October 20, 2010By Naomi Rabinowitz Posted: Oct 20, 2010
Last night, I attended the Sound Of Music sing-along in New York City. Though I know most of the songs by heart, I hadn't seen the movie in its entirety since I was a child and was surprised by what a good film it is — cheesy musical numbers aside. It still holds up and has a modern feel, even though it's 45 years old this year, just like DAYS OF OUR LIVES. It's also popular all over the world and has been recreated in some form in nearly every country.
Anyway, as I was watching, it occurred to me that while Sound Of Music isn't a soap, it offers many of the same elements that daytime does, which would explain why both have kept an audience for decades. In the movie, there's the story of a family trying to come together after the mother's death; a love triangle; a dashing captain; a lavish party and wedding; gorgeous fashions and location shoots; and while there weren't any psychos, mobsters or supervillains, there was the huge threat of the Nazis. What really stood out for me, though, were how well-drawn the characters are. Maria isn't a stereotypical ingenue; she's outspoken and flawed. And the Baroness isn't exactly a villain — she's snooty and ambitious, but ultimately not evil (sort of like, say, OLTL's Dorian or Y&R's Jill). In fact, most of the movie centered around the characters simply getting to know one another; there are actually very few action scenes.
My point for making this comparison is that I think that while times have changed, viewers' basic wants for good entertainment really haven't so much in that they just want simple, good storytelling and interesting, relatable characters. We often wonder if there's a "new" formula for getting back a soap audience, but I think a good way to start is just to go back to the basics.