Sunday, 7 October 2012

Some Thoughts On...'Soaps'

by Karen Birnie

soaps, soap opera, television, economics for teens, economics for teenagers, teenage economist, teen economist
What is it about soap operas
 that makes them so addictive to the masses?
For the sake of this argument, let's say that you are taking the bus home. In front of you are two women, who are talking quite loudly, and you happen to hear snippets of their conversation. 'Did you see 'Enders last night?' 'Oh yes,' comes the reply, 'did you see what Stacey did? I can't believe she'd dare to...' and so the conversation falls prey to the winding plot of none other than the soap opera. I know that I find myself in similar situations frequently, and for this reason it seems the 'soap' is an integral part of society.

The soap opera - a staple, it seems, in the TV timetables, where millions sit down and spend the next thirty minutes transfixed, immersed in the dramas of Coronation Street or the Queen Vic. Where does the appeal lie? Few genres of television show have such a following. One reason could be that the protagonists are 'real life' people, that the every day working person can relate to. They are not extraordinarily clever, rich, or beautiful, they are not perfect; for the most part they are like us. This makes them easy to relate to and empathise with, and despite not existing outside of the show, the characters compel us to learn their story.

However, surely there is another factor to consider - for the continuing interest in soaps cannot be explained entirely by curiosity. Soaps seem to have a cult following - some fans will tell you that they have to catch the next episode of their favoured series. 'It's like an addiction!' Sure enough, there is definitely something that 'hooks' the audience.

As realistic as the characters are, the story lines seem to descend in the opposite direction, getting more shocking each week. It seems to me that our obsession is with the element of drama, a method of countering what may be a sense of monotony or boredom in our own lives with the constant drama and melodrama of the soaps. As seen with shows such as 'The Jeremy Kyle Show', the addiction comes from a sense of voyeurism in seeing lives more dramatic and tumultuous than our own.

Personally, the very same elements that attract some are exactly those that repel me from soaps. Rather than express such a profound interest in the lives of fictional characters, to the point of addiction, I feel more comfortable in taking an interest in my own life and making sure my own personal affairs are in order, as opposed to a character's. For me, soap characters serve as a reminder of what I do not want my life to resemble. And to those who feel enslaved to a soap opera and wish to break free, my advice is: read a book!

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1 comment:

  1. I loved this article and I must say I completely agree with you! Personally, I find all of the drama quite over-the-top and not at all easy to relate to - in fact I would be worried if I found that I could see myself in one of the characters. Some of my friends however, are absolutely addicted to them. They return home from school and they spend the majority of the latter part of the day watching soap operas. The majority of the next day is then spent narrating last night's story and discussing thoughts regarding the situation. Honestly speaking, for me it just makes it all the more humorous seeing how emotionally attached some of them are. :)


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