Wow, to me...

”SOAP is the story of two sisters . . .Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell. Jessica lives in a neighborhood known as . . . rich. Jessica loves life. The only thing about life that she would change, if she could, is that she would set it all to music. The Tates have more secrets than they do money.

We're coming to Mary's house now. Mary too, loves life. Unfortunately, life doesn't seem to be too crazy about her. The Campbells don't have nearly as much money as the Tates. They do, however, have as many secrets."

So began the introduction of the groundbreaking and controversial TV comedy show that went by the name of Soap. It aired for four seasons on ABC from 1977 through 1981. If you,re lucky, you can still catch a couple episodes every now and then on Comedy Central.

The show, created by Susan Harris, (also creator of Benson and The Golden Girls) was an over the top spoof of soap opera’s. It got some advanced publicity (notoriety?) when Newsweek published an article (inaccurately) stating that the debut episode was to depict a Catholic priest being seduced inside a confessional booth. Needless to say, religious groups were in an uproar and advertisers went scurrying for cover. But the witch hunt was on and the show was moved outside of the so-called “family hour” and was forced to carry one of those parental discretion notices. This failed to prevent it from attracting a loyal viewing audience.

Based in Dunn’s River Connecticut, the show focuses on two families, the Campbells and the Tates. Let’s take a brief look at each starting with…

The Campbells

The middle class ones of the clan. Mary was married to Burt who was impotent. They had a gay son named Jodie and another son named Danny who was a small time mobster. As the show progressed, Burt’s son named Bob moved in. Bob was a ventriloquist who relied on his dummy named Chuck to do most of the talking for him.

The Tates

The rich ones. Jessica Tate was married to an unethical, disloyal stockbroker by the name of Chester. Their kids were Billy, later abducted by a religious cult, and daughters Corrine and Eunice who later had affairs with senators and priests. The butler was Benson who later had a show of his own as a result of his success on Soap.

What made it controversial? C’mon, who wouldn’t like a show that had the following themes.

Folks, that just a partial list of the events that shaped the lives of the Campbells and the Tates. For a full listing and a few laughs I highly a recommend

Main Cast of Characters

Katherine Helmond as Jessica Tate
Cathryn Damon as Mary Campbell
Robert Mandan as Chester Tate
Richard Mulligan as Burt Campbell
Billy Crystal as Jodie Dallas
Ted Wass as Danny Dallas
Diana Canova as Corinne Tate Flotsky
Robert Guillaume as Benson
Jennifer Salt as Eunice Tate Lightner
Jimmy Baio as Billy Tate
Arthur Peterson as The Major
Jay Johnson as Chuck / Bob Campbell

That probably doesn’t do the show justice as there were many other characters interspersed throughout the life of the show that were memorable in some way or another.

In closing, if you get a chance, by all means take a look at the show. I doubt something could be aired today that matches the writing and the issues that Soap tackled during its all too brief run.