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Simply soapy

Simply soapy

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Simply soapy

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  1. Simply soapy How to teach soaps

  2. What is a soap? • Broadcast serial drama, characterized by a permanent cast of actors, a continuing story, tangled interpersonal situations, and a melodramatic or sentimental style. • Feminised episode structure (open-ended episodes, cliffhangers) as opposed to formal closure. (masculinised structure)

  3. Origins • Its name derived from the soap and detergent manufacturers who originally often sponsored such programs on radio. • Credit for the first soap opera usually goes to Irna Phillips, who created Painted Dreams for WGN radio in Chicago in 1930. (Structure of popular serialised novels from C19.)

  4. US Soaps • The Guiding Light (since 1937; on TV since 1952; longest story ever.) • As the World Turns (ATWT) (since 1956; 13,000+ episodes) • General Hospital (GH) (since 1963) • Days of our Lives (since 1965) • The Young and the Restless (since 1973)

  5. US Soaps (primetime serials) • Peyton Place (1964-1969) • Dallas (1978-1991) • Dynasty (1981-1989) • Falcon Crest (1981-1990) • Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000) • Melrose Place (1992-1999) • Dawson's Creek (1998-2003)

  6. US Soaps (primetime serials) • Alias (2001-2006) • Desperate Housewives (2004-planned to 2011) • Grey's Anatomy (2004-planned to 2008) • Ugly Betty, October Road….

  7. UK Soaps • The Archers (longest running radio soap; since 1951; 15000+ episodes) • Coronation Street (GB since 1960) • Crossroads (1964-1988) • Emmerdale (since 1972) • Brookside (1982-2003) • EastEnders (since 1985) • Hollyoaks (since 1995)

  8. Forms and conventions 1 • Generic convention of soap • Themes (love, conflict, secrets, skeletons in the cupboard, family feuds, loyality; gossip & schadenfreude) • Melodrama • Characters (the gossip, the bastard, the tart; the decent husband, the villain, the bitch, the good woman…)

  9. Forms and conventions 2 • Generic convention of soap 4. Settings (recognizable environments) 5. Narrative pleasures (complex structure, feminised ending, cliffhangers) 6. Realism (surface, emotional, social) 7. Limits of realism (no links to wider world; individualization; mis/under-representation)

  10. Audiences • Theories (hypodermic model, two-step flow model, uses and gratifications model) • Soaps – peril or pleasure? • Active fan behaviour • Female genre? • Ironic viewing!!!

  11. Representation & Ideology • Stereoptypes and archetypes (prodigal son, vamp, victim…) • Gender (powerful women?!) • Class and community • Race • Messages and values (hegemonic model)

  12. Case study – Eastenders 1 • Check history, production, funding & costs • Scheduling (hammocking, stripping) • Marketing, press coverage, merchandising • Locations • Themes (melodramatic)

  13. Case study – Eastenders 2 • Representations • Class (working-class) • Extended family (backstories) • The matriarch (Pauline Fowler, 1985-2006) • Gender (women centre-stage) • Race (for a long time no black/ethnic c.) • Virtual community (nostalgic, mythologized) • Realism, ideology&audience (violence)

  14. Case study – Eastenders 3 • Possible assignments • Students discuss the role of violence • Students discuss positive/negative aspects of matriarch role • Students discuss whether the representations are demeaning or empowering • Students discuss the importance of locations

  15. References • Alexander, Lou / Cousens, Alison (2004). Teaching TV Soaps. London: bfi education. • http://www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders/ • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EastEnders • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EastEnders_in_popular_culture • http://imdb.com/title/tt0088512/

  16. EastEnders, cast photo 2002