I’ve been watching Guiding Light all week now, building up to Friday’s finale. I keep wondering who’s coming back and how they’re going to bury Alan Spauling without his son Alan Michael showing up, while also trying to figure out who the hell all of these young people are!
In soap opera land, kids age in dog years so if you haven’t watch a show in a decade, your brain can’t piece together who’s who. It also takes a while to remember that soap opera land is the most incestuous, bizarre, parallel universe that exists. A place where you marry your high school sweetheart, then divorce, then marry your ex-father-in-law, then kill ex-father-in-law now current husband, only to go on the lamb where you fall madly in love with a stranger-bad-boy-type, only to return to fictional soap opera town where it is revealed that your new lover is actually your step-brother right before you find out that you’re pregnant so you quickly jump into bed with your first husband’s best friend, framing him for the pregnancy and saving your child from the stigma, until years later when your toddler (who is suddenly a senior in high school) gets cancer and needs a bone marrow transplant from the ex-lover-step-brother that you paid to leave town and now need to track down.
Honestly, I don’t miss that type of story telling.
But here’s what has been fabulous about this week. When a viewer falls in love with a character and watches him or her daily for 20 years, they will justify the character’s poor behavior and love them anyway. And although younger soap actors age inappropriately so as to get placed into sexual, grownup story lines, adult characters are allowed to age normally. I believe this also ties into the “I’ve known you so long, I’ll love you no matter what mentality” such that soap stars aren’t held to the same insane beauty standards as other actors.
Because of this I’ve spent the past two weeks watching actors that look the age of the characters they’re playing. In fact, every actor over 50 looks exactly like what you’d expect a man or women over 50 to look like. They’ve gotten gray, put on some weight, and have wrinkles. Instead of being distracted by their smooth yet non-moving faces, I find comfort in their features and enjoy watching these old friends be themselves on screen.
I wish I could see more people like this on all the shows that I love to watch. It’s just more interesting and frankly, more believable.