I watch soap operas the way other people watch sporting events. Yes, you hope for an engaging performance when you sit down in front of the ol’ set, but there’s also the drive to root for a player or a team, the need to align your hopes with those of another. And occasionally, or frequently, if you are lucky, you are rewarded with that moment of mutual celebration that comes with a win.
In sports, you cheer when your favorite player dunks on an opponent. In soaps, you revel in the satisfaction that comes when your favorite character gets the upper hand—which brings us to the reason why I no longer watch soap operas. I’ve endured poorly written and poorly acted episodes, but I simply can’t abide the fact that my favorite characters never seem to win. How do you root for a perpetual loser? How do you continue to follow the exploits of one who you know will never succeed? You don’t. You stop watching. One Live to Live lost me the minute it jettisoned perpetual third wheel Evangeline Williamson. And General Hospital has now lost me with its treatment of Jasper Jacks.
There are only so many times you can watch a man get cheated on by his wife, be browbeaten by his ex, or lose an argument to his enemy. This character never saves the day, is treated as a joke by his peers, and is merely an afterthought to his loved ones. While I don’t expect to be treated to an idyllic world where my favorite character does everything right and nothing bad ever happens to him (which would be rather boring, no?), I do want to see some checkmarks in the win column. It’s the uncertainty that keeps one excited, and the “wins” provide the pleasure. Without both? You’ve lost your audience.
The ratings prove it.
I wanted this to be a comics-free post, but one or two of you might be wondering how I can be fond of a character like Empowered if I won’t follow characters who are losers. Simply put, Empowered will save the day just often enough to keep me interested—and keep me rooting for the character’s future success. Plus, though she is massively unsuccessful in her professional life, Empowered’s personal life is firing on all cylinders.
Funny. The only good soap operas left are comic books! Perhaps comic book companies should start courting women who are pretty unhappy with the status of their soaps right now, and soon won’t have any soaps at all to watch.
Those ladies will have to get their fantasy and romance from somewhere. How many times will Marvel and DC watch other genres muscle in on an audience that should rightfully be theirs? If I worked at Marvel or DC, I’d be annoyed each time I heard a woman mention Game of Thrones or True Blood. I’d also have my interns hijacking soap opera message boards to post the more romantic elements of my best comics. I’ve seen women who started watching new shows when fellow posters started regularly posting YouTube clips of romantic scenes of a certain couple on message boards. I’ve started watching new shows due to this. Why couldn’t this tactic work for books? Why aren’t these companies locking on a method of advertising that is free?
It’s so frustrating to see these wasted opportunities, I swear.