I was very interested yesterday to pick up the new issue of Soap Opera Weekly. In the letter from the Editor, news editor Mala Bhattacharjee wrote about how soaps could take a leaf from the romance novels about how to grow and change with the times. She used Harlequin as an example with their line of NASCAR novels and how successful they've been. She suggested that soaps should take a look at what romance is doing to keep their audience as well as attract new readers who may never have picked up a romance before.
It was really exciting to read the editorial because I have often thought that soaps should look to romance for a way of keeping their audience. When I first started watching soaps, they were all about romance. Greg and Jenny on AMC, Patch and Kayla on Days of Our Lives, Luke and Laura on GH, Tad and Dixie on AMC, and Erica Kane and all her many husbands. It was couples coming together and than being pulled apart. Now soaps are all about mob bosses and people coming back from the dead. Where is the romance?
I think that every soap should have at least one romance novelist as a consultant, especially one who writes romantic suspense, since the weakest thing soaps do is mysteries. Actually Another World had hired Katherine Sutcliffe to be a consultant on their show at one point. Every soap always does the "who killed so and so storyline." Recently on GH is was the Cellphone Stalker. Guess who the killer turned out to be? A guy who had been killed off the year before! Yeah, apparently he wasn't dead after all, although the audience saw his dead body on camera. Diego Alcazar patiently waited for over a year before coming back to Port Charles. His motive to revenge his father's death! And they pulled this same crap on AMC with the Satin Slayer. Again the killer turned out to be someone who was dead, who conveniently came back to life.
What soaps need are couples that people can root for, whose love story we have watched unfold. Give us lush romance, couples who have obstacles thrown at them, watch them fight those obstacles and come together. This what soaps used to do so beautifully before they started believing they had to do crazy stunts to get viewers. Romance is what viewers remember, not crazy storylines.
Bring back romance and hire me to write for you!