You know, with daytime soaps in serious trouble, it’s really time to look at other options: The Internet, like Crystal Chappell‘s highly anticipated upcoming venture Venice, and prime time. Yes, prime time. Other countries have been showing soaps in evening hours for years, and it works. And it also doesn’t have to be weekly and running for an hour each day.
Case in point, Alles Was Zahlt, my current obsession. It runs daily on the German channel RTL around 7:05 p.m. and is only about 24 minutes long. And if you think 24 minutes shortchanges a show…it really doesn’t. I mean, The Bold and the Beautiful has been running 30 minutes daily (actually 22-ish if you cut out commercials) for its entire 22-year run and doing so successfully, right? So imagine what could be done if it was moved down a couple of hours to somewhere between 5 and 8 (thus not cutting into preexisting prime time TV) and part of the ad revenue went to the local affiliates who would have to adjust some of their news and syndicated programming around to make room? #1. More people would be home to watch. #2. Soaps could take a few more risks in later hours. Okay, not a lot of risks. Unlike German TV we’re a little more prudish over here. But GH: Night Shift had a successful run at 11 p.m. and got a little naughty, and surely that could be done again.
And as Roger over at We Love Soaps has often pointed out to me, there’s also the added potential for posting shows and individual couple storylines on Hulu.Com or YouTube and generating ad revenue that way. That’s a great way to reap benefits from all the foreign viewers who can’t watch the shows on TV. Believe me, I get frequent pangs of guilt for watching AWZ and Verbotene Liebe on the computer and giving their networks no help in the process. But I have no choice but to watch clips subtitled by fans, because I don’t speak German!
Not that you really need to speak German to understand the basics of a show like AWZ. Plotting, secret affairs, longing looks, a dunderhead who can’t admit he loves his ex-boyfriend… this is all stuff that transcends language! You just miss the really witty dialogue. I mean, the double entendre when Axel pretended he hadn’t just spied Marian and Jenny waxing the kitchen table but wanted to let Jenny know he, in fact, had was really priceless. And I’m honestly so, so addicted. I’m invested. I tune in to the daily clips to see if Deniz is ready to spit out that he loves Roman — and how hilarious is Mrs. Steinkamp trying to go all Blades of Glory on them and market them as The Love That Dares Not Skate Its Name? Jenny and Marian are so scorching that they may actually rival B&B‘s Jackie and Owen for the level of sheer heat and surprising tenderness and I want them to actually make it as a couple. Even if — or possibly because — Jenny’s an uberbitch and Marian’s twice her age. I’m also fascinated by the social commentary about the stereotyping of Turkish people that comes from Axel’s view of Marian…so, hey, I’m not just in it for the illicit love; I’m learning something about German social strata as well.
And American TV could learn a little from Germany’s flexible thinking on how to soap up!