I have watched two soap operas in my life well enough to know the long-term story line and characters.
When I was in elementary school, I would rush home and glue myself to the television with my mom at 4 p.m. to watch Dark Shadows, the story of a band of vampires living among humans. (Is it any wonder the “Twilight” series was so appealing to me.)
Fast forward decades later and I entered into a long-term relationship with the Young and the Restless (Y&R) a story of young and not so young restless people who now come into my family room at odd times during the day thanks to the DVR that didn’t exist during my Dark Shadow years.
My affinity to Y&R is so strong that I was completely starstruck when I met and hung out with one of the cast members at Mandina’s Restaurant in New Orleans a few years ago.
But that’s where my relationship where soap operas ends. If truth be told, I was probably a fan of Dark Shadows and Y&R, mostly because of the people with whom I shared them. As for the soap operas themselves, I’ve never been an obsessed fan. If I miss a week, or a month, or a year, I can come back and catch up in one episode. It’s hard to be obsessed with something so predictable.
Soap operas also never seem to end. And although their story lines are often dark, twisted and confused, their characters always return to a happy place.
Characters die and are forgotten. Then five years or so later, they turn up not-so-dead after having recovered from amnesia from a plane crash in a remote island in the Indian Ocean — a storyline conceived by some of the most creative writers in the business. Of course, once they return, they marry the love of their life who just happens to have been recently divorced from the person for whom they were dumped five years earlier and led them to the fated airplane trip and crash.
It’s a soap opera ending. And a new beginning. Life wrapped up into a neat little package, all set for a new drama to begin.
In real life, we often wish for soap opera endings. But we don’t always get them.
Or do we?
In soap operas, as in life, the happiness of a happy ending doesn’t always last. That’s because there’s no drama or growth in the status quo and viewers get bored, ratings drop and the soap opera ends.
But soap operas go on and on for years. The writers are too smart to let their characters stagnate for too long. They must force them to move on to the next adventure. Sometimes, however, moving on means staying right where you are and loving the drama of not knowing what’s next.
Don’t be disappointed if you didn’t get the soap opera ending you were hoping for.
The dark shadows will pass — once your restless youth surrenders to the patience and wisdom of this one life you still have to live.