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« What Fresh Hell? | Main | Urgent News Bulletin! »

November 29, 2007

Has the Internet Affected Soaps?

Apparently this is a subject on which we're, like, experts or something!  The November 28th issue of Soap Opera Digest had an article about the impact of the internet on daytime, and your very own Serial Drama bloggers were featured, tossing out opinions like we know something about the interwebs and soap operas.  Imagine!  Anyway, we'd love to hear the learned opinions of our readers on the subject, so check out the article and let us know what you think in the comments. 

Wildwildweb1

Wildwildweb2

Wildwildweb3

Wildwildweb4

(Click on the images to view the full-sized pages; thanks to Soap Opera Digest for permission to post the article.)

Comments

Kudos to both of you!
I think you are right on target with your comments. There really is a whole new dimension to watching soaps - and it is fun to connect to other soap fans instantaneously - but there is also a lot of negativity which can feed off each other and sometimes gets out of hand on message boards.

I'm not sure I buy the "the Internet/message boards/blogs" are mostly negative argument. Besides here and TWoP, most of the message boards I've seen for GH, for example, are all squeeing fannishness. Carly+Sonny4Ever! Jason looks so hot in his jacket killing people! Alexis and Robin suck for being smart career women who aren't willing to do whatever it takes to keep their man. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. There are very few message board that I think offer a refreshing perspective OTHER than loving whatever TPTB are doling out, usually in deference to those same fans.

I have to agree...while I know several GH sites that are just cest pools for negativity...the ones that are heavily rumored or known to be watched by TIIC do tend to cheer that which they want us to cheer.

Although I will always find it funny when actors give interviews and quote internet posts without admitting that's where they read the comments.

I don't know, Soapzone is a pretty damn negative place, and that's one of the high-profile ones, isn't it?

The Internet is neither the problem nor the solution. The problem with every single soap on the air is that the best ones are not very good and the worst ones are unwatchable. I've only been watching soaps since 1990, but the disintegration in quality over the past 17 years is truly astonishing. And because I can watch even older episodes thanks to YouTube or other websites, I know that I missed out on even better soap.

No one knows how to write an arc. No one understands characterization. They write "events" lasting a few weeks, and then tread water for months at a time. Most of the "heroes" are scum-bag criminals. It's like TPTB think they're writing a prime-time show, where they only have to write and produce 22 good episodes a season. Most of the time the episodes are boring pieces of trash. Until that is corrected, the ratings will continue to plummet.

Unfortunately, the "cesspools for negativity" are often the most entertaining part about soaps today. At least those posts are usually funny and sometimes even insightful. Most of the "popular" couples today are so terrible in comparison to ones from just 10 years ago that I sometimes wonder if the squeeing fans are network plants.

It is possible that the internet is hurting the ratings for soaps. It may be partly because of the negativity that tends to dominate message boards. I have not yet been on a message board without a healthy dose of negativity about the show as a whole, even if posters love a certain character, couple or storyline.

When I was seeking out spoilers, I found that I had little interest in tuning in on days where the screen time was dominated by characters and storylines I found boring. Now that I've gone mostly spoiler-free (contrary to the article I do not believe it is possible to be completely spoiler free if you are an online fan), I find that I enjoy the show more and fast forward less.

I agree with Becca that the genre needs to focus on the quality of the stories rather than concerning themselves with the media by which it is delivered.

You ladies are getting downright famous! Can we all say we knew you before you were discovered?

So, instead of the internet, which represents a substantial population of especially young people, they prefer teeny tiny focus groups. Someone's failing statistics class.

Meh. "Teh Interwebz" is just a new medium for an old message. People used to talk about soaps and now they post. It's more indicative of the state of people's communicative skills than the state of soaps.

Dangerous groupthink or a meeting of similar minds? Has anyone read an internet post that changed their mind on a storyline? I know I haven't.

And as for all of the "special content" provided by the networks, it's largely superfluous except for online streaming of the show, which unfortunately could use a little fine tuning.

