Soap operas have had a long standing tradition of infidelity. From the very beginning homebound housewives were the targeted audience. Well, housewives and my dad on his lunchbreak. In the beginning, soap opera producers believed that women only wanted one thing in their stories : a good romance. A boy and a girl. Will they or won’t they? Seduction and love followed by a beautiful wedding. That was the point where interest in the couple usually drops off dramatically. Once a couple gets together, nobody cares anymore. The excitement was all in the anticipation so they needed to find a plot device to bring back that thrill of waiting to see what would happen. Hence, the affair.
Like the original boy meets girl, they met and there was attraction, connection and the return of ‘will they or won’t they?’ but now you had the added edge of ‘will they get caught?’
This is usually the point in my ramblings where I point out a particular love triangle but infidelity has practically become the norm with even the most steady couple falling victim to it. I’ll just refer to my very first encounter. General Hospital taught me about infidelity before anything else in the world. At an early age, I witnessed Monica Quartermaine trying to lure Rick Weber away from his wife Leslie. I remembered liking Rick and even at my single digit age I had seen that Monica’s husband Alan was a douche, but I wanted Rick to stay with Leslie. Why? Not because I valued their marriage. No, I was eight. I just thought Leslie was prettier.
When comic books utilized infidelity, it wasn’t for the same purpose as soaps. Soaps used it to bring interest to a couple. Comics actually used it for the story. Sometimes there were extenuating circumstances, like possession, or mind control, or even just a general means to an end. Comics tried to add an actual reason for the break in the relationship, instead of just to spice things up.
DC comics tended to have a great deal of unfaithfulness in marriage. Though I have had trouble finding documented evidence, I have had many DC comics readers tell me of affairs in the unions of Adam and Alanna Strange and even in Ralph and Sue Dibny. (Here, I must remind my readers that my knowledge of DC comics is limited and I have spent hours trying to find proof but haven’t found any.) I did find it interesting to note that both of these rumored dalliances occurred just prior to the deaths of the offended wife. Sue Dibny’s death was the centerpiece in the title spanning story “Identity Crisis”. She was supposedly murdered as a targeted loved one of a superhero.
One case of infidelity in comics that I did know very well also occurred just before the wife’s death. In the latest death of Jean Grey, her conflicted husband Scott Summers had psychically cheated on her with Emma Frost. Leave it to Marvel comics to find a way to cheat without actually touching. After Jean’s death, Scott immediately fell into the White Queen’s arms and the new couple seemed actually a bit more realistic and supportive to each other.
Next week, I will be interviewing the talented writer, Kayla Krantz whose new book Dead by Morning is sending chills down readers’ spines. Here’s a link to her Facebook author’s page.