This week I only watched Monday’s double episode. I decided at the end of it that I’m leaving the Street. Not forever – I hope. But for now, until something changes that makes it enjoyable for me to watch again.
Since the late 1980s, I’ve watched consistently. I have loved it, and I’ve despaired of it. I’ve suffered through executive producers who were hell-bent on remaking it into something else. I have celebrated when it got back on track. Over those decades, I’ve watched it get more like an American soap. Younger and more beautiful actors taking centre stage. More explosive storylines, more action, less nuance of daily life of regular people. And I’ve stuck with it.
But the past few months, I’ve more often found myself looking at the clock, wondering if it will be over soon. Looking at the remote, particularly the fast-forward button. Realizing I’m a couple episodes behind, oh dear, when will I be able to catch up. Thinking ‘get off my screen’ about too many characters.
Make time for small moments as well as big stories. That’s what executive producer Kate Oates said they would do with that extra episode. But that’s not what I’ve seen. Scads of new characters, high drama and PSA teaching storylines instead. I’m tired of it. Not any of those things individually, just all of them all the time.
Soap + Crime thriller + Sitcom
Monday’s second episode bounced between three different genres. Crime thriller with Phelan free and threatening again. Soap opera with Robert leaving Michelle and their wedding in the lurch. “Just talk to her, ya plank!” I said, without enthusiasm. So many soap clichés lately, you can’t even care. A sitcom scenario with Rosie, Gemma and somebody new planning the entrapment of somebody else new. (See today’s Scene of the Week for these three scenes.)
Public Service Announcements
David and male rape – a well done and valuable education story, yes. But we haven’t even dealt fully with the suicide and mental health PSA of Aiden. The spectre of grooming and sexual abuse still hovers over Bethany.
Robert still has ongoing storylines of a) testicular cancer and b) steroid use. (There’s also Michelle’s Lost and Found sons – straight out of How to Write a Soap Opera.) And remember Billy and his pain-induced heroin use? Has he had a miracle cure for both injury and addiction?
Way too many issues to explore in depth and realistically in terms of the characters’ lives. Plus it’s tiring to watch. Particularly now, when watching the news is a full out emotional rollercoaster ride, Coronation Street would be a nice place to go for a bit of respite.
Leaving for a bit of rest
I don’t think it can feel that much different in the UK than in Canada. Here we have Trump and his bully rants about trade tariffs. In the UK, you have that, as well as Brexit. Exhausting just keeping up. So to also need a score card to keep up with Corrie? No. I can’t do anything about real world politics. But I can control entertainment viewing. If Coronation Street has become as frustrating to watch as the news, it’s time to switch it off.
I am not advocating that Corrie opt out of the real world and become a bastion of old-fashioned cozy Britain. Just slow down a bit and return to your roots – in both story and storytelling methods. Coronation Street is not a crime drama, sitcom or American soap. It’s not a pulpit or a classroom. It’s a neighbourhood. When it goes back to that, I will be back with bells on!