Happy News, for "Hollyoaks" fans who can access Hulu, it has been added back on the service. They have all of 2016 posted, and 2017 up until June 16. As of today, June 30, they are two weeks behind the UK airings. What is surprising is if someone had been watching it before they dropped it the last time, they can catch up with what they missed as that contract ended in early 2016. (For more about what aired on Hulu before they dropped it click this link.) Below I give a bit of a primer with spoilers about the program.
Hollyoaks takes places in a town in Chester (near Manchester, which people who follow the news know about), in Northern England, but in real life they film in Liverpool. The show began as a "youth" soap, as the main characters were teens and young adults. As the years have gone by, while there is still a focus on younger characters there are some older residents as well. Unlike daily US soaps that air in the middle of the day, Hollyoaks airs early evening. (They have a new episode, and then a first look, which is the next day...)
Unlike US soaps, the cast of Hollyoaks is a lot more diverse than what we have over here. The Lovedays are black (and Louis is the father of a biracial child, but only the audience Louis and the boy's mother Leela know he is the Dad, not the rest of the town.) Courtney is in a wheelchair as is the actress, but the character isn't seen as different than anyone else. She's Scottish, and a Science teacher, pregnant from a one night stand (the dad is out of the picture), which may cause problems for her health. Sally is transgender, and the principal of the school. In one story, she feared about going to prison due to the legal ramifications of her situation. In the UK, you have to do paperwork for a gender change, and would have been placed in prison with men. Sally is John Paul's Dad (John Paul left town), and Sally seemingly fell back in love with her ex Myra. Now Sally has developed feelings for Neeta, a much younger teaching assistant who happens to be British, but from Indian descent. There is also the Maalik family, with a mother with two daughters, one still in school (who needs a heart transplant), and the other a therapist who happens to be a lesbian.
They are able to do actual love triangles using LGBT+ characters. Farrah Maalik liked Esther, but was treating Kim, Esther's estranged wife as part of her job. Farrah wouldn't date Esther for that reason, but now seems to like Kim. Esther spurned her best friend Grace, who is sexually fluid. Grace has been married to men, but also has slept with both Kim and Esther (though not at the same time.) John Paul, who has left town, is gay, (he had a child via a surrogate), his ex-husband Ste is dating a younger guy named Harry. John Paul also had relationships with James and Scott (more about this later.)
The longest running character on Hollyoaks is Tony played by the same actors since episode one. Tony is a bit of a goof, and has been married numerous times, various girlfriends, but doesn't have as many kids as exes, which is a good thing. He's married currently to Diane, and they have a blended family, as their kids (one biological, one not, as there was a baby switch, hope that story gets told when the kids are older). Diane's niece Lily and nephew Scott live with them, and Harry, Tony's son sometimes does and sometimes doesn't depending on the story. Lily is still in school. Scott is dealing with mental health issues, as he doesn't feel accepted due to his personality and sexuality. Harry is in love with Ste, who is HIV positive and a recovering drug addict, who Tony has been close to for years until Ste fell for Harry. Currently Ste is in prison for the death of Amy, who he co-parented two children with and had been married to. Amy's husband, Ryan, they married and she was killed on their wedding night, is also bisexual, as he slept with Amy, Kyle and Mercedes.
The McQueens have been on the show for over ten years. They are lower working class, and try to make their way to be more successful. Mercedes has been with a lot of the guys in town, but in some ways has become more mature as she's gotten older. (She and Myra are the only original members of the family left.) Cleo is a cousin as is Goldie and her biracial twin boys Hunter and Prince. Cleo was a talented student, but fell apart once she had to deal with the truth of her sexual abuse by her mother's boyfriend. She has feelings for Warren's son Joel, who is a priest, and has started using drugs. Goldie, has to deal with her ex, who wants to make her boys be criminals like him.
Jack and Frankie married later in life, so their kids and grands interact. They are Tom's guardians, as his biological parents are dead, as is his brother Max. Tom, while a teen is already a father, he became a dad before a licensed driver. Cindy, is Tom's sister, and she is with Dirk, and mother to little Hilton (seldom seen) and Holly. Holly was with Nick (Dirk's nephew), but that relationship broke apart due to him raping her. She is also the biological mum to Alfie, though didn't raise him, he was adopted by his biological father Mac. Simone and Cindy have a frenemy relationship and are running against each other in local politics. Darren (Jack's adopted son and an ex-boyfriend of Cindy) and Nancy are still together, Nancy has MS even though she is under 35, and they raise their biological son, who is deaf Oscar, and Nancy's late sister's son Charlie as their own. Nancy's first boyfriend, was Kyle, who now sees himself as gay.
Mac and Marnie were married, and share three kids James, a lawyer who is gay, and Mac abused, Nathan who died accidentally after finding out that Mac was sleeping with his girlfriend Lisa, and Ellie who was raped by Nick. Marnie and Mac lied to the entire family and acted as if Alfie was not a blood relation, though he was Mac's child from an affair with Cindy. They own a family pub, and Marnie has a restaurant. The ownership goes back and forth, depending on what is going on in the story. Marnie's mother is American and played by our very own Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray). She sees Alfie as her grandchild. Alfie is a cancer survivor, and geek, who lost the girl he loved to cancer.
The Lomax girls are named after Doctor Who characters. Leela is the oldest, and has a daughter named Peri, who is the mother of Tom's daughter. (Meaning Leela is a grandmother and under 35.) She and Zach Loveday have a thing even though she had a one night stand with his father Louie. Zach has a thing for older white blonde women with kids, as Leela isn't his first. Tegan has a little girl named Rose, who we don't see, she has problems with drugs. Rose isn't her biological child, as Tony and Diane are raising that child as their own, while Tegan has the Hutchison's daughter.
Maxine is currently involved with Adam, who is Grace's brother. She used to be Sienna's stepmother, and is mother to Sienna's half-sister Minnie. (Minnie is under three years old and has Downs syndrome.) Sienna is pregnant with twins from Warren, who is another of Maxine's former boyfriends. Darcy is Adam's former love, and they have a child together named Toby, though Darcy is now dating Adam's brother Jesse.
Of all the UK soaps, Hollyoaks feels closer to the US ones due to the size of the cast, and how much action it has. Nearly every year there is at least one stunt story and numerous characters die whether it is in accident via the hands of a criminal. Unlike the US shows, they do take care in telling their social issues material. In my regular posting about June's episodes, I'm going to wrap up how they wrote about sexual consent between characters on the program. The handling of Jade's death, Mercedes' late term miscarriage of Joe's baby, and now the current material with Scott's suicide attempt are the kind of things we should see more of in our serialized programming.