I will keep this blog post short. I don’t have too much to say about Eastenders, but as we hit the day of the biggest reveal in British TV history (I am not sure if I am exaggerating or not), I felt that I had to say something!
For my foreign viewers who are not in the know, Eastenders is a soap opera on English TV. It is essentially a small area in London, Albert Square to be precise, where several families go about their business and get caught up with petty rivalries, shock weddings and secret affairs. It is not my kind of show, simply because the genre tends to embrace the mundane. From an outsider’s perspective, the viewers of this show, and other soaps, are huddled around a TV set, tuning in every day to check up on little more than how a blossoming romance is going on or whether ‘thingy’s wife’ has realised that ‘thingy’ is sleeping with ‘whatsherface’ (this show isn’t very good at naming its characters). However, while I might not like Eastenders, I have to respect it for what it is. These characters are as mundane as you can imagine (sure, major things happen to them more frequently, but personality-wise, they could be anyone you know), yet the show manages to hook people from all over the world to tune in every day (another thing I respect is that they do bring out an episode every weekday. That workload is unfathomable to me!) People gossip about the characters, care about them as if they actually knew them and few shows have that strong an effect on its target audience.
This is especially true today. I am late to the bandwagon, but even I, as someone with access to British media, is aware that today marks the reveal of Lucy Beale’s killer. Lucy Beale is the teenage daughter of one of the characters, who was murdered a while back. The show has been teasing the killer’s identity for a while now, but has kept it under wraps for a painfully long time. Finally, today the fans of the show will get to find out who actually killed her and almost every character on the show has had the finger pointed at them at one point. You can imagine this would be exciting for the fan-base, but anyone in England at the moment will know that the public has exploded with Eastenders madness.
The front page of the papers are covered with headlines about Lucy Beale’s killer. If you didn’t know anything about Eastenders, you could mistake Lucy Beale for an actual real teenage girl that was killed. The coverage is that in-depth. Bookies are taking bets on who the killer is. Someone actually calculated the odds according to the media for the last year and figured out who the most likely suspect is and who was the dark horse in the investigation? Even crazier, people are putting down bets by the shedload, as invested in the plotline of Eastenders like it is some sort of sporting final. What other show do you know has that kind of effect? No one pops down to a betting agency to put a fiver on Daryl being the next person to get killed off on the Walking Dead. The Red Wedding from Game of Thrones didn’t become a week-long leading news story for the leading national paper.
So, today I just wanted to take a moment to applaud Eastenders. I don’t watch you, but if you can create this much of a craze over one storyline, then you must be doing something right.