Innocence Lost

I miss the 80’s. Not because the stories on Days were better, or the characters more grounded, or the emotions more genuine (although they were). No, I miss the 80’s because of the innocent ignorance with which I watched the show. My mother wasn’t watching the show then. A friend I watched with moved away. I didn’t read SOD because I couldn’t stand how they called Steve “Patch.” The internet, obviously, didn’t exist.

So it was just me.

What I miss is getting completely swept up in the story, just giving myself over to it. I hardly noticed inconsistencies because the story was pulling me along. I rooted for the good guys and I hated the bad guys. I used to read the phrase “the character you love to hate” with bafflement. I hated Victor, period, because of what he did to the characters I loved. (That’s not to say I was slavish about it. I had my opinions, of course, but for the most part I let the show pull me along.) When Steve and Kayla were apart, I suffered. I didn’t think “I can’t believe the writers are doing this!” or even, “It’s a soap, nobody is happy,” which is what my mom always told me. I saw what Steve was doing and reacted to it, not what “the writers” were making Steve do.

Some might say this is because the stories and characters were better. I agree. But being on the message boards, even a wonderfully sane, intelligent board like TWoP, makes me a more distanced and critical viewer. I remember a scene like the one where Steve breaks down during the Adrienne storyline and sobs loudly on Kayla’s shoulder while she comforts him. I know now that had I been able to go to a message board then, there would be some people who would sneer at it, some people who would think it was over-the-top, and some who would love it, as I did. I can picture myself getting on the board and saying, “Steve has always been a larger than life guy, so it worked for me.” That’s not the same thing as just swooning, which is what I did back then.

I miss swooning.

I also miss the suspense of not knowing what was going to happen. I’m spoiler-free, as is obvious from my blog title, but it’s impossible to avoid them entirely (and spoiler junkies, don’t worry, I’m okay with it). Casting spoilers are pretty much impossible to avoid, and really big spoilers have a way of leaking out. Also, it’s different just knowing that I can find out what’s going to happen. These days you have to go out of your way to avoid spoilers, but back then, when I can remember several times when I would have killed to know what was going to happen, all I could do after Friday’s cliffhanger was bite my fingernails and wait until Monday.

I don’t go to any board but TWoP anymore, but I used to. And you can find intelligent people on any board, don’t get me wrong. But what can happen on message boards is that people of similar opinions gravitate to one another and mirror and amplify each others’ opinions until they become “facts” which any idiot knows. Then mob thought takes over and they scream at people who don’t agree with these “facts.” It’s not the same thing as fans independently writing in to TPTB all hating the same storyline, or the same character, because these fans have all egged each other on.

The idea of couple-fanbase factions clawing each other’s eyes out over airtime and “propping” issues, or even just “my couple is better” bickering, is something that would have been completely alien to me, in the 80’s. (I do have to admit, I experienced a spark of jealousy at the way the focus of the show shifted to Jack and Jennifer’s developing love story in 1989—even though Steve and Kayla were still getting plenty of airtime. That didn’t stop me from falling in love with Jack and Jennifer, though.) A TWoP poster said recently that now that Steve and Kayla’s storyline is picking up (and she doesn’t have the “stuck in a rut” frustration), she has to worry about S&K hate—which apparently is running rampant on certain message boards—infecting TPTB and endangering Steve and Kayla’s airtime and SN’s and MBE’s jobs. I think that’s a shame.

Now that I’ve said all this, though, at the same time I wish the internet had existed back then, because of TWoP. I think about the characters I didn’t care for, like Emilio, Pete, Lars, and Justin, and I imagine being able to snark on them. Just thinking about the field day we could have with Emilio makes my mouth water. Occasionally we’ll get to talking about past storylines over there (and here, too, with my wonderful commentators), and it’s added to the depth of my understanding of Steve and Kayla, and others, in retrospect.

I’m imagining the level of analysis there applied to a show where the characters have layers and the stories are working, to a show that’s actually clicking on all (well, most) levels. I think I would gladly trade the benefits of innocence for that.


27 thoughts on “Innocence Lost

  1. LOL that’s funny you should post this. I swear I just posted about whether TPTB go to TWoP on my board! (Shameless promotion).

    ITA though on the above. In fact, I was thinking about this this morning (which is scary too). I thought how when I watched back as a teenager the only thing I had was SOD and the many other Soap mags but I didn’t get swept up in the politics of fans (such as J/M vs S/K). I didn’t really care about backstage issues like budgets or Corday BS. I just watched my (many) soaps and that was that. If my favorites were happy. I was happy. If they were estranged, I was sad.