It's the same thing as that article a few months (?) ago where TIIC were all talking about downloading the shows on our cell phones. The real issue and Becca you are spot on right, is the quality of the stories.

I've yet to change my mind on a couple, character or storyline becuase of internet posting. I hate who I hate and I like who I like, end of story. What has changed my mind about couples, characters, and some storylines is the way the storylines have played out...the quality of the storytelling. I've been spoiler-free entirely, spoiler hoe and somewhat spoiler free...and that didn't change my mind either. And sometimes it didn't even change my viewing habits. But crap stories have.

I think that the internet has ruined soaps... in the last 10 years, has there honestly been a good, old fashioned, take your breath away cliff hanger? Not that I can recall...

The balkanization of fanbases into little warring factions is a bad, bad thing, and I think the internet totally enables this. It seems so difficult to find anyone online who identifies as a general fan of a show, and I strongly believe that to survive, soaps need to find audiences who aren't going to leave if character X dies or couple Y breaks up.

I think I am a different case.
I watch this clip of a soap, then actually think its good. Then I check the message boards and see those critics do their thing and criticize every single flaw of each scene. Then I watch the clip again and I realize how much I don't like the stories at all.
So I guess the entire thing is kind of true... for me.
Great job, you guys!

I'm not sure about internet spoilers and their affects on ratings, but I do think the internet has had a hugely negative impact on the quality of soaps. Why is GH the Sonny/Carly/Jason hour? Because tptb read the message boards that are full of fans who love those characters. Why has Days forced Shelle down our throats for the past eight years? Because they have a loud fanbase that makes them seem popular than they are. Why has Days given Bo supersperm that can impregnate Hope no matter where she is? Because the fanbase is so obsessed with their idea of twu luv that they'd prefer ridicuous rewrites of recent history rather than any kind of meaningful conflict. It seems that the vast majority of soap fans on the internet are a bunch of immature squeeing fangirls, and those are the ones that tptb listen to because they are the most vocal. Days especially is plagued by these obnoxious, warring fanbases, and I wish tptb would learn to ignore them completely. They need to find good, creative writers and just let them tell a story. It worked in the '80s.

I think you're right, but overall I think the decline is in large part caused by the fact that so many people just instinctively hate soaps. Soap operas have been seen as "trash culture" for decades now, but for one reason or another it's gotten worse in the past decade or so, and the veneer of respectability given to soaps by the popularity of "prime-time soaps" in the '80s has long been used up.

Does the Internet worsen this problem, or does it provide a solution no one's actually thought of yet? I don't know, but I have noticed that, even though the Internet has helped all sorts of fandoms develop more of a presence, the online soap community just seems stuck in a rut while, even with the resurgence of prime-time soaps like "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy", and "Ugly Betty", daytime soap operas are still seen as a bad joke.

So, to cap off my rambling, I really think, Internet or no, it all boils down to how soaps and their audience are viewed. Honestly I don't know what can be done now to change it, but I'm positive it's smothering the genre - not just because there's almost no new viewers, but also because it's most likely why people like Brian Fons and Bob Guza have no respect for the traditional audience or their expectations and why NBC is willing to jettison all its soaps just to give more time to "Today" or the talk show of the month.

I couldn't have said it better, Lori. I couldn't have said it better.

I have to agree that the real problem with soaps today is the writing.

The shows are so plot-driven these days that the emotional pull of the genre is almost gone. Personal interactions, and can I say love stories, are always what I watched soaps for and what has always sent me away and drawn me back. At the height of the Patch/Kayla story, I never missed an episode of Days. No way I would watch it when people were getting buried alive and possessed by demons.

I loved General Hospital during the Luke and Laura years and I followed Robert through his romantic love stories with Anna and Holly, but there were many years where I would not watch because of the emphasis on violence. I still don't like it, but now that I have the ability to fast-forward, I am willing to check in each day to see the story of Robin and Patrick, though that is sorely trying my patience these days.

When the daytime writers realize that their audience was is and always will be people who want to be invested in the emotional lives of the characters, soaps will begin to regain some of their viewership.

