Even soap operas can be inspirational
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: August 3, 2018
Cue the organ music.
[Distinguished male voiceover]
“In our last episode, publishing mogul Preston Thornton III was still in a coma as a result of the mysterious chandelier accident at his Bay City Mansion. His evil twin sister Iris hatched a deal with Metropolitan Hospital’s Dr. Lucas Moore to keep Preston unconscious until they had time to fraudulently embezzle his fortune.
“Meanwhile, Preston’s wife, Felicity, the actual heir, fell in love with Dr. Moore while spending long hours in the hospital at her husband’s bedside. In a dramatic cliffhanger, Dr. Moore, Iris and Felicity found themselves in Preston’s hospital room, just as he opened his eyes and said to Felicity, ‘Who are you?’
“Does Preston have amnesia? Will Dr. Moore continue to plot with Iris, or will he follow his heart and pursue Felicity? Will Preston cut his cheating wife out of his will? Who will get the riches? And who will find love?
“And now, another episode of ...”
Yep, I’ll admit it. There was a period in my life when I watched the soaps. Off and on between 1995 and 2000, I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV in the middle of the day. No, I wasn’t eating bonbons. I was a young Navy wife at home nursing our babies, and what could be a more fitting way to pass the time than watching the boob tube?
I found the soaps to be totally ludicrous, but surprisingly entertaining. Every soap opera character had been in a coma, was kidnapped, had amnesia, was switched with another baby at birth, came back from the dead, time traveled and was cloned. I never took any of it seriously, although I am embarrassed to admit that I might have shed a tear or two over Bo and Fancy Face’s relationship over the years.
I tried watching talk shows while nursing for a while, but Sallie Jesse Raphael, Maury Povich and Jenny Jones just didn’t provide the escapism I was seeking during my homebound years as a young Navy mom. Except for that riveting episode when Maury interviewed people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens.
Now that my kids have all graduated from high school, I don’t have an excuse to sit on the couch in the middle of the day and watch soaps anymore. But as I enter a new empty-nest phase of my life, I realize that those soap operas actually taught me an important life lesson.
No, not to hatch a plot to steal the Quartermaine family fortune, or to create an evil clone of Reva Shayne, or to confront devil-possessed Dr. Marlena Evans Black at the Brady Pub, or to fake my death while in a voodoo trance.
Sure, the dramatic twists and turns can be hokey and unrealistic in the context of “General Hospital,” but the concept that “just about anything is possible” can be motivating to a young military spouse facing the tedious challenges of running a household alone. In a roundabout way, soap operas send the message, Forget your reality for a moment and realize that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
It IS possible for me to shower in the morning. It IS possible for me to exercise three days a week. It IS possible for me to save more money. It IS possible for me to cook something other than chicken nuggets for dinner. It IS possible to send my spouse a care package once a month during deployments. It IS possible for me to reach out to the new military spouse next door. It IS possible for our family to go to church on Sunday.
That’s not fantasy. That’s reality.
Let’s face it: We only have “One Life to Live.” As for me, I will be a “Guiding Light” for “All My Children,” and teach them that, although they might feel “Young and Restless,” they should look for “The Bold and the Beautiful” things in life as they “Search for Tomorrow.” And “As the World Turns,” we should all spend “The Days of Our Lives” striving to be a little better each year.
It IS possible, because just about anything is possible.