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Soap Operas.

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Lauren Martone 10/21/03 Soap Operas A pregnant woman has been kidnapped but managed to break away from her captors. She hides in a cavern and has a "talk" with her unborn child. "Don't worry, I'll never let them get their hands on you!" she promises her baby. Just then she clutches her belly and screams, "Oh no! Not now!" She is in full-blown labor, and she is all alone! Her screams have alerted her captors as to where she is hiding! The camera zeros in on her terrorized face, contorted in pain and the music swells...just another day on a soap opera called "Passions". In this paper I've decided to look at the genre of Soap Operas. The term "soap opera" was invented by the American press in the 1930s to refer to the very popular genre of serialized radio dramas, which, by 1940, was responsible for nearly 90% of all commercially sponsored daytime broadcast hours. The "soap" in soap opera referred to their sponsorship by manufacturers of household cleaning products, while "opera" suggested an ironic nod to high art. These stories always take the form of serials. A serial is a story told through a series of installments. Unlike other "series" on TV in which one story line doesn't usually carry over into the next weeks' tale, each episode is its own story. ...read more.


Competition was fierce among the three networks, and the race was on to come up with a soap opera "with a difference". One such excursion was a most unusual daytime soap called "Dark Shadows." This show was an over the top gothic serial, complete with scary mansion, and a two hundred year old vampire named Barnabus. It ran for five years and continues to have a cult following. During this innovative period in soaps, Agnes Nixon, who was up until this point a dialogue writer for and the head writer of, "The Guiding Light," presented ABC with the idea of a soap that would highlight ethnic differences, which was unheard of until this point. "One Life to Live," which started its run in 1968, ran its story line around the Lord family. They were a wealthy WASP family whose patriarch, Victor Lord, owned a newspaper. But instead of concentrating only on the Lords, the plot line had them establish ties with three working-class and "ethnic" families: the Irish-American Rileys, the Polish-American Woleks, and after a while, the Jewish-American Siegels. Differences were woven into the plotlines mainly in terms of romances between the characters. Another of Nixon's soaps, "All My Children," on ABC, which started in 1970, tackled some of the thorny issues around the Vietnam War. When one of the characters was presumed killed in action in Vietnam, at his funeral his weeping mother gave an anti-war speech. ...read more.


But then American women began to work outside the home in record numbers for peacetime America and daytime viewing began to shrink. Even with the advent of VCRs, those numbers that recorded then later watched programming did not figure into ratings data. The advertisers did not count those as ad-worthy, because they figured most people watching recorded programming don't look at the ads. In recent years, with the advent of cable access channels, many commercial free, the advertisers have thrown their money behind cheaply produced but widely watched talk shows such as "Montel Williams," "Ricki Lake," and "Jerry Springer." Recently, imported serials, which are less expensive to import and show than putting together new, local ones, have become a business bonanza to sponsors looking to spark an international, or ethnic but local consumer base. It works the other way around, too, with NBC's, "The Bold and the Beautiful," set in the fashion industry, attracting a substantial international following. Even though it's been poked fun at and looked down upon from its inception by some, the soap opera has proved to be the most lasting advertising vehicle ever invented. It's the most popular genre of TV drama worldwide today. It has staying power like no other form of television, and has garnered more viewers worldwide for longer than any other broadcast medium. Stories about our own place, time, and social situations always evoke our deepest feelings, and no medium does it better than the soap opera. Source http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/s/htmls/soapopera/soapopera.htm ...read more.

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