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Are soap operas a waste of time?

Street Sign

Above:  Coronation Street logo, a show popular in a number of countries.

 

Soap operas, love them or hate them, are an important part of the lives of millions, if not billions of people.  Every country has at least one or two to call their own.  America has Days Of Our Lives, New Zealand has Shortland Street, Afghanistan has the popular radio show, ‘New Home, New Life.’

A journalist for Canadian newspaper, The Globe And Mail, wrote a piece describing Coronation Street as “common or garden escapism”, saying “there is nothing there.”  But, having said that, perhaps there is not much there when you think about the value of watching football, or a movie?

Imagine a movie that continues, week after week – you can watch the same characters time and time again, in new material.  That sounds pretty good, am I right?  At least that would be good if the original movie was good in the first place.

I think what the Canadian journalist, John Doyle, was missing was that it takes a few days to begin to appreciate a soap opera.  You can’t just watch for five minutes and expect it to be anything other than confusing.  It does take a certain amount of dedication to enjoy a soap opera.

It is hard to overstate just how much of people’s expectations of normality derive from watching soap operas – if something happens on the soap opera, it makes us feel that it should be happening in real life too.  This can be comforting, when we are reassured that our own problems happen to the characters on TV too (and by extension, to many normal people);  and it can even be worrying, in a keeping-up-with-the-Jones sort of way.

Of course, television is a one-way transmission, so the people onscreen are most certainly not actually our friends.  But it is carefully planned so that all of the viewers’ questions are answered, and all of their indignant demands for justice are met with retribution for the guilty party so that when we hate a character for whatever crime, he will inevitably get punished.  In this way, there is no need for us to have any input into the show, because exactly what we want to happen will happen anyway.  It’s like the most perfect family member or friend, who is so impossibly perfect that you never need to say a single word to him, he does exactly what you want at all times.

So do soap operas have no value?  They soothe our souls and makes us happy.  They keep us in touch with (what the writers think is) reality.  Life is not all about working and making money.

 

 

Posted in Discussion, Opinions, Philosophical posts, Writings

60 Comments

  • Everybody likes an escape from their everyday lives, and soap operas allow them to escape into their favorite character’s lives. That has plenty of value to me.

  • I watch soap operas once a week, it’s not a daily affair. Watching t.v. everyday tends to keep me from doing the really important tasks.
    I think it’s best to listen to news daily and watch soap operas once a week, in order to maximize time.

  • I think soap operas have value as well. They are a form of entertainment like many other shows. I actually grew up watching a soap opera. My grandmother watched The Young and The Restless and I started enjoying it after some time had passed. Of course everyone has their own opinion, however I see no harm in watching them at all.

  • I love Coronation Street.I’m American my husband is british-we watch it religiously-our kids hate it-but we LOVE IT..lol

  • I find it interesting that my grandmother, who disapproves adultery, crime, blackmail, etc., finds these soaps so enthralling. She loves them! In her real life she wouldn’t want to associate with people involved in such things, but yet she can’t miss a day of her soaps. I believe for the older generations, the scandal is appealing because TV is the only place they indulge. Younger generations watch these things play out on social media (though not to the same extent) daily.

    • The Most Ordinary Man Ever

      November 12, 2015 at 4:12 am

      Soaps are also popular in prisons where everyone has a boring life, I have heard. People need the drama. Also I think that soap operas usually try to explain both sides of the evil person’s personality – we see the whole picture, so that when a character is nasty to another character, we can sympathise and understand. This helps us in real life to remember to be forgiving and understanding of people. Then we can look at our own lives and think, maybe that person who was nasty to us today, was in a similar situation to the character that we understand and like on the television… Thank you very much for your comment.

  • When I saw the title of your post, I chuckled. You see, ever since my childhood, my mum and I’ve been addicted to watching The Bold and The Beautiful, and my dad can’t stand it! He always whines about how the plot is unrealistic, and that it’s all about who romances whom. He doesn’t get it. To us, it was always about the current intrigue – will Sally Spectra sneak into Forrester Creations tower and steal their priceless fashion projects? Will Brooke or Taylor win Ridge’s heart? The many ridiculous scenes, like woman fighting with her daughter-in-law in a swimming pool only made the experience more fun! Not everything has to be realistic, sometimes it’s nice to watch something funny and engaging.
    I also agree about the importance of representation in soap operas, especially in regards to minorities, people suffering with rare or misunderstood diseases, etc. – helping people get over their prejudices is doing the God’s work.

