Back in elementary school, when my friends and fellow classmates were going to Brownie meetings or for ballet lessons after school, I rushed home to watch my favorite soap operas with my Nanny Tessie. In hindsight, my grandmother probably should have encouraged me to play outside or at least do my homework, but she was so happy for the company, she'd probably have let me watch porn. Ok, maybe not porn, but something not quite "age appropriate."
We were fans of the ABC soaps, and back then, there were a lot of them: Ryan's Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital and The Edge of Night. When The Edge of Night and Ryan's Hope were cancelled, new soaps, like Loving and later, The City took its place. My faves, however, were All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital, especially General Hospital.
What sucked me in were the love stories, more specifically, the love/hate stories. Soap operas are famous for "supercouples" - those couples who are destined to be together but due to circumstances out of their control, break up, dramatically reunite months later, break up again, get back together and the cycle continues indefinitely. Although I have never watched The Young and the Restless regularly, Victor and Nikki Newman are one of the longest lasting supercouples in soap opera history. Last I heard, Victor was sleeping with his son's ex-wife who also happens to be his other son's ex-lover.
The circumstances surrounding the breakup of a supercouple can vary but are often one of the following: a) one half of the couple suffers from amnesia, b) another woman claims to be carrying the man's child, c) the woman witnesses another woman (usually a slutty one) throw herself at the man, walks away before she can see him turn her down, ends up sleeping with another man in anger, the two make up without the woman confessing her infidelity and the woman later finds out she is pregnant and unsure which man is the baby daddy, d) one of the characters is believed to be dead but actually living on a secluded island, either in a hostage type situation or suffering from the aforementioned amnesia. After initial grieving, the "living" half of the couple falls in love with someone else only for his thought-to-be-dead ex-lover to return, interrupt the wedding and ceremoniously faint in the church.
Sometimes the only reason a supercouple is broken up to never be revived is when one of the actors wants to leave the show, for example, Laura of Luke and Laura on General Hospital. A more infrequent occurrence is when a new character is introduced solely to instigate a temporary break-up but becomes a permanent fixture when the writers (and readers) decide the "temporary" couple has more chemistry than the original couple. This happened on All My Children when Dr. Maria Santos was introduced to cause trouble between Brooke English and Edmond Grey and viewers ended up liking Maria and Edmund as a couple much better. (The actors who portrayed Maria and Edmund started dating and eventually married, which probably explained their off-the-charts chemistry on-screen.)
Some of my favorite supercouples through the years include the following:
Luke and Laura - General Hospital - Remember when they ran away together and hid in Wyndahms Department store trying on all of the clothes and dancing around the aisles? And when Laura donned the black wig in Beecher's Corners disguised as newlywed Lucy Johnson? My friend Ronni and I cried tears of joy when the couple finally got married. Even the late great Elizabeth Taylor was in attendance for the nuptials!
Tina and Cord - One Life to Live - Before meeting Cord, Tina was a classic gold digger. Tina fell genuinely in love with Cord only to discover that he was an heir to a fortune and hence she could have it all - love AND money! But first she'd bed down a few other people, break up a wedding, get arrested for murder and risk her life in a water fall. No one said love was easy!
Mason and Julia - Santa Barbara - I don't know what it was about him, but I had a wicked crush on Lane Davies when he played brooding attorney Mason Capwell. A lawyer as well, Julia kept him on his toes, but between alcoholism and a wandering eye (as well as other "wandering" parts), this couple did not have it easy. When Santa Barbara was cancelled, the writers did the right thing and allowed Julia and Mason to be a couple for eternity.
Jenny and Greg - All My Children - Star-crossed lovers, Jenny and Greg fell in love in High School but Greg was rich and Jenny was from the wrong side of the tracks. Despite attempts by slutty Liza, Greg's snobby mother and Jenny's seedy father to tear them apart, the two wed. And then the actress who portrayed Jenny, Kim Delany, decided to leave the show and Jenny was killed off. Life's a bitch, you get married and then you die.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. I felt true agony watching many other couples get torn apart during my daily "Love in the Afternoon" ritual, including but not limited to Leo and Greenlee (All My Children), Jagger and Karen (General Hospital), Liz and Lucky (General Hospital), Vicky and Ryan (Another World) and many, many more.
Today, only three soap operas still remain in first run: General Hospital, Days of Our Lives and Young and the Restless, but sadly, I do not find any of them worth watching anymore.
What about you other soap opera fans out there? Who were your favorite supercouples?
Meredith Schorr lives in New York City and works as a trademark paralegal at a prestigious law firm. In addition to writing humorous women's fiction novels, her passions include running, spending time with friends and family and rooting for the New York Yankees. Meredith is a member of Romance Writers of America and Chick Lit Writers of The World. Just Friends with Benefits is her first novel. For more information, please visit www.meredithschorr.com.