I was raised on the American soap opera. Mostly CBS soap operas. That means I grew up watching The Young and the Restless, As the World Turns, Guiding Light and The Bold and the Beautiful. I had a slight flirtation of General Hospital in college, watching for three years before taking a break never to return but I keep up. I loved and hated all the characters that ran through the television screen and into my life. I enjoyed reading the soap magazines to hear what others were thinking about my favorite and hated storylines.
As I grew up, those magazines remained (most of the soaps did not) but added to that was social media. It started out on message boards, moved to fanfiction.net, then LiveJournal then Twitter, Tumblr, and Achieve of Ours. Since then soaps have changed, well the American ones at least. The ratings fell, and so did its existence.
Since then, I have moved on. British soap operas are catching my eye. Emmerdale, in particular. Well, Robert and Aaron are what caught my eye. The rest of my love for the show came with time. Anyway, with that came a new fandom. An intense fandom is full of different personalities and opinions. Full of talented and smart people A fandom that is loud and very proud of those different views and talents. Which is great. When things are going well. This is what I’ve seen in the Robron fandom and where I stand on it.
Echo Chamber of the Freak Out
Ah. Social media is great to meet likeminded people. Get those opinions out, so it does not sit there in your brain taking away space you need (I know that is not how the mind works, it just feels that way sometimes). It can be a lot of fun to be part of a television fandom. Getting other viewpoints on a scene or character. What is even more fun? Talking speculation and spoilers….until it is not.
Social media has a tendency to make one person’s worry or anger echo. All it takes is one popular account to get upset or overexcited, and the effect is heard from Twitter to the most primitive of message boards. The echo chamber is quite strong in the Robron fandom. This is not a new phenomenon but can be trying when people get upset about every little thing every day.
Stop the Hate
With the echo chamber comes the echoed opinions. Different opinions are needed. That is what makes a fandom interesting. However, fandom is not fun when people are attacking each other or attacking the actors or workers on a show. Why am I beating around the bush here? I have seen it more and more with Emmerdale lately. Not on Tumblr, this is showing up on Twitter. That echo chamber causes people to lash out more because they feel they have some backing if someone challenges them. I have fallen into that trap before. It is not pretty especially when you look back after the anger has passed.
Spoilers and You
Spoilers are a must in the soap world. It keeps us aware of what is coming, what to get excited about and what to prepare for. Let’s just say that on spoiler days, things get crazy. People freak, get excited or go back to their fanfiction they were reading.
Spoilers are not new. I remember waiting excitedly for my Soap Opera Digest to arrive so I could know if Michelle and Danny were getting back together that week! (Look it up, kids). It was fun to think about what would happen. Now? It is like a battlefield. Spoilers come out from numerous sources trying to get our attention. So, they click bait, they scare, they embellish, and that gets everyone upset. It becomes less of a report of what is to come and more of a death march to freak out land.
Where I Stand
I feel like the fandom is feeling torn. Some are offended by the current storyline. Offended enough to stop watching. Some are offended over how it got started. The fact the show will not cover consent, how quickly we went from a big high to a major low and the abuse Robert and Aaron have gone through. People are getting letters from Leon the intern, people are arguing with each other over tiny differences of opinion and people are threatening the official social media account.
Here is where I stand. This story sucks. It does. It feels like we are in the pit after being at the highest of highs. There are pacing, writing and general lack of communication problems. However, things aren’t that bad. Seriously. Let me explain.
The framework of this story is classic soap. What is interesting and changes the game are the players in the story. Not only are they not following the standard script they are changing up the game. Robert is growing. Not only did he have to get drunk, thought he was broken up with Aaron and have no contact with him for the cheating to happen, he immediately regretted it, told Chas and even told Aaron because he knew he should not because someone pressured him into it. Aaron still has to grow, but I see it coming with this individual story. Rebecca…sigh…I am sorry to say was screwed over. I cannot stand her. I do not like her. I do not have to like her. Not liking her does not make me anti-women. It does not make me a terrible person. She is a poorly written character. I can only judge her based on what we have seen from her not what we wish we seen from her as a character. That is where the fandom divides. I know what people wanted to see from her, but it’s not there. Stop pretending it is. Take her at face value. That is what the writers do. They only take her at face value to push the Robert and Aaron story forward. That is where this classic soap story goes off course. Rebecca is not a factor. Robert will not magically fall for her because she is carrying his child. She is a mistake, and that mistake has consequences that are going to stick. Like we have been told by so many people in the past year, Robert always gets away unscathed. Now, he is has been struck. He loves Aaron with all his heart, and that will not change anytime soon.
