23 June 2010

Saving Soaps: The case for functional parenting.

Call me old fashioned. Call me a traditionalist. Call me whatever you want. But there is not a day that goes by when I watch soaps that I don't yearn for the return of the traditional family. And by traditional, I don't mean super sweet and happy. But is it too much to ask for the following?

My list of demands:
  • The wise patriarchal grandparents who heap advice and wisdom over a pot of tea (which of course implies that old people get air time on soaps).
  • That mothers DO NOT sleep with son-in-laws and fathers DO NOT sleep with daughters-in-laws.
  • That parents DO NOT kill their kids and kids DO NOT kill their parents.
  • That families gather together at holidays and other special events. In particular, when your kid is dying/getting married/giving birth, perhaps that might be a good time to fly in instead of staying at your chalet in the Swiss Alps.
  • That today's career soap dads take a lesson from Mac Cory (AW, played by the late great Douglass Watson) that no matter how successful you are and how busy you are, family always comes first.
  • That it is not acceptable to ship off your kids to boarding school for 10 years with no summer visit.
I don't think what I am asking for is unreasonable. And I expect a healthy dose of dysfunction because our families are dysfunctional too.

Once upon a time you used to have family units on soaps. And those families stuck somewhat cohesively with one another. Families like the Cory's, the Martin's, the Bauer's', the Horton's, the Brady's, the Abbots.... the list goes on.

Now it seems like every one is an independent unit that occasionally connects with a family member. That families are so dysfunctional you can't trust that they will turn to each other. You never see the patriarch's or matriarch's anymore and goodness knows, no one turns to them anyways. You seldom see a parent sit down with their children and share good wholesome advice. And worst of all, there is just way too much air time focusing on individuals who have no family history connections on the show at all.

I don't think I am asking for too much, but can the powers that be work hard to restore the family units. That they restore the art of the afternoon tea chat. That they show families occasionally happy, and not just at Christmas? That families turn to one another? I think most viewers want that, because after all, aren't soaps to be a exaggerated expression of our own collective experiences?


Carolina Girl said...

God Bless Days of our Lives. Francis Reid died recently, and they've been doing a recap of old times. Older, well-loved family members are back in town. It's so refreshing. I'm right there with you! Good post. :)

F said...

Good 'ol fashioned parenting advice is certainly in short supply today!