My name is Elizabeth. I have a master of fine arts degree. I watch "Another World."
No, as far as I know, there is no Soap Opera Watchers Anonymous, but perhaps there should be, since another year has gone by and it's time for the Daytime Emmys (Wednesday at 9 p.m. on ABC). Time to once again stand aghast if Susan Lucci, (Erica Kane Martin Brent Cudahy Chandler Montgomery Montgomery of "All My Children") does not win the best actress category. Or if she does win the best actress category.
Now, even though I am an avid watcher, I still don't quite understand the phenomenon of saop operas. I only know how upset I was when, on "Another World," Jenna didn't get to the hospital in time and lost her baby because of Felicia's drinking problem.
Silly isn't it? But I love my soap! I set my VCR so I don't miss it.
But why? Why does a women of my education (unquestionable), background (perhaps questionable) and mental status (extremely questionable) watch these things? Is it because soap operas fill some deep unconscious need, or simply because I have no life?
Personally, I think it's genetic. My mother watched and listened to soaps as did her mother and I'm sure my great-grandmother had an affinity for suds when they were still in the washtub.
Mom listened to radio "soap-box operas," as she calls them, during World War II when my father was stationed at Camp Barkeley in Abilene, Tex.
" 'Stella Dallas' was my favorite," Mother volunteered, "as was 'Ma Perkins' and 'Mary Worth.' I listened to them all day long. That's all there was to do." I guess listening to soaps and checking your shoes for scorpions in Abilene circa 1942 was considered a rip-roaring time.
When I told my genetics theory to psychotherapist Pat Buchanan-Hedman she burst out laughing. Then I asked what she thought caused the "soap opera phenomenon."
"First of all," she said, "it fulfills an incredible need for romance in women. Soaps are all candlelight, bathtub and champagne. (The only thing in my bathtub is a dead plant.) "Furthermore, women on soaps do things that most women are not allowed to do in real life. They are master of subterfuge and sabotage. And women in society, especially educated women, are not allowed to do mean things." (She obviously has never been to an after-Christmas sale at Mervyn's.) "Women on soaps are powerful and oftentimes more powerful than men."
So, through soap operas, I'm living out my fantasies? That's scary. I think I like the genetics theory better.