Daytime Soap Operas: Bringing Back Storylines Based on Suspense, Drama and Romance
Saving Days of Our Lives
What Daytime Soap Operas have lost is the suspense, drama and romance that came from creative and unique storylines. Instead of focusing on the plots, the writers have chosen to fixate on sensationalism by seeing just how far they can go sexually on the screen. This has turned the shows into little more than glorified soft porn, without plots and character development. No longer do Fridays have cliffhangers that torture the viewer as they are kept anticipating what would happen on Monday, because the shows have become merely random scenes thrown together as excuses to show sex. They no longer have the continuity either in shows' history or with character development. The producers and writers no longer have regard for romance, family or humor as they concentrate on spreading forbidden love and graphic sex across the screen.
Unlike other entertainment mediums, soaps aren't meant to have a beginning, middle and end. The storylines were designed to be on a 13-week rotation, during which time the drama and suspense built to a conclusion for the good or ill of the primary characters. At about the half way point, the next primary storyline would be launched so that it would be ready to be moved to the front burner when the current one was completed. This format has made soaps successful for decades with extremely loyal fan bases that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Generally, there was one primary storyline, two secondary, one of which will be become the next primary, and several continuing character-developing plots that are used as filler. Although the primary storyline received the most airtime, the secondary and the filler plots were used to create scene breaks that generated tension and extended the story. Although very frustrating for the viewer to have the scenes suddenly cut at the height of the drama, it also kept her or him coming back. It is the same concept for the overlapping storylines. By the time, the first one has reached its conclusion, the viewer has already been hooked by the next storyline and the process begins again.
What the producers and writers don't realize is that they don't have to compete with cable by sexually titillating the viewers in order for the shows to gain ratings. The grandmothers and mothers, who made soaps popular on television didn’t call them soap operas, but considered them their stories. They had to run home or rush through their housework to watch “their stories“. The adventures and romances that the characters experienced is what kept them coming back five days a week. The cliffhanger Fridays left them speculating and talking about the soap over the weekend. In the time before VCRs, Mondays and Fridays were the most important days to soap viewer. Tuesday through Thursday built up the tension to that last five minutes on Friday. It was these last five minutes on Friday, when lives hung in the balance, as the gun was fired that set the tension that forced the viewer to tune in on Monday to learn whether the bullet hit or missed--if the character lived or died that gave soaps their popularity.
Some soaps didn’t wait for Fridays to torture their viewers. Dark Shadows kept their viewers on a very short leash. Every episode left the viewers hanging. In addition, they did not use flashbacks. If a view missed, they were simply screwed, which is why the viewers were so loyal. Dark Shadows never coasted when it came to their storylines. Their plots and characters were continually in forward motion. It is what kept their viewers loyal and miserable when they missed. Cancelled in 1970 due to protests by religious groups, Dark Shadow conventions are still very popular, usually selling out nearly immediately. The stars are still very beloved. When the Sci-fi channel was launched, Dark Shadows was one of its cornerstone programs, which gave it a whole new generation of fans.
The most popular and long lasting storylines aren’t the ones that involve sex, but the plots that touch people’s heart by making them laugh, cry or want to get involved. Days of Our Lives had two opportunities to deal with the emotional, spiritual and physical issues after rape. In one case, they had the victim have romantic feelings for her attacker. In the case of campus rapist, they dodged the emotional trauma of the victims by having them being involved with the rapist death. In both cases, the writers chose not to address the emotional trauma of the victims. The Autism story is shaping up in a similar way; instead of focusing on the stress, guilt and confusion of a family dealing with an autistic child, the writers talk about money issues. Falling in love, losing love or not being able to find love is the backbone of soap operas. But it is more than just leaping into bed. The romance in soap also involves the humor, misunderstandings, and confusion. It’s a long winding path with twist and turns that keep the characters and the viewers guessing that keeps the show popular.
The decline in the rating of the soap operas rests solely on the shoulders of the producers and the writers. The advancements on the technical side have given the special effects and sets more versatility, but it means nothing if the viewers don’t care about the characters or are bored with the stories. It is the reason the ratings have dropped, thereby affecting the revenues of the networks, which is why the genre is on the decline. It is not the fault of the viewer, the actors or the technical staff, but the powers that be who chose to flash over substance and sex over romance.
All of which brings me to the reason I am writing this. I have been a Days of Our Lives fan for decades. For the past few years, the quality in the writing has sharply decline to the point it is on the verge of being cancelled. Several months ago, I started writing an alternative universe for Salem in protest to the bad writing. It was posted on the NBC fan board, where suddenly it became very popular even though it was first draft and had errors in it. It wasn’t until the posters started asking me to submit it to the producers that I started taking it seriously. They said it was much better than what they were watching on their screens. I cleaned it up and sent it in. I want the Head Writer job. After the mess the current HW has made, I can’t promise to make Days number one again--I can’t even guarantee to keep it from being canceled. What I do promise is to return suspense, drama and romance to Days. I promise to torture the viewers with cliffhangers not only on Fridays, but also on as many days during the week as I’m allowed.
If you go to http://www.myspace.com/theresachaze, you can read what I have written thus far. If you like it and would like it on your screen, please contact the executive producers and ask them to hire writers who not only want Days to succeed, but who also have the creative talent to make it happen.
DAYS OF OUR LIVES
3000 W. Alameda Ave
Burbank, CA 91523
Leave a message on the Days Hotline:
Ken Corday, Executive Producer
Ed Scott, Executive Producer
DAYS OF OUR LIVES
3000 W. Alameda Ave
Burbank, CA 91523
Phone: 1-818-840-4444 (main switchboard)
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