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Why do people watch Soap Operas? Essay

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Soap operas are one of the most watched genres of British TV. Audience figures published by the broadcast audience research bureau show that in the week ending 2nd September 2007 over 8 million people in the UK tuned in to watch Eastenders on the Monday of that week. We have all grown up watching one soap or the other, whether it was Brookside, Eastenders, Coronation Street or Emmerdale. Some families plan their evenings and spare time around watching the soaps.

There have been lots of theories created to explain why people watch soaps; one of these being a theory created by Bulmer and Katz called the uses and gratification theory. This theory states that people watch soaps to escape reality, people who want to find somewhere they can go to escape there problems in reality so they sit and watch soaps because they feel that they are part of the characters lives.

There is also the hypodermic theory that was created in the 1930’s and is based on the incidents that occurred after the broadcasting of ‘war of the worlds’ on the radio, people actually believed that aliens were invading the planet, people who watch soaps think that they are watching something that is real and they think that the characters are real, there have been incidents where people have bumped into an actor or actress who have been playing a bad person in the soap and the fan has just hurled abuse at them.

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Another theory is Kilbornes 1992 theory of involvement and identification this theory explains that that people watch them because the audience identifies with the characters in the soap and they feel that they can relate to what the characters are feeling and they cab see how someone else deals with certain situations which may help people make decisions about their own life or situations.

Another theory I have found also states that people may watch soap operas to find out about current affairs on a nationwide scale and how they may effect or not effect people in certain areas or people of a certain age group audiences may also find it reassuring to see someone dealing with the same problem as them and they won’t feel as alone and isolated. From watching soaps we can also tell what type of people watch what soaps and what the target audience of that soap is.

I watched an episode of a few different soaps and looked at what advertisements were put on in between the different parts of the soap. Hollyoaks I thought was aimed at a young audience as the advertisements in the breaks were things such as the new gatecrasher album which is a genre of music that you would relate to a younger group of people compared to in the break of coronation street where there was an advertisement for the new classic fm album.

The adverts I saw in the break for coronation street were aimed at older people as they advertise jane austen DVD this is aimed at an older audience because older people are more likely to have read the book or see the film because younger people are not as likely to be attracted to it because if they have read the book it is more than likely they have been made to read it for school and older people will have read it for themselves and would enjoy it more, it also shows that coronation street is aimed at a higher audience demographic as reading and literature is stereotypical of the higher class older person.

Also in Hollyoaks all the characters are mainly young except for the parents, which always seem to want to look younger and act younger. The opening scene also made me think that Hollyoaks is aimed at a younger audience because the opening sequence was at a fast pace and the characters that were shown were all the young characters and there were none of the older characters.

There were a lot more lively colours than in the coronation street titles and the music was a lot different to, more up beat and up-tempo where as coronation streets music is rather slow and classical.

Websites I used: http://www. aber. ac. uk/media/Documents/short/usegrat. html.

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