Come Clean ~ Doom, Gloom, Destruction and Death

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Soaps, ya gotta lighten up!


Bruce Weitz (Zacchara, General Hospital)I know soap writers can always pump up (albeit temporarily) ratings and revive interest with a drama or murder mystery plot. But lately it seems death, destruction and doom are the predominate themes. Grant it, these storylines make for some captivating movie-lite photo shots, but it ends up being style over substance. Is this all the writers have in their book of tricks? I expect more. I am a big murder mystery fan, but all this death, destruction and gloom just gives me a heavy heart. Hello folks – weren’t soaps supposed to be “love in the afternoon?”

The soap opera headlines shout “Out of the Ashes,” “Murder at the Black & White Ball,” “The Rape of Brooke Logan,” or “The Wedding Whodunit – Shoot Out at the Alter.” The networks work very hard to promote death and murder. Yet, by the time the trial for the murder occurs, usually no one cares or the trial is so tainted that viewers know no one will be brought to justice.  The conclusion to most dramatic storylines never lives up to the promotional hype. The soap creative teams tend to ignore the fact that they are not a prime time drama series!

I think the writers are being lazy when the primary storylines turn into a rotating funeral or murder trial. The death of Jennifer Munson on ATWT really got my dandruff up. The actress was leaving the soap and her character was a member of one of the core families.  Instead of putting her into the typical soap coma or having her mysteriously disappear from the hospital while waiting for a recast, the lazy writers just killed her off!  It is a sign of the times that a death is just so easy and unimaginative for them to do.

Between General Hospital and Days of our Lives, they have racked up as many dead bodies as Jack Bauer on ‘24’!

I think the posters on many of the soap boards have some great idea’s to spice up the storylines.  Along with the In-turn or I Want to be a Soap Star contest, how about a Give us a Storyline contest?  To me, it is obvious the writing teams need a good storyline. Most viewers are not trying to become soap writers, but we could give them some good idea’s to work with. What do you think?  

I love the soap staples of drama, mystery, love, duplicity and trickery. But does all of this have to be done under a cloud of darkness and doom?  Drama doesn’t always have to be murder, death or some horrible event.  I liked the Internet Blogger story plot on one show. A mysterious person was spilling the secrets of the town residents via a web blog. It was a nice twist to an old plot device -- changing the technology of the crime from a scathing unauthorized book to the internet. And who doesn’t love mayhem at a masquerade ball? The costumes and scenery are usually fantastic!  Here are a few of my ideas: Have all the characters on the way to the Daytime Emmy’s and someone is abducted on the way to the event? Or have one of those not-for-profit fundraising events whereby a person gets “arrested” and friends and family bail them out based on the donations collected. But my twist is that no gets that memo so no one raises any funds and the person really gets locked in jail –of course during some critical time that their presence is needed elsewhere.  My ideas may be corny, but my point is that you can have drama and mystery without it being so depressing.  

One only needs to turn on the news to get a daily dose of shootings, murder and death and destruction.  I want my soaps to be a little more light-hearted. Give me some love, intrigue and business shenanigans. It has been said that movie producers tend to create more comedies and ‘feel good’ movies in bad times because people want to escape! But our soap scribes seem to be doing the complete opposite. 

What say you?  Comment below or on the Come Clean Hot Topics Message Board.