Best soaps of the 90s, 00s and 10s?

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Willie O! Tannenbaum, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    And what made it a soap, rather than...something else?
    Is every continuing story a soap?

    And what post-80s soap resembled the classic versions the most?
     
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  2. Emeleez Navidad

    Emeleez Navidad Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I've sometimes wondered "what is a soap opera - really?" and there doesn't seem to be a clear answer. A continuing story fits for most TV series, doesn't it? Even those stand alone episode series like Criminal Minds have the same characters, and their issues and family lives etc continues with every episode.

    Must a soap have 2 rival families? A business? A mansion? Cause it it needs that, then we have series like Game of Thrones that fits the bill.

    I think it's the same with a "soap opera" as it is with the Swedish nickname for lower quality comedy movies from the 1920s - 1940s = "Pilsnerfilm". A term that translates to "Pilsner Movie" (Beer Movie). It's a negative term, naturally. As is the term "soap opera", as it has that connotation with bad production, overacting and absurd plotlines.

    In such case, Game of Thrones is anything but a soap opera, even though it has most other qualities of a soap.
     
  3. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    When I watched the classic soaps at a young age we didn't actually call it soaps. I think we called every series just "serie", and the quality was not defined by its genre (I guess that goes for every kind of entertainment, or even everything in life).
    But anyway, I think the 90s saw a change in the soap formula: the younger generation in the foreground and the older one in the background. So we didn't have the old feuds anymore, and most of these shows didn't have a sense of history.
    It was supposed to be hip and fresh, and new feuds were created right there and then.
    The main characters were rather common compared to the billionaires of the 80s soaps, but eventually a billionaire would show up and become part of that "common" world, so it often harked back to the classic prime time soap style.
    Or the main young characters became rich and powerful as the story progressed. They couldn't completely resist the glamour.
     
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  4. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    As far as I'm concerned the best soap of the 1990s was MELROSE PLACE, in the 2000s I'd have to go for DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and in the current decade of course my beloved REVENGE (though I'm immensely enjoying the new DYNASTY and hope it has a long and fun run).

    What makes these shows soaps? Serialized structure, dramatic cliffhangers, affluent lifestyles, female-centric narrative, lots of fabulous women with bitchy lines and hot men with washboard abs. In terms of audiences, I also thinks soaps are the shows that don't do well with male demos (because they don't usually dig all of the above).
     
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  5. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    My favourite soap of the 90s was the post-Knots/pre-Desperate Housewives series Sisters.
    Central Park West really felt like a modern Dynasty, until they actually turned it into a new Dynasty, and then it failed.
    And they also lost their key character Stephanie (Mariel Hemingway).

    I also enjoyed Savannah and Hyperion Bay.
    I've watched Melrose Place when Jamie Luner joined the cast (because of her Savannah-fame) and thought it was so-so with a few exciting moments.
    But to me it never felt as big as Dallas and Dynasty.

    2000's: Everwood, Boston Public and Footballer's Wives (the guiltiest of all guilty pleasures)
    Judging Amy was partially courtdrama so I don't consider it a traditional soap (but it was very good!)

    2010's: TNT Dallas and Gran Hotel
     
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  6. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Melrose was on its last legs when Luner joined the cast in season 6 (Entertainment Weekly compared it to an aging whore at the time).

    The show was at the top of its bed-hopping & back-stabbing game in seasons 2 and 3 (in the middle of which FOX felt confident it could move it to anchor a new night).

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    I can't comment on those first seasons, but to me it seemed that was all MP was all about: bed-hopping and fights.
    There was no real reason for them to be there, nothing that connected these people.
    There wasn't much physical football in Footballer's Wives but at least they could use it as the core, the raison d'être of the show - no matter how far-fetched the storylines were.

    When I watched those last seasons of MP I didn't really know what to think of it, it didn't feel like an isolated soap universe, although it was probably the most isolated setting.
    That doesn't mean it can't be fun, but it does make me wonder why MP is regarded as an iconic soap.
     
