Soap Operas

Everything I learned from "As the World Turns"

After 54 years, the soap goes off the air. But the kidnappings, back-stabbings and doomed romances taught us well

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    Age is relative

    In Oakdale, characters accomplish tasks at an alarming rate. Katie, for example, was born in 1989 and, to date, has been married to Simon, Henry, Mike and brothers Jack and Brad; has created a bestselling novel and workout video; and currently hosts a TV show while juggling single motherhood. Impressive for a 21-year-old, don’t you think? She’s being circled by Chris Hughes, who came into the “World” in 1987. He’s now a pediatrician who’s done volunteer work in Africa and is being considered for chief of staff at Memorial after undergoing a successful heart transplant. Suck on that, Doogie Howser. And interestingly, those on the flip side of middle age are going all Benjamin Button on Oakdale, which makes me think that Snyder Pond is really the fountain of youth. Matriarchs and patriarchs of Oakdale, like Lucinda Walsh, never seem to age; they just seem to be caught in a permanent windstorm.

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    Love your family

    What’s so wrong about marrying your uncle or, better yet, your ex-husband’s son? Heiress Lily fell in love with stable boy Holden, only to find out that she was adopted and that her birth mother was Holden’s sister Iva! The sounds of “D’oh!” echoed throughout Luther’s Corners and the Snyder Farm until it was revealed that Iva herself was adopted! Phew! Barbara married world-class scoundrel James Stenbeck, only to fall for his half-brother Gunnar St. Clare. Naturally, James repeatedly tried to kill them both. Barbara survived and recently married James’ metrosexual son Henry Coleman. Families are complicated enough in the real world, but in Oakdale, it becomes a logic question worthy of the GRE. To wit: If Parker’s parents are Hal and Carly, and Hal died and Carly married Jack Snyder, whom Parker now calls “Dad,” what is Parker’s relationship to Jack’s cousin’s daughter Faith, who Parker finds “hot”?

    a. First cousin

    b. Second cousin

    c. Uncle

    d. Nine kinds of creepy

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    To err is human. To forgive, just plain dumb

    There’s a fine line between forgiveness and stupidity, and the residents of Oakdale cross the line with alarming, amusing frequency. Craig tried to run Rosanna off the road and put her in a coma, but she somehow managed to get engaged to him again when she woke up, even though she suspected he was in love with her half-sister. That ended, shall we say, badly. Emily shot Paul and left him for dead. As you’d expect, he came back to life and they are now married. Apparently, it’s all water under the bridge, presumably the one where Jack was last seen when he went missing. Oakdale’s Dudley Do-Right had amnesia and started a new family with cuckoo-crazy Julia. Luckily, he was tracked down by his stepson, who had acquired a handy sixth sense.

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    Beware the smooth talkers

    I’m pretty sure that James Stenbeck thinks Darth Vader is a wuss, hiding behind that respirator and showing no interest in female storm troopers. But, aside from pure evil, they do have one thing in common: style. Heir to the Swedish throne despite his lycanthropic nature, James Stenbeck drips the sort of style that would seem right at home on the Death Star. And it doesn’t hurt that he has about 99 lives, supposedly dying on various occasions by nose-diving from a plane, being shot by his son, being knifed by his ex-wife, falling out of a windmill, and, most recently, being injected with a substance that brought on a “fatal” heart attack. Then there’s Craig Montgomery. Over the years, he’s proven himself to be quite the ladies’ man. Seriously, he had sex with his wife, Sierra, and her mother, Lucinda. These oil slicks are to be avoided at all costs; otherwise, you could end up in bed or a coffin in short order. I’ve used these two as cautionary tales when jumping into the dating pool. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice or 20 times, and I deserve to be in an arena in Spain with a bull charging at me, which is what happened to Barbara when she was still indulging the swaggering energizer baddie that is James.

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    Go ahead. Break the law

    Maybe Lindsay Lohan has been living in Oakdale, since she seems unaware that her actions have consequences, including the hoosegow. While the rest of us live in a world with rules, laws and clear penalties, folks in Oakdale always find a way to get off the hook. It helps that police chief Margo Hughes is related to or BFFs with everyone who’s brought into the station. It also doesn’t hurt that her husband, Tom, is a crackerjack lawyer who always seems to get his clients off (sadly, not in a sexy way). If someone does get sentenced, they usually find a way to get transferred to the loony bin where they either escape, are miraculously cured, or come back much older or younger. The really crazy ones, like Royce Keller, who had multiple personalities, or Mick Dante, who thought he was James Stenbeck even though he was 25 years younger, go quietly into that good mental institution.

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    Location, location, location

    Through the years, the estate known as Fairwinds has seen more than its share of crazy go down. My theory is that it was built on Indian burial grounds because nothing good ever comes out of that dump. No amount of sage is ever going to smudge out the evil and crummy interior design that lurks within. Much like a certain building in my hometown that housed, among other things, a country-western bar, a down-home restaurant, and a sporting goods resale shop, Fairwinds and its owners are screwed from the get-go. Paul and Emily are currently living there and I’m giving them six months to a year before the shit hits the ceiling fan.

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    Work is a state of mind

    Oakdalians must belong to a great union, because their flextime is off the hook, leaving them ample time to mess up their kids and their love lives. Lucinda Walsh, CEO of Worldwide Industries, should presumably be making mergers and running board meetings. Instead, she meddles in her daughter’s love life and recently created a Byzantine plan to bankrupt her archenemy Craig. No one in town ever seems to actually work, but they all have money to start up new businesses and maintain private jets, not to mention support their ever-expanding families. I want to go to there.

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    Death is only the beginning

    Like a mummy, James Stenbeck is both 1) well-preserved and 2) preternaturally able to come back from the dead over and over. I can only hope this important truth can be applied to “ATWT” itself. I am holding out hope that it can be resurrected from its oh-so-tragic death. Because the biggest lesson I learned from Lily and Holden, Jack and Carly, Tom and Margo, Bob and Kim, and Lisa and her seven husbands — the one that I actually hold dear to my heart — is that true love conquers all. Maybe even low ratings.