Julia Quinn and Soap Opera Digest

Lost Duke of WyndhamIn a curious overlap of two audiences which, I am told, don’t often overlap to a large degree, Julia Quinn’s novel The Lost Duke of Wyndham is featured in the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest because the cover features Norwegian actress Ewa da Cruz from As the World Turns. Several SBTB readers pointed that out when we discussed the cover awhile back, which I never would have known, as I don’t watch soap operas. The article in the Digest is part interview with da Cruz, and part review.

Which brings me to my next question: how many of you who are romance fans also follow a soap? I never got into them, though I admit to being totally enthralled with possessed Marlena with those freakass creepy contact lenses on Days of Our Lives all those years ago. But I’ve never been a big soap fan. I went to college with a large core of viewers who would tape them and watch together at the end of the day, but I couldn’t stomach the fact that anyone who earned a happy ending wouldn’t stay blissful for more than 2 episodes. There would be a fireside lovemaking scene with the L-shaped sheet (covers her from clavicle to thigh, but barely covers his manly pelvis, ahem), and a really opulent wedding, then, commence angst, drama and unhappiness! I just couldn’t take it. Are you a soap fan? Which one?

And where can I get some of Marlene’s freakass creepy contact lenses?

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  1. 1
    ev says:

    I used to watch All My Children and Guiding Light religiously. Then I went back to college a few years ago and just didn’t have the time.

    What is scary is that I can tune in now and almost now what is going on.

    On the other hand, I love the beefcake that shows up on the shows. Who really needs to know the story line for that?

  2. 2
    elianara says:

    Nope, I don’t watch soaps. I don’t have the time, and there are lots of other things I like to do a lot more, like reading and playing my video games.

  3. 3
    MplsGirl says:

    I watched soaps off and on from ages 5 through 20. When I went to college, I just wasn’t into them anymore. 

    It’s been ten or fifteen years since I’ve watched them and I still understand some of the story line updates, if I hear people talking about them because the basic conflicts haven’t changed in all this time.

    When I was a regular, I watched Days of Our Lives and Another World and will never forget when Bo and Hope finally slept together; I cried when Another World ended. And I didn’t even watch General Hospital and still remember Luke and Laura’s wedding (that dress?!).

    But dude, seriously, soaps can be so dumb. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

  4. 4
    Rose says:

    I don’t watch soaps, because I like to have a beginning, a middle and an end – and, of course, soaps never end. I have, on occasion, watched telenovelas, which have a limited run (usually 120-180 daily episodes). I watched most of Betty la Fea a few years ago – before it was remade as Ugly Betty.

    My main issues with telenovelas were the stagerring number of secret babies, most of whom were also kidnapped at some point, and the ultra-traditional values many of them were based upon (I understand in some countries it’s not as bad anymore). So I don’t really follow any telenovelas anymore.

  5. 5
    Mala says:

    The piece actually isn’t in the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest but rather just on the Web site, shared by Digest and Soap Opera Weekly and not considered the same thing as the print mag.

    And I find it really strange that people would consider romances and soaps to have separate audiences. Both are genres geared towards women, grounded in love and relationships, and that rely on melodramatic storytelling tropes. I’ve been watching soaps and reading romance novels for years—and it’s romances that my mother forbid me to consume as a teen, citing that they were smutty and trashy and without worth, whereas General Hospital was something we would watch together.

    There’s no doubt that, unlike a romance novel with a beginning, middle, and end, a soap opera can’t quite deliver a longterm Happily Ever After. I can understand why that would be frustrating for viewers used to a concrete HEA. But, for me, and many others, it’s still a genre that fulfills a need to be entertained, to see good love stories played out by actors rather than just with words, etc.

    And just like romance novels, soaps get shafted in the respect department. People sneer and assume that soap writers can’t write and soap actors can’t act, and you’re stupid if you like it… all of which is vastly untrue.

    As for which soaps I’ve watched… at one time or another, I have all the ones currently on air, as well as Another World, Sunset Beach, and Santa Barbara.

  6. 6
    Eve Savage says:

    I used to watch Santa Barbara, Another World, and Days of Our Lives religiously, but that was only during summer vacations when I was about 12-16yrs old. I got hooked on Passions (regardless of it being one of the cheesiest things in television) and Sunset Beach as well.

    Nowadays, I just read the little synopses in the TV Guide and I’m totally caught up on the ones still airing. They’ve not changed much since I was actually watching them.

