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All Soap Operas

November 2, 2014

I’ve been enjoying Netflix for some time.  I don’t watch ordinary TV because I don’t like commercials, but Netflix doesn’t have commercials.  I started out watching movies, but after a while I’d seen all the movies that appeal to me.  Now I’ve started watching certain TV series, also without commercials.  I generally watch one or two episodes of a series each day, depending on their length.  Compared to a movie, which only runs for a few hours, a TV series can extend for hundreds of hours.  No doubt they have great difficulty finding enough material to extend for that length of time.

One of the series I watch in its entirety was Breaking Bad.  Initially, I was interested in how Walter dealt with events that arose in his life.  I ignored the science because I recognized pretty quickly that it was bogus.  Some of the decisions he made were the same as I might have done, but some of them seemed peculiar to me.  Eventually, he was drawn ever deeper into anti-social behavior, and couldn’t see a way out.  At that point, he entered a world that was quite foreign to me.  Rather than stop watching, I became interested in each of the characters, and how they carried out their predetermined roles.

After that series, I moved to House, MD.  Each episode featured a medical story, and a series of attempts at a diagosis.  At first I found them quite interesting.  After a while, though, they became quite predictable.  I’d seen seizures so often that I made fun of them.  The stories also became more and more improbable.  I checked on one later, and found that it had only happened once, and that was in a different part of the world.  After a while, they began to repeat some of the medical stories.  Again, I switched my attention to the characters, House and Wilson.  I wanted to see how they worked out their problems in life.

I also watched a British TV series, Midsomer Murders.  Like all murder mysteries, the crimes were quite improbable.  Most murders are crimes of status, where one young man pulls out a gun or knife and kills another one.  The circumstances and the culprits are usually well known.  In the stories, though, the crime is carried out in mysterious circumstances.  Everybody in the story behaves in a suspicious manner.  Part of the fun is guessing who is the killer.  Towards the end, the detectives reveal the culprit and explain their reasons.  It’s usually somebody you didn’t even suspect.  Eventually I gave up trying to guess, and turned my attention to the detectives, Barnaby and Jones.  Their behavior seemed normal for the lives that they led, although I’m sure their lives were quite fanciful.  Nobody has to deal with that many mysterious murders, week after week.

My experience was that all of these TV series evenually became soap operas.  I began with an interest in what the characters were doing, but eventually gave that up, and focused on the characters themselves.  I don’t know if that was the intention of all the people that created these stories, but that was how I found them.  I wouldn’t choose to watch a soap opera, but I was led into watching them.  I wonder if other people have had the same experience?


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