Soaps Tackle Social Issues - 1
The fact that so many people identify in a personal way with the characters is one of the greatest strengths of soap operas. Since the audience sees the characters on a daily basis, many people feel that they know the characters as if they are friends. (Why not? We know the most intimate details of their lives.) In other words, the soaps provide a sense of companionship. This is especially true for elderly viewers who have limited contact with friends and relatives.
For people of any age, soap operas combat feelings of isolation. Viewers realize that other people (albeit fictional ones) have problems as bad (or worse) than the viewers themselves. Really, can our problems be that bad when characters are fighting devious international crime figures, overcoming paralysis, and unraveling the mysteries of their lovers' pasts on a daily basis? On a more serious note, people can be inspired by their favorite characters' courage in overcoming obstacles. If our favorite soap heroine can forgive her mother for interfering in her life by hiring another woman to seduce her husband, certainly the teenaged viewer can forgive her mother for peeking in her diary.
When it comes to dealing with social issues, soaps are at the forefront of changing attitudes and exploring the "taboo" subjects. This is an important point since many soap bashers erroneously claim that soaps are completely unrealistic. This is simply untrue.
Indeed, there are fantastical elements on most shows. They have delved into science fiction with the likes of freezing the world on GENERAL HOSPITAL and human cloning on GUIDING LIGHT. Every type of creepy creature stalked the night on DARK SHADOWS and an entire mythical city came to life on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. The ultimate good character was possessed by the Devil on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Vampires ran loose in PORT CHARLES while witches still pull the strings on PASSIONS.