Core Family

Every Friday I try to post a definition of soap opera jargon. Find more definitions on the Soap Opera Jargon page.

Core Family – Most soap operas are not made up of individual characters, they are made up of two or more core families. Sometimes the core families change over the years and new families are written in or written out.The very first core family on GL was the Ruthledge family and its trials and tribulations (a son fell in love with his adopted sister, for example) were the soap’s mainstay for years. The Bauer Family was introduced in 1948, the Spauldings in 1977, the Lewis family in the early 1980s (starting with Josh breaking up Kelly and Morgan), the Cooper family in the mid-1980s, and the Santos family (sadly a core family for too short a time although they tied into the Bauers) first appeared in 1998. All of these families were still represented when the show ended, but the Wexlers, the Reades, the Grants, the Speakes, and many others had come and gone.

Often when the soap starts they will have two families that are opposites in some way. For example, on Generations there was a black family and a white family hence its tagline “Black and White in Color.” On The Bold and the Beautiful, there was the rich Forresters and the spunky upstart Spectras. A similar rivalry was slowly developed on GL through the rich Spauldings and the blue collar Coopers. The rivalry was developed through romantic relationships and romantic rivalries which were common between the two families. A more personal vendetta also developed between the Spaulding and Lewis families, which was exploited in one of the shows last supercouples, Bizzie – Bill Lewis and Lizzie Spaulding.

Being a member of a core family gives you a lot more staying power than if you remain a single character without a family and opens many more storyline options as relationships are explored. Blake Lindsey gained importance once she was revealed to really be Chrissy Thorpe. Cassie Layne being Reva’s sister gave her much more story than if she had remained a Lewis secretary and Spaulding dupe. Abby Blume gained story after she began a romantic relationship, engagement and eventual marriage to Rick Bauer. Amanda Wexler gained story when it was revealed she was really a Spaulding and the same for Gus Aitoro after his vendetta with Danny Santos played out.

However, not all members of a core family are equal. After a good run of story, Roxie Shayne (Reva’s full sister) disappeared into a mental hospital and was barely mentioned again. Josh Lewis was followed to town by two siblings, brother Billy and sister Trish, and their father H.B.  Trish was more important to the story initially, but she left town at an early date and left without even the courtesy of a return for weddings or funerals or an onscreen mention of why she wasn’t there. (To be fair she returned once decades later and she did send a present once, but that was it.) Even Jeva’s children were always being sent to stay with Uncle Rusty Shayne “near Tulsa” rather than ever going to visit Aunt Trish. Meanwhile, Josh’s other sibling Billy was first introduced in 1983 and with a couple of breaks appeared on a fairly regular basis on the show through its cancellation. Of the four Marler siblings, Ross was a mainstay until his death (portrayer Jerry Van Dorn jumped soaps after he was taken off contract), Justin was sorely missed after he was written off and mentioned occasionally, Lanie I had forgotten even existed until I started watching old clips, and Ben Warren, a half-sibling given up for adoption, left a long lasting impact on the town during his short run. Hillary Bauer, one of my favorite heroines, was blown up by an exploding music box and Johnny Bauer, after a rather annoying attempt to turn him into the next religious figure on the show by having faith healed himself of cancer, was written out and, thankfully, never mentioned again.

UPDATED September 24, 2015: I updated this early post to match my current format and did some slight edits to make it read better on a re-read. I also added a parenthetical about Trish Lewis after I had a few more details to add that I had learned since the last time I posted this.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


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One Response to “Core Family”

  1. glmanny Says:

    Reblogged this on Glmanny's Blog and commented:

    Updating the soap opera jargon term “Core Family.”

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