My secret soap obsession

My love for soaps grew in my teenage years and continues unabated.

I love soaps. There, I said it. The preposterous storylines, the unbelievable economic divide between characters and the fact that a brother can marry, divorce and remarry his older brother's fiancée without breaking the family apart, all makes for thrilling viewing.

My first introduction to soaps was in the late 1980s, when I would join my mother in her nightly ritual of watching Falcon Crest and Dallas.

I had not even completed my first decade, but I knew that JR Ewing was a bad man, and I began watching the show in hope of seeing him get his come-uppance.

Of course, I never divulged my secret Dallas obsession to my mum. I hid it behind numerous sighs and calculated outbursts decrying how ludicrous the storylines were.

My love for soaps grew in my teenage years, but I became more interested in younger characters as opposed to family sagas. Hence, my interest in shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and the tragically short-lived Models Inc was born. It was in watching 90210's characters Dylan and Brandon that I first became acquainted with the concept of the Bad Boy and the Nice Guy: Dylan may have landed all the chicks but it was Brandon who got the girl in the end.

Melrose Place made me pine for more interesting neighbours. Instead of a conniving doctor, a recovering alcoholic and a scheming executive, I was stuck with a little old lady and her pup, Dinky.

No shenanigans ever happened in our apartments, with the exception of the heated complaints caused by the delay in the pick-up of rubbish bins.

Models Inc made me appreciate the true meaning of the cliffhanger episode.

I remember every detail of the last scene of season one's finale. It found one of the main characters sashaying down the catwalk while a hidden rifle pointed down at her from the balcony above.

The programme ended with the gunman about to pull the trigger. Months later, it was revealed the series' return had been cancelled due to poor ratings.

In university, part of my studies included a research paper on American soap operas, which included interviews with many diehard viewers.

They tuned in, some of them said, for an insight into the fictitious lives of the rich and famous. One person explained that it was better to watch a programme where characters have even bigger problems than they did, while another described it as a simple stress reliever and "cheaper than aspirin".

While I am not advocating medical practitioners and psychologist to prescribe hours of soaps to quell headaches or to help gain a better perspective on life, soaps may just have the distinction of being one of the only things stable in these turbulent times.

They can always remind you that your relationship is not as bad as you thought and perhaps having a neighbour with a dog called Dinky is better than one planning your eventual demise.

Published: August 25, 2011 04:00 AM

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