Unable to participate in the backbiting, blackmail, and bed hopping that sustain the soap operas, kid characters on those shows have typically been ignored-or sent away to school at 5 only to reappear a few months later at 18, all grown-up and ready for trouble. But with the June 29 launch of Swans Crossing, a daily, half-hour syndicated soap opera aimed at the Clearasil set, teens now have their own outlet for daytime drama.
Broadcast in 91 percent of the country, the serial will chronicle the travails of a dozen upper crust 14-year-olds in the fictional East Coast town of Swans Crossing. Co-executive producer Mardee Kravit (formerly a writer for Ryan’s Hope) promises ”a series that will be pure fun and adventure.” What? No educational messages? ”Enough already with the messages for kids,” says Kravit. ”No one ever said Dynasty or Falcon Crest had to be educational. Kids understand fantasy too.”
To that end, there will be lots of plots about crushes and crushed feelings. According to Sarah Michelle Gellar, 15, who plays vain, pouty Sydney Rutledge (picture a younger, blonder Erica Kane), ”We do things like your best friend is mean, or you have a guy your parents don’t like — the stuff we can all relate to.” In a counterpoint to the regular soaps, on Swans, grown-ups (called ”Grownies” — get it?) will be seen but not much heard.
Though Kravit and co-executive producer Ned Kandel (Encyclopedia Brown) hope the targeted audience of 7-to-15-year-olds will appreciate the lack of mayhem and heavy breathing, the not-a-pimple-in-evidence unknown stars — who range in age from 13 to 17 — are already itching for something racier. ”They come to us every day,” Kravit says, chuckling, ”and say, ‘Okay. So like when are we going to be able to kiss?’ And I say, ‘Relax…Never!”’