From #NotMyChildren, a Soap Opera Symposium at University of Oregon last week–Fan/Culture/Theory–the introduction of Dear Lez. Come back for more.
I would love to be able to give more in conversations about soaps. But I’m overwhelmed by the options, not good with names, and don’t recognize plot points. I struggle to retain information concerning familial connections. How can I be a soap fan? Will I ever break into this world? How can I recover from years without soaps? Parents and gender conventions that deprived me of early fandom?
Can’t Access The Core History—Under Pressure
Don’t despair—you can do it! I know it might seem daunting when you happen upon a room of Bold and the Beautiful fans who know that Brooke—who has already married two brothers and their dad, had a kid with her daughter’s husband, and then accidentally had sex with that daughter’s boyfriend when she mistook him for one of the aforementioned brothers at the daughter’s high school graduation party (natural mistake when masks are involved)—currently pines for her ex-lover aka her sister’s husband, even though he recently used his media empire to out her trans then-future daughter-in-law whose husband’s sperm is currently making a baby in the now daughter-in-law’s sister, while their (unknown yet to them as their) half-sister is trying to seduce the pregnant sister’s boyfriend. How can anyone, you no doubt wonder, keep 29 (or, for other shows, over 50) years of history straight?
Maybe some people can, but you don’t have to. Following the plot isn’t everything. In fact, some people think that prioritizing plot fosters a use-and-discard mentality that is not so good for people or the planet. Even if you groove on plot, a good soap conversation is not about getting anything straight. It’s a queer production offering multiple points of entry and diverse satisfactions. One way to get started: grab an intriguing tidbit and see where it takes you. For example, maybe in a conversation about Brooke, someone mentions “hallucinogenic berries.” A little internet search will yield stellar material like a hilarious and informative TVGuide.com interview with “B&B boss man Brad Bell.” There, you can focus on the manageable details of just one story: Brooke might accidentally have sex with her step-son Thomas after they resort to eating said berries when a plane crash strands them on a deserted island. You will also acquire a bunch of other conversation-generating tidbits.
- About props: B and B turned giant blackberries into delectable ingestibles by adding white chocolate dots to make them look “weird and exotic.”
- About class, skill sets, and manly arts of hunting versus gathering:
TV Guide Magazine: If they’re starving, why doesn’t Thomas try to stab a fish?
Bell: [Laughs] He’s from Beverly Hills! Ordering Dover sole almandine is about as far as he’s ever gone.
- About the problem of drawing neat hierarchies and boundaries between mediums and genres: In the manner of experimental films, B and B created shared psychedelic landscapes for Brooke and Thomas instead of giving them separate, interior trips. In the manner of tv advertising, the scene looked a bit like the Garden of Earthly Delights in the Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo ads.
- About technologies: B and B created those psychedelic scenes courtesy of “state-of-the-art” CGI technology, while Bell’s legendary father Bill, who co-created B and B, had hung onto his IBM Selectric “well into the computer age.”
- About sexism: Neither interviewer nor interviewee asked why Brooke didn’t try to stab a fish or mention Bill’s wife Lee Phillip Bell, a Chicago television personality for decades who co-created B and B with him and, for a time, executive-produced the show.
One search, one tingle, and you’re ready to mingle.
 Michael Logan, “Exclusive: Will The Bold and the Beautiful’s Brooke and Thomas Have Sex?,” TV Guide Magazine, April 26, 2011, http://www.tvguide.com/ news/exclusive-bold-beautifuls-1032306/.