I Read A Book: Soap Opera Divas Paper Dolls

by Keidra Chaney

A couple of things first: I didn’t so much read this book as I oohed and ahhed over it. Also, this isn’t so much a paper doll book as it is a paper museum of a long-vanished segment of pop culture. It’s been three years since the cancellation of All My Children and One Life To Live essentially put the final nail in the coffin of the soap opera as a genre, but it seems like longer, because the slow decline of the soap opera started at least a decade before. Still, there’s still a couple of generations worth of soap fans out there that carry the cultural memories of these shows (and the history, passed down from grandmas, aunts, and friends). This book is a fascinating walk down memory lane for anyone old enough to remember who Eileen Fulton, Robin Strasser, and Linda Dano are.

However, a hardcore soap fan may come away disappointed from the fashion choices. Many of the clothes are actually pretty dowdy, and I can’t help but note that it may have to do with the choice of actresses. Susan Lucci and Deirdre Hall are certainly A-list soap divas but it’s the B and C-list soap divas/villains that have traditionally had the most memorable outfits: Lucy Coe from General Hospital  and her red wedding dress; Reva Lewis from Guiding Light and her red “slut” dress; Trisha from Loving and her hideous wedding monstrosity.

Trisha and Trucker’s wedding. I mean seriously, look at this hot mess.

There are only 13 actresses in the book, so there’s not enough room for everyone, clearly, but in this case, I imagine classic soap outfits would be of more interest than  the actresses themselves. Honestly, if there was ever a sequel to this book, a Classic Soap Weddings book would be my recommendation. I actually might play with that, seriously.

Of course, this also begs the question of who exactly this book is for. Contemporary children probably don’t play with paper dolls (or paper anything, I would imagine, in the iPad age) and anyone old enough to remember who Linda Dano is  certainly too old to actually play with paper dolls (even though I totally understand the temptation.) Is there an active paper doll collector community out there? I’m not being facetious, I actually don’t know, and would love to hear from someone about it.

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