My wife, during a business trip to Arizona, once sat in an aircraft next to the guy who now owns Southfork ranch, the place that achieved legendary status in the hit TV soap Dallas. Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch have this rather whimsical piece on how the show, despite portraying most people in business as either predatory villains (JR Ewing), or often losers (ie, anyone up against JR), was effective in inadvertently demonstrating the sheer, material wealth of US capitalism. I remember, as a teen, wanting to have a red Mercedes like Bobby Ewing.
Well, I don’t know how much you can really read into shows like this. I must say that Dallas was so full of outrageous storylines and crazy characters that it was compulsive viewing. My mum, bless her, was addicted to it. Watching it today is a bit scary – it reminds me of how far ago the early 1980s now seems.
What is true, though, is that the sort of aspirational message embedded in shows about rich people stands a universe apart from the depressing, tragic vision embodied in UK soaps like EastEnders. I once watched about half an episode of the latter show the other day. It is about 20 minutes of my life I shall never get back.
Meanwhile, here is an old post of mine about Italian daytime TV, which is, er, a phenomenon.