I think most people who love something passionately, be it soap operas or romance novels or genre TV like Stargate: Atlantis, spend a good portion of discussing those loves being an apologist. We always have to justify or explain it, often with a bullet point list or a slideshow. “This is what is great about it, this is what touches me, this is what you don’t understand.”
Because it’s not something incredibly highbrow or excessively in fashion or socially acceptable: “Oh, I read Kierkegaard for fun and then watch Mad Men or take in a Yankees game.” You don’t have to explain reading a Danish philosopher’s works, or watching an ubercool show about an ad agency in the ’50s that gets a ton of critical acclaim. But if you watch a show where people sleep around and backstab and have all kinds of sordid drama…oh, wait.
Soaps get a bad rap, because they’re on during the day and their stories are bigger than life. But soaps impact people in a way that other TV doesn’t. Case in point, the other day I linked a friend to clips of One Life to Live‘s Kyle and Fish. I said, “Look, this is the guy who played Tim on One Tree Hill, and his character bears absolutely no resemblance to Tim whatsoever.” Two clips was all it took for my friend to agree, and to be moved by the storyline. Two clips that probably added up to less than 10 minutes. How many television shows are capable of that?
And, then, on a much larger scale, you have the cancellation of Guiding Light and just how huge that is. 72 years being broadcast. That’s my father’s age, for crying out loud. People have grown up with this show, passed it on to their kids, who passed it on to their kids. I was at the Paley Center tribute to the show last night, and during the Q&A, person after person stood up to speak of how they came from a multigenerational GL-watching family. One woman movingly talked about how Reva grieving Jeffrey resonated with her as she’d just lost her own husband. A man stood up and praised Ashlee’s LapBand surgery, as he’d gotten the procedure himself. Postpartum depression, breast cancer, cochlear implant surgery…and just basic, human stories. GL connected with millions of people in a way that Let’s Make a Deal never will.
When something touches your heart, be it a wonderfully written story that’s hidden behind a clinch cover or the passionate tale of a slut who jumped in a fountain and emerged one of daytime’s greatest heroines, there’s nothing to justify, nothing to apologize for.
I’m certainly not sorry.