses for their disposable cameras, signs a couple of photographs, and sends them on their way.  I wonder if he signs his full name or only his first name.  (And if he just signs his first name, does he ever have kids come up to him and say, “Hey mister, can you autograph my algebra homework?”)

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the atmosphere in here seems rather businesslike when compared to the smaller, more intimate Port Charles gathering.  The actors are friendly enough, but the strong connection between performer and fan that I noticed on Friday night just doesn’t seem to be here this afternoon.  It might have something to do with the fact that General Hospital, unlike Port Charles, is in absolutely no danger of extinction.  Or it could be that my PC experience was filtered through several bottles of Bud.

The best line of the day comes from a veteran soap actor, new to this show, who has been asked by one of the fans if he would like her to do an official web page for him.  He politely declines. “Because then,” he adds, “I’d have to take this shit seriously.”

As they leave the GH luncheon, after three days chock full of events, the fans look positively spent.  Nevertheless, they will dutifully endure two more lines for the final activities of the day, Réal Andrews’s gospel hour and a session with Rebecca Herbst, a pretty young actress who seems to be something of a favorite.  I will sneak into neither of these events (I, too, am pretty exhausted), but I do stand in the line for the gospel show. 

Mrs. Andrews, who is approximately nine months pregnant, is working the crowd and selling still more t-shirts.  (“When are you due?” one fan asks. “Wednesday,” she replies.)  I would have guessed that the spouses would not care to watch their loved ones being ogled by a couple hundred women, but Réal’s wife seems unfazed.  Besides, surely nobody would leer at her husband during a gospel concert.  And if you believe that, then you have obviously never been to GH Weekend.  There will, of course, be many Christians in the audience who will derive much spiritual satisfaction from the music.  But there will almost certainly also be an atheist or two who have simply been drawn to the body (and I don’t mean the body of Christ).

By 6:30, the gospel hour is well into overtime and a joyful noise continues to ring out from behind the locked conference room doors.  This causes no small amount of discomfort to the organizers of the Rebecca Herbst event, and they are not looking happy.  But there’s not much they can do about it.  I mean, what are they going to say?  I can just hear it now: “Hey guys, quit singing about Jesus so we can bring a teenage starlet in here to talk about her on-screen sex life.”  A little after 7:00, it’s finally over and the renewed spirits emptying out of the room pass the weary souls who have been waiting in line for nearly ninety minutes.

I spend the rest of the evening talking to fans, and I am pleased to report that the sine qua non of the soap opera is still love in all its many physical and emotional forms.  It is not always the sort of love that would pass muster with the Ten Commandments, but it is no different from the love that drove Bill, Mickey, and Laura into their destructive triangle three decades ago.  You can have your ivory-colored Indian princesses, your visits from the undead, and your evil geniuses who want to make the world their Sno-Cone.  Without the romance, these fans would not be here.  Without the romance, there would be only Jerry Springer and Maury Povich to fill the hours between the farm report and Final Jeopardy.

And it is love that establishes the pecking order on each show.  If you are not sleeping with anyone, you get very little time on camera.  If you are sleeping with your spouse, you get only slightly more.  Sexually active boyfriends and girlfriends probably claim the lion’s share of each hour.  But the real stars are the characters who are bedding someone else’s boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, the architects of those romantic triangles that are to soap operas what zany neighbors are to sitcoms.  Maurice Benard’s fans may want Sonny to live in eternal bliss with Alexis (or Brenda or Janet Reno), but deep down they know that a happy couple is a boring couple.

I won’t be here next year.  I’ve had all of my questions answered, and I would have to spend hours reading Entertainment Weekly and learning who’s famous these days before I could do any serious celebrity watching.  As I write this, UPN’s three biggest stars could be passing right by my window, and I wouldn’t even know it.  Is one of them a German shepherd?

Soap operas do nothing for me, but they apparently make a lot of folks very happy, and in a world marred by violence, disease, and frequent celebrity appearances by Carrot Top, what could possibly be wrong with that?  So my hat’s off to Maurice, Réal, Rebecca, and all the rest.  Who cares if they are better looking, richer, nicer, more generous, and happier than the rest of us?  That doesn’t bother me one bit.  No sir.  Oh, and make sure to watch out for the shards of glass from all those broken mirrors. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see if The Gilmore Girls is on.  If the camera moved just right, my left hand might be a TV star.  Watch out, Bernie Mac, whoever you are!

The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The TV MegaSite or its other volunteers.

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Page updated 8/15/12

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