    I hate the fact they don’t get their HEAs!!! If my town had that much tragedy and kidnappings and supposes murders and deaths and hidden evil twins and everybody related to everybody else in some way (blood or marriage) and kids that age from babies to teenagers in about a year while the parents never age – I’d think I was in the twilight zone!

    E

  7. 7
    DS says:

    I’ve been friends with soap fans.  When I first started to
    college I used to listen to the soap and Johnny
    Bench (some baseball player) round up.  Then again in
    the early 80’s I had a housemate who loved soaps and
    not much had changed in the intervening years.  So here
    it is 20 years later with almost no soap contact and I was
    sitting i a doctor’s office waiting for a friend to come out
    and a soap was playing on the tv set and I recognized
    the names of the characters although I think the actors
    were different—but the plot seemed familiar. 

    It must say something that I can remember the names
    and plot lines but not the name of the soaps they graced.

  8. 8
    snowflake says:

    I don’t watch soaps b/c of time slots but after rereading Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s Again last week, I totally want to be ON one. That book is sooo good.

  9. 9
    Eliza Evans says:

    I watched The Young and the Restless with my grandma when I was a kid.  Then, yeah, I watched Days of our Lives for a few months when Marlena was possessed, because I was in college with a lot of time on my hands and also wtf.  Since then, though, I don’t watch them at all.

  10. 10
    snarkhunter says:

    I used to watch Passions, because there has never been a more bizarre circus of WTFery on television. It was like watching a train and a zepplin collide in mid-air on a regular basis: highly improbable, totally unnatural, and completely unwatchable. It was practically a parody of a soap opera, which is why it was brilliant.

  11. 11
    Krissie says:

    I never was a huge soap fan, but did watch “General Hospital” back in the glory days (Luke, Laura, Scorpio, etc.) because of a babysitter. So there is some nostalgia there.

    However, my roommate in college was such an addicted “Days of Our Lives” fan that she scheduled her classes around it! She refused to take an 11:30 class or a 1 o’clock class…EVER. No matter who was teaching or what requirement it might have filled.

    This was prior to the DVR and personal televisions in every dorm room. There was a shared TV on every floor (the women took care of their public space so well, we were ‘blessed’ with a black-and-white tv, while the men had ruined their tvs and furniture so often, they had really nice stuff) without a VCR. So you had to watch things live, or that was it.

  12. 12
    Joanna says:

    Passions for the win! I’m not sure if this is a usual feature of soap operas in general or Passions in particular, but I could watch 1 episode a month and still understand all the points made in between! It moved soooo slowly! Half the episode was spent rehashing what happened in previous episodes!

  13. 13
    Carrie Lofty says:

    I also did the Luke/Laura/Scorpio thing with my mom back in the day. Snarkhunter’s right in that Passions was great for its completely farfetched weirdness, and I got hooked on Days a few years back when they were all trapped on an island. But then I, too, found the everlasting angst and temporary happy endings rather depressing. I moved back to reading—and writing—romances where the couples had a certain future together. It’s all entertainment, to be sure, but it depends on what people want out of their entertainment hour.

  14. 14
    Liz C says:

    I used to watch all the ABC soaps during summers off from school, stopped watching during college, picked it up again during grad school although I stuck mainly to General Hospital. It was like a train wreck and I just couldn’t not watch. Occasionally I’ll watch Y&R;. But now since I’m working and am sans TiVo or DVR I don’t watch any soaps although I do keep up with Serial Drama which is sort of like Smart Bitches crossed with Go Fug Yourself for soaps.

  15. 15
    Silver James says:

    DS – Johnny Bench wasn’t just “some baseball” player. He was the catcher for the Cincinnati Reds in the Sixties and Seventies and holds just about every record a catcher can hold. *points at self* Yeah. Baseball nerd! I also got to meet him during and after a game in the 70s when I was in college. He was and is an awesome dude!

    Soaps – not any more. Back in the day, I watched Santa Barbara from the first to the last episode. A Martinez and Santa Claus in December. Oh yeah, baby! Hawthawtcold! I also watched Another World. I wanted to grow up to be Felicia Gallant, famed romance writer!

  16. 16
    snarkhunter says:

    Joanna- Passions moved unusually slowly—even for a soap. My friends and I once figured out that, while in regular soaps a year was about 3-4 months, in Passions, a year was at the very most one month long. We once counted how many days went by in a Jan-Dec season—I think the entire year comprised a week in Passions time.

  17. 17
    SonomaLass says:

    It always interests me how many viewers “admit” that they watch daytime drama/soap opera—like it’s something to be ashamed of.  Or that they used to, like a bad habit they managed to kick.  There’s the shame thing again, over a form of entertainment created primarily for women (who back in the day were the ones at home during the broadcasts).

