The only drama I like, is the one I can watch on screens–movies, TV shows, daytime soap operas. I do not like drama in real life, though the doll and her cousins are so dramatic sometimes, I wonder if they are destined to be actresses in the future.
Yesterday, while the girls completed their homework, I sat at the kitchen table watching an old Guiding Light episode, I found on YouTube. Back in 2007, the show celebrated their 70th anniversary of broadcasting by taking a look back at how the show developed from a radio program to a pioneer in television history. I figured this was a fitting tribute to celebrate what would have been 75 years yesterday; had the show not been canceled in 2009.
Meanwhile, the girls filtered in and out of the kitchen looking for after school snacks, while I sat watching the episode. Why are they dressed like that?” Elle asked, after grabbing an apple from my refrigerator. “Because they are supposed to be set in 1940 or so” I said in return. Her interest peaked, she pulled up a chair next to me and began to watch. Soon the doll and Mary wandered in, presumably looking for more food and found me and Elle watching the show. After the two girls grabbed an apple each, they too worked to sit down and watch.
“Aunt Marsha, I’ve got a stomach-ache” Mary said. “Are you still hungry?” I asked. “No, I think it’s this stupid show your watching.” “Well, no one said you had to watch this darling, so leave if it’s upsetting you.” I said in return. She left for a minute, but realizing her sister and cousin were still watching, returned and forced her sister to share her chair. “I thought you said this show was giving you a stomach ache” I said. “Well, I think I just needed to sit down” she replied.
Here we sat, watching an old episode of The Guiding Light and I was immediately transported back in time; my mom ironing clothes in the family room, while my brother and I crawled over cushions, creating a fort. All the while, my mom’s stories played on the TV, filling the room with drama seldom seen in our daily lives. Now here I was, watching a soap with my daughter and nieces. Once the episode ended, the girls asked to see another one. So I picked one from the YouTube queue: the death of Tammy Lane-Randall.
I remember watching this episode the first time and crying all the way through. The acting was brilliant; real grief poured out for these fictional characters. So I steeled myself against what I knew was going to be an emotional scene. The girls however wanted to see me react. As the emotion built, I caught Elle looking back at me. “Are you crying?” she asked. “No, I have a runny nose” I said in return, pointing my finger back at the screen for her to stop looking at me and watch the clip instead. “Mom, is that the dead girls sister?” the doll asked, trying to sort out who was who. “No that’s her mother; the other woman is her aunt and that’s her husband. “Wait, that girl is her mom? Then why does she look so young?” Mary asked.
“Girls, this is a soap opera, just go with it, okay?” I asked when their questions kept overlapping. Back on-screen, “Tammy” dies and her husband overcome with grief begins to scream; crawling atop the dead woman and begging her to come back to life. While an adult can understand these raw emotions, the girls began to giggle, embarassed by them. “Why is he jumping on top of her?” one of them asked. “Is he biting her?” another asks as the actor cries into her lifeless chest. “Oh my goodness, why are they doing that?” the doll cries through her laughter.
There I sat disgusted! The girls took my pleasure at watching this pain away from me. Instead I was forced to listen to three little “pains” mock and make fun of my treasured guilty pleasure. Not long after, I kicked them out of the kitchen to go and find fun elsewhere. Just before leaving the kitchen, Elle turned and said mockingly, “Aunt Marsha are you going to go back and watch that so you can cry?” “No, I’m going to make dinner” I offered instead, wanting to stick my tongue out at the whole lot of them.
When the kids were asleep, I went back onto YouTube and viewed that sad video clip again, this time allowing myself to feel the full emotion of the scene and cry. Sometimes you need a catalyst to provoke tears and have a good cry. That brilliantly acted scene was mine. I miss having my soaps around, the characters, friends I’ve known for years. I’m saddened that even though my daughter mocked the scenes, we won’t have a chance to discuss the characters later, when we’re both watching together-much like my mom, sister and I did.
Not to mention, the only real drama I want in my life, is what I view on a daytime scripted dramas, or soap operas.
#Daytimefansunite is a FB page looking to get 100,000 “likes” to show the entertainment industry that scripted dramas are still a viable option for daytime television. This is not a group simply a page. If you could “like” the page, you might help save a dying art form, not to mention, offer something better to watch other than talk and cooking shows.