"As the World Turns." "One Life To Live." "General Hospital." "Dallas." "Falcon Crest." "Desperate Housewives." Soap operas have been part of our television viewing regimen all our lives. We seem to enjoy seeing the trials and tribulations of perfect strangers hashed out each week in all their sordid glory.But, there are fewer and fewer soap operas on the airwaves these days. Most of the daytime soaps have given way to talk shows, game shows or hours-long commercials masquerading as shows. In the evenings, most of the "soapy" shows have fallen from favor, replaced by "reality" shows.I guess it's just an indication of our own society that we no longer need to have fictionalized drama in our lives, as the real thing seems to be so much more dramatic. There was a time when, if we had experienced the high drama most of the shows featured, we would have been run out of town on the rails (if we had them). But, our society has changed, our values and mores have been changing with them, and the behavior we now deem acceptable.... well, it would put most of those aforementioned dramatic shows to shame.The reality shows are a real thorn in my side. If you know anything about how the shows are produced, you know that they are anything but a reflection of reality. When a camera crew spends 24-hours a day with you, there is little chance of being yourself or of making decisions that don't reflect an attempt to make yourself look better, or to "win" the game being put forward by the reality show.When you have "The Real Housewives of ,,,,, whereever," the ladies are anything but real housewives. They agonize over their waxing and tanning sessions. They worry about their spoiled children and their unfaithful spouses. And, they shop. Always, they shop.So, the camera crews have taped them going through their routines - with some prodding and suggested direction - and hours upon hours of footage has been recorded. Before it can be broadcast, those hours need to be whittled down into minutes suitable for broadcast. So, the editing begins.Editors look at all the raw footage, and they begin selecting those moments that will make the best television. Those are the emotional outbursts, the embarrassing revelations, the revealed indiscretions. No one watching a "reality" show wants to watch a housewife making breakfast and doing the laundry. That would be our own lives, so the editors sift through the worst moments and make those the linchpin of the show.You, the viewer, get to see other people exhibiting their moral failings, and it allows us to feel just a bit more superior. We watch, knowing that we would never be so shallow, so vain, so evil, or so devoid of compassion. No matter how many things we've screwed up in our personal lives, we watch the people in the reality shows and decide that we're far superior to them.But, there is a dangerous side effect to this observation of moral turpitude.We start to feel that some of what we've seen is acceptable. After all, by the time the next episode runs, even if we've started to behave as badly as those on screen, we still seem tame by comparison. And then, we have to "raise the bar" of bad behavior a bit in order to be offended.I'm just hoping that soon, we ask more of the people we're watching, and model our own behavior as something they should be emulating. If we don't do it soon, the chasm we've been straddling will rise around us to become great walls that we may be unable to scale.
It’s all just my opinion.