Written by a Coronation Street viewer, that hasn’t missed more than a handful of episodes since 1970.
By Phil Jones @PhilLlwynog
“Dad, dad, she’s making a cup of tea!”, screamed my six year old daughter back in 2000. This was the reaction to the first live streaming of Big Brother all those years back. It may now seem implausible that watching someone as drab as Anna Nolan making a cuppa could evoke such a reaction, but this was an important moment as it heralded the first nail in the soap opera coffin. It meant a new way of seeing people on TV, and suddenly we demanded our own ‘reality’.
By this time Channel Four’s excellent ‘soap’ Brookside was in terminal decline, as it veered uncontrollably from it’s early mission to discuss class divide in a down to earth manner; and shows like ‘The Sopranos’ had a new cutting edge a psychologically complex mob drama, a tale of, marriage, depression and the American dream. Back in 2014, there was a scene, when Vito Junior took a sh** in the shower, which creates a nice segue to last nights episodes of Coronation Street, they featured a baby shower, and also featured excremental plots and scripts. In Britain, baby showers are not historically customary, but have become more common with younger generations following the import of American culture, and the need to celebrate anything that involves drinking and strippers. I asked my now, twenty two year old daughter last night if she still watches “Corrie”, “No, not since I was little”, was her reply, thankfully she hasn’t had a baby shower, yet, but she liked The Soparnos, even when she was ‘little’. If I was honest, I really thought she still watched Corrie, but kids don’t watch telly now do they? Of course they do, they just don’t call it ‘watching telly’ any more, and although massive 55” LCD telly’s are popular in households such as Sally Websters, and homes across Britain, kids prefer their “telly” on compacted screens.
Hence the paradox, and the death of Corrie. Where are the ‘kids’ staring blankly at their phones? Does Tracy Barlow secretly use Twitter? Does Bethany watch funny cat videos on Youtube. Does anyone have a corner shop, a bus stop, a kebab shop and a pub on their street? Does David Platt go for a pee? Does anyone ‘believe’ Corrie any more? Has Corrie lost the plot, or is it that soaps in general haven’t figured out to show us our own realities, as we spend more and more time staring blankly at screens of various sizes? ITV’s own website describes ‘Corrie’ as “the story of working people and the city street in which they live”. They’re pulling my proverbial plonker aren’t they?
Arguably the 1960s saw the best of Coronation Street, with great characters, snappy dialogue and plots mirroring real working-class life, dominated by powerful female characters, most memorably Ena Sharples, caretaker of the church hall and a no-nonsense upholder of traditional values. Today we have Tracy Barlow, Leanne Battersby and Maria Connor as examples of ‘strong women’. How very inspiring. So, to last night’s two episodes which featured Kym Marsh loosing her baby (probably), those dreadful baby shower scenes littered full of unrealistic dialogue, and boring scenes about the factory and garage. I mention Kym Marsh here, and not her alter ego, as Kym in real life has tragically lost her baby. Viewers are most likely aware of this, so are soap script writers attempting to use the actors real lives as some kind of morally bankrupt ‘blurred line’ to keep our interest, and to make our interaction more ‘realistic’? Recently even Simon Gregson had a storyline about his own depression, which forced him to take ‘time out’ from the show. We know about soap actors, they are on social media, plugging their latest fitness video, or sharing cat videos.
So, where next for our soaps, a more realistic edgy feel, already tried and tested, and ultimately failing, or is it that as a society we will all hammer home the final nail in soaps opera’s coffin, as we glassy eyed witness the end of soap as a genre via our twitter feeds? I prefer to watch my soap actors on Celebrity Big Brother, they seem more ‘real’ in a funny kind of way.
(Written by a Coronation Street viewer, that hasn’t missed more than a handful of episodes since 1970).