    My aunt watched ALL the soaps, using several TVs.  This is the same woman who got me started reading romance, by giving me grocery bags full of her Harlequin Presents to read over summer vacation.  My mom never got into soap opera or romance (mystery/detective fiction for her, all the way), but I remember when All My Children started as a new show, she watched it, thinking that maybe if she watched from the beginning, she’d get it.  She didn’t, but I did!  It’s been 38 years, and I can still watch an occasional episode or read a synopsis and recognize someone (or their child, or grandchild).  I’ve also watched others over the years, having a number of friends who act professionally and who have appeared in daytime.

    I guess the lack of HEA never bothered me too much because of the format—it’s not like a book where you get to freeze time at the moment of romantic resolution.  Instead, the characters live on, age, face new conflicts and challenges, and sometimes they break up, get back together, are pulled apart, learn that “true love” at 20 is different than at 30 or 40, just like my life (without the international supervillains, espionage or returns from the dead, of course).  It’s a form, with conventions, some similar to and some different from the ones of the romance novel.  Sometimes they are executed well, sometimes clumsily; sometimes they are pushed or even violated, with fascinating results.  I can see why some people like one but not the other, but for me there’s interest to be found in both.

    And without soap opera, we would never have had the movie Soap Dish, and I know my life would be poorer for that!

    I <3 Erica Kane….

  18. 18
    Stephanie says:

    Soap Dish was AWESOME, although I do not watch soap operas. I came to romance via fantasy/SF, and therefore grew up watching Star Trek, which, in the DS9 incarnation, was sort of like a soap opera for SF people/guys. Sort of.

    I don’t really like starting shows or movies anywhere but the beginning (unless I’ve seen the movie before, or at least parts of the beginning of a run of a show), so soap operas will not work for me. (Some sitcoms are exempt from this, but not all of them.)

  19. 19
    soakbonus says:

    I have watched One Life to Live off and on since I was in high school.  I got into it one summer when it was the Jessica and Will storyline.  Will was definitely hot; thus my interest.  Then I would record it every day during school.  When I went to college, I got out of watching it all the time.  I would catch an episode every now and then and still kind of know what’s going on.  Now that I’m staying at home with my 1 year old, I watch it every day using the DVR.  I tried watching General Hospital and Days of Our Lives for a while; but both of those just got annoying for me.  For me the soap is kind of a comfort thing.  You know there will always be some craziness going on and you can catch on to what’s happening pretty fast.  Even though most characters don’t get a HEA very long, you still want them to have one sometime.  I started reading romance novels in sixth or seventh grade and my parents never really had a problem with romance novels or soaps.

  20. 20
    Mary M says:

    I’ve read romance for several years but I never watched soap operas, unless you count the French version of Santa Barbara I used to watch with my mom when I was about 10. I don’t watch much TV at all, to tell the truth. So I would never have known about the Norwegian actress on the cover of Quinn’s book. Interesting trivia, though :).

  21. 21
    Chicklet says:

    My mom and I have been watching As the World Turns for 25 years as of this summer, and it’s one of “our” things, what we connect through. Lately, we just complain how every single storyline there now sucks except for the Luke/Noah plot, which is proceeding like every other soap romance (“Oh noes! We have been torn apart by a misunderstanding!”) but it’s novel because it’s two young men. (And talk about a wasted cast; there are some talented people on ATWT, but you wouldn’t know it from the lame-ass stories they’re saddled with.)

    As a viewer, I’ve always been amazed that the cast and crew can create that much programming on a consistent basis. The production schedule is absolutely crazy. I was a film/TV major in college and for my TV production class, we created eight, 30-minute episodes of a soap opera, and I thought I was going to keel over. I can’t imagine creating 30 or 60 minutes every single day.

    I don’t have a problem with the lack of HEA on soaps, probably because I don’t buy into static HEAs in romance novels; I just assume the main couple will have lots of ups and downs and someday might get divorced or whatnot. My favorite movie line this summer is from Sex and the City, where Carrie’s voiceover explains that “some love stories aren’t epics, they’re short stories, and that’s okay.”

