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Soap Opera

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Essay title: Soap Opera

Soap Opera

In this essay I am going to look at Soap Opera. How Soap Opera was formed, who it is aimed at and how Soap Opera varies in different countries. I will also examine its rules and format and how it differs from other televised dramas. I will also look at how it effects society.

A Soap Opera is an ongoing fictional televised drama. It started in the 1930’s as radio plays and became known as Soaps. “ 'Soaps' refers to their origins as radio broadcasts in which various soap manufacturers were the show's sponsors,” and would plug their household products during the commercial breaks. It was broadcast during daytime slots and its audience were mainly female, housewives. When television kick off in the 1950’s its popularity grew even more and grew into it own genre.

Like any genre, ther are rules or distinct charachteristics to identify the Soap Opera. The soundtrack or opening theme tune is distinct, even if you are not a viewer most people would recognise there countries Soap by its theme tune. Most Soaps today are between 30 minutes and 1 hour in screen time (which include commercial breaks.) They have multiple storylines, each episode would contain at least 3-4 narritives. These storylines would be told in 30 second - 1 minute or 2-3 minute slots all intertwined for the duration of the episode. They would be edited differently to other television dramas, where other dramas would have quick transitions, the Soap Opera would have slower, seamless transitions and sound for the following scene can be heard a split second before it cuts to the next scene. This is done to get the viewer ready for the new or other storylines that are happening. Like most continious dramas the Soap Opera would be recognised by its episode ending, the cliffhanger. Not finishing off one or more storylines so that the viewer will tune in next time to see what happens. Most popular Soaps are broadcast at primetime, between 7 and 9 pm. Thus, the watershed comes into affect. Because the of this, the Soap Opera has to be censored. The scenes would be non-graphic and there would be a control on the language, so, everything is left to the imagination.

These rules can effect the storylines because Soaps reflect society in a fictionalised form when dealing with issues that arrise in everyday life. These storyline vary from country to country. English Soaps differ from Australian and American because they focus on working-class life whereas Australian Soaps focus on middle-class and American upper-class. This tell us the attitudes surrounding their society. Where they see themselves and how they class themselves. Because that is what Soap Operas are designed to do, to represent the desire or to romanticise the feelings of their audience. Stereotyping plays part when understanding Soap Opera. If we were to look at Soap Operas of normal everyday people it would become dull and boring. To build character they tap into the stereotype to create larger than life but still believable characters to portray whatever social behaviour than relates to society at the time without using factual events. That is why Soaps are so popular because the audience can relate to the fiction even thought it is telling them in a roundabout way what is going on in their culture or society. Everything that we see in Soap Opera right down to the commercial ads are designed for a target audience. Its not just woman and housewives that are targeted. Although they would be there main viewers. Soaps like ‘Eastenders,’ the flagship of the BBC, would have a huge male following because of the male characters who come across as tough guys who get the woman and have the sharp dialog (stereotyping at its best.)

So why does Soap Opera have such a huge following? Personally I’m not a big fan of Soap Opera. I like my tv programming to be snappy and as far from reality as possible so I can escape from the drags of everyday life. However, there are people who relate more to everyday life and find the simple stories from fictional characters and settings easier to follow than a elaborate crime drama or American over the

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