Daytime soap operas have been on the decline recently — there hasn’t been a new one since 1999, and several famous ones that had been running for decades have been canceled. Meanwhile, primetime soap-like dramas like The O.C., Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s Anatomy occasionally get a chance to flourish, but they don’t get quite as ridiculous for our liking as the old-school daytime stuff. Sure, people get impaled by icicles and murdered by tornadoes or whatever, but where’s the melodramatic acting? The demonic possession?
In honor of this dying genre, we’ve rounded up a bunch of great viral videos and TV clips that parody the heyday of nonsensical soap operas. Let us know in the comments which is your favorite, and clue us in if we missed any.
In this surreal eight-episode O.C. parody from the Lonely Island and Channel 101, Jorma Taccone and Sarah Chalke play young, sexy teens in Malibu California — which the characters call the ‘Bu, “because when you say the entire word, it takes time, and then you wouldn’t be young anymore.”
Speaking of California, you don’t have to be a Californian to get the jokes in this sketch from the most recent episode of SNL, but we bet it helps. As a special bonus, you get to watch everyone strain to stifle their laughter during the dramatic close-ups!
Days of Our Lamps
A quick animation that imagines what it might be like if the Pixar mascots all slept with each other. Don’t bother trying to picture the logistics of that.
This sitcom ran from 1977 to 1981 and parodied the soap operas of the time. Over the course of its four seasons, there were alien abductions, murder mysteries, weddings, trials, demonic possession, kidnapping, and Billy Crystal playing a closeted gay cousin. The show isn’t on Netflix Instant anymore, sadly, but you can still queue up the DVDs.
Another series for Channel 101, this soap opera takes place entirely inside the Burbank Ikea, without the consent of the actual store or any of the shoppers. Suffice it to say, the setting is what really makes it.
Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Seductive
This parody of a Korean soap opera from MADtv stars comedian Bobby Lee as a mild-mannered doctor celebrated a fictional holiday with an equally mild-mannered co-star and a handsome rival for her affections, all of whom have way too much to say for the subtitles to keep up.
As the Stomach Turns
The Carol Burnett Show was particularly masterful at mashing up parodies of different existing formats and franchises, long before the concept of a “mash-up” was even popular. This sketch, guest starring Bernadette Peters (who was only 19 at the time!) as Marian’s demonically possessed niece, played on both soap opera style and the Exorcist films. Watch how Burnett even inserts some clever line flubs and technical problems, which were once common mistakes in soap operas due to their tight shooting schedules.
Speaking of Carol Burnett, she also starred in a satirical spoof of the show Dallas in 1986, in which she played the matriarch of a rich yet dysfunctional family of raisin heirs. It won several Emmys for art direction and costume design, which is pretty hilarious a quarter-century later. Frankly, the sexy migrant worker has the best look out of all of them, and he’s shirtless.
Stallions de Amor
How come whenever a mysterious person is murdering someone in a soap opera, the victim always says, “Oh, it’s you?” How often does that phrase actually get used in real life? “Stallions de Amor” from Funny or Die knows exactly how ridiculous that is — and they’re going to accentuate the weirdness with a whole lot of eyebrow raising and knowing glances.
All My Children Wrap Party
Definitely the most meta of parodies, this SNL sketch from an episode hosted by Alec Baldwin breaks into total chaos when the cast and crew of the now-canceled All My Children reveal their secret identities as each other’s evil twin-husbands. Also, everyone has amnesia, of course. Or were they pushed?