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Why We Hate and We Love Soap Operas

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When I was growing up, my sister was a huge Days of Our Lives fan, a fact that did not get past me without mockery. While she watched her soap opera, I made fun of her. I uttered snide comments as she talked about the show’s greatness, I hid the Soap Opera Digests she purchased at the grocery store, and I rolled my eyes whenever she rushed home from school to turn on DOOL, thus keeping me from watching a much more realistic show (Duck Tales) in the process. As much fun as I made of her, the tables were turned when I began watching Days of Our Lives in high school. Turns out, I kind of like it too. The vacuum of television series, it had a way of just sucking me in.

Still, Days of Our Lives, and really any soap opera, is not without its faults. Anything but grounded in actuality, soap operas have a bit of a conundrum going on. Their implausibilities make the shows both appealing and annoying, giving them a uniqueness no other genre can maintain. For the following reasons, they are shows we both love and hate.

SORAS: SORAS, or Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, is the term given for the plethora of characters who are three-year-old toddlers one year, and in their late twenties a mere two or three years later. We all know time flies, but not quite this quickly. While this concept is unbelievable, it is also a bit amusing, particularly when a child suddenly becomes older than their parent.

The Work Situation: It seems that most people on soap operas have very noble professions: police officers, doctors, scientists, businessmen and women. Noble professions, but not busy ones. The amount of time these characters actually work may be incredulous, but it sure is appealing. I would love to be a soap opera character and only work an hour a week.

The Recurring Plot Lines: There are certain shows that need to be watched on a semi-regular basis in order to be followed. Soap operas aren’t one of them — the plot lines move at sloth-like speed. Ever plagued by drama, on any soap opera there is sure to be the same serial killer, the same rabid arsonist, or the same devious mastermind wreaking havoc on the citizens of a town at any given time. But, then again, if these things didn’t exist, soap operas wouldn’t be soap operas. They’d be Leave it to Beavers.

The Expedited Judicial System: The judicial system in America is anything but fast, until it comes to soap operas. On soap operas, people aren’t only tried and convicted at ridiculously quick rates, but they are also put up for execution in the blink of an eye. Still, oddly enough, those who are put on death row are often only there because they are framed; the true soap opera villains seem to evade arrest at all times. Figures, they are celebrities.

The Pretty People: Perhaps the biggest reason we both love and hate soap operas is because of the pretty people. They are both fun to watch and hard on the ego. In an attempt to diminish the self-esteem of viewers, nearly everyone on soap operas is gorgeous. Thanks a lot, DOOL; I’m now going to go stick my head in the oven.

For those unable to watch their favorite shows on television, iPod and soap operas are in cahoots and many, including my beloved DOOL, are now available for downloading.

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About JM Jordan

  • Soaps were actually specifically created that way. Back in the 1950s, soaps were formulated so that women could enjoy them while not letting their housework “suffer”. The slow, repetative story lines meant that if a housewife had to vacuum or do the dishes, she could do so and know that she could easily catch up with the story or not worry about missing an important plot point. Similarly, the structure does not require 100% attention to follow.

  • Several years ago I had an idea, to write parody for a Soap Opera based on Freud’s protege’s and patients diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and later misplaced it and then totally forgot about it. I remember the title because of the sensitive subject matter. It was to be called, “The Jung and the Restless.”