Saturday, April 4, 2015

Christian and Olli

The German soap opera, Verbotene LiebeForbidden Love, finally seemed to run its course and was about to come to an end this past January after a twenty-year run, but just wouldn't give up the ghost. Super soapy crap, with all the usual melodrama, accidents, near death scenes in the hospital and miraculous recovery, mistaken identity (a potentially incestuous brother-sister relationship until one of the daddies admits he’s not the real daddy), love triangles, etc. etc.  It ran on the German cable channel Passion – a station set aside for this kind of schmaltzy stuff.

If you’re not gay, what follows may bring on a giant yawn, and for that I apologize.  For that matter, most of my gay friends will yawn as well.  But as someone who has followed what I call the “long, hard slog to gay liberation,” I like to keep sticking the thermometer into events such as these to check to see if we’re done yet.

In 2008, Verbotene Liebe introduced the gay coming out theme with the characters Christian (Thore Schölermann) and Olli (Johannes "Jo" Weil).  We don’t put other countries’ soap operas on American television, so it’s not known here, but it’s been around long enough that many of its episodes have been captured on YouTube videos.  How many couples do you know who have a name for their coupledom (Chrolli), which coupledom has its own Facebook page and Fan website?  You can even vote for your favorite love scene and there are nine to choose from.  Here, for example, is their 107th onscreen kiss.  Somebody has kept count.

Anybody who enjoys looking at men with their shirts off will enjoy the eye candy, and some will appreciate the gay smooching.  Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot to recommend. Besides the low grade story line common to daytime soaps, there is the (to me) seriously annoying emphasis on the need for gays to stay in the closet and the suggestion that this is how gays have to live.  To say nothing of the shouting and the weeping and the quick changes of emotion so typical of soaps.  I need to remind myself that some of these episodes go back to High Closet Days.  After all, I don’t watch German soaps and didn’t know about this program until very recently.  So perhaps I'm dwelling unduly on the early story lines and forgetting they were representing more reality than I think.  And I believe the story went through five years of ups and downs but eventually the two get together and get married.  But it’s still annoying.  “Get over yourself!” I hear myself shouting at them.  Stop being so 1990s!  It’s 2008 when you’re filming this for chrissakes!

Thought you might like to sample one.   Because the show made it to England, there are English subtitles.  It’s only ten minutes long, and it features Christian’s first recognition that he is not only gay but in love with Olli – who is an out gay.  If you get hooked and want to binge-watch, you can find other episodes galore.  Sit back and click away.

Or perhaps one will be enough to remind you how it was back then in the dark ages, in the 1990s.

How soon we forget!

Wait, wait!  Could it be that Verbotene Liebe is not dead after all?  Now there's a soap opera ending for you.  This just in...  Just checked with DasErste (Germany's Channel One) which informs me that Verbotene Liebe began as a weekly last month (February 27) at 6:30 p.m.  Heat up a couple Bratwürste, some fried potatoes and red cabbage, pull up your TV table in front of the TV and have at it!  Episode 4652 is about to begin!

For more, check out the Wikipedia page on Verbotene Liebe.

And lest you think Jo Weil is just another pretty gay face, watch him sing and dance, as well as emote.

photo credit: from the Facebook page of "International Friends of Jo Weil, Thore Schölermann and Chrolli (Chrolli = Christian und Olli)" 

And now that Google has figured out what I'm interested in, look how helpful they are when I click on YouTube:

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