I'm not ashamed to admit that I arrange most of my life around the telly. I watch four soap operas; two daily, and two that are shown on alternate days. This perhaps portrays me as a dullard, but I couldn't be any further from arsed. I am at my happiest when I read a spoiler which will have me clock-watching for a week, waiting and waiting until the day that finally, after two long years, Mark Brennan will be back in my life. I love watching relationships unfold, I love getting angry about things the writers haven't thought about (Tonight: "David, Kylie, Gail, Nick and Leanne are ALL in the Bistro! WHO is looking after Max?! WHO?!") and I love the ridiculous, yet often beautifully prominent storylines.
After many a failed attempt at getting into critically acclaimed shows such as Mad Men, The Wire and The Sopranos, I always return to the soap opera. Soap opera is the mistress that just keeps on draggin' me back in, no matter how many times I tell her to put her pants on and go home, please.
Although mainstream television has positively addressed issues with sexuality, discrimination and hate crime, there still seems to be one thing it seriously lacks: personality diversity. Everyone is just so dull. We are a country which celebrates art culture perhaps more than any other country on the planet, yet none of this is reflected on prime-time television soap operas. There are no female TV characters that I get excited about anymore; not like previously, where television has created some of the most interesting females of our generation.
Since the age of seven, I have been in love with Zack Morris. From the moment we could afford digital television, he has had my heart and will forever more. However, the flame I will forever hold for Zack Morris will always be beaten by my undying love and admiration for my Queen: Jessica Myrtle Spano.
Jessie Spano is everything I wish to be in life. She's intelligent, she's beautiful, and most of all, she's an angry feminist. She points out the everyday sexism that is usually so celebrated in teenage television, she consistently discusses the womens' rights movement, and she refused to take Slater's surname in the school's mock-marriage project. And she does all this whilst still enjoying fashion and sports (like all feminists do, it's just the rest of the world thinks we don't.) She is the dream. And the best thing about her is that she isn't perfect, because no feminist is. Television writers and producers are scared of introducing feminism to mainstream TV due to fear of backlash from the poisonous lad culture that is slowly decaying our society; but for crying out loud, Saved By The Bell was one of the most successful teen-programmes of all time. Feminism can work on TV and it fucking well should. We need another Jessie Spano on TV to educate and remold the real-life AC Slaters of the 21st century.
But like I said, it's not just the lack of feminism on TV, it's the lack of any personality whatsoever. There's no quirks that will make you fall in love with a character; there's no girls that suffer from rage blackouts and talk to plastic horses like Summer Roberts. It's either geek or chic; there's no in between, no substance. It's boring. Because after all, the TV characters that stand the test of time are the ones that have depth. Sometimes, I want to know what type of music Abbie Branning likes, or I want to know what British-Indian shop owner Dev Alahan thinks of the Tory government. I mean, what's David Cameron going to do, sue Coronation Street? These soap operas are supposed to be portraying the lives of working class people, so shouldn't the storylines reflect the real social struggles of the working class rather than leaving it to the likes of Channel 4's propaganda nonsense, Skint?
Of course, there are more important things going on in our country. But when we all spend 4 hours a day in front of the telly, how can anyone suggest the things that we watch don't affect our everyday lives? In fifteen years time, I just want to be able to say "I have been in love with *insert character name* since I was 20", the same way that I am with Zack Morris today. Well, not in exactly the same way. Like I said, I'll never love anyone as much as I love Zack Morris.