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Editor’s Note: This post has a cocktail pairing: Sloe Gin Fizz. Please scroll down for the recipe.
In a TV landscape dominated by reality programming of all stripes (competition, soap, etc) one of television’s original programming genres is going the way of the dinosaur. That’s right, soap operas are being picked off the air (in favor of reality programming with much lower production costs) faster than a Real Housewife can pick out a new pair of Jimmy Choos.
Celebrate Television History
With only a few soap operas left on TV, it’s important that we take a moment and celebrate a piece of Americana that turns 50 this week–General Hospital.
Drama, romance, glamour, suspense, escapism. Artfully combining all important elements of great theater, soap operas-like General Hospital-draw you in daily—slowly revealing plot lines. I remember being in middle school running home from school everyday to see if WSB secret agent Frisco (played by the uber handsom Jack Wagner), who everyone thought was dead, would make it home in time before his true love, Felicia, married Colton. The plot was dragged out for weeks (or was it months?) with little teasers of Frisco in a far away land. He was still alive! Will he or won’t he make it back to stop the wedding and reclaim Felicia?!
Soap operas had a fan base with uncompromised devotion. For example, General Hospital’s wedding of Luke and Laura in 1981 brought in 30 million viewers-the highest rated show in daytime TV history! Reality programming has yet to come close to such numbers.
Can reality TV soap operas replace the real deal?
These days my go-to soap is usually the latest episode in Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, but as much as I love my Real Housewives, the table toppling and other outrageous behavior just does not replace actual scripted drama. Soap opera scripts are over-the-top, dramatic, unrealistic, and cheesy, but that’s why we love them—we escape with them and travel to another world. And even amidst the bad, low-budget set design, we are able to suspend our disbelief and be whisked away to a world of espionage, true romance, and good winning out against evil. In the self-manufactured drama of reality TV, the lines are constantly blurred between good and evil—the hero of choice can change weekly. Are any of them real dramatic heroes? It seems they are all just the lesser of 2 evils, literally.
I don’t really remember why I stopped watching General Hospital—I think it had something to do with graduating college and entering the 9-5 work world where you don’t have the luxury to partake in 3pm appointment television. The DVR solves that problem but then there’s the time commitment—soaps take a certain commitment and emotional investment that Reality TV just doesn’t require. Nothing really happens on reality soaps so it’s easy to jump in and out—catch a funny sound bite, see a beautifully glamorous dress or a crazy out-of-control get-up and you’re good.
But I think what’s important to remember, is that soap operas are an important part of both our entertainment landscape and pop culture. As an original part of television programming, they are true Americana and need to be enjoyed and preserved. So happy 50th birthday, General Hospital. Here’s to hopefully another 50 or….at least 5. (I’m looking at you ABC execs—please don’t pull the plug on one of our last remaining pieces of classic TV Americana).
Technotini Pairing: Sloe Gin Fizz
This fun and dramatic cocktail was chosen in honor of the “sloe” suspenseful unveiling of the classic soap opera plot lines.
1 1/2 ounces sloe gin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lemon, juice of
Add ingredients to a shaker, except the club soda. Shake well with ice cubes. Strain into a glass and add the club soda, then stir gently.
HI! I’m a Shana, self-proclaimed Media Mixologist, wife, and mom to two little girls. I love to mix up cocktails of crafts, recipes, wellness, family and business with just the right amount of sparkle to help you shine everyday. So, grab a glass, and let’s celebrate the cocktail of life!