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Discuss the importance of realism in British soap opera.

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Discuss the Importance of Realism in British Soap Opera Peter Harding Corrie, 'Enders and Brookie are all one. Family Affairs and The Archers are too. These shows are all a part of the great institution known as the British Soap Opera's. Originating from when they were U.S. daytime drama programs sponsored by soap manufacturers, they were aimed at 1930's housewives with Opera ironically mocking the storylines that were thought of as being trivial and domestic. Soaps have always remained melodramatic, outrageous and containing high emotional content. They explore the domestic and personal worlds of their characters, which make the audience become more fascinated with the everyday drama of relationships and communities then with apparent 'serious' events such as politics or current affairs. Soaps are mainly revolved around an established location (a street, close, square or an area). Some Soap, such as The Bill and Casualty are known to be occupational soaps, revolving around a workplace. The key factors in Soap are the community - places where everyone knows each other making storylines a lot more possible. The Local pub is a place where gossip can be spread fast and enemies cannot avoid one another. ...read more.


Some issues are long-standing such as alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, abortion, drugs and rape. Soap operas tend to reflect as many social issues as they can, which can be seen as a attempt to educate and support viewers. Often there is a help line number for victims who have suffered the same fate as the character after the episode. The long storyline of Mark Fowler in Eastenders being HIV positive was started in the 80's - a time when the disease was being discovered and the show took the issue and proved that the suffering characters are like real people and aren't protected by their fictional state. The storyline was followed until Marks eventual death in 2003. This also shows that every single dialogue written in Soaps can influence the future plots. However, some storylines aren't so reflective. We've just seen 'Dirty' Den Watts reappear in EastEnders, despite having 'died' 10years ago. The writers wrote him back in by revisiting the day when his body was dragged out of a river and that cryptically his body wasn't identified. If he had been identified, this storyline wouldn't be gripping 17million viewers currently. ...read more.


Soaps mostly rely on conflict with one another, as do most things; it comes down to Good vs. Bad. Audiences all go through conflict with one another, believing they are right. To have characters do the same provides the audience with a reassurance that everyone disagrees and that conflict is inevitable. There is a disagreement about the value of Soap Opera. Some say Soaps are 'Junk' TV - predictable and limited in stimulation of the mind. For others they are examples of realism, reflecting the society they depict by tackling social issues in a dramatic form. Thus, the importance of realism in soap operas is vital to their success. Cemented as their own institution, avid fans can cling onto story lines and events in a bid to relate to scenarios in their life. Although a strong example, the HIV Mark Fowler storyline has the possibility to help and support victims so much that if they actually remembered that Mark Fowler is fictional the story crumbles and they may feel vulnerable and alone. Having the empathy of someone else going through the same can encourage an audience so much that the realistic features found in Soaps should be exact, so the audience can accept the story and relate. To me, it seems anything but trivial and domestic. Words: 1,209 ...read more.

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