January 29, 2006


What’s more disturbing:

Members of the public who look to soap operas for medial guidance?


Medical researchers who look to soap operas as a comparative benchmark for real life medical outcomes?

Which brings us to our first prediction for 2006: more money than ever before will be wasted on more research even sillier than that which has come before.

Yes, a group of medical researchers actually felt the need to “prove” that medical outcomes on soap operas are absurd; not based on the real world; improbable; impossible; stupid; ridiculous. Call it what you will, apparently they felt compelled to establish and quantify the obvious within the boundaries of formal scientific methodology.

Why didn’t they just ask a dozen people who have watched soap operas? Cheap, quick, same result and they could have moved onto researching something of value – after a restful coffee break – by, ooooh, around 9.15 am.

The enquiring minds looked at the crème de le crème of soapies, the American day time soaps: General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless. Medical emergencies, twists and turns, frequent miracles, along with a startlingly common number of resurrections, are daily hallmarks of these shows.

That any person felt compelled to prove that the medical outcomes on these shows are not worth a can of beans is rather sillier than the shows themselves, and the researchers should be deeply ashamed.

Or, at the very least, they should be kidnapped by an obscenely rich Arabian Prince, declared dead for a period of a least 10 years, all the while being indulged and pampered and living in luxury, while being held against their will, before making a daring escape and returning to their loved ones with fewer wrinkles and bigger lips than previously thought imaginable. Then, after the initial shock of their return, and having sorted out the odd case of bigamy, everyone gets to carry on as if nothing ever happened. Amazingly, and this is quite odd, no-one ever seems to have inherited or spent anyone’s estate while they were busy being “dead” for years on end, and, we presume, even their drivers license and ATM card is still sitting just where they last left it, thus making their transition back into their old life both psychologically and financially glitch-free.

Alternatively, they could all be thrown down an abandoned mine shaft, where for three long and hungry years they live on nothing but several drops of muddy water, while slowly building a ladder woven from strands of their own hair, which eventually allows them to climb out and return to the world, and back to their car keys and families, etc, waiting almost exactly as they last left them.

Now, back to the studies findings: would you believe that in real life, coma patients almost never recover, but in soapies they almost always do? Gasp! Yes, it’s true!

Various comparative statistics are provided to establish this fact, for example, only 8% of soapie coma patients died, versus a 67% death rate in real life; and all of the soapie patients recover fully from their trauma – having first regained consciousness – compared to less than 10% of real patients who managed to fully recover their health. (Sorry, the link I had is now dead; feel free to find your own URLs.)

I know, I know, this research could be considered a public service announcement, of sorts, to correct false beliefs; to make people aware that being in a coma is quite a serious business; and to ensure that the public don’t expect their doctors and surgeons to perform daily miracles. But, that’s twaddle.

Let’s face it: if you end up in a coma – well, you’re not going to be in much of a position to start challenging your doctor about his diagnosis of the likely outcome are you? Similarly, your relatives and friends are unlikely to be demanding to know if the members of your medical team all saw that episode where Tammy’s little finger twitched, after her being in a coma for 18 months, and the very next day she was sitting up in bed drinking Diet Coke and flirting outrageously with her sister’s former husband who was now married to their step-mother; and on the third day she was walking in the sunshine, her lithe and lovely limbs more lithe and lovely than ever, with not an atrophied muscle within camera shot, and not a shiny hair out of place. (Just a quick recap for the confused - Tammy was in a coma for 18 mths, not down a well for 3 yrs, therefore, she did not need to make a ladder, and her hair was intact).

No, I don’t think many people would be doing a quick run through their encyclopedic knowledge of soap opera medical outcomes if a real person was in a coma. Quite frankly, I think they would have more important things on their mind. A crisis in the real world is like that: a real dampener on any inclination to be flibbertigibbety, or to be dwelling on the latest dramas in the lives of Ridge, or Rock, or Thorn, or Moss, or Brooke, or Sea Urchin, or Fern (yeah, The Bold & The Beautiful was always ahead of its time – they had a whole eco-system going on long before the environment became everyone’s bestest friend.)


  1. Anonymous5:19 PM

    God! I just woke up from a coma but now I have amnesia! I'm supposed to be this wealthy air to a large fortune but my dreaded uncle keeps on putting me behind bars. Now he made me think I was his man servant. Oooh the tragedy!

  2. Anonymous5:20 PM

    wealthy heir--freaking typo

  3. Yeap, that happens all the darned time - don't you just hate it?

    Worse still, he's probably not your uncle, he's probably your "real" father.

  4. I think their efforts would be put to much better use to explore the dynamics of the Corby family.

  5. Captain - one of the half-sisters expressed the thought that they were "just like the Brady Bunch"; she seemed to be of the view that this was a good thing.

  6. I always wondered how on the Bold and the Beautiful Taylor managed die several years ago of some serious medical complaint and now she's back.

    I put it down to poor script writing but now I what's really to blame - bad medical advice!

    -- Nora

  7. Nora - actually Taylor managed to "die" twice. The first time she was held prisoner by an Arab Prince, or something along those lines, assumed dead, and came back serveral years later. I missed quite a few years of the show, so don't know anything about how she "died" the second time, or how she came back - she just kinda turned up.

    I think the most pressing question is how much more filler could her lips take without them exploding? (I'm betting about 0.5 mls for top lip; and around 0.25 for lower lip.)

  8. Hmm, Caz, methinks you watch too much daytime soap...


    -- Nick