2020: The Year when Soap Operas Came to Life
My Aunt was a Young and the Restless fan. Aunt Geraldine babysat us for years. My sisters and cousins watched Y&R because she watched Y&R. Soon, it became an addiction. The lies, drama, fighting, kidnapping, kissing, cheating, and overall mayhem made our daily lives seem boring in comparison. I use to drool over Neil Winters (rest in peace Kristoff St. John) & Malcolm Winters (Shemar Moore). I still marvel that Victor doesn’t seem to age. At one point, I was so engrossed in the storylines that I would dream about the possible outcomes.
But, in the end, my real life intruded on the fictional plots and Genoa City became less important than college papers and final exams. The “escapism” that was Y&R was a luxury I could no longer afford. Deadlines loomed, relationships demanded attention, and jobs swallowed up my daytime hours.
Here’s the thing about a well-written soap opera (or any well-written story): the characters begin to feel like family. You’ve followed these characters, you know them. You get pulled into the drama that is their life and you want to know what will become of them.
After getting sucked into the Netflix series “Money Heist” (which is nothing but an evening soap opera), my stepfather said, “I’ve got to see what happened to my people.” He invested time, energy, and sacrificed sleep to find out what happened to “HIS PEOPLE”. The fictional characters on a television series.
As amusing as it is to think of a 6’5″ 60-something-year-old black man getting so worked up over a Spanish heist series, all of us have been there. Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, we didn’t need a televised soap opera to depict the ridiculous this year. 2020 came in with the ever-present, dangerous ramblings & machinations of the narcissistic leader in the White House. Then, we add a worldwide pandemic, lockdown and quarantine, the continued police brutality and murder of black bodies, videotaped chases, public executions, protests, looting, civil unrest, sickness & death ravaging communities of color, gun-toting demonstrations in government buildings, die-hard anti-mask wearers, election foolishness, and the overall leadership failure from the narcissistic leader in the White House.
I want to turn this soap opera off. It is not well-written. It is not escapism. We CAN’T escape! It is a REAL LIFE DRAMA. Played out in living color for all the world to see. When did our country become the laughingstock for the entire world? We can’t even escape to another country, because our passports are worthless. Are we so invested in our “rights” that we forgot our “humanity”? When did “Liberty and Justice for all” become “Liberty and Justice . . . as long as it is convenient for me?”
Since we cannot escape this storyline, let us become so invested that we think of the others in the story as “our people”. Regardless of what they believe, how they vote, who they love, or what they look like. I am as concerned about the outcome of Cannon Hinnant as I am about George Floyd. I am as concerned about the mental health and well-being of police officers as I am about the mental health and well-being of families whose loved ones have been killed at the hands of police officers.
We aren’t in this thing for ratings. We don’t have to pander to sensationalism. Let us end this Soap Opera year with a show of human compassion and dignity. Let’s change the narrative and steer this plot in a different direction. I want to see “what happens to our people” when we allow kindness, compassion, dignity, and love to take center stage.