I endured the chore of watching 'Joey' this week (and that's hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?) in order to see if it could help me in reconciling the view of daytime TV in prime time shows.
For many years, references to soap operas on Toobworld have been to fictional shows - 'As Thus We Are' (from 'Love, Sidney' - my all-time favorite fictional soap opera title), 'All Is Forgiven' (from the sitcom of the same name), 'Those Who Care' (from 'The New Dick Van Dyke Show'), 'The Days Of The Week' ('SCTV'), and 'As The Stomach Turns' ('The Carol Burnett Show').
(Personally, this is the type of show I prefer. I'd rather enrich the TV Universe with fictional materials to keep it distinct from the Real World.)
But lately, more and more shows are referring to real soap operas, mostly as punch lines on sitcoms. I guess they are trying to make it appear that their own shows are real while all the others are fake.
One recent example would be in the medical drama 'House'. Dr. House would rather be watching 'General Hospital' than working the clinic. And it he doesn't just limit it to the daytime soaps: "I don't need to watch the O.C., but it makes me happy."
A fictional character getting a job on an actual soap opera may have started with 'Love, Sidney', when Laurie Morgan was hired for four episodes of 'Another World' after doing a commercial for Amore Soap. After that, she moved on to play a sapphic homewrecker on the fictional 'A Time For Loving' before landing her big break in 'As Thus We Are'.
But it was Joey Tribbiani's stint(s) on 'The Days Of Our Lives' that has proved to have the biggest impact. As Dr. Drake Ramoray, his adventures on that Real World soap opera fueled several plots of 'Friends' and has been referenced several times on his spin-off, 'Joey'.
He has interacted with several actors from the soap who were portraying themselves, (and even the creator/writer for the show, James Reilly). But more often than not, we've met fictional actors who have no counterpart in our own world.
Best example from 'Friends'? Susan Sarandon appearing as Jessica Lockhart, the drama queen who was slated to be written off the show with a death scene. Her character's brain lived on in the body of Joey's character, Dr. Drake Ramoray.
This past week, Joey had one last shot at glory in connection to that gig on 'DOOL', as he sometimes called it. He was up for a Daytime Soap Award for best death scene. While at the awards dinner broadcast, we were introduced not only to other actors on 'Days Of Our Lives', but also to actors who were appearing in 'General Hospital', 'One Life To Live', and 'Passions'.
And all of them were fictional.
And based on the clips shown from their shows, the plotlines were also faked. For example, Dr. Ramoray was stabbed to death in the OR by his nurse who wanted to make sure he couldn't save the life of the patient. Had he really been a character on 'Days Of Our Lives', Reilly would have written him off during that year-long murder storyline in which major characters were bumped off in imaginative ways. As it turned out, the victims were all still alive, and being held prisoner on an island.
Since it was established on 'Friends' that James Reilly was no fan of Joey Tribbiani, it would have been easy to just leave his character of Dr. Drake Ramoray behind on that island.
So that's how we can avoid a Zonk when it comes to the mention of real-life soap operas in other shows. They may share the same title, but there is no real connection between the two versions.
Dr. House still Zonked with that mention of 'The O.C.' though. I would have given him a stern talking-to, but he scares me with that cane of his. Especially if he hasn't been taking his Vicodin......