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Soap Operas - What Forms of Pleasure Can Be Found in Viewing the Continuous Serial on Tv?

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Soap Operas

What forms of pleasure can be found in viewing the continuous serial on TV?

The continuous serial is more commonly known as the soap opera, and is peculiar in that each episode cannot be watched and understood on its own; the viewer must watch the episodes before and after to understand what is happening. According to Brown the soap opera has 8 typical characteristics (see appendix 1).

Television is becoming an increasingly important part of society. We have more televisions in our homes, and on those televisions there are more soap operas for the viewing public e.g. EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Neighbours, Home and Away, Brookside, London Bridge, and HollyOaks. Individuals undoubtedly get a lot of pleasure from them, and although the soap opera is viewed as entertainment, there should be a cautious approach to this view, because television is an influential part of our society. In this essay I will look at the pleasures and the consequences.

Escapism is one form of pleasure. The soap provides an outlet for an individual to escape the responsibilities of their own life. As soon as the familiar theme music begins the viewer is transported to another world, although Mike Clark poses the question (page 19) 'What sort of escape is it that constantly refers to the very issues that may be troubling the viewer?'.

Another pleasure of soap operas 'is the continuity of the characters and settings' (Clark, page 19). The familiar settings give a sense of a stability and order to the viewer. Most people know the Rovers Return in Coronation Street or the Old Vic in EastEnders. The individual feels at home with a soap and its characters, of which there can be up to 40; all are old friends to the regular viewer. For the most part they do not set out to shock. Because the characters are ordinary and believable, Mike Clark states that the actors must be the same in their lives outside television. He tells us that:

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