  • no soap opera’s are not a waste of time this is because they build us in love reality which take place in life.

    • Yes you are right soap opera’s are not a waste of time, in fact, they teach us how to love and to be love.

  • Soap opera is interesting, they are not a waste of time because they educate us and also add value to our life.

  • They are not a waste of time because they educate us and also add value to our life.

  • Eh…if you were to ask me, I think they are indeed a waste of time if trying to take them seriously. One’s own life is going to differ greatly from the soap opera in question, so why immerse yourself in it?

    • Plenty of people’s lives are quite like the ones in soap operas–they have relationships, they argue, they experience tragedies, they have children, the get deceived, their boss is an arse etc. But even if not, why is that the metric of value? People who never take an interest in lives unlike their own, real or fictional, are inclined to be both dull as ditch water, poorly informed, and probably bigoted as well.

  • soaps are good to relate to especially if they are doing certain storylines on something that affects people in everyday life most of the time they dont relate to reality like example on eastenders no one seems to have a washing machine they go to the laundrete or they skip off to the pub in the middle of the day lol

  • I don’t think soap operas have no value and such a waste of time. It is indeed eat our time especially if we do it in a daily basis, however it can also make us feel relax for quite some time. It can also let us see and feel different emotions and get involve with the characters that actors portray. Some soap operas can happen in real life and some are too much. Well, nothing is impossible though. I enjoy watching Korean soap operas because most Koreans are good actors and their gestures are cute. It is a phenomenon nowadays.

  • Honestly this kind of genre on television is quite low on standards. It shows the same plot twist every time.

  • I don’t think that it is a waste of time, we are responsible of what we are doing and of our choices, so if it is our choice to watch some soap operas then we must know that there are also things we need to consider, but all in all soap operas gives the reality ideas of life, many of us enjoy it because we can relate. As far as we are happy and we are not abusing things we can still enjoy it

  • Maria Christine Due

    July 26, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Soaps are part of almost everyone’s household. They mirror our lives but of course to some extent of exaggeration with all the twists and intrigues. Maybe they are somehow outlets of our emotions and hidden desires or frustrations that someone else will cringe upon.

    And I agree that escapism is not bad. It keeps us sane from harsh realities. Everyone has their own way to relax and be entertained.

  • Sounds like common garden elitism. My entertainment is worthy, yours is not. People clearly get all sorts of value from soap operas: fun, a source of conversations, comfort and a feeling of company, or whatever. I personally don’t enjoy them but see no reason to piss in another guy’s cereal.

  • I think that they are an absolute waste of time, especially those that run forever and ever. For these kind of soaps to keep it interesting everyone will marry each one another eventually or have an affair with someone in the soap.I don’t think this is a reflection of reality.Those who watch soaps are actually trying to escape reality. I think we would all be better off trying to create the life we want instead of watching someone else’s life.

  • it depends on what soap operas are you watching. there are some soap operas worth watching who gives us a life lesson which sometimes affects our lives.

  • Soap operas are good they make you feel excited and clueless on what will happen next. Infairness to the director of soap operas they know how to make people thrilled so they have to wait for the next episode.

    • Yes I believe so. When you are watching soap opera,you have the feeling that you dont want to miss the episodes. You wanted to be on the loop and never fail watching it.

  • In my opinion, yes they play a significant role in the industry. Most soap operas, especially in the developing countries, are the most accessible form of entertainment, particularly for those who are less fortunate to own international cables and whatnot. These soap operas sometimes serve as past time for different people, mostly those who are not technical enough to criticize an notice the quality of these shows, considering that most of them are quite cliche and not that good. To sum it up, it really play a significant role and has value to some. But for me, personally, it’s just a repetitive story with different character names and setting.