    I didn’t snark back then because I didn’t really know what that was. I wasn’t as jaded or cynical in nature and just watched my shows and rarely found fault except with the characters actions. I saw no giant plothole in the story or wonder how quickly the characters traveled back and forth.

    *Sad now* So yea, I agree with you, Mary. 😦

  2. Times have definitely changed, haven’t they? Hey, we have soap blogs and message boards now instead of – in my case – wandering around the high school quad at lunchtime discussing the ups and downs of the previous day’s episode with my then best friend Lisa (hmm, wonder what she’s doing now).

    Now I’m actually more inclined to watch some of the bits I find boring so that I can snark on them, rather than my former method of fast-forwarding (ah, Lars, how you qualified).

    On the spoiler thing, I was pretty much always spoiled to some degree, because they showed everything so far behind here that even thought Soap Opera Digest would show up in the newsagent by ship 3 or 4 months after it was published, it would still be years ahead of what we were then watching. So I knew that Steve and Kayla, and Eden and Cruz, would eventually get married so I could endure everything that went before. And I knew such and such would get killed off so there wasn’t much point in getting invested. I devoured spoilers on a larger level then that I do now, and I really really wish I had that old stack of soap magazines around somewhere, because I suspect they’d make fantastic blog fodder.

  3. Oh, coming back (forgive me) because Zara reminded me on the spoiler thing.

    Yea I was always spoiled too because SOD wasn’t any different than it is now. In fact, I spoiled my whole family. I started off watching the NBC soaps (AW, DOOL and SB) while my grandmother (who lived with us) watched the CBS soaps and her sister who also lived with us (yea we were like the Waltons) watched ABC. Pretty soon I got into watching their soaps too (well not all of them) and they got into mine.

    So in many ways SOD let me,my grandmother and great Aunt bond together in a way that is rare for a spoiled teenager and 2 retired women.

    *Bittersweet now*

  4. Ah, for the innocence of youth. I was the only soap watcher in my family and didn’t even read SOD while in high school. I remember when Friday cliffhangers meant something and racing home from school to watch my tape.

    When I went to college in the fall of 1989, I found plenty of dorm mates who were Days fans and have fond memories of watching the show in the dorm lounge and, often, crying together.

    I think that’s why I like TWoP and the S&K board so well. It reminds me of those days of sitting with my friends watching the show and then talking about what might happen, how we hated so and so, and how we couldn’t wait until our favorite couples were happy again. TWoP certainly has a lot more in-depth analysis than my dorm did, but it still provides a great community experience.

    The downside to the internet is the mob mentality that can occur. I think it encourages people to be impatient with storylines because they feed each other’s displeasure with a particular story or plot development. It also gives folks an easy out. Back in the day, if you didn’t like a storyline, you couldn’t just read Prevuze until it was over. At best you could try to stay caught up with SOD, but it only came out every two weeks back then. You could easily miss something you really wanted to see if you didn’t tune in (or at least tape and FF) everyday.

    So, like most things in life the internet as applied to soaps is a blessing and a curse. But, in the end, I think I have to agree that the opportunity to snark on Emilio, Melissa and Lars would have been worth the innocence lost. 🙂

  5. I think soaps are a great community experience and that’s the good thing about the internet (TWoP and blogs like yours, Zara and Tripp). Tripp, I loved your story about your grandmother and great-aunt. That’s a bit like my mom and me. We watched together when I was a kid but then she went back to work and would only watch eps occasionally.

    During my S/K obsession my friend who watched Days with me wasn’t really into them. I mentioned in my last comment how I missed the leadup to their first kiss because of local pre-emption. My friend had moved to another state and I called her up to ask her to tell me what happened, and she said, “Oh, you know, the usual.” Gah!

    I’m still holding onto the hope that Soapnet will air classic Days so we’ll get a chance on TWoP to snark on Emilio’s mullet and Justin’s singing.

  6. Ah, Justin’s singing. So much more appealing when it became Ned’s singing and involved leather pants.

    And even when it was still Justin, the dimples and actual acting ability meant that he was still streets ahead of Emilio and Emilio’s hair.

  7. Ah, Eddie Maine and his leather pants. Le sigh.

    Oh, right, the Internet.

