Tips on How to Watch Any Soap (From an Old Timer to a Newbie)

Soap Operas. They have been around since radio ruled the world.  It has developed into a genre that has, no matter what thrown at it, maintained its place in the world of television. Recently, I’ve noticed there have been quite a few new fans to the genre which is exciting, and I hope the trend continues. However, some people seem confused as to how to watch it. Yelling about plots, characters, writing and how the show is advertised when longtime fans of the genre know it’s all part of the game.  So, here are some things to remember while watching any soap opera.

  • Always Look Deeper/ Face Value Doesn’t Always Exist

I hear this often. How soaps aren’t that deep. They are trashy. They don’t provide any real thought or value. They are the sugar donuts of television. Well, I will profoundly disagree about that. When people think soap operas, they think the 80s. The big hair, harsh lighting, and bad sets. Things have changed since then. That includes the writing.  Soaps have their silly lighter plots, but since the late 80s soaps have been making their viewers think beyond the story, they are telling.  Not only are characters getting to develop a deep connection to the audience they also get to develop9 layers which informs their actions.  It makes viewers help understand what is happening and even gives them a reason to care more.  Soaps have to compete with competition that stole their formula. They had to go deeper. For people to say that soaps aren’t that serious or deep need to take another look. Things have changed and for the better.

  • The Writing, No Matter How Crazy, Always Has a Grounding Force

One of soap operas big draws or detractors is the writing. Sometimes it can be stupid. Sometimes the dialogue or situations are so ridiculous even the hardcore soap opera fans roll their eyes and take a break for the day. However, no matter how crazy or over the top, the dialogue is there are always moments or kernels of honesty. Words that need to be heard. Words that highlight or bring the show back down to the ground. The conversation between two family members, lovers or someone near death. There is always a grounding force. Quiet words among the crazy. Look for those moments. They are precious and provide much-needed character development.

  • Don’t Trust Media/Interviews

This seems to fall more for UK media than US media.  The fledgling magazine industry has to up their game. They need that hook to get people to click on their articles or buy their magazines.  That means making everything sensualized. Everything is life and death. Characters that aren’t pure evil are being played up as the evilest characters ever. Also, the sanitization of characters becomes extreme. They want to create differences and parallels to get consumers attention. People who don’t need that type of sensationalism get caught up in the extremes, and it gets upsetting or annoying. For others, it creates pictures of characters or situations in the wrong light. That is why it is confusing when one watches the actual show or episode in question.  Also, actors are trying to sell the story or their characters. They will never give you the truth. NEVER. Never trust an actor’s words when it comes to storylines. They need to sell it just as hard, and they want the audience to have a good time with any surprises on the horizon.

  • Any Character is Capable of Anything

Yes. I get this a lot. ‘No way could so and so do that!’ Yes, they can and they will at some point. To make storylines work characters will do objectionable or noble things.  Soaps are designed to be a heightened version of real life. The characters are like the viewers and will end up doing things for the right and wrong reasons. YES. Your favorites will screw up on the regular. Your love to hate will make the right decisions for the right reasons. Much like life, people can change and soaps reflect that.

  • Unless Your Favorite Character/Couple is Leaving Soon, They will Never Be Super Happy for Long

This is more for new fans coming into soaps with the mindset of nighttime dramas.  Your favorite couple? The one you are rooting to make it? To defeat all odds? They will always be doing that. They will have their moments of happiness but be aware of those moments. When a couple is at its happiest and doesn’t have conflict? That is when the hand of doom is coming.  There are different couples with different agendas, but the super couples will never be happy for long. The comedy couples will be happy but only used in one capacity or until the writers find them a good story.  The mid-player couples that are on and off, but the audience doesn’t notice or mind.  Doesn’t matter. Just be aware, unlike a nighttime drama that is being played out in 22 episodes and then a nice long break, soaps are constantly moving. Never to break for anything (holidays mostly) so things can’t stay rosy for long.  It’s the most difficult level of the shipping game. It’s not for the faint of heart.  When shipping a soap couple, you need to have a strong heart and stomach.

There are more tips, but I’ll end it there. Soap operas are designed to reflect our daily lives but heightened and more dramatic.  We are meant to relate, cheer, cry, hate, and love these characters and the places they live.  If you remember those tips I listed above, you can have a great experience watching too.  It won’t always be perfect (what is?) but remember the biggest tip of all, sit back and enjoy the journey. You never know where it is going on a soap.

Do you have any tips to add? Is there anything you would like me to cover on this blog? Please feel free to leave a comment down below or tweet me @AmandaJ718! Until next time, you know where to find me. That’s right. In front of the TV.

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