I used to hate soap operas.
You know, those TV series that try to getviewersto care about their characters by making a meal of their problems. Shows like, Generations, Isidingo,The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives.
My feelings may have been influenced by the fact that there was only one TV in our house when I was growing up, so my brother, sisters and I often fought about what we should watch.
I held my own when my mother stayed out of it, but that was not always the case.
One afternoon, when I chose to play basketball instead of sitting in front of the box, my sisters lured her into the TV room to watchGeneral Hospital, one of the longest running US soaps.
Unfortunately, she got hooked, and a variety of soap operas soon became an afterschool ritual for her and my sisters. That meant I had to watch Bugs Bunny and the other cartoonsthat came on in the afternoons at a friend’s house.
It seemed so unfair. I mean nothing good ever happened on the soaps and there weren’t many laughs, while Bugs, Daffy Duck and the other Loony Tune characters were quite possiblythe height of American humour.
That’s what I thought when I was a kid, anyway.
I still believe those cartoons are as good as American humour gets, but I have changed the way I feel about the soaps.
That may be the result of studying television programming at university as part of my speech, communications and broadcasting programme.
Yeah, I got a degree for studying thatstuff.
Anyway, one of myprofessors explained that soap operas are popular because most people like to see and hear about other people’s problems.
‘They feel better about their own lives when they see that even rich and famous people can be miserable.’
I remember his words, but for a long time I tried not toagree with them. Now however, I do.
That’s becausethe people who use social media these daysoften paint the opposite picture.
That is, most Facebook and other posts seem to be aimed at making the person writing them look as good, and as happy, as possible…and from what I can see, a lot of the people who look at that picture find it depressing.
‘My new job is great’, ‘Just bought a BMW’, ‘We just love our new house.’
That sort of thing. Many of those claims, however, are not true, or are seriously exaggerated, and most people don’t share their failures and disappointments on line.
But if readers don’t know that, they can feel their own lives are not up to scratch.
Those exaggerated posts can also harm the authors when they can’t live up to their online image.
So, I’ve come around to agreeing with my professor and the people who write the soaps.
Well, at least to the point that if those shows make people feel better about their own lives, then watching them is better than reading social media posts.
An even better option, though, might be to give them both a miss andwatch Bugs Bunny cartoons instead.