“Days of Our Lives”, “All My Children”, “General Hospital”, “The Young and the Restless”, “The Bold and the Beautiful” or “As the World Turns” – which is the soap opera for you? And what ritual will you and your roommates come up with this year to make soap opera watching a special event of the day?
Kathy Harrington, a senior at QU, has been following General Hospital since she was in high school.
“My mother used to watch it and it was on when I came home from school, then when I came to college my roommates watched it and we used to sit down and watch it together,” she said.
Now Harrington and her roommate tape it every day and watch it before they go to sleep.
“It’s a mindless entertainment,” she said. “It’s acting, it’s not real.”
If she can’t watch it every day, Harrington tries to watch it at least twice a week to keep up with everything, while Mandy Capistron, a QU freshman, only watches “General Hospital” on Fridays.
“I might watch it more now if I have time, but I can watch it once a week and still figure out what happened,” she said.
Senior Tracy Moran, however, have been watching “All My Children” for ten years.
“I tape it every day,” she said. ” I have my VCR set to record it, and I’ve seen everything that’s ever been on.”
Moran said that the soap opera has become a part of her life, and she really feels like she is close to the characters.
“One of my favorite characters, Gillian, got shot in the head and died,” she said, and admitted that she did cry when watching that episode.
Andrea Borsini, a junior at QU, said she watches soap operas once in a while if there’s nothing else on.
“It’s really not my type of TV,” she said. “It’s nothing wrong with watching it, but I think it’s just an escape from reality. It’s a way to focus on someone else’s life instead of what might be wrong in your own.”
Junior Kelly Carter agreed.
“Soap operas doesn’t appeal to my interest,” she said.
Carter watches The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful sometimes with her mother, but she’ll rather watch something else if she’s in control of the remote.
While most people today record their favorite soap operas to be sure not to miss it, Nancy Worthington, assistant professor of Communications, remembers when she was in college, and some of her peers used to create their schedules around their favorite soap operas.
“If you see a soap opera for the first time, even if you see it in another language, you can identify what it is and put it into it’s genre,” she said. “What keeps you coming back is that you are waiting for something to happen. Small problems are resolved, but the major plot is still there.”
Worthington uses soap operas as examples in her classes when talking about fan-studies, a part of studying media audiences.
“It is a good example, how people can love and hate characters on soap operas,” she said.
She mentioned that research shows that many regular viewers of soap operas are actually critical towards both the plot and the characters.
“People who don’t watch soap operas like to stereotype people who do,” she said.
She got a lot of reactions to that in her class.
“The class was very critical to the research that was done about the content of soap operas, because it showed that they are stereotypical.”
Worthington said that most viewers are aware that soaps are stereotypical, and that it might even be the reason why people watch it. She also thinks most people approach soaps with humor.
“Watching soap operas can be not only an escape, but also an element of resisting exactly the culture we see on the soap operas,” she said. “It can also provide a sense of community, and a common basis for discussion.”