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All I Needed to Learn about Plot, I Learned from Soap Operas…

I was talking to my co-partner in crime, Ang, the other day and our conversation turned to soap operas.  You know which ones I’m talking about.  The goodies, but oldies.  Like “One Life to Live”, “General Hospital”, and “All My Children”.  We were lamenting on the fact that the bad guys now on these series are not the same caliber of bad guys that have come before.  Granted some will have the same names, and similar faces, just more wrinkles and gray hair, but seriously, they’ve turned into a bunch of whiners.

I haven’t watched soap operas since my late teens.  Back then I was mesmerized by the fact that I really, really liked the bad guys.  I mean, they were soooo good at being bad, never apologizing for their actions, they just reveled in their wicked ways.  Now, from what I’ve heard, every villain has to have some “reason” behind why they’re bad.  Their childhood was a roller coaster ride of nightmares, the good girl has always been held up to them as who they’re suppose to be, waaa waaaa waaaa.

Really? What happened to those men and woman who had no qualms about worming their way into families and communities, only to stand back and laugh manically while the whole town fell apart all because of a carefully laid plan.  There was no whining of past imagined wrongs, no politically correct excuses spouted about how unfair expectations made them into who they were, no explaining with heartfelt tears how they really are a good person but it’s everyone else’s fault they’re so bad.

Oh no, I remember when the villains were villains because they liked it! They loved the drama, the arguments, the fights, the backstabbing, the betrayals, and as each tear fell, their smiles and plots grew bigger and deeper.  There was no excuses, they were good at being bad, and they loved their job.

So how exactly did soap operas teach me plot?  Think about it.  All those twists and turns that kept you guessing.  Who was really your friend and who was really jabbing that knife deep in your spine with a smile on their face?  Those writers, back then, they were good.  They would have me following this story line and believing I had it all worked out, then BOOM!  A quick turn and twist and the world as you knew was completely upside down.

For those writers of the past who were unhampered by society’s need to have an excuse for every bad action, thank you.  Thank you for showing me how truly enthralling a world could be when what you thought was white was black and what was black was white, while a whole world of gray existed in between.


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