It's Time for My Story: Soap Opera Sources, Structure, and Response

It's Time for My Story: Soap Opera Sources, Structure, and Response

It's Time for My Story: Soap Opera Sources, Structure, and Response

It's Time for My Story: Soap Opera Sources, Structure, and Response

Synopsis

Williams here examines soap opera sources, structure, and response, particularly from the critical viewpoints of psychology, both archetypal and empirical, and popular culture, specifically narratology and feminism, that uncover the true nature of the genre. First, Williams traces the development of soap opera from its immediate source in radio and television as well as from its fundamental source in age-old myth and storytelling. Then she analyzes the content and form that together make up the structure of soap opera. Finally, she looks at what soaps mean to watchers and in the process debunks many myths about soap opera.

Excerpt

In February 1988, One Life to Live's hero, Clint Buchanan, falls from his horse and hits his head on a rock. When he comes to, he is alone in the Arizona desert near his Happy Horse Ranch, but as he learns when he walks into "Buchanan City," it is no longer 1988, it is 1888. Thus begins OLTL's unique and, it turned out, popular two-and-a-halfmonth fantasy of time travel and the Old West. This popular soap opera story was a western, laid in the past, and "impossible" (unrealistic), to boot. What a surprise--how to explain it?

Filmed near Tucson in Mountain Park and in "towns" built for Hollywood westerns; with Nicola Peccorini, 1988 Academy Award winner for The Last Emperor, as chief camera operator; researched for period accuracy for several months; underscored in Aaron Copland style, composed beforehand for the writers, and played (unusually) by an orchestra; the Old West story won watchers. It was something different and well done, serious to its makers. But mainly it captured fans because it was archetypal story dramatized in a classic, modern-mythic genre, the western. Soap's use of the western was novel, but the story was familiar. New and yet known, OLTL's western was that rarity, original popular art (though owing to the movie, Back to the Future). It was aesthetic surprise: just what the audience wanted, though it had not known.

Both the story and the acting were realistic in the contexts of the past, the western, and fantasy. Bemused, viewers enter Buchanan City with Clint and are face to face with his father, Asa--no, with greatgrandfather "Buck" Buchanan. This Buchanan with old-time handlebar mustache (played, of course by Phil Carey: Asa) is, like Asa, a . . .

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