I was born into a country that is a certified soap opera fanatic. From drama series from America, Mexico, Spain and Korea- we stayed glued to the tube. Our days are incomplete when we missed the next episode and the world defies gravity especially during the grand finale. My grandmother who forgets that I do not drive our white car anymore can retell with 100 percent accuracy the recent events from her favorite afternoon soap. I cannot blame her- soap operas were created to whisk us away from reality to fantasy/ perfect/ love conquers all realm for a mere half hour. Who does not dream of being a simple person with secret magical powers; a woman scorned then found happiness by forgiving the man of her dreams or perhaps a man having it all after horrendous tortures in the hands of his enemy? Each one of us wants to affiliate ourselves with these characters and experience the enigma and resolution of our travails. However, as much as these television shows bring short-term joy, there would always be a wake up call for us that we live in an imperfect world. We have bills, difficult bosses, box- type apartments and tough neighborhoods. I am one of thousands who gravitate to intriguing dramas yet I always think that most of the scenes are impossible and extreme that it bends the realms of reality.
The evil stepmother, botox- obsessed aunt, conniving cousins, trigger- happy roommates make it a point to make life hell for the protagonist. They subject the hapless character to confinement in dark basements for days with rotten food and water torture. They burn houses, splash acid on one side of the face and steal the lovers. Not to forget the endless cheating and bed hopping among these villains. Their sole goal is to make the hero/ heroine face death a million times that viewers demand for their heads to be impaled on metal rods. In the end of course, they reap what they sow and they end up as prisoners, invalids with disfigured faces.
In reality, good things can happen to jerks and witches. To rub lemon to our scars, they drive Lamborghini and use the new iPhone model.
Prince and the Pauper Premise:
Two babies were switched in the hospital or an insane nurse stole one. They grow up in opposing poles- millionaire household and a dilapidated poverty- stricken one. There are variations, one grows up to be nice and generous to people much to the dismay of the parents. The other lives on scraps of food and vows to take revenge on mankind. Version two involves the one with the silver spoon becoming a brat who inspite of swimming in cash, gets bored and picks on everyone. The other inspite of unfortunate events develops the most pleasant personality combined with Heidi Klumesque legs or Beckham’s abs. Version three can depict these siblings always bumping into each other and unknowingly weaves a web between their feuding families. Version four involves the sisters or brother falling in love with one person and fights to the finish. In the end, some old mystical man reveals their connection. They forgive each other and their inamorata disappears or ends up dead in a police shoot- out. It would take a week before I can finish enumerate the other versions.
In reality, our older siblings bully us but beat the bullies in our schools. Our younger siblings become our minions and we end up learning from them. It would always be a love/ hate relationship but at the end, memories are thicker than our greenish blue blood. In addition, twins are always cool.
Snow White and Seven Dwarfs Premise:
Based on the Cinderella premise, we have the occasional melanin- deprived persona. This is the unfortunate riches to rag and the hero would rely on his trusted sidekick/s. The band of brothers would pool together to bring back the glory to the hero. Either they undergo immense unrealistic torture scenes to coax the whereabouts of the hero, get hit by bullets intended for the main character and give up their love for the hot girlfriend. The drama becomes more enticing when the sidekick provides the (un) humorous antics. It either annoys the audience or makes their role more pathetic.
In reality, our friends would hold our hair when we throw up in the toilet. We find true friends in the nerds we bully in high school because they now work for the Apple Co. and seldom do we keep in touch with friends from college. The truth is, the best sidekick is your self. Just do not develop a multiple personality disorder.
Beauty and the Beast Premise:
The forbidden love that appeals to many teenagers and married people are common in telenovelas. The bored housewife who meets again her first love and starts a torrid affair and the son of an influential politician who falls in love with the vixen of the whole county. Everyone who has no absolute business with the relationship would take sides and make the taboo dalliance become the totem for “does love conquer all or do relationships that start wrong end in doom?”
In reality, love falls under an umbrella spectrum and rain, hail and meteors would fall. Temptations come and go, love falters, trust broken, passion goes to plateau stage yet at the end of the day we all just want to be loved. I always question “if I were that person, what would I do?” seeing different love in endless forms. Though we live in the advancing digital era, our human side longs for that first kiss, insatiable passion for our lovers, trust that we would always be regarded as beautiful and handsome with wrinkles and gray strands, loyalty that could withstand temptations as years pass by.
Soap operas mirror our desires to be someone whose life are more colorful, action- packed, intriguing, laden with drama and rehearsed crying. It all comes with the package and the theme song that would forever be stuck in our heads.
As we turn off our televisions, I think we ought to watch our own lives unfold. I bet my cable box would pale in comparison to the beauty of happiness and despair, the character building that we do everyday and if we monitor our own episodes, we are far better actors and actresses.