With “All My Children” scheduled to go off the air this week — and with “One Life to Live” following suit in a few months — it’s time to acknowledge the educational value of soap operas.
For instance, I learned the alphabet from watching soaps. A is for amnesia (and adultery), B is for blackmail (and bigamy), C is for corruption (and conniving), etc. Those were mighty big words for a little girl, so that’s why I credit the stories with helping develop my vocabulary and spelling skills as well.
Soaps also taught me the truth about this cold hard world – happiness doesn’t last. Just when you think you’ve achieved joy, your nemesis returns from the dead, kidnaps your babies and tries to brainwash you into marrying him.
Love doesn’t last, either. As soon as a blissful couple declares their undying devotion, they’re doomed. Either a supposedly dead — and usually bonkers — wife returns from the beyond or a delirious man mistakes his shipwrecked mate for his beloved and impregnates the willing woman.
No, it’s not always a good idea for baby to make three.
My math might be fuzzy, but I believe every female character in the history of soaps has suffered at least 47 miscarriages. I’ve learned that during pregnancies, one must avoid walking past doors, speaking above a whisper and riding in vehicles. And, above all else, climbing or descending stairs.
Just because a character maintains a healthy pregnancy — anywhere from six months to two years describes the average soap gestation period — doesn’t mean she’ll experience a worry-free pregnancy. Some characters have a question or two about their papooses’ paternity. Oh, some of them foolishly undergo DNA tests to “determine” this paternity. But why bother when any idiot can swipe a lab coat, hack into the hospital’s database and change the results. Yes, the hospital’s database. Where do you think DNA tests are conducted?
When it’s finally time for the blessed event, no one plans for a hospital delivery. Soap babies are born during blizzards and train wrecks as well as in cabins (usually during a blizzard) and elevators.
But hospitals? Not so much.
Unless there’s a juicy custody battle or the baby develops a disease, the kid isn’t seen for a couple years. Then, he’s recast as a smart-mouthed teen with too much hair and too much attitude.
Yep, just like real life.
I just don’t believe “The Chew,” “All My Children’s” replacement which sounds like a smokeless tobacco infomercial, and “The Revolution,” “One Life to Live’s” replacement which sounds like a documentary on the origins of communist Cuba, will offer such valuable training for real world situations.
And the handful of remaining soap operas cannot pick up the slack left by all the dearly departed dramas. I fear future generations might never learn about folks returning from the dead (multiple times) or of women forgetting about giving birth to (multiple) children.
They might never learn the alphabet, either.