A rose by any other name

From the moment that the idea for a podcast soap opera arose from the depths of our subconscious musings, we have found that there are several people who in general object to the term “soap opera” or have no idea what a soap opera is.

People involved with small business loans have suggested that we might use terms like “audio theater” or “audio drama” to describe this project to make it more palatable. Younger folks have given us a blank stare when we use the term “soap opera.” At first, we were puzzled by these responses.

When televised soap operas were in their prime in 1969, we all watched them. They dominated daytime television. We ran home to from school to be in time to watch Dark Shadows. All we could talk about was what was going on with Luke and Laura on General Hospital. Twin Peaks riveted our attention.

Times have changed.

The very words we used to use in 1969 have different meanings today, and some are even considered racial or discriminatory. The term “soap opera” has as well. Oh, these soap operas are still around, and we all still love them. The dawning of realization spreads over the faces of the confused when it is pointed out that Game of Thrones is a soap opera. “I like Game of Thrones,” is an almost universal response. Indeed.

What is the definition of a soap opera?

Think of a storytelling entertainment venue that is typically open-ended. It provides the fan with an intimate view of the life struggles and emotional inter-connections of many characters. A soap opera is a melodrama.

Okay, so what is a melodrama?

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh Edition instructs us.

The first thing Merriam tell us is that it is from the Greek and means song+drama. “A work (as a movie or play) characterized by extravagant theatricality and by the predominance of plot and physical action over characterization; the genre of dramatic literature constituted by such works; something resembling a melodrama especially in having a sensational or theatrical quality.”

If the plot pokes at our emotional triggers or feeds our love of scandal, provides sensationalism using stereotyped and simply developed characters, then you have a soap opera. Usually, the setting is in the private life sphere of the characters and focuses on moral turmoil, love, lust, marriage, peril, betrayal, illicit yearnings, and the ever-present evil seductress or nefarious bad character. They have impossible plot twists, farfetched emotional responses, and rely on well-worn tropes.

Soap operas are fun escapism entertainment.

It appears that for some, a soap opera is considered poorly-acted, over-the-top pulp drama and not something an educated, enlightened person would enjoy.

Kind of like the Kavanaugh hearings.

We all watched that happening.


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