For many years, the intelligence of soap operas has been debated and questioned. Too many people buy into the common stigma that soap operas are for the mindless. These people are sorely misinformed. A good soap is not about watching a heterogeneous, hodgepodge of bad acting, slapping, over dramatic histrionics, murder and sex, while eating a tub of dessert bonbons, but so much more. Those who don't believe in the intelligence of a soap need only watch a single episode of "Desperate Housewives."
For those who live under rock and do not what "Desperate Housewives" is, it is the story of five women who are friends (sometimes), narrated by their deceased neighbor.
"Housewives" is such a success that ABC is now rolling out two more soaps, "Dirty, Sexy, Money" and "Big Shots" during primetime viewing for the new TV season. Though none of these can compare to "Desperate Housewives," the snowball effect of the soap is clear.
Some may claim that the plot of "Desperate Housewives" is made simply to shock and titillate. This may be a large part of "Housewives" allure, but it is so much more complex than that. The subject matter in its self is a quintessence of complexity. What has more dimensions and emotions than a woman's mind? What is more political and complicated than the inner workings of a group of female friends? Nothing.
Besides, all the greatest sitcoms in history had a simple plot. "Seinfeld," a top rated sitcom from the 90s that ran for nine seasons, was about the lives of four people in New York. "Cheers," was about the lives of three people set in a bar. "Friends" was the story of six people set in a coffee shop. "Desperate Housewives," is the story of five women in the suburbs.
If anything the sitcom has been dumbed down. Nowadays, every sitcom has been boiled down to nothing but a bunch of fat guys, sitting in front of television, eating chips, who somehow snagged extremely attractive wives. For example, "According to Jim," "King of Queens," and "Everybody Loves Raymond" (Ray's a lightweight) to name a few.
No, nothing tops the brilliance of a soap opera. Trying to remember who's in love with who, who's slept with who and why, how many teens are pregnant, which character is a suicidal-psychopath-killer and all the intricate reasons these people are they way they are and do what they do requires copious amounts of thought and reasoning. After watching an episode of "Desperate Housewives," you should feel intellectually exhausted from the elaborate plot.
So, my dear readers, soap operas do not have to be the irresistible mistress, the insatiable passion that you hide vigilantly from your friends and worship secretly in the safety of your own home, but your official and truly beloved spouse that you can adore in the open, because a soap opera is not for the brainless, but the brilliant.