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Passions Animation: Genre Mixing in Soaps

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This piece originally appeared on Dec. 12, 2005, on the Convergence Culture Consortium from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Sam Ford blogs weekly there about soap operas in relation to fan cultures and innovative storytelling and marketing campaigns, in addition to blogging about many other new media issues updated multiple times daily.  You can visit his blog here.

NBC soap opera Passions had an interesting week from Nov. 11-Nov. 15, running a series of animations as part of a fairy tale storyline throughout each episode during the week.

Becuase Passions has framed itself as a fantasy soap, with storylines including vampires and all sorts of other supernatural situations, fans seemed to accept this major break in soaps-as-usual.

The episodes were critically acclaimed and seemed to indicate potential new avenues for soaps. The move got quite a bit of press for the show, which is the lowest rated of the nine daytime dramas in overall viewers.

The success of the episode reminds me of one of our reserach partners at the consortium Jason Mittell, in his book Genre and Television. Jason looks at the TV show Soap and the cartoon The Simpsons as examples of genre crossovers. In this case, the soap opera managed to do quite a bit of genre crossing, ironically using the same company that produces The Simpsons for the animated sequences.

What do you all think of the potential in moves like this, if done occasionally? Is it groundbreaking from a transmedia perspective?

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