  • I don’t know that soap operas are a waste of time any more or less than anything else on tv. They’re not usually a high caliber of acting, I would say. I watched a ton of them growing up because my mom always had them on, and they were kinda meh. I have to say, now that I watch Riverdale with my daughter, it’s just like a soap opera in almost every way, and it appeals to kids. It’s kinda weird, because the characters are supposed to be rather young, but the actors portraying them are a bit older, and the story lines are shockingly adult for a high school setting.

  • I, personally think that soap operas are not a waste of time. I admit that I do not love or even watch soap operas, but for other people it might be their way of letting out stress, escaping from their problems, and many more. With these, I can say that nothing is a waste of time as long as you appreciate and love whatever it is you are doing or watching. Since there are a lot of people who loves operas and are being helped by it, it is really not a waste of time.

  • Not really a fan of Soap Operas and we got rid of our TV in 2012 so they aren’t a problem any more but they can suck you in and become addictive.
    It is escapism and allows you to forget your own problems and focus on a characters problems.
    Stopped watching most of the UK Soap Operas as I became bored with them and they could become rather depressing.
    The exception is Emmerdale which I enjoy for its humour and the setting of the Yorkshire Dales is nice. I am in London and now feel like I would love to live in the countryside.

  • In my own opinion I would say that soap opera is not waste of time. It becomes waste of time the way how we use it. People might say yes it is but it depends and case to case basis. For instance, if you have loaded of work like house chores and you did not accomplish it instead you watch soap opera for more hours,then it would be a waste of time. It will useful I guess like it will make you relax and stress free for awhile. Too much is not good. Things become waste of time if we use it too much.

  • Soap opera are absolutely not a waste of time. Many people find this amusing. Even thought I’m not a fun I totally disagree that it is a waste of time because I have some friends who are not bored with it. For them its like watching block buster movies or watching popular singers concert.

  • I don’t think soap operas are a waste of time.
    There are a lot of shows out there that tackles issues that we can all relate too. From Family matters to Friendship, Love, Ambition, Personal struggles and many more. These shows can actually be a good source of encouragement. We can learn from the characters in the story and get valuable lessons from them.
    We just have to make sure that the soap operas that we would watch has some substance in them.
    Time is only wasted if we spend it on shows that are just meaningless. And just like anything in life, we must lean how to spend our time wisely.
    And lastly, nothing is wasted if we enjoy what we do or in this case, what we watch.

  • Anything is a waste of time if your not enjoying it, but if you like operas i can’t see the reason to call it a waste of time. Most of the time people judge others if their view is different from their own. A friend who’s accompanying you to an opera who she or he is not into it but on which you love would make two things. One is that your spending your time doing something you like and two your friend is wasting his or her time so it can be both ways depending on the situation.

  • Of course not. In fact, soap operas are the place where you see real talent. People perform live. They need to memorize everything because there are no cuts when they perform. Most play that is presented on soap operas is almost the same and familiar. What makes it different is how they perform the play or how they make the play unique in order for the audience to be astounded.

  • My history with watching soap opera. One summer many moons ago when I was very young and I was at home all day with nothing to do, my big sister decided we should start watching soap operas. We got hooked! Those shows are addictive! But … I can’t even remember when it happened. Perhaps it was when my sister started working and was no longer at home with me during the day. One day I just stopped watching them. One day, many moons later, just for fun, I tuned in and … I don’t know. Soap operas in the 60s and 70s versus the year 2000 and beyond? Boring! Guess I outgrew them. That’s American soap operas. I don’t know anything about soap operas in other countries.

  • Soap opera is never a waste of time, it is a good entertainment. I find it classy and unique. From costume, voices, choice of music, emotions.I feel it’s souls and how it connects to people.Definitely, remarkable!

  • Nahla Macatangcop

    August 3, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    for me I love watching soap opera not just in TV but also in stage play, it’s because soap opera showing the lives of our past which we can be proud of of where did we came from. actually I started fell in love with soap opera when I entered in college, our english proffessor ordered us to watch and create a term paper from the story, at first I almost fell asleep saying it’s so much boring then it’s bcause I have to finish watching carefully I decided to watch without blinking my eyes, although I did blink but just sometimes. then when It’s reached the middle of the story I felt like wanna see more then the story get more excited then at last it made me cried and said I want to watch more.

