Why have soap operas become an integral part of British culture? My definition of a soap opera is a reality tv programme, screened most days of the week, in which families and individuals, in the same neighbourhood, present to the viewer a way of living. My views on soap operas are as follows: Soaps that portray good messages, for example, Neighbours and Home And Away, are the ones that I tend to watch and enjoy the most. Whereas soaps like Eastenders, Family Affairs and Emmerdale portray an almost evil outlook on life.
I notice while watching these soaps that the nice harmless soaps are Australian, whereas Eastenders, Emmerdale and Family Affairs are set in England. This tells me that the lifestyle of an Australian differs from the lifestyle of an English person. England tends to have a dull outlook on life, whereas Australians have a happy, sunny outlook. The weather mainly helped to make this impression on me. I watch some soaps more than others because I can’t stand how some are over-dramatised. An example is Eastenders.
There’s never a dull moment in the soap, although it’s often for the wrong reasons. Eastenders always concludes with a cliffhanger, which is normally a violent, malicious act towards another character, or a death or casualty, that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It is true to say that these very different lifestyles affect and influence the lives of viewers. This is especially true with young, manipulative minds when they’re too young to know right from wrong. On the otherhand, I think it is good to follow a soap regularly because it stimulates and interests your mind.
Some viewers become literally obsessed with soaps. They have to have their daily fix and no-one can dare to disturb them. It’s just them and the box for half an hour or so, which is the usual duration of an episode. Nowadays there are lots of fan clubs, websites, etc, for viewers to catch up on the latest gossip, storylines, pictures and other fan-related information. I think that some soap followers have an unhealthy obsession, and if it gets to the point where you can’t possibly miss an episode and you rearrange your life around the soap, then you really do need help.
Following a soap to a certain extent is perfectly normal, ie, you watch a soap when it is convienient for you and when you have nothing else better to do. I admit that I have a slight obsession with the soap opera, Neighbours, but mine is a fairly healthy obsession. I enjoy watching and keeping up with the storylines, although sometimes I get lost in the world of Ramsay Street. I forget that it is just a fictional program. Which brings me onto my next point: Realism V Fantasy. Realism because we live in a realistic world, not in a soap opera world. Fantasy because soaps sometimes portray a make-believe message.
Certain storylines in soaps are unlikely to take place in the world, which proves that soaps are based on fantasy. Like I said before some soaps have more realistic scenarios than others. For example Coronation Street. I could picture myself in the corner shop buying a packet of crisps. Many viewers have idols within a soap, for example Felicity Scully in Neighbours. When I was little I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to look, talk, act and dress like her. I soon realised that living in an idolistic world is wrong-you should always be yourself and like who you are, not who your favourite character is.
In some cases it is easy to identify with characters, for example, if you have experienced the same problem that your favourite character has, you can then see how they deal with it, and then you copy them, effectively dealing with your problem in the same way that they do. There is fierce competition between tv channels. The costs are very high. There is such a thing called a ratings war, when soaps battle it out to make sure they have the best ratings-the highest amount of viewers. Normally, if a soap has a major storyline their ratings rocket as everybody watches during the time of the storyline.
This results in less people viewing the other soaps, which lowers their ratings. A few weeks before there is set to be a juicy storyline, an advertisement is usually screened during a commercial break or after an episode of the featured soap. Such adverts include the time, date, channel, a clip or sneak preview of what will happen, and a “Watch or else you’ll miss out on one of the most talked about storylines ever”, type thing. These adverts are designed to lure the viewer, leaving you counting down the days. Soap operas can have very dramatic effects on you.
For example mind control, when the fantasy of the soap becomes reality in your mind, until you believe what’s being watched is true, eventually taking over your mind and brainwashing you. Once a fanatic of Coronation Street wrote to Tony Blair, pleading with him to free Audrey from prison, thinking it was real life. Soaps provide social service for people. At the end of an episode which involves issues such as rape, divorce, death or crime, a help or contact line is given, in which viewers can confide in after experiencing such problems.