  8. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I would say that the best soaps of each decade was the following.

    1990's -


    Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)
    The show ran throughout the entire decade and for a long time it was on Sundays here in Sweden so for years it was always what we talked about on mondays at school. :)

    2000's -


    Mc Leod's Daughters (2001-2009)
    This Aussie soap had it all. Family, cattle, ranching, secrets...
    Moreover it was dubbed "Dallas down under" in the USA press...

    Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)
    This was the show to watch during this time. It was very popular among my friends and I never missed an episode either...

    2010's
    I would like to say Dallas (2012-2014) of course but I think we all know it wasn't soap enough and it really should have been instead of a crime drama... :(

    Although not completely in this decade I would say:



    Army Wives (2007-2013)

    This is the best recent soap opera that I've watched. It's about a bunch of Army Wives and their everyday life and it was really great. I just saw it last year on DVD. It can be recommended.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  9. Gabriel Maxwell

    Gabriel Maxwell Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Ah, but in the early seasons, the show possesed that special Melrose magic, that made it such an addictive trash. The characters were stronger, the relationships were more grounded in reality and the dialogues had more byte.



    The latter seasons were a failed attempt to do more of the same. Following a mass exodus of actors in season 5, the chemistry among the principal cast was off and the pedestrian cliched writing turned the show into a parody of its former glorious self.
     
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  10. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    Army Wives had a good start, but after 5 or 6 episodes it became a little too cosy and girlie for my taste.
    I liked Pan Am better:lol:

    I almost forgot Westenwind (1999-2003), an outrageous prime time soap marketed as "the Dutch Dallas".
    It probably was the last tv series that "everybody" watched.
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    Mmm....*licks lips*
     
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  12. Dalek Avery

    Dalek Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Confession: I've been reading through this thread trying to jog my memory, since so few of the post-KL nighttime soaps were memorable enough to merit mention in a "Best Of..." list. I could not come up with a single suggestion from the immediate past on my own. :(

    I tried to watch Sisters, but the serious and the fanciful (and the downright bizarre) were too close together, taking me out of the moment.
    Savannah drove me away because it was painfully obvious they were NOT filming in Savannah. :)
    Melrose Place burned itself out by trying too hard to top themselves. Not knowing how to "pull back," they burned through plot too quickly.
    BH90210 is...well, just not my kind of show at all, and I never had any inclination to watch either version.
    I watched season one of Desperate Housewives but fell out of the habit; it seemed more like a serialized comedy than a drama.
    I watched all but the last few episodes of NuDallas and liked it well enough...but I wasn't upset when it got cancelled, so I guess I wasn't attached.
    I never saw Central Park West.

    We were all so spoiled by the 1980s supersoaps....:think:

    The only primetime soap I've enjoyed is The Haves and the Have Nots, which has run on Oprah's Network for several years now. It's outrageous, over the top, and hilarious, but they play it all straight. The writing format, however, has a closer resemblance to daytime soaps than the style of primetime soap we are more accustomed to. A new season is starting in a week or so, and I'm actually excited to see what insanity they come up with.
     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    For me, New DALLAS and EMPIRE are the only post-80s soaps that really smell like '80s soaps. I'm really enjoying New DYNASTY, but it doesn't quite have that same frenetic barging-into-someone's-office-and-vowing-to-destroy-them vibe - at least not yet. I guess that's how I define my American soaps. Otherwise, almost everything's a soap.

    (I tell you what is a soap, but brilliantly disguises itself as a top quality, character-driven drama: BLOODLINE.)
     
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  14. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    Watching that video somehow made me think of the series BIG LOVE. It was on television but I didn't watch it, for reasons I can't remember (assuming there was a reason).
    Yes, it was a bit experimental with those wacky dream-like scenes, but the drama was genuine and often had me sniff & snotter all through the episodes.
    They had an excellent cast and I found it a joy to watch them.
    I have thought about it...but I just can't find a good reason (or excuse), so I'm not going to bother with it.
    Oh there was drama, and mystery, and shocking stuff. And some great villains. But the comedy wasn't dark enough, and I think that's why many people didn't like it.
    I watched it religiously, but it's not a show I would like to watch again - because I'm afraid it hasn't aged very well.
    Carrie Fairchild was more NuFallon than NuDynasty's Fallon.
     
