What does every woman want in her life: Love, Romance, Danger, Passion, Money, Excitement, Travel, Glitz, Beautiful Clothes, Outrageous Friends. Welcome to the magical world of Soap Operas.
Why do we watch? The reason is simple, real life could never be this much fun.
Turn on your television sets to any of the popular soap operas. What do you see? You see beautiful people, beautiful clothes and beautiful sets. What do you hear? You hear men pleading words of love, juicy secrets which you know will be spilled, threats and music of all styles and rhythms. But the magic of the soap opera is more than what you first see and hear.
Guiding Light is the longest running soap opera, debuting on the radio in the year 1937 and then onto the black and white television set in the year of 1952. General Hospital is ABC’s longest running soap debuting in 1963. What has kept these soap operas, as well as the others, on the air for this long? The answer is the fans.
Many fans are third generation fans. First, the trend started with their grandmothers, who were mostly stay at home moms. Back at that time these emerging shows aired during the daytime, afternoon hours, and were given the name soap operas. The soap in the name referred to the advertisers, which were mostly manufacturers of household cleaning agents. Opera signified that it was a dramatic composition. Thus, the new term drama in the afternoon. Second generation were our mothers, who were busily fighting for equal lives, yet finding the time to watch the soap operas. Then came the 80’s and the soap opera magic began to spin out of orbit. The day Luke and Laura on General Hospital wed was one of the biggest television events in history. Not only did the fame movie star Elizabeth Taylor showed up for the make-believe event, people of all walks of life tuned in, skipping school and work as a necessity to watching.
The soap opera industry was booming. Men even began watching as shows like Dallas and Dynasty showed up in the prime-time and taking over it.
Now we are in the 2000’s and the world has changed in many ways. Yet, soap operas still exists along with their ever faithful fans. Fans, who in many ways, are more devoted to their favorite shows and characters than they ever were. They post messages on the internet. They develop sites for their stars and their shows. And they faithfully continue to watch their shows.
As the world has revolved, so has the world of soap operas. Cheating, lying, paternity questions and the like will always be at the heart of many of the stories. Yet, they also take on some of the most socially controversial issues of the day bringing the issues into fore front of some of their major plots. Some of the issues the soap operas were not afraid to face has been: AIDS, what it means to be HIV positive, rape, breast cancer, numerous mental disorders and homosexuality, to name a few. The fans have watched their favorite characters address these issues, fighting, yet showing their fear and their pain. This gave some fans a chance to see that they are not alone or the insight on how to survive. The soap operas did this while still entertaining.
Yet, the romance, the love, and the intrigue remains the focal point of a good soap opera. The men aren’t afraid of showing their love, even the bad boys. The women will openly fight, sometimes with each other, to hold onto their men. This is why the fans will put up with the sometimes silly plots, all the paternity tests and watching as the dead reappear very much alive.