Soap Opera Subjects


Soap Opera Morality

Soaps Tackle Social Issues - 1

Soap Operas Tackle Social Issues - 2

Soap Operas Tackle Social Issues - 3

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Soap Operas Tackle Social Issues - 3

Rape is another story explored on every soap opera. Standout storylines included the shocking rape of a character by her gynecologist on SANTA BARBARA as well as marital rape stories on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GUIDING LIGHT which were controversial. Another famous storyline dealing with this subject was a gang rape on ONE LIFE TO LIVE in which the defendant's lawyer realized he was guilty at the last minute and threw the case.

Perhaps the most controversial of all was the rape of a beloved character on GENERAL HOSPITAL who later fell in love with and married the rapist. (Did you know that was the origin of Luke & Laura's relationship?) In fact, their wedding became a national phenomenon and the couple graced the cover of many national magazines. Their 1981 wedding holds the record for ratings on daytime television – 30 millions viewers for one episode!

Date rape has also been portrayed on many soaps. We see the characters having to deal with what has happened to them while having to face their attackers in the streets and courtooms of their towns. These storylines stretch across the entire canvas of the soap opera since characters' loyalties are divided in these he said/she said situations.

Child abuse stories have also been presented. THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL had a well-regarded child abuse story (the victim was an adult at the time of the story who was dealing with what happened when he was younger), though the show suffered a little criticism when the abuser was switched from being the father to another male relative. DAYS OF OUR LIVES and LOVING both had storylines in which adult females were suffering problems as a result of being abused by their fathers when they were children. DAYS OF OUR LIVES also had a different adult female remember being abused by an uncle. SANTA BARBARA had a storyline in which a friend of the family had abused a girl when she was younger. (It is interesting to note in all available examples, the abuse had taken place years before the revelation and storyline consequences. Perhaps soap writers and producers feel that it would be too much for the audience to handle if the actions were portrayed as currently taking place in the chracters' lives.)

All these and other social issue stories touch our minds as well as our hearts. They let us see how these issues affect people's lives. Most of all, the soaps challenge us to think about these issues and how they affect all of us as a community and as individuals.


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This soap opera material was written as part of an academic research project.

Please cite it as you would any other source.

Original Version © 1992 Second Edition © 2006 by Matthew W. Grant

Revised & Expanded Third Edition (© 2011) Now Available At:

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