I just don’t get soap operas. It’s as if TV has absorbed pantomime and created a low-rent version drama that repeats itself on a long loop of farce, histrionics and hyperbole. The occasional performance or plot line which raises itself above the mire of mediocrity does little to make up for the fact that the repetition of the same stories, simply with different protagonists make soaps, to me at least , stupefyingly dull.
Soap operas have at times highlighted social issues such as religious, racial and sexual intolerance. They can create empathy in people of lifestyles and situations that the viewer has not experienced directly but this is the exception more than the rule and can only become increasingly rare in a cash-starved TV industry whose search of ratings hits is overriding any public service element of their franchise agreements.
Ratings are pursued in many ways but sex and its consequences is often a prime candidate for inclusion into a plot. Who fucked who, who’s the daddy or who gave what STI to who will always bring in the viewers, even if it’s simply to tut disapprovingly at the situation the characters find themselves in rather than address and understand the issues that give rise to the behaviour and situations.
In the UK Hollyoaks is renown for it’s sexy leading actresses. Nice to look at but no matter how good the actresses and scripts are (and from what I’ve seen the scripts are pants) if the primary motivation for watching is to see who’s getting semi-naked this week then the show isn’t going to be tackling many heavyweight social issues.
I know there’s a demand for entertainment but have the TV companies forgotten that the best was to educate and encourage debate about important issues is to couch the stimulus for this in an entertaining format.
Much as watching fit young girls in skimpy outfits is appealing to most men I think those same males would have to agree that a pert bum and a full cleavage is not usually the start of an insightful discussion about the role of women in modern society. Or perhaps it is and I’m missing the point.