  • for me I love watching soap opera not just in TV but also in stage play, it’s because soap opera showing the lives of our past which we can be proud of of where did we came from. actually I started fell in love with soap opera when I entered in college, our english proffessor ordered us to watch and create a term paper from the story, at first I almost fell asleep saying it’s so much boring then it’s bcause I have to finish watching carefully I decided to watch without blinking my eyes, although I did blink but just sometimes. then when It’s reached the middle of the story I felt like wanna see more then the story get more excited then at last it made me cried and said I want to watch more.

  • When I was younger I used to watch Soap Operas with my Grandmother and feel the thrill of waiting for the storyline on the next day but now I would rather watch movies, Netflix and TV Series with more action and firefight. I am not saying that Soap Operas are not educational nor informative, they actually are but I got bored with the pace of the stories and would rather watch movies with the whole script shown in 1 to 2 hours’ time.

  • No, they aren’t waste of time. Soap operas provide you a lot of things such as entertainment, lessons, joy and many more. They give us ideas on how things work in some ways and how they couldn’t. Most people, especially the teens, enjoy watching these shows as they feel the romance which they could not experience in real life. We also get to see different places and as if experience the life and culture of a place portrayed by the soap opera.
    For me I honestly like these shows as they give me comfort and relaxation especially after a hard days work.

  • Soap Operas is one of the entertainment that artist or various celebrities portray a story that we can follow their segments everyday. It is not a waste of time because it’s the viewers choice if they will watch it or not.

  • I grew up watching soap operas, and I’ve noticed most follow a certain theme. It has also become culturally ingrained in every household where I come from. There are also lots of remakes that I think cater to different generations. lol

  • NO. Its not that bad to watch soap opera’s specially having some time for yourself. You know, getting away from stressful life. Your job, your boss. Soap operas are good just for adults though. Just like me. I love to watch those movies with great story and lead actors who are very professional on their roles. Sometime I can relate to the story and sometimes it makes me cry. Who am I kidding? yeah.. Its soap opera after all.

  • Anything can be viewed as a waste of time depending on the person. I haven’t met a person that doesn’t like some form of entertainment and some like soap operas. While I do have some favorite television shows I love to watch and I’m always ready for the newest episode/season to come out, I don’t know if they would fall under the “soap opera” category. My sister and mom watch shows that definitely do. My sister is married to a Mexican and is into telenovelas and even her husband is into them. I’m more into shows like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Games of Thrones and such.

  • In my opinion Soap Operas is not a waste of time most of the time the stories featured in some Soap Operas relate to ordinary people lives. Some people get’s motivation of the characters and the theme of some Soap Opera’s.

  • Soap opera audiences are basically your captives. It’s not like they’re skipping work to watch their soaps. They’re already stuck at home as it is. You can make them watch pretty much whatever you want, with even the flimsiest of dramatic arcs and cliffhangers.

  • I’m not very fond of watching soap operas myself because I think some of them are just over the top and over-dramatic at some point but I don’t consider it a waste of time though. We cannot deny the fact that some of the scenarios do happen in real life. Many people can relate to the characters and even cry when the protagonist dies or got hurt. This is mainly the reason why I avoid watching soap operas because I easily get emotional when the main character is suffering. Unfortunately I’m a crybaby so I prefer watching romantic comedies genre instead.

  • Recently the soaps have been covering a lot of relevant issues. Depression, domestic violence and miscarriage have all been topics covered on Hollyoaks in the last few months. At the end of each soap is a web link telling people where to find support or more information for these issues.
    I think with some of these things they are able to reach out to people who may not seek help otherwise.
    Some people enjoy the drama but I do feel like it may be a bit of a waste of time. It takes a while to get into and can also become a bit addictive.

  • Watching soap operas is like a therapy. It is your way to relax after working all day. The purpose of TV soap is not just to entertain viewers but also to inspire them. Most of us can relate to the character in the soap. Whatever happens in the story can reflect in our own lives. Some stories can give us a lesson and motivation. I know that some of the soap operas are idealistic. But remember that most of them were written based on true story.

