‘soapedy’: meaning and origin

A blend of soap (opera), or of soaper, and of comedy, the American-English noun soapedy denotes a television programme or cinema film exhibiting qualities of both drama and comedy—synonym: dramedy.

The coinage of soapedy is commonly attributed to the U.S. screenwriter and television producer Joshua Ian Schwartz (born 1976), who created The O.C., a U.S. television series originally broadcast on the Fox network from August 2003 to February 2007.

For example, the following is from the Toronto Star (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) of Wednesday 5th May 2004:

Why The O.C. became a hit
Could it be viewers like cheese factor?
VINAY MENON

“Welcome to the O.C., bitch.”
Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) was welcomed with those ridiculous, ghetto-inspired words after getting pummelled by Luke Ward (Chris Carmack) in the pilot of The O.C.
As classic television lines go, Luke’s testosterone-fuelled bon mot is probably not destined for the Smithsonian. But, looking back, it now seems appropriate.
Since premiering in August, the dramedy (or, “soapedy,” to use creator Josh Schwartz’s neologism) has welcomed millions of weekly viewers to Orange County, Calif., by punching up the ridiculous.

—Cf. also, below, quotation 3.

But, in fact, soapedy was coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from one another. The earliest occurrences that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:

1-: From the review of Stepmom *, by David Elliott, of Copley News Service, published in The Register-Mail (Galesburg, Illinois, USA) of Saturday 26th December 1998:

Mommie bleakest
‘Stepmom’ a sour piece of holiday junk

Watching “Stepmom” is like having a plastic Christmas tree explode in our faces. There’s nothing left but bits and pieces, and the echo of a hellish scream.
This film is a drama with comedy, or a soaper, or maybe a dramaturgic soapedy. No, it’s extravagant junk.

[* Stepmom (1998) is a U.S. film directed by Chris Columbus, starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, about a terminally-ill woman and her ex-husband’s new lover.]

2-: From PR Newswire of Tuesday 7th September 1999—as quoted by the U.S. lexicographer Grant Barrett (born 1970) in The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English: A Crunk Omnibus for Thrillionaires and Bampots for the Ecozoic Age (McGraw-Hill, 2006):

“Silly Valley Soapedy Continues: ‘The Powers That Be’ Pondered This Week”(in Palo Alto, Calif.) (title).

3-: From Juiced on The O.C., by Hal Boedeker, Sentinel television critic, published in the Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida, USA) of Wednesday 14th April 2004:

Thanks to its potent appeal to both teens and their parents, the show looks to be more than the flavor of the month.
The youngest person to create a prime-time drama has a special way of describing his show. When you’re making broadcast history, you’re entitled to create words.
“It’s a soapedy,” says Josh Schwartz, 27, in explaining the mixture of soap opera and comedy propelling Fox’s The O.C.
“We owe as much to melodrama as to comedy and romantic comedy,” he says. “We’re fusing a lot of genres. I never watched soaps or Beverly Hills, 90210. I missed the Dallas-Dynasty movement. The show is as much a soap as it is a romantic comedy as it is a family show.”

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