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What is a soap opera?

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Media Essay Soap Operas What is a soap opera? A soap opera is a long running television or radio programme that is shown regularly, based on the everyday lives of lots of different characters living in a close-knit community. Soap operas always have a central meeting place (usually a pub) where the characters spend a lot of time, and most of the action takes place. For example The Queen Vic in Eastenders, or The Rover's Return in Coronation Street. The name soap opera comes from the first soaps produced in America in the forties. They were sponsored by advertisers, most commonly soap powder companies. Nowadays all sorts of things, including chocolate brands, sponsor soaps. Some of the most popular soaps in England are: Eastenders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and The Archers. Soap operas are made and imported all over the world, in places such as Spain, France and America, so different countries have different favourite soaps. Some imported soaps we get are Neighbours and Home And Away, both from Australia. ...read more.


depression and self-harm in Hollyoaks, sex changes in Coronation Street and teenage pregnancies, which feature in most soaps. The storylines show characters coping and dealing with their problems, and you can gain quite a lot of knowledge about certain issues, just by following the simple storylines. However soaps portray violence and adultery etc. often as a problem easily solved, where the people affected recover physically and emotionally from their traumas very quickly. Such as the domestic violence Little Mo in Eastenders endured for years from her abusive husband. She leaves him, and six months on she is living happily ever after with a new husband. That is not a very likely scenario. This sort of thing could have the effect of making people's real life struggles seem insignificant, and make them feel they should just let their problems sort themselves out, actually having a negative effect on someone's situation. Cliffhangers are used at the end of each episode to create suspense before the next one, encouraging people to watch the next episode to find out what happens. ...read more.


They stop being able to separate reality from fiction, and believe the characters and settings really exist. Actors get sent baby clothes and card when their character has a baby, or they get spat on in the streets for cheating on their 'partner' or 'murdering their neighbour'. In extreme cases people might stalk and threaten soap actors, as they confuse them for the character they play, or the things the character's done. On the whole though, soaps are enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, and while there is still an audience for them, companies will carry on making them. They are a cheap-to-make, popular form of entertainment that will probably go on for a long time. I think they are a good escape for most people, and have a positive effect on most peoples' lives. Getting them talking about difficult issues. Everyone knows something about the storylines, even if they don't watch the soap, as soap operas are such a large part of modern culture. Small talk just as often features Eastenders as it does the weather. ...read more.

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