If you've watched soap operas, which you might have if you were home sick from school 25 years ago, you know there are staples without which it is not a soap opera, like melodrama, theatrical crying, the commercials for soap products that gave the format its name and love scenes.
Love scenes in tv and film production, much like the act of making love in real life, require people to get rather close to each other. But actors on tv shows, unlike real life couples, tend not to be cohabitating, and so obviously due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, that's not really viable.
Enter the intrepid producers of The Bold And The Beautiful with a solution that is at least bold if not necessarily beautiful: they are planning to use blow-up dolls to stand in for actresses where the requirements of physical distancing render it impossible to obtain a shot.
The show's head writer and executive producer, Bradley Bell, said that initially they started revising scripts to omit romantic scenes and found they felt flat. But what will be surprising is what Bell and his team did when they started brainstorming ideas to get around the problem.
"When we were reviewing the scripts we started taking out all the romantic scenes and [the scripts] just fell flat," Bell said. "We put our heads together trying to figure out a way to make these scenes work without breaking the eight-foot [distancing] rule... and we brought out a doll we used years ago as a corpse. We posed it and it was very convincing. It's a great doll and we'll be using her with hair and makeup as a stand-in to match some of our leading ladies."
Fans may be pleased to hear of how authentically shots of the doll are coming across, but the show is not through working to adapt to the situation in order to quickly enter into the fray with their own unique slice of normalcy. Though for now the show has only one such doll for all of its actresses, Bell said they may possibly obtain more if it goes well initially, in order to more effectively portray the full range of performers on the show who routinely perform in love scenes.
"We're going to see how it works," he said. "We may be investing in more dolls and male dolls. We're searching websites and combing Hollywood to see what's available -- so we may be employing a lot of dolls in future love scenes."
And the show has ideas that go beyond blow-up dolls, with producers exploring the possibility of pressing the spouses of cast members into duty as stand-ins for the actors with whom they would normally be performing, based on the rationale that spouses already living with their actors would be in no more risk than they already incur in their daily life.
Where things go from there is unknown, with the expectation being that at some point it will be possible to return to shooting such love scenes more normally. But while the ephemeral nature of soap opera episodes will wipe away these episodes like sand castles, there will always have been weeks or months in which serious, dramatic, romantic love scenes were performed with plastic dummies exactly as depicted comedically in an episode of SNL.