Which brings me to the baby. The baby is not really a factor. Yes, Robert will step up and try. Why? He is not a monster. Of course, he would love his baby (until that DNA test is done we can always assume something is up) and want to take care of him or her. Doesn’t make him love Aaron any less. There is a difference between loving a kid and loving your partner or spouse. The baby causes drama that the two of them must get through. They will falter and fall but ultimately find their way back and even stronger than ever, regardless if a child is there are not.
This brings me to some fan issues. Everyone has the right to be angry. Everyone has the right to hate what is happening. To take it out on other fans though, I have a problem with that. I do not agree with a lot of opinions, but I do not question those opinions. I let people have them and move on with my life. That includes some of the options on Iain MacLeod. I personally don’t think he is bad at all. In fact, I am thankful he has shown up. Why? He turned Robert into a well-rounded character. He let Robert make mistakes and grow from those mistakes. He let Robert start talking about his bisexuality. He was allowed to be there for Aaron in a way that he was not during the Kate Oates era. I think people forget that Kate had turned Robert into a one-dimensional villain that never intended for Aaron and Robert to become something bigger than an affair. It might seem like Iain is putting Robert and Aaron through the ringer but without him, we would not even be here right now. Both are fantastic storytellers, but Iain is the one to bring us the biggest events that made Robron what Robron is. I believe he loves them. I really do. As someone who has heard a ton of showrunners talks about couples, I have never heard the phrase “soulmates” come out of their mouths. Iain does care. People are allowed to disagree. I just think he is going through a rough patch right now. They will right the ship soon. I believe all of these parallels and themes popping up in the show have a reason. We will not get answers right away, but I think this will all come to a satisfying conclusion.
As for spoilers and freak outs. Its ok to be scared for what is coming. Morale is low right now, so every little thing creates drama. Sometimes certain Twitter accounts love the attention, so they make spoilers seem bigger than they appear. Sometimes spoilers look one way on the page and play out a different way on screen. Shall I bring up the spoiler that Aaron will ditch Robert to hang with Adam? PLEASE. Adam wanted to hang with Robert in the end. In fact, that part of the scene was great. Sometimes it is easier to read the spoilers, shrug and wait for everything to play out on screen. It is fun to speculate (I should know) but don’t take it so far that it ruins the enjoyment of the story or show.
The last point I want to cover. The threatening of leaving the fandom. If you are upset by the story or show just leave for a while. No one is stopping you. When you are emotionally ready to come back, we will be here welcoming you with open arms. You do not have to make others leave with you. I know if I were so upset that I tell off a Twitter account run by people outside of the show every day, I would take a break. For my own sanity. Doesn’t mean other people have the same problems or low tolerance level.
I know it is hard and this storyline sucks, but I feel like everyone is jumping to conclusions way too easily these days. I feel like we need to let this play out. Let all the players they put on the storyboard play their parts. It is a story. When you read a novel or watch a movie, do you get all the pieces or understand the plot right away? No. You must keep going and let the story play out. Same with Emmerdale and Robron. Just need to keep a positive attitude, keep talking things out with fellow fans if you are frustrated and just let the story play out. Have faith. Things will get worse before it gets better but I see it getting better.
If it does not? We can all blame Intern Leon. (wink)
So, take this with a grain of salt. I am just someone who grew up watching soaps and understand what is required of a soap to keep moving forward. The plots do not always go to plan. Fans push back. However, sometimes fans get a surprise. The only way we can know if this story will turn out a surprise is if we keep watching and supporting the show. Social Media has made fan panic louder than ever, but we have each other to talk to now when things get bad. Let us use those conversations on social media to be a bit more positive and supportive and we will be ok.