And Becca and Mallory, your insightful, funny and accurate commentaries on the soaps actually keep me tuned in just to anticipate your next blog. You actually make me feel good about watching.

What Lorrie said.

Spoilers are fun .. even knowing what will happen doesnt ruin 'watching' it happen .. you read a spoiler and believe you know how it will play out and often it doesnt.. its like those nasty previews that are almost always edited to make the various fan bases foam at their respective mouths.

And the networks love to pimp their shows so the internets give them ample chance to do that.

I personally love this blog, why? Its simple, you tell it like it is and don't use spoilers. Other sites have spoilers, I admit to looking at them because I don't want to wait. And I must agree, even though I don't think the internet has ruined soaps or is completly negative, I do think because of the internet is a temptaion. Some people just can help the need to look at spoilers, thus lowering interest, also people say the internet is the most negative source, I agree a little because it isn't as if they can her us through our tv screens and we can't just stop watching because what you don't see you'll never know about plus after seeing one episode you want to see another and another no matter how bad you always have hope the next one is better, if it isn't the internet its letters. I admit as much as I bash on GH, it's still my favorite show. Every once in a while they surprise me, aklso they have an amazing cast that makes it worth watching sometimes.

And this doesn't have to do witht he subject but Steve Burton got a haircut :D It looks good too! Click here to see the pics:
http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e58/ghfanpics/IMG_2763.jpg

http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e58/ghfanpics/IMG_2814.jpg

The soaps are losing marketshare daily, and the reason is not spoilers, internet fanbases, message boards, or anything else. It's not even the talentless models they keep hiring as actors.

The problem is that the people who construct the story arcs, and the people who write the dialogue, have an active contempt for the work they are doing. They don't care about what has gone before them, they don't know their shows' and characters' histories and backstory. The head writers have been swapped from one show to another, over and over. (Where else but daytime can someone be fired for spectacular failure, and get hired elsewhere doing the same job for more money?) The people that work for them see the soaps as a stepping stone to something in primetime, and don't bother to do even the most basic research. These people can't even google the details of the diseases they pass out to characters. They can't keep straight what happened to a character six MONTHS ago, let alone six YEARS ago. But the loyal viewers remember, and are routinely disgusted at the writers' ignorance. Disgusted viewers turn off the TV. They stop buying soap magazines. They stop taping and Tivoing.

I love the soap opera medium. Done properly, serial storytelling allows for much greater emotional involvement with storylines and characters. Done badly, it's a joke. There is not a single US show left on air that has not become a joke.

Missi, I agree, though I can think of another profession that keeps hiring failures, baseball coach.

I never watched Y&R in its heyday because it was just too slow for me, and I couldn't stand all those shots that started from table level (usually behind a plant). But I did watch it for a while over the last year. That ended when there was yet another storyline dropped for no apparent reason. Nick was in a plane crash, got amnesia and then apparently did not have it anymore, though that really wasn't explained. Then, of course, there was the big explosion stunt where no one got killed, no one suffered any life threatening injuries (except Victoria who wasn't hurt in the blast but got zonked as she exited the scene), nothing "changed forever," as had been promoted. I just got bored, to be frank.

As you point out, no continuity, no pride in storytelling, no respect for the audience or the medium. If they don't care, why should we?

Hello, I've never posted here but have 'lurked' quite a bit. I always have a great laugh when I visit this blog and agree 100% with the last two comments made by Tania and Missi.

I finally gave up on GH in February after their hostage sweeps stunt where they killed another core character for no good reason. Sadly I had watched that show since the 80's but it is no longer recognizable. I made the switch to YR in Feb/Mar and had been somewhat entertained although I also pulled the plug on that after the horrid 'Out of the Ashes' story. If I wanted to watch stunts I would've stuck with GH..that's the one thing that show did right. YR, unlike GH, actually uses their veteran actors which I liked but there were so many dropped storylines in the 10 months I watched the show. It just seemed pointless to get involved in another daytime drama