Diamond Jubilee at Romance at Random

"The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Albert Einstein

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Romantic Roots

When I was a girl, my sister and I spent summers as latch-key kids. We woke each weekday morning at 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. (How we slept that late I’ll never know.) The first thing we did was turn on the TV with a press of a button on the actual television set and tune in to The Young and the Restless at 11:00, followed by All My Children at 12:00, Days of Our Lives at 12:30, One Life to Live 1:00, Another World 1:30 and General Hospital at 2:00. At 3:01 p.m. we would scramble like hell to clean the house and do our chores before Mom and Dad came in from work at 5:00.

All day long we engrossed ourselves in soap operas. Some of which overlapped. Without the benefit of Tivo or even a video recorder in the early days, it could be a true dilemma with far reaching consequences to decide which show to watch. What if Hope had gotten shot the day before on Days but Jessie was professing his love to Angie on AMC. How could you choose?

These were the glory days of daytime television with an abundance of heroes to go around.

Does anyone remember Rick Springfield as Dr. Noah Drake, or Michael Damian as Danny Romalotti? What about Jack Wagner, John Stamos, Peter Reckell, Peter Bergman…etc.?

These guys were my first introduction to romance, and they were excellent teachers. In fact, now when I need a great hero name or a mental picture of a character, I check the ranks of daytime television. Not always the best actors but certainly some of the prettiest. I still smile when I think of Steve “Patch” Johnson calling Kayla “Sweetness” or a leather-clad Bo Brady with Hope in a wedding dress on the back of his motorcycle after saving her from marriage to the evil Larry.

Sadly, the daytime serials of years past are fading away as reality has set into the minds of the American population. Fantasy and romance are no longer in vogue. Snooky and The Situation take focus over The Quartermain and Horton Clans. My beloved soap operas are a dying art form. Many have been cancelled and more are in jeopardy.

In truth, I haven’t watched soaps for decades, but I do revisit those tantalizing nineteen eighties hay-day plotlines for inspiration. I fondly reminisce over favorite couples and kisses, and revel in the unbelievable twisting plotlines that stretch the suspension of logic passed imagination. I mean how many long lost kids, mothers, sisters, lovers, brothers can one person have? Stefano DiMera has died and been resurrected so many times he makes Jason and Michael Myers look like lightweights.

But the true staple of these stories was the romance -- the heart-pounding, knuckle-biting, will-he-kiss-her suspense that is the essence of our addiction. The soap opera more than any other medium has the ability to capture epic romance that literally spans decades.

This addictive romantic core is what enthralls and drives us romance lovers to read, watch, and write new stories.

Today in my first blog post ever -- I want to pay homage to the romance genre that, for me, started it all.

Thank you, daytime TV, for the hours of guilty entertainment and education in the art of romance. May my own work strike as definitive a chord with others as yours has with me.


D'Ann said...

Oh, I loved soaps when I was in high school...and I still do. I watch the ABC soaps faithfully most days. But they don't have the super couples they did back then like Luke and Laura and Greg and Jenny. But I still love them.
One of my pubbed friends uses the soaps for inspiration for her characters. I don't, though. I like to have faceless characters, but I think it's a great!

Lisa Kumar said...

Great post! I think at one time or another soaps have been a guilty pleasure for many people. The only issue I could never get past was the HFN (happy for now) part. I wanted it to be happily ever after! But soaps would be without a story and plot if HEA was guaranteed.

Kary said...

Thanks,D'Ann. I can't imagine my youth without those guys. Jenny and Greg! I love them! Of Course Luke and Laura started it all.

True - Lisa, but it also provides for the villians to be redeemable and get their HEA/FRN ending too.

Dawn Wylder said...

Awesome! My mom and I were big Days of our Lives fan too and then we got in to General Hospital. Sonny is still my favorite gangster even though he runs through women now like water. Lol

jennajaxon said...

Great post, Kary. I haven't watched soaps in decades, but my girls do. My first one was bit strange--I bet some of the paranormal writers have heard of it, though. Dark Shadows came on at 4pm each day. Barnabas Collins was in love with Victoria Winters. Only problem--Barnabas was a vampire! Great show!

Kary said...

I have heard of Dark Shadows but never actually watched it. A vampire soap opera is a very good idea. There are a few of those on TV now.

Lisa Kumar said...

I loved Dark Shadows! I think it was a series remake that didn't last long, though.