How it all started: Soap operas were originally introduced as American radio programmes during the 1930’s, and were transferred to television screens after on-going success in the 1950’s. They were originally sponsored by soap manufacturing companies such as “Proctor and Gamble”, hence the reference to “soap”.
They were produced with female viewers specifically in mind, with the intention of selling soap powder to the traditional house-bound woman. The so-called ‘typical’ soap opera viewer has been, and still remains a controversial issue up to this day.
People all over the world watch soap operas. They’re being produced and pushed on TV’s in every country. Couple of days ago, the local press here published an article on how citizens of our fine city watch soap operas, what these TV programs are good for, what’s negative about them and so on. Two people had their comments included in the article, one is a cinematographer (local), and the other – psychotherapist (note: try spreading the word, you’ll get “psycho the rapist”).
Anyway, psychotherapist’s comments were so narrow-minded, that I almost felt sorry for the journalist that had to talk to her. Basically, what she said was:
Housewives are the majority here, who watch soap operas. Men rarely spend their time watching this type of television. For housewives this is a chance to fill their lives with fictional stories and characters, and every new episode can become a part of one’s real life.
Soap operas can also affect your real life, and your relationship with your friends and close people. Sometimes, one can get so deep into these soap operas, that his/her social life becomes affected by it. I would also recommend watching only local soap operas, because every other soap opera is too far away from our local traditions.
I also believe, that before shooting a soap opera, the producers and creators of the series must talk it over with psychotherapist, to make sure that a particular soap opera will not affect viewers negatively.
To be honest, most of what she said, in my opinion, is utter nonsense, especially about consulting with someone (who has no idea about filmmaking and television work) about whether a soap opera can be shot or not, and about watching only local soaps (yeah right, watch only local crap, it’s the same as being in a vacuum).
On the other hand, why do we really watch soap operas? There are lots of reasons, some of which are listed below:
Escapism. Yes, in this case people take soap operas over usual feature films, because they last longer, and it gives you a better chance to know and feel the characters. It also allows you to escape your daily routine, and fall into the fictional world of other people.
Feeling of reality. Some viewers tend to take soap operas seriously, they actually consider the characters and problems being portrayed on-screen are realistic. In other words, characters from soaps are perceived as being reachable and, as such, ordinary viewers tend to develop the same relationship with them as they would with their close neighbours and friends.
Form of fulfillment. Watching soap operas every day is a form of a company, it makes viewers feel less lonely, especially if they watch every episode, every day, sometimes even adjusting their schedule for television. It’s hard to arque, that soap operas are one of the most popular genres on television.
Inquisitiveness. Probably, one of the main draws of the soap opera for the viewer is that they satisfy people’s natural inquisitiveness. Operas feed that inquisitive side of human nature. Because they portray real life characters (that we can associate with), doing things that we can associate with in our everyday life, most people are naturally drawn to the storyline. In a way, soaps satisfy our need to know what goes on behind closed doors.
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