  • I was born in a timeline where watching soap operas were as essential as taking a bath, or having a heavy meal for breakfast. I have witnessed how my aunts bawled their eyes, crying whenever the main character of their favorite soap opera gets hurt. Or how enthusiastic they were whenever the main couple in the drama was having the moment of their life. Soap operas have been a huge part of our culture and has affected us in many ways. Some teaches us the true face of life, it’s meaning, color, struggles, success. Some teaches us how to cope up and overcome those struggles. So I don’t think soap operas have no value. Maybe they just have their own way of educating people through showing what life really is, what life should be, and what you should do with it.

  • I don’t think soap operas are a waste of time. Our shows here in my country tackles the value of family, friends and society. There is also one soap opera that is depicting the everyday scenarios of my country, some are about poverty and a like, but with a little drama to add some cheesy scenes for the viewers. It will only be a waste if the soap operas are about useless dramas. It will sure be a waste of time.

  • Soap Operas, are good kind of movie or film showing that is based on a series of events. As it is divide in Chapters, where filmmakers can manipulate that certain story. In which a certain plot of the story can be changed whatever the audiences or viewers wanted or requested to. Not all Soaps do this technique, but some that I watched, does it. It is being done through surveys and social media comments nowadays that make soap operas be famous. The story plot can be extended adding characters or any issues that are relevant with the trending issues facing by their country or by the issues worldwide. Specially nowadays, social media platforms help to share the said trends and to comment what would they want best for their favorite soap operas. But, of course the Producer or the Director will decide reviewing those request by the viewers on what would really they like to plot on that certain story. Lucky if the viewers would take good at it, and be sorry if the viewers would not like the plotting of the story. Thus, no kind of film will be satisfactory if you are not into this kind of genre. For, me if I am caught at the first up to the third episode, then i will then continuously watch the upcoming episodes.

  • Most definitely, it’s not a waste of time. Come on guys, be fair! It’s our own way to be entertained, relaxed and enjoyed moment of our life. Each and every one of us has different perspective in life. There’s no harm in watching soaps unless you take it seriously, right? Actually, it helps me to deal in real life (of course, not all the time). Even though, they are exaggerating some scenes but most of the soaps are based in real life with a twist of imaginary events but it tends the viewers to feel excitement for the next episode. And it’s great to see people who are happy on what they love to do. Don’t miss ¼ of your life, so try watching soap:)

  • I actually depends on the story of the soap opera, if it’s too cliche then it’s a waste of time but its not it’s okay. However, in my case i would say that in the present soap opera i find it a waste of time and to cliche because it seems like the story line of any soap operas in the television are just the same. The only difference between these soap operas are the actors who are portraying the character and of course there are some little alteration in the story but for me it always looks the same.

  • Soap operas were made to make money through advertisement.
    First of, they try to prolong the story to continue as much as possible, to make the viewer watch the next episode until the end so that the producers can get all that ad revenue.
    Furthermore the writers are tasked to write episodes almost daily, making the writing horrendous as they don’t have enough time to polish it , leaving a lot of plot holes in the process.
    Also it’s a dying medium. Not everyone can watch 600 episodes of a soap opera and be able to follow the story. Even if you miss 1 episode because of work or personal issues you might get confused. People prefer netflix because they can watch whenever they want and the TV shows are usually short and sweet.
    In summary, I dislike soap operas and I think that they will soon disappear as a medium.

  • Soap opera’s is not a waste of time, for others who love it, at least. I sometimes watch soap opera if the story line tickles my curiosity, but if the protagonist’s sufferings are seemed endless, that is the time that I quit watching it. It stresses me so much and it will bore me in the long run. I salute those people that can endure watching soap opera’s from the beginning till the end of the story.

  • The way I see it is, if you’re interested in watching Soap Operas, it’s no different than someone who is interesting in watching a sitcom such as Big Bang Theory, or perhaps something like sports. It’s all entertainment at the end of the day and it is all subjective to the individual on what they like and don’t like.

  • I am not a fan of soap operas so if I forced myself into this kind of thing. Then that would a waste of time. My point is it depends on the person. There are situations that somethings are waste of time for you, but not for others.

  • Soap operas for me has both positive and negative sides. They serve as relaxation for some and support for those fans who have idols. But for me it is a waste of time. Rather than watching some, I prefer to watch those videos that will add knowledge and that will be of use. Remember that we can’t turn back time so better use it for productive activities.

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