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Supercouple

From Academic Kids

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DaysofOurLives1976.jpg
The first TIME cover devoted to soap operas: Dated January 12, 1976, Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes of Days of Our Lives are featured with the headline "Soap Operas: Sex and suffering in the afternoon".

A supercouple, in soap opera terms, is a couple on a program that becomes popular beyond the network's expectations and, in effect, becomes a de facto symbol for the show.

Usually, a typical supercouple storyline will involve the initial courtship of the couple, with the couple being kept apart by plot devices such as differing socio-economic backgrounds, family opposition, simple misunderstandings, marriages to other people, children with other people, etc. In the end, though, the two characters that make up the supercouple will usually reunite and marry. However, since the soap opera genre is neverending, there can be no happy ending unless both characters leave the show. As a result, after the usual fairytale wedding, if the supercouple remains on the show, they cannot live happily ever after as a couple in a fairytale would, but rather they are subjected to a continual cycle of being separated and reunited. As a result, this often leads to two characters of a supercouple divorcing and re-marrying each other several times, such as Cliff and Nina on All My Children, who were married four times and divorced three times during the 1980s.

While the term was not coined until the early 1980s, the first soap opera supercouple was Doug and Julie Williams on Days of Our Lives. From 1970 until 1976, the two characters wavered between love and animosity. The chemistry that the two actors exhibited became evident off-screen: the portrayers, Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth were married in 1974. Fans became emotionally invested in the possible couple, and thousands of people called NBC as well as their local affiliates to petition for the right for Doug and Julie to marry, since the actors were married already. NBC bowed to the popular pressure and the characters were married in October 1976.

Perhaps the most famous supercouple is that of Luke and Laura, played by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis on General Hospital. Their romance enthralled viewers and when they were married, daytime television recorded its highest ever ratings. The romance led other soap operas to try and copy the formula.

Shows such as Days of Our Lives and Santa Barbara along with the aforementioned General Hospital were known for their supercouples in the 1980s. The phenomenon even spread to foreign shores, with Scott Robinson, played by Jason Donovan and Charlene Ramsay played by Kylie Minogue on the Australian soap Neighbours generating an audience response similar to that of the supercouples on American soaps. While there are many popular couplings on soap operas today, very few earn the right to be called a supercouple by fans and the soap media alike. Usually, the term is reminiscient of the 1970s and 1980s (the so-called "golden age" of soap operas). As such, the few supercouples that are still on serials today were from the 1980s, or at the latest, the early 1990s. Shawn-Douglas Brady and Belle Black on Days of Our Lives would be a latter-day exception.

With the advent of message boards, fans have used abbreviated names for their favorite couples, including supercouples from the past. So, for example, Bo and Hope becomes "Bope", Shawn and Belle becomes "Shelle" and Sam and Amanda becomes "Samanda", and so on. This was parodied on The O.C., when Seth Cohen talked about real couples' overexposure to one another; he wondered whether or not his pairing would be called "Summereth" or "Sethummer".

Soap supercouples

Below is a list of soap opera supercouples, with articles corresponding to each.

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