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Narrative Structure in "All My Children": Exposition

by Jeremy Butler

The television serial begins each episode in medias res. The story has already begun, the action joined in progress. On the episode of All My Children aired December 6, 2005, the first scene is Del (Alec Musser) and Babe (Alexa Havins) discussing her child-custody fight with J.R. (Jacob Young), while he (J.R.) eavesdrops on the two of them. In fact, the very first shot is of the eavesdropper, before any other context is established. The two men are working together in a scheme to set her up. We, the viewers, are dropped into the middle of a complicated storyline that has been running for months. The scene serves as episode-specific exposition by establishing characters and a location that will recur through this particular episode. The original exposition of All My Children began over 30 years ago when it was first broadcast (January 5, 1970). The “lives” of its characters were initially constructed then and the story has been continuing ever since. Other soap operas’ original expositions also date from decades ago. Similarly, Guiding Light developed its story on radio and television for more than 70 years—making its radio debut on January 25, 1937 and concluding its television run on September 18, 2009. If these were classical films they would have lasted thousands of hours and their exposition would have occurred years ago! 

Narrative Structure in "All My Children": Part 1

TV narrative structure -- the serial.

from All My Children (2005)
Creator: ABC
Distributor: ABC
Posted by Jeremy Butler
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