  22. 22
    rebyj says:

    I watched cbs soaps as a teen , as an adult not so much. I recently turned Guiding Light on and got a headache from the way the camera kept moving around and the sound quality was terrible. Plus everyone was so young it was like watching romper room to an old gal like me.
    I’ve become addicted to the afternoon programs on BBC , those two old ladies that clean houses crack me up. Watching them stick their finger in a sink drain and pull crap out is much more horrifying and entertaining than a soap! LOL

  23. 23
    Randi says:

    I was more into the night soap operas: Dallas and Falcon Crest. You could even say that 90210 was a soap opera-which I watched but not religiously. My issue with soap operas is not the lack of HEA, but that they are always about rich people who create their own frackin weird ass angst and drama. It just gets old and I end up not caring a lick about any of the characters. Alternatively, with a good romance, I get character development, a mix of socio-economic classes, a mix of races, and less drama. Which, for me, provides me with a better platform for empathy with the characters. Soap Opera characters: good care less.

  24. 24
    Kelly C says:

    If effing Comcast in my area would return SoapNet to it’s basic digital cable lineup, then yes, I would be watching soaps.

    But since that ain’t happening

    I am currently Soap Opera-less.

    And there is NO point in my taping/dvr’ing/tivo-ing them because I never watch anything I tape.

  25. 25
    Lorelie says:

    The summer I was 10, I spent about a month in the breakroom of my mom’s office.  While I could usually finagle some cartoons in the morning, in the afternoon I lost all control of the tv.  As a result, I developed an All My Children and General Hospital habit that lasted a while.  General Hospital lasted a little longer, since I could usually catch the last 20 minutes after I came home from school, but it eventually got too hard to keep up. 

    I just assume the main couple will have lots of ups and downs and someday might get divorced or whatnot.

    Gasp!  I might just cry now.

  26. 26
    Mala says:

    My issue with soap operas is not the lack of HEA, but that they are always about rich people who create their own frackin weird ass angst and drama. It just gets old and I end up not caring a lick about any of the characters. Alternatively, with a good romance, I get character development, a mix of socio-economic classes, a mix of races, and less drama. Which, for me, provides me with a better platform for empathy with the characters. Soap Opera characters: good care less.

    Wow. Holy sweeping generalization, Batman. If someone had said, and several someones HAVE said, the same thing about romance novels, romance readers would be up in arms!

    Soaps often have excellent character development, so much so that they engender a sense of character loyalty over the course of years. As for class issues… As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Ryan’s Hope, Days of our Lives… these are all shows that are largely blue collar in nature. While there are rich people creating angst and drama, there’s a fairly level dose of working class heroes as well. And a mix of races…? Oh, come on. Romance novels are way, way less diverse than soaps unless you mean the types of books Cassie “Savage Plagiarism” Edwards put out.

    Everyone has their personal tastes, and that’s fine, but tarring an entire genre with the “ew!” brush, especially on a romance novel blogging site, seems disingenuous.

  27. 27
    Suze says:

    I watched Days of Our Lives for about three months between finishing up secretary school and getting a job.  In that time, Patch and Kayla almost came together and then were split apart three times.  It got wildly frustrating, and then I got a job.

    Now, in the days of VCRs and TiVo (neither of which I own), I don’t watch TV while the sun is up.  Not due to any philosophy, it started off because the only spot in my living room that I could possibly put the TV was in a position that had sun shining on it during the day, unless I blocked out the light.  I NEED my sunshine, man!  So I just got out of the habit of daytime TV.

    I do find it interesting that, for someone who defends my romance reading habit, I’m a little contemptuous of people who enjoy soaps.  And, of course, just like people who look down on romances and have never read them, I have never really watched soaps.  Philosophically consistent?  Why, almost never, thank you!

  28. 28
    Dayle says:

    My issue with soap operas is not the lack of HEA, but that they are always about rich people who create their own frackin weird ass angst and drama.

    One thing that fascinates me is that British soap operas are the opposite: they’re about working-class people. I’ve always wondered about that dichotomy. I guess Americans like to look at rich people and think “Oh, even rich people have problems,” whereas Brits like to identify with the people and their problems?

    I watched General Hospital in high school, and being an SF geek, loved the plot about the guy who was using a weather machine to freeze Port Charles. Hee!

  29. 29
    Nickle says:

    My mom was in the hospital recently for hip replacement and to entertain her while we were sitting there in her room I turned a soap on and the volume down and we did our own dialogue to it. It was hysterical and cheered my mom up immensely.  The only thing that coulda made it better would have been if I was able to find a Telenova.

  30. 30

    I watched Days of Our Lives religiously for years…would tape it and watch it when I got home at night. What I find the creepiest weren’t Marlena’s contact lenses, but the fact that she still looks the same as she did in the late 80s!!! WTFBBQ??

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