Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sudsy Lessons

Recently, the mother of a teen-aged girl lamented the fact that her daughter, going through ‘that phase’ has latched on to the local ‘bad boy’. ‘I guess we all went through it,’ the mom said. ‘Hmmm…’ I replied, recalling boys from my past. Though many of them could be categorized (sociopath, narcissist, closeted homosexual 1, closeted homosexual 2), I wouldn’t necessarily toss them into the snarling, brooding, anti-establishment bad-boy category.

‘Do you suppose,’ chimed in another friend, ‘that this current fascination with vampires is sending certain messages to our girls?”


In my day, vampires didn’t exist.

Well, of course they did, thanks to old movies and books certain teachers forced me to read. They were not, however, as prevalent as they are today, and certainly didn’t shape my views on relationships.

Soap operas did that.

Yes, Sweeties, yours truly was and is a soap opera junkie. As much as I preach the whole ‘create your own reality’ idea, a big part of my reality includes a good old-fashioned daytime storyline, an over-the-top peek into glossy, complicated worlds so different from my own - worlds that offer a mere hint of realism, but a great deal of food for thought when it comes to analyzing people and forming relationships.

Thanks to soap operas, I learned very early on that villains can have their heroic moments, and heroes can certainly fall from time-to-time. Soap writers, at least back in my day and with my shows, proved that not everyone is either this-or-that. People, even fictional ones, are a complicated species.

The men of my soaps didn’t simper, and they sure as heck didn’t cry (well, not too often and certainly not in front of a large group of people). Some of them were only figurative blood-suckers. They were strong, gainfully (if not at times illegally) employed, and just plain interesting.

A certain element of glamour existed in my soapy teen-aged world. Everyone practiced good grooming habits. The men actually looked like men. No room existed for a greasy-haired, pasty-skinned, tattooed, low muscle-mass young man on daytime TV, and if he did make a rare appearance, he’d be killed off fairly quickly.

My, how times have changed. Those greasy-haired, pasty-skinned, tattooed, low-muscle mass young men pop up everywhere these days (television, books, music…but not soap operas – ha ha!). Girls love them. Many grown women love them (and I’m saving that topic for a future musing). Please tell me what I’m missing here!

Sadly, the daytime drama is a dying genre. Within the last two years, two long-running soaps (Guiding Light and As the World Turns) have been cancelled, and one more sits atop the chopping block (All My Children). Praise the powers-that-be who have determined that One Life to Live will live on past its ABC demise via the Internet. I’m officially hooked on OLTL – several of my favorite GL actors are now on it, and the whole Man With Todd’s Face storyline completely suckered me in (side note: I could have gone either way on that one – I like both those guys’ faces, even the one with a scar on it).


The sad fact remains: today’s 'entertainment' bombards our girls with morose and questionable fictional heartthrobs. Our girls are led to believe that they can change a bad boy (we can’t change anyone but ourselves, Sweeties. I learned that lesson a long time ago. From a soap opera). They’re not learning the complexities of human nature, nor are they learning the following: how to fake their own deaths, give birth after menopause, recover from amnesia, or run a multi-billion dollar company fresh out of high school.

But that’s just me…I could be wrong.

Beth Newman
Image consultant/life coach/author
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Beth’s new book, '365 Days of Fabulosity', will be available through Amazon later this month!

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