What is the point of soap operas?
Published on 30th April 2021
Soaps have often been shot on various types of videotape to keep costs down, and compared to prime time shows and big budget movies shot on film, they can look a little flat. Shooting with videotape also gives you a lower resolution, and to compensate, soaps have always made heavy use of closeups.
If you ask the person in the street what their favourite TV programme is, you can be sure a large percentage will say Coronation Street, Emmerdale or East Enders. These are three examples of the genre known as soap operas. So what is it about these programmes that attract such a large audience, and why do people buy three or four television magazines weekly?
The main characteristics that define soap operas are an emphasis on family life, personal relationships, sexual drama, emotional and moral conflicts. You’ll also find some coverage of topical issues set in familiar domestic interiors with only occasional excursions to new locations, - the storylines always following the day to day activities and personal relations of the main characters in the programme.
Television brings these programmes into our living rooms three or four times a week. The characters in the soaps become part of our family and we share their hopes and dreams. We empathize with these characters because they are going through the same issues in life that we are. Soaps also play an important part in educating the audience through storylines on issues that at one stage were kept behind closed doors e.g., domestic abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction.
Many people criticise soaps, claiming that television companies are dumbing down their output by putting so much effort and time into producing these melodramas. But many people will continue to watch as they are a source of pleasure and escapism and long may they continue to do so.
You can access the magazine Inside Soap for free on PressReader and the American publication Soap Opera Digest. Also on Press Reader you can read many TV magazines from different countries including our own RTE Guide.
Submitted by John G in Inchicore Library.