    I think since fewer people I know watch soaps (although I finally found one at my church who tapes everyday–and hey, she didn’t seem to be frothing at the mouth about any of the storylines), I was definitely searching for a community place to talk about them. I am happiest, like Tripp, on the S and K board and at TWoP, where I can be a nerd AND rave about Steve’s hands and/or chest.

    But something definitely is lost, and the mob thing scares me.

  8. I think what the web does for us fans is giving us the community so we know we aren’t alone in our obsessions, especially when you tend to go overboard on certain ships.

    I got introduced to S&K through another friend so for a little while I had someone to share happy moments about them. Later, I was so excited to find a Jake & Paulina fan during their height on AW. Sometimes you weren’t sure if you were shipping people alone.

    Sometimes the web feeds obsessions longer that would normally burn out quicker. If you have ever supported a ship that wasn’t meant to be but communities out there supporting your fantasy pairing on the web would allow the dream to live a lot longer than it normally would.

    OMG, Wally Kurth did the singing as Ned on GH too? Please tell me this was for the nurses ball?

  9. Oh Tripp, you missed Ned’s stint as “Eddie Maine” on GH? Wow.

    He didn’t just sing for the nurses ball, there was a whole storyline where Ned assumed an alternate identity as “Eddie Maine” and performed gigs around upstate New York. For several months, we got lots of Wally Kurth singing. His voice was okay, but the leather pants were really the attraction there.

    Anyway, back on topic. I like the internet for the fact that it makes you know you’re not along in your strange obsession with fictional characters. Somehow it makes it okay to admit that you spend hours watching old clips on a little computer screen when you know you’re not the only one. 🙂

  10. Great post, mp. I agree with you and all the comments about about the community aspect of the boards and the mob mentality that can occur. I loved the message boards when I first found them because up until them I never had anyone to discuss Days with. None of my friends watched and I grew up in a telenovela household…no matter how I explain it my family just does not understand the concept of a soap lasting for decades. I still love TwoP and probably wouldn’t have started watching again if not for that board, but the mob mentality on so many other boards drives me nuts. I love reading the different opinions on TwoP, because when I disagree I can understand them and it makes me looks at a character or sl in a different way. On other boards opinions are expressed so…I can’t even think of a word for it, but I read them thinking, “Are we watching the same show?”

  11. Yep, you got it Tripp. That was how Lois was introduced and how we got the storyline where Ned was married to both Lois and Katherine.

    I get that “are we watching the same show” feeling a lot myself, lascuba. The other problem with some of the other boards is that civil discussion is seen as some kind of no-no. The only appropriate response is “I’m right and you’re wrong” or “nuh uh.” The great thing about TWoP is that even when I disagree with somebody, I still get a new perspective on things.

  12. I used to get so frustrated scrolling through pages of posts that consist of enormous banners and messages that say either “ITA!!!!” or “Yeah, right ::eyeroll emoticon::”

    The other thing that annoys me about other boards (which I forgot to mention in my post) is the constant moral judgments of the characters. I wish there could be a moratorium on the use of the words “skank” and “ho” particularly.

    The light bulb went off for me once I saw the Sony boards, actually, with all the “Fans ONLY!!” and “Haters ONLY!!” threads. I realized that some people don’t want to discuss the show, and if I go there hoping for discussion, I’m only going to get frustrated.

    It just occurred to me that maybe that’s their way of preserving their “innocence”—by sealing themselves off from people who disagree.

    ETA: she didn’t seem to be frothing at the mouth about any of the storylines julianscat, hee … I think “frothing at the mouth” is another side effect of being on the boards.

  13. Serious discussion is unheard of at some boards, especially at Sony.

    For the record I tried to start a “Kayla and Sami should be in a scene together” hoping it would get some sort of discussion going. Fans come in and immediately gang up and insist that Marlena is robbed of scenes with Sami and Kayla has no right to share scenes with her.

    *sigh* This is why I really hope TPTB are coming to TWoP because surely they see that fans over at Sony are only interested in seeing one thing: their couple. At least we at TWoP, even when we snark or disagree, we do it in a educated and debatable way.

    *Thanks Mary for letting me get some of my frustrations with that other board off my chest.

  14. I also steer away from most boards other than TWoP, and I’m much like luscuba, I probably wouldn’t have started watching regularly again without that board. I actually have less time to hang out there than I used to, but it spoiled me for most other boards – the avatar, banner, short-hand stuff drives me nuts too – much the same way I can’t listen to commercial radio any more. Too much clutter.

