(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in August 2016, reposted to this blog with permission.)
My partner's elderly mother lives in the flat below ours. (We've lived together nearly twenty years and she doesn't know he's gay - there's a whole sitcom waiting to be written). Every night he goes down to have a cup of tea with her and to watch Emmerdale. He then comes back upstairs and we watch Corrie. This is that hedonist lifestyle of the decadent gays your priest warned you about.
Lately he's begun complaining about Corrie and, in particular, the lack of excitement. "There's so much more drama in Emmerdale! Things are always happening!" I have to agree with him. When there are two episodes of the sheep-based soap on a Thursday, I'll inevitably catch the second one with him, and I rarely know what's going on. Characters that the previous Thursday were friends are now enemies; marriages have broken up; something has exploded. Status quos are there to be destroyed.
And this is why, I tell him with an exasperated sigh, I prefer Corrie. I like a soap opera where nothing much happens. I like the slow, understated pace of storylines. I don't actually want that much drama in my continuing drama.
Take Monday's episodes. There were a few storylines going on: Caz's attempts to make up with Kate getting in the way of Maria and Luke. Nick and Leanne returning to work at the Bistro. Gary desperately trying to find a way to avoid sleeping with Izzy. Eva and Aidan arguing. But the storyline I was most invested in, that I wanted to see more of, was Gemma trying to be a good samaritan to Rita.
That was an interesting storyline. It came from the characters themselves. It was humourous. It was small. It opened up further avenues - brought Gemma further into the Street, gave the often overlooked Rita something to do. All the other stories were just various stages of arguments - either building up to one, or coming down from one. They were part of the show, yes, because all drama is based on conflict, but they weren't what I watched the show for. I watch Coronation Street for stuff like that, or Sally and Yasmeen sniping over the garden fence, or Steve McDonald's depression, or Craig joining the police. Stuff that happens to real people that impacts on those around them but they work through.
My partner disagreed. He was here for the rows and the murders and the car crashes. He was here for exploding gas cylinders destroying a hovering helicopter and causing it to crash on a fairground, slicing a local hotelier in half with a sheet of glass in the Hall of Mirrors (yes, this is a real thing that happened in Emmerdale). The Gemma/Rita storyline was "daft."
I want slow and quiet. Not dragging stuff out - I must make that clear. Slow doesn't mean every plotline must be extended over three weeks with barely any progress between shows. I want subtlety and character interaction. People talking. People laughing. People rowing, of course, but not a constant cycle of bust ups and reunifications. Couples can row all the time without heading for the divorce court. Trust me.
I want the occasional tram to fall on the Street, don't get me wrong. But it should be the exception. The spectacle that they've been saving up for. One nice big fire a year, say, with an aftermath of people talking to one another. Talking is good. As the show ramps up for six episodes a week, and with a former Emmerdale producer now at the helm, I worry that we're going to lose the talking completely. Ken Barlow machine gunning half the cast might keep my boyfriend happy, but I'm afraid I'd turn off.
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