Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Growing Old Together

Posted by lillieeastham on March 5, 2017

This essay gave me a newfound respect for soaps. When many people think of the highest form of film, they think of movies as opposed to television shows. However, I think in recent years these roles have begun to reverse.

I think that streaming devices such as Netflix have a huge part in this. Not only have they begun to produce their own high quality and high budget television shows, but they have also given a soap-like quality to ordinary television shows.

Some people find it difficult to connect to characters when they are only presented to them once a week, with months in between seasons. However, when you stream a series on Netflix, it becomes like one long running movie and you are exposed to the characters much more often. This has led to shows such as Greys Anatomy and Shameless to have a sudden resurgence in popularity, while they have already been on the air for years.

While this seems like a new concept, the creators of soaps have known this for years. While soaps are often made fun of due to their crazy storylines and low budgets, none of that matters in the end, because the true backbone of the show is the characters. When you truly begin to care about a character, the ridiculousness of a plotline matters less because you just want to see how the character reacts to it.

I think this also partially explains the popularity of reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians. While the plotlines of the show are obviously staged at times and over the top, watching the progression of the Kardashian family in real time is pretty fascinating. Seriously, go back and watch the first season when their house looks like it would fit in an average suburb and the plotlines revolve around the family adopting chickens. Now, the family is unimaginably wealthy and the plotlines focus on the drama of defending your rapper husband against Taylor Swift.


2 Responses to “Growing Old Together”

  1. Drake Kizer said

    I think you made a lot of great points in this post, and what made it really great is that you presented a new perspective I had never even thought of. I think you are spot on with your analysis that people connect with characters on a much deeper level when they binge-watch on Netflix than they do when they watch a show weekly. The reason for that is obviously the fact that when people see characters more frequently, they will clearly want to watch them more and more. This soap opera formula is not new, but it is still in use because it has been proven effective over the course of many years and shows.

  2. emilyjones232 said

    I like how you compared the popularity of soap operas to the popularity of Netflix shows. I truly believe if you are offered more content on a character, you are more likely to empathize with them and in turn watch the show more often.

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