    But the sense of community and being able to have an interesting, amusing, agreeing to disagree conversation about the shows is really the advantage of TWoP and a few other places, and does remind me of those old high school quad soap conversations in a good way.

  15. Can I admit that with TWoP (and many of the other fan boards) I set up subscriptions to important forums/topics to be emailed to my Gmail account? TWoP especially as it makes it so much easier to simply get emailed their posts rather than trying to wade though so many posts at one time.

    Email subscriptions and RSS feeds save me so much time on my “browsing” on the Internet. But then, I’m such a geek too. :/

  16. The FANS ONLY posts at Sony give you a place where you can post positive thoughts without being inundated with negative ones, LOL!

    There’s a sort of…swarming activity… that sometimes seems to take place at Sony. You can’t post about something positive that you liked without lots of people coming in and:

    1. putting you down and reminding you (sometimes in scathing tones) that you’re in the minority in liking that scene/that episode/that show.

    2. tearing down (sometimes unmercifully) that which you so enjoyed.

    So, rather than face constant discouragement, FAN ONLY boards exist.

    Sometimes we can ALL have great discussions at Sony. Full of thoughtful, respectful responses. But often enough, any discussion automatically becomes rife with such negative feelings that the thread becomes more about defending than it does about discussion.

    I really like the word “swarm” to describe the action at Sony. It applies to fans, regardless of which pairing/characters they love. They swarm in the FAN only posts. They swarm in the BASHERS only posts too.

    It’s a little crazy when you think about it.

  17. I know you can have good discussions anywhere, and that includes Sony. But you’re right—I used to lurk there and there’s definitely a “swarming” element there, more than any other board.

    Tripp makes a good point that the web can feed obsessions that would normally burn out quicker. It’s nearly inconceivable to me now, but when Kayla first came on the show I didn’t like her. I preferred Britta for Steve (!). If the internet had existed then, I could have found the few other kooks who shared my preference, and we could have fed each other’s fire and stubbornness against accepting Steve/Kayla. So strange to think about that!

  18. I’m pretty much turned off by Sony and to keep my sanity I only go there when asked to help out fellow posters who need help combatting some of the rude posters.

    Swarming is a great term for that board. Heh. Swarmy Sony.

    MaryPickford you must be confident in our love for you to admit to preferring Britta over Kayla. 😉 I may have to pretend that I didn’t hear that.

    Seriously I can’t comment because I got into S&K after they were established firmly. I have no idea how I would have responded to Kayla but given it started off a bit differently than most great love stories (him stalking her) and the early early stuff was a hint of love/hate (which is my favorite kind of romance, go figure) I probably would have loved them right from the start.

  19. I know. ::hangs head in shame::

    I think it had to do with my soft spot for “bad girls with layers” which I have always had (I started loving Chelsea as soon as they gave her just a glimmer of a layer or two last summer). Looking back, though, it was all in the writing, not the acting. Amy Stock (Britta) just doesn’t have the chops, unfortunately. It also had to do with how much I like screamy, angsty Steve. I can’t help it. Just at first, Britta brought that out in him when Kayla didn’t—yet.

    Also, it wasn’t obvious to me at the time that Steve and Kayla were the endgame. That’s a compliment to the show, actually. It wasn’t always the case back then that a man and a woman sharing lots of screen time were destined to be paired romantically (Hope and Roman were together all the time in Stockholm, Steve spent lots of time with Gabrielle when he and Kayla were broken up, etc). So the show really let me warm up to Kayla and get sucked in, just as Steve fell in love with her slowly. It really worked.

    So, sorry, Kay. I love you now, I really do.

  20. The bad girl with layers is interesting to only because it isn’t done nearly as much as bad guy with layers. I completely admit I began shipping Chick the moment they announced a geeky “good” guy was going to be her next romantic love interest. Now they are shooting that story all to hell.

    You are right about putting mem and women on our screen that didn’t go anywhere. I think a lot of that was them “testing” the waters with pairings. Instead of having the couple fall instantly in “twu luv” they let them interact to feel out the chemistry first. I have tremendous respect for that now. I was told for example that Diana Coville was brought in as a love interest for Mike but they were introduced as friends. When it became apparent it wouldn’t work between them, they had no problem moving them in different directions. Diana had a few scenes too with Steve as well (which I wonder if GH saw there was a bit of chemistry when they brought SN over to the show and paired him opposite Luke and Laura).

