A couple weeks ago, I found myself watching a just-uploaded video of that day's episode of Alles Was Zaehlt. In the original German. Because I couldn't wait the extra hour for the English-subtitled version to show up.
Why? Because Roman and Deniz's relationship was supposed to start heating up again. And I had to see what happened.
One of the things about YouTube that is both a joy and a curse is the sidebar with related videos. It's so easy to get sucked into a vortex of more and more videos, until you look up and it's two in the morning and where in the world did all that time go?
So yeah, I'm hooked on European soap operas, or more specifically, m/m storylines on European soaps. I can't even remember how I first discovered this subgenre – probably by clicking on a related video after watching a Jack/Ianto clip – but the first one I glommed on to was the John-Paul/Craig storyline on Hollyoaks, a UK soap. (Bonus: very few subtitles needed!) From there, I progressed to Christian and Oliver on Verbotene Liebe, a German soap, and then Roman and Deniz on AWZ.
(There are others – in France, Spain, even Israel – but I do have to draw the line somewhere.)
Why do I like m/m storylines on European soap operas?
* The drama. In many cases, one of the partners has never been "out" or had another same-sex partner before. The struggle to accept who he is, to admit his attraction to another man, and to come clean to friends and family is inherently conflict-laden and emotional. I'm a big fan of angst, and all of these stories are chock-full of it.
* The acting. I've been very impressed with the quality of the acting by the actors on these soaps. They transcend the often-overwrought stories to bring a level of honesty to the characters that makes me really care about them.
* The production values. On the soaps I've watched on YouTube, they take a lot more risks with the camera angles, the handheld techniques, even the intro and exit of each scene.
* The music! I've discovered a ton of great music (in English and German), from Does It Offend You, Yeah?, to Revolverheld, to Razorlight, to Placebo. I don't know if it's the lower cost for rights in a smaller market or what, but the addition of some fabulous tunes does make a difference.
* The sexiness. Okay, call me shallow, but watching hot guys walk around in towels is fun.
* Less prudishness. This ties in with the previous point, but it's significant. When there is an m/m relationship on a European soap, they're in a relationship. There's kissing and touching and lounging in bed together, just like any other couple. By contrast, after Noah and Luke kissed for the first (and second) time on As The World Turns over the course of a week or so, they didn't kiss again for almost a year – long enough for people to post countdown clocks on websites and start a write-in campaign. Not very realistic for two guys who were supposed to be in a long-term, loving relationship during that time period.
* The YouTube channels dedicated to the soaps. The community of watchers really is a community, chatting about the characters and the storylines and the clips. It's great fun. My personal favorite is Eskimo Kiss Project, the premiere Roman/Deniz channel. The three women who record, translate, subtitle and post the clips are talented, dedicated, and damn funny. Sometimes their descriptions are even better than the episodes! (And being able to watch without commercials and unrelated storylines is a bonus, too.)
Tune in tomorrow for an interview with the creative minds behind Eskimo Kiss Project!
So there you have it – my confession. I'm hooked on European soaps, but I'm not looking for a cure just yet. How about you? What's your YouTube obsession?
(Oh, and that AWZ episode? EVEN BETTER IN ENGLISH.)