Soap Operas Tackle Social Issues - 2
While these fun and over-the-top stories have their place in soap opera history and in soap operas' future, they are only one aspect. In fact, they bring balance to the more serious and topical storylines that are presented right alongside them. Soaps tackle the social issues as they are unfolding in society. They simultaneously mirror and shape real issues by altering the audience's understanding and outlook on them.
Very early in their history, soap opera storylines explored the subject of interracial romance. The soap writers were very careful to show the problems that the couples went through. Viewers are often shocked to learn that even the nicest characters harbor deep-rooted prejudices when the subject touches their own lives. We watch as the couples and the families work through their feelings.
Drug addiction has been the focus of some storylines. ALL MY CHILDREN, DAYS OF OUR LIVES. and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, among other soaps have had characters addicted to prescription painkillers while every soap has had characters mixed up with illegal drugs at one time or another. Years ago, ONE LIFE TO LIVE went to a real drug rehabilitation center in New York and filmed the actors and actresses talking to real recovering drug addicts.
Homosexuality is another issue that has been the foundation of soap opera storylines, though none have tackled gay marriage yet. ALL MY CHILDREN, which is often at the forefront of presenting social issues, had the first gay character on daytime television. ONE LIFE TO LIVE and AS THE WORLD TURNS have also earned industry praise for storylines in this area. DAYS OF OUR LIVES took some heat a while back for introducing one gay character while having another long running character pretend to be gay. PASSIONS recently had a character come out as well.