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Friday 22 January 2010

Soap Cliches

I've been watching soaps a long time, most of my life in fact. I like to make predictions based on all those years of experience because let's face it, there are only so many stories to be told and retold. They mostly all have the same basic plot rules but perhaps unfold in different ways. Coronation Street is no different and pretty much always follows the standard.

There's the Soap Opera Phrase of Doom. You know the one. A couple, seemingly having it all, exclaiming "Oh I'm so happy, and we'll be together forever" or "We're perfect for each other" or "What could possibly happen?"... something like that. WHAP! You know for certain that some vile disaster is going to hit them and it won't take long.

And, of course, soaps have certain rules and Standard Soap Opera Plots (SSOP). Murderers never get away with it (Tracy Barlow. There was never a doubt no matter how many endings they filmed!). The initial suspect of a murder is never the person that did it, especially if they've been overheard threatening to kill the victim at some point or has a cirumstantially good motive (Which is why, though apparently Gail will be a suspect for Joe's murder, she'll be exonerated). There will always be love triangles and quadrangles. Two people that start out hating each other will invariably fall for each other (Tina and nuNick?). There's always one person that's a perennial loser in love (Curly Watts!) but usually they will hit the jackpot in the end. Even the villain (or layabout, ignoramus or similar) has a good side, usually love for his/her children or spouse. (Eddie does love his wife and son even if he is a waster and a tosser!) There's always one couple on a soap that genuinely has a happy marraige/relationship, these are usually the "Matriarch/patriarch" figures (Roy and Hayley). Women are the stronger characters because historically, women make up the majority of viewers.

And in American soaps, at least, nobody ever dies. Even if you see the body, don't bet on it, especially if it's a villain or a hero/ine! Also in American soaps, children grow up in leaps and bounds, usually after being sent to a Swiss boarding school. I'm glad Corrie doesn't do that (Oh yes, I know they have, but they've never aged a child beyond a couple of years, not really noticeable like sending a child to school at 8 and bringing them back a year later aged 16 and full of hormonal resentment.)

What are the Corrie cliches which come to mind? Gail will always forgive her children, no matter what they've done and usually doesn't think what they've done is all that bad anyway! Hayley will always find something good in the worst of people. Roy will always tell you some unknown trivial fact about nearly anything! When really annoyed with someone, a drink will be tossed over that someone's head in the pub in front of everyone! There will always be argy bargys in the middle of the street between two warring women. What are some Corrie cliches you've noticed over the years?


Dishwasher Crab said...

1. If someone leaves the Street in a taxi it means they've gone for good.

2. If they go by bus, it means they are coming back.

3. No-one has ever, ever used the Metrolink, even though it is just around the corner and even features in the opening credits. (Once Emily set out to catch a tram, but something happened and she came home again. I don't think that counts.)

4. Nobody ever goes to the airport to see someone off or to bring them home. The best you'll get is someone saying goodbye when you catch the bus to the airport. They're not a very caring bunch.

Tvor said...

Well spotted! Only Streetcars gets to go to the airport or train station!

Scopec said...

This might not be a cliche, but it's something that always happens:

There are never any cars parked outside the houses, unless someone needs to go somewhere in the car, or the car is part of the plot. A real terraced street has cars lining both sides!

Another cliche is that a recovering alcoholic will always order Orange Juice in a pub.

Anonymous said...

More rules of Corrie:
The factory girls live on lager, chips, fry-ups, kebabs and cakes, but are never heard discussing their weight gains, health, or slimming diets.

Any marriage is likely to fly to bits after a few months over trivial issues or non-issues.

Characters introduced to the show as aggressive, unbearable scum of the earth will rapidly mellow into loveable scamps - and vice versa. Unless they are on 1 to 3 month contracts, when they are allowed to be Passing Villains.

Children who are the victims of head transplants always come back better looking and sexier.

One could go on.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, go on! I love these cliches and sight gags! Esp. the diet of chips, fry-ups, kebobs, etc..don't forget all that drinking -- and nothing about diet/exercise from the skinny ones. But Anna goes to dance class, Liz at one time went to a fitness club....hahaha!

So where do they store all their cars?? Everyone seems to have cars, but there's a thriving taxi business called Streetcars. No one's got a backyard big enough to have a garage? :-)

All the women do their make-up in the kitchen dining table

Everyone has a loveseat sofa in their flats.

Oh, there must be more...

Ena's Hairnet said...

Why when there are fantastic clubs and nightlife in nearby Manchester, everyone especially the young ones spend their time in the Rovers and always have their wedding receptions, birthday parties there.

Why when there is a wedding, Christmas or birthday celebration there are no friends or family members there, just the neighbours?

Why when there is a big secret do people discuss it in a loud voice in a public place when the person concerned is often within earshot?

Why when people have meetings with solicitors, financial advisers, bank managers etc they have them in the Rovers instead of the privacy of their own homes.

Why do they buy bacon butties, breakfasts, teas and coffees from Roy’s Rolls a few doors away when they could make them in their own homes for a fraction of the price.

gab said...

they can always afford a drink in the pub while moaning how skint they are(factory girls inparticular)

they all have jobs within walking distance of where they live

thats mostly everyone in the street

Tvor said...

Real estate deals and wills are settled within a week.

The car thing always bugged me too!

People going on holiday or leaving the show always pack their suitcases downstairs in the middle of the room!

Defrost Indoors said...

Everyone's got a bar fridge instead of a normal-sized one.

We rarely, if ever, see a scene set in one of the upstairs rooms of the terraced houses.

Pets seem to come and go depending on plot needs.

There are always unknown women wandering around in the background of the factory, but usually the only ones we see sewing are the ones we know.

Unknown said...


- If a couple is out, and red wine is served, it's to be know that there will be some action. If it's white wine, then it's not happening.

- If there's a fight, it's often on the cobbles!

- Female characters are always shooting down male characters that you know they'll end up in bed with. (this could be real life too)

- Ken will always have a problem when things don't go his way!

- Mother and daughters-in-law almost never get along.

- Most new characters come to the street and are not well-received by the rest, but eventually Corrians warm to them.

Billy Niblick said...

1. No-one ever talks about money on Corrie. Especially when starting a new job, no discussion ever takes place about hours of work, wages, or any other terms and conditions. A typical job imterview consists of: "You want a job? Start Monday."

2. The Rovers Return is the only pub in the country where there is ALWAYS a seat (with a table) readily available, no matter how busy the pub may be, for any principal character that walks in.

3. Childen are always utterly compliant and instantly obedient when adults need to talk, with NO dissent whatsoever. It's not normal. See "Simon/Amy - go and brush your teeth."

Tvor said...

Ooh yes i should have mentioned the red wine cliche!!!

debbie in toronto said...

1)someone is always bringing a giant bouquet of flowers wrapped in celo to someone who most likely doesn't keep it
2)they are forever going on two week long holidays ..where do they get the money?


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