Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Understanding the U.S. Soap Opera Part Two

Posted by lillieeastham on March 8, 2017

Today’s readings further emphasized the impact that soap operas have on their fans. One aspect I had never considered was how much of an impact the finale of a soap would have on its fans.

Most shows have a central premise, for example I just finished watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. Although you can easily be a casual viewer of the show and each episode can stand alone, there is a constant narrative of the main character’s journey to meet the mother of his children. Obviously, fans knew from the start that the finale would consist of him meeting the mother. However, the writers added plot twists to the finale and many fans were outraged.

This proves that even shows with a story that can be finished have a hard time pleasing fans with their finale. For a soap opera, there are even more problems. Soap operas have no main narrative holding them together, except the town that they are set in. As opposed to most shows where the characters have some sort of end goal, in soap operas the characters are simply living their lives, so their motivations are very fluid, just like a real person.

In this way, viewers feel that they know these characters on a very deep level, since they interact with them for 2 and a half hours every week. The show ending is equivalent to a close friend leaving with little explanation and never speaking to you again. In this way, the writers of the soap are faced with the impossible task of ending the stories of the characters right in the middle.

4 Responses to “Understanding the U.S. Soap Opera Part Two”

  1. Drake Kizer said

    I think you made a lot of great points in this post, and I definitely agree with your analysis that it is supremely hard for a soap opera’s writers to craft a suitable finale for the show. Like you said, the characters begin to feel like family to viewers, so it’s very hard to yank them away. What complicates the situation even further though, is the fact that the writers writing these finales are not the ones who began writing them 50 years before. So, it is hard to stay with the original vision (if there even was one) of the show’s endpoint, because the modern writers have no clue what it even was. This is a problem unique to soaps, because most modern shows do not run long enough to change writing staffs.

  2. emilymorgan98 said

    I did not realize it either. I like your post and agree that you made some good points and tied everything in a way that was easy to understand. Talking about How I Met Your Mother, i can totally agree with you. I, myself, also enjoyed the show and the ending was a total surprise. I very much agree though, that shows with a story line can still have a tough time pleasing fans.

  3. emilyjones232 said

    I like how you compared a soap opera finale to How I Met Your Mother. After a group of fans follow a show for so long and fall in love with the characters, writers can have a tough time pleasing them with the series finale (in my opinion, I was not a fan of the ending but it’s fine).

  4. laurenivey22 said

    I definitely agree with the finale part of this post. People follow the show for so long and expect the finale to be some huge psychological twist or completely unexpected or a total happy ending, and when it turns out to be anything less, viewers tend to be extremely upset. Its impossible to please everyone, but if youre going to run on a show for that long, you better make your finale epic, or youll have viewers questioning why they even watched it in the first place.

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