    Overall everything was better which is easy to say 20 years later. The biggest thing I noticed other than having more money is they took their time with stuff and didn’t rush in anywhere (often).

  21. Now they are shooting that story all to hell.

    Wow—is that based on a spoiler? Because though I think their story is moving too fast and is unnecessarily cluttered with plot points, I still think Chick is working.

    Totally agree about not rushing back then. One of the show’s biggest strengths. I heard they left the option open to pair Kayla back with Chris, too, at the beginning. The story could have veered to Chris protecting Kayla from an unredeemed Steve.

  22. is that based on a spoiler? Because though I think their story is moving too fast and is unnecessarily cluttered with plot points, I still think Chick is working.

    I admit my bad attitude is partly based on one spoiler that I did not like but much of it is based on today’s show. Now I haven’t seen it, just read it in prevuse and I’m certain it will come out better than the way I read it (it usually always does) but it’s more brush talk (which is what led me to draw my schematic) and Chelsea irritating me actually. Plus Nick being drawn into Willow is driving me nuts as well.

    I’m just getting disappointed with their storyline and compounding that to my disappointment of S&K’s story at the moment, it’s too much to take.

  23. Sure, I understand that, Tripp.

    I know people have been snarking on the hairbrush (and I love your schematic), but it hasn’t been bothering me too much. I like that it’s causing a crisis of conscience for Nick. I didn’t want him to take it for Chelsea in the first place, so if talking to Willow makes him put it back I’m all for it. Nick’s white knight complex is getting him in trouble—Chelsea, Billie, Sami, now Willow—and I find that very interesting. It’s just like even though Kate is right about Sami, she’s wrong. Nick is doing the wrong thing (stealing hairbrush) for the innocent person, and if he puts it back he’ll be doing the right thing for the guilty person.

    But if they just had Nick and Chelsea working together at the lab, snarking and eyesnogging, it would be even better. Still, I’m enjoying it. It’s the only story that’s actually moving right now, so that might be part of it.

    Jeez, I’m with you on S&K. If they could just get moving already. They’ve taken us to this really dark place and I’ve gone with them every step of the way, and if it doesn’t pay off story-wise I’m going to be pissed.

  24. I know. I like your spin on the hairbrush but to me…it’s just a hairbrush. It can symbolize the stream of consciousness for Nick and so it being so important in his mind is acceptable. It being so important in Chelsea’s mind is acceptable too because she knows its hers and she lied about that. Asking Nick to steal it for her had added a whole level to the situation and she’s done everything to keep from thinking about her responsibility in that (which is why I liked Abby’s end of the conversation they had. Abby was outright demanding Chelsea consider Nick losing his job over this). It’s importance to Willow is acceptable as well because she planted the durned thing and knows it will disprove to be hers.

    All of this gets ruined for me when Roman The Repulsive investigates the missing hairbrush that is evidence to a BREAK-IN (do they have nothing to do down there at SalemPD?) while acting like it’s the sole piece of evidence in the case. If it was the only evidence I could almost let it go but the stolen jewelry with Willow’s fingerprints and trying to pawn it triumphs any circumstantial evidence of a common household item.

    Then I think I had my heart set on Nick using Willow and getting her to admit her part in this. It could still happen but he is obviously being taken in and one of the reasons I have liked Nick is because in theory he should be smarter than that.

    But you are 100% right, he’s got this white knight complex.

  25. Well, the Salem PD. Sigh.

    I suggested on TWoP that an earring would also have DNA on it, and would perhaps make more sense as a “smoking gun.” Like, say if Chelsea had just gotten them and was seen wearing them all that day. And then her comment that she never went into Bo’s house (which is true, obviously) would be called into question. Also, I never understood why they didn’t have Willow plant the jewelery on Chelsea somehow.

    The police stuff on this show is always so awful (which I really wish TPTB would do something about!) that I guess I just never thought about it. I just assume that it’s all going to defy logic.

    I wanted Nick to be the only one who believed in Chelsea when everything told against her. Now that would have been romantic. But like I said, I’m finding this pretty engaging too.

  26. I wanted Nick to be the only one who believed in Chelsea when everything told against her. Now that would have been romantic. But like I said, I’m finding this pretty engaging too.

    I really wanted that too but then…it was what seemed most obvious. I actually find myself surprised I like he doesn’t believe in her. Like I said on TWoP, I find it actually romantic that he is willing to lose his job over a girl he believes to be guilty.

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