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My daughter is a bit of a slave to soap operas, where characters, usually minority stereotypes with the same predictable problems and an inability to call the authorities when appropriate (because doing so would solve the problem too quickly for any plotline), repeat the same old mistakes in the name of entertainment. I can’t stand them and am quick to point out that (in the UK at least) they have their own Awards because they don’t deserve any awards from legitimate sources.

The problem I have with them is that they are not, as they pretend to be, reflective of society. We are not all dishonest, adulterers, liars, drunks, hiding something from anyone and everyone. And (as a retired copper), police officers are not automatically stroppy, arrogant power freaks with no sense of humour. Contrast the reality cop shows with the characters in soaps. BIG difference.

Another thing is that they do not educate – bringing some situation to ‘the awareness of the public’ is not a true description of what they do because (a) the public is already aware or they wouldn’t know what was going on and (b) it’s dramatized to the point of inaccuracy. It’s just an excuse to sell what’s on in the adverts.

In the final analysis, soap operas are popular because they are addictive. They draw us in to see what happens next as if that was important when, by virtue of it being ‘pretend’, it is not. Like any addition, The First Resolution is the antidote. These programmes are not popular because they are good. They are popular because the media insists they are, and we (you) believe them and provide the loop they need to survive. Deny yourself the ‘pleasure’ of this pointless pretence and find some informative programmes – or even an alternative medium – and study that, instead.

As the (ironically titled) programme said in the 70s: Why don’t you just turn off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?

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