The web series Dropping The Soap has been in the works for several years, but it’s only now that it’s arriving on VoD platforms, including the LGBT-centric streaming service, Dekkoo.com. It’s a 10-episode series, taking us into the mad world of the (fictional) US soap opera, Collided Lives.
Julian Draker (Paul Witten) is the star of Collided Lives, an egotistical man, obsessed with getting enough close-ups, maintaining his soap star status and ensuring nobody else upstages him. However, he has stiff competition from co-star Kit Knockers (Kate Mines), who would like nothing more than to knock Julian off his perch and become Collided Lives’ main star.
Their rivalry intensifies after the arrival of a new producer, Olivia Vanderstein (Jane Lynch), who’s been brought in to improve the show’s ratings. That involves firing various people, hiring others, and generally shaking things up. Nobody is safe, including Julian and Kit. That’s the cue for plenty of backstabbing, and the secretly gay Julian trying to bury himself deeper in the closet by marrying one of his co-stars – something he also hopes will cement his soap god position and destroy Kit in the process. However, Kit has a sex tape featuring Julian have fun with a guy in a Santa suit, which she isn’t afraid to blackmail him with.
Each of the show’s 10 episodes starts off with some scenes from Collided Lives, which under Olivia’s influence become ever more fanciful, with aliens and vampires showing up amidst the expected melodrama, comas, secret children and other soap contrivances. The rest of the episode then shows us what’s going on behind-the-scenes, which turns out to be just as much of a soap as what’s going on in Collided Lives.
Dropping The Soap is a lot of fun. While the world of US soap operas is a bit of an easy target, the series has fun with it, and as it goes along invests more in its characters to ensure it doesn’t feel like it’s solely trading on the soap stereotypes we’ve seen many times before. That’s partly thanks to Paul Witten and Kate Mines as Julian and Kit (they also co-created the show), who bring heart to two characters who on the surface are pretty obnoxious. They’re both funny and treat their characters as real – is slightly silly – people, rather than just grotesques.
Another welcome presence is Christopher Guest regular and Glee star Jane Lynch (who is also an executive producer), as Olivia Vanderpump. Lynch pretty much channels Sue Sylvester for the role, as a take no prisoners producer who expects everyone to jump when she says so and doesn’t mind who she steps on to get what she wants. She’s just one of the familiar faces that pops up, such as Missi Pyle, Mimi Rogers, John Michael Higgins, Lynch’s fellow Glee star Dot Marie Jones, Patrick Fabian, and Diedrich Bader (as Julian’s possible love interest).
It’s all a lot of fun, although it doesn’t quite fit into the short-form, 10-minute episode format of web series. The way it’s written feels like it needs more time, so there’s a sense of it trying to squeeze what would normally be a 22-minute sitcom into around half that time. It means that just as you’re properly getting into each episodes, it draws to a close. This would be more of a problem if you couldn’t binge-watch all 10 episodes one after another, but here you can just jump from one to the next. Having such short episodes does at least ensure it never outstays its welcome. Although it might have been better with fewer, longer episodes, it’s still entertaining, even if it takes a few episodes for the show to fully find its feet.
There is a slight feeling that this is an audition for something a bit bigger with more of a budget, but it still works in its own right, offering a decent slice of campy entertainment.
Overall Verdict: This 10-episode comedic look into the melodrama of US soap operas – both on and off the screen – may have a few rough edges, but with heart humour and some good guest stars, it’s pretty fun.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
Find out all the places you can view the series at: DroppingTheSoap.com