Candace Ganger
April 24, 2015 9:15 am

I’ve been watching daytime soaps since I was 7 years old. I love the twisted story lines, the love triangles, the ultra-complex relationships between friends and family and the OMG cliff hanger at the end of every show. There’s much to admire about daytime drama but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noted a, shall we say, discrepancy in the way things pan out on soap operas versus the way they go down in real life. Some of that is obvious—after all, when was the last time your wedding was called off by your soon-to-be-husband’s secret twin?—but others, well, they aren’t as clear. Here are some techniques that people in soap operas use for life that don’t work as well in real life

Staring at someone for an awkwardly long time after they’ve asked you a question

If you’ve ever had someone ask you something you either a) don’t want to answer, b) don’t have an answer for, or c) want to dramatize for the sake of entertaining yourself, the daytime drama rule of thumb is to stare off into space until the next commercial break. Of course, if you do that IRL, the person that you’re talking with might think that you’re definitely not paying attention to what they’re saying. Example: “Hey, what do you want for lunch?” Long, deep stare “Um, OK, I guess I’ll just get tacos for myself then.”

Running into everyone you’ve ever known wherever you go

Soap operas have somewhat limited budgets, which means a lot of action tends to happen in the same place. That means that the same place holds all the conflict and all the meal options. I mean, they work out in the same area where they meet a friend for lunch, which also happens to be right next to the hotel where their exes are vacationing. Unfortunately, in the real world, it isn’t quite that convenient to run into everyone you know, everywhere you go. When I went to my local place for coffee, I did not see my ex or my brother, or discover that someone’s secret lover was also my father. What are you going to do?

Never, ever making new friends

It’s a small world in soap operas, and even smaller when you can only confide in, and fall for, your friend’s sibling or your ex’s brother or sister. With no outside friends or family to talk to, your options are extremely limited and you never know when someone will go “away on business” or worse—be replaced by another who only sort of looks the same. Your best bet is to wait until a mysterious person comes into town or make things work with an ex again. I hear 53rd time’s a charm. Of course in real life, you have options like making new friends and trying out OKCupid. It’s a lot more convenient that way.

Never worrying about runny mascara—not even when sobbing uncontrollably 

I don’t know about you, but I live in an imperfect world where humidity strikes hard, bra straps poke out, and mascara flakes down my face. In soap opera-land, these things just don’t happen. Bless the intrepid wardrobe and makeup people of daytime TV. But the last time things got that dramatic in my life? Let’s just say I did not look runway-ready.

Never REALLY working, despite having a pretty fancy job

In soap operas, you can be the CEO of a cosmetic company, a fashion designer, a scientist, or a super important doctor! You’ll also be working with everyone in town —including your bitter rival’s twin? No custodial openings or door-to-door salesmen here. But even though in real life those are jobs that require a lot of effort and time, soap opera employees mostly walk around having important and dramatic conversations. Not a bit of paperwork in sight.

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