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  15. Marika

    Marika Soap Chat Member

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    Originally Melrose Place was about a group of neighbors who were all friends. That was their initial connection. After a while, all hell broke lose – and that's when the fun began. It was the fact that these former friends did all this horrible stuff to one another that made it so entertaining.
    However, when the original cast was gradually replaced by new characters, it wasn't the same because these new characters just didn't have the same connection that the original gang had.

    Re: Desperate Housewives
    My thoughts exactly. Season 1 was gold; seasons 2 to 4 were also entertaining, yet had several filler episodes. Season 5 was when the show began to fall apart. That season felt endless and had no highlights. Seasons 6 and 7 were so-so, and in season 8 you could tell the show was on its last legs. Suddenly it felt like a slow daytime soap.

    The problem was that the 4 Housewives needed to be in every episode and that they alone drove the show's storyline. The show had such a huge ensemble cast, but everyone was somehow tied to one of the 4 Housewives. Even the additional Housewives (Edie, Betty, Katherine, Angie, Renee, Mrs. McCluskey) couldn't appear in their own story bubbles, they always had one of the 4 core Housewives involved in their stories – and usually Susan, Bree, Lynette and Gabrielle emerged as the "good guys" in the end, no matter what s*it they had pulled.

    I just remembered how much I hated Susan Mayer. Her stories were neither funny nor gripping, just annoying.
     
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  16. Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas

    Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    As @James from London has suggested, and I agree about "Bloodline", the trend nowadays seems to be that every soap has to disguise as something else, something with pretensions of being above average in every sense.

    So here are my choices of best soaps by decades:
    90´s: "Melrose Place" (though I hate those 3 last seasons with Big Lips!), and also soapy with a pedigree were the competitors "L.A. Law" and "Knots Landing" in its latter seasons. I´d also add "Lois & Clark" because Jacobs was involved in its first season, and because they had a tendency to use cliffhangers and big romance very often.​

    [​IMG]
    Wasn´t this the second hottest couple in TV history?
    00´s: "Desperate Housewives" probably leading the decade, not only because of its overall soapiness tinted in black but also for its dependence on continuity and its cast of main stars and guests from the 80's & 90´s, from Nicollette Sheridan to Larry Hagman to Doug Savant, as well as launching a whole new bunch of future soap stars, most of them showcased in TNT Dallas: from Brenda Strong to Josh Henderson & Jesse Metcalfe.

    upload_2018-1-7_13-22-43.jpeg upload_2018-1-7_13-31-7.jpeg [​IMG]
    Jesse, Gale & Josh: "Ab" Fab

    Also from this decade, I´d like to point out a few more: "Providence" (set in a small city but a soap with occasional mansions in it too, and guest stars like VP or Tippi Hedren), US "Queer as Folk" and its female counterpart "The L Word" (both of which, despite the gay sex controversy, were very traditional in their narrative), the bastardized "Glee", the very uneven "Brothers & Sisters", and last but not least, "Smallville", the one that captured the secret love "angst" spread through every soap that deserves that name. Young pretty Clark was full of secrets, and the "Smallville" cliffhangers were even better than the "DH" ones.

    upload_2018-1-7_13-40-19.jpeg
    Little could go wrong with such a Super-Cast!

    10´s: "Revenge" probably would be the jewel in the crown, because of its boldness to embrace the primetime soap when nobody was doing it, to create a CGI world of its own with that fake Hamptons´ universe, and to put together a flawless original cast that made believable its very unbelievable premise...and for 4 years no less, despite the lameness of certain low points. Of course, casting Madeleine Stowe as the local bitch was as much a triumph as choosing such a talented young lady as Emily VanCamp as her nemesis (or was it the other way around?).

    [​IMG]
    Victydia: the love couple that never was

    Aside from "Revenge" (which also had a big quota of beautiful people to dream about, by the way...), and the ultra soapy "Scandal", the 10´s have given us so far hit-and-miss shows like "Ringer", "Blood & Oil", "Lone Star", "MP 2.0" (or whatever they named it), "Sexy Dirty Money" and, well, also "Empire" and TNT "Dallas". All of them had potential in one way or another but ended up ruining it.

    upload_2018-1-7_13-54-20.jpeg
    Who else wants a well-executed sequel to this?

    upload_2018-1-7_13-57-18.jpeg upload_2018-1-7_13-52-54.jpeg upload_2018-1-7_13-56-38.jpeg
    Oh pretty people, we hardly knew ye...!

    Only the first season of "Empire" can stand on its own from beginning to end, since now its creators seem only concerned about stunt casting and promoting hip-hop music. Sure they can cook up good cliffhangers, but not much more. They don´t still know how lucky they are to have Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard.

    [​IMG]

    TNT "Dallas" might have gone the route of those early canceled shows mentioned above. IMO we didn´t know what we had until we lost it, and we lost it in the worst possible way, with a pathetic Season 3 that only had 3 or 4 fine episodes and the great as usual acting by Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, & Josh Henderson. It was "Dallas" in WS, digital image, shot in the same exteriors of Southfork and Dallas, and with no recasts. If something doesn´t work, try to fix it instead of making it worse and worse. Shoot (so to say) the showrunner and find a better one. And please don´t tease us with new storylines if there are no chances to come back.

    [​IMG]
    All that wasted (screen) time...
    ...we could have watched real Ewing stuff!

    I won´t talk about CW´s "Dienasty" because I only watched the Pilot (give me back that hour of my life!), and have nothing good to say about it. And, like any good Southern Mama would say, "if you don´t have anything good to say, don´t say anything at all!".

    upload_2018-1-7_14-12-24.jpeg upload_2018-1-7_14-8-11.jpeg
    Yes, they looked good. And they were good, but not enough for "them"...

    And now I go back to where I started: the soaps that pretend to be quality dramas and not soaps. I could make a long list of them but the most obvious choices are: the excellent "Big Love" (a Mormon version of "Knots Landing"), the now controversial "House of Cards" (an update of the consummate corrupt that was J.R. Ewing in Kevin Spacey´s role), the already mentioned "Bloodline" (a new "Flamingo Road", maybe?), and I´d even dare to mention the soapiness implicit in such (apparently) non-soapy products as "Game of Thrones", "Mad Men", "Billions", or "The Americans" (did anybody else think of how well the protagonists would have fit in KL´s cul-de-sac instead of the Williamses?).

    I haven´t had the chance to watch other shows like "Sisters", "Savannah" or others from the 90's. But I did discover recently the second and very last season of "Secrets & Lies", which is a combo of "Dynasty" and TNT "Dallas" (with, ahem, Jordana Brewster herself thrown - literally - at us in the first scene!). Give it a try if you want to have fun with the most messed up family of the decade - it´s only 10 episodes!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I meant that as a compliment in regards to Bloodline -- it really is a great watch!
     
  18. Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas

    Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Sure it is, though I don´t know if I´d have survived to see a 4th season, because it was harder and harder to root for anybody in that story (and not get depressed with them...). Not that the writers intended that, I guess. By the way, what did you think of that penultimate episode of "Bloodline", @James from London? (Spoiler-free, if possible)
     
  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    I've only watched the first two seasons so far.
     
  20. Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas

    Miss Piggy and Toni's Very Glamorous Christmas Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    As they say, it´s more of the same, in a good sense. You won´t miss anything...or anybody, if you know what I mean. The cast is as solid as always, and the Florida set equally nightmarish. Oh and the Netflixes are SO cheap...

    [​IMG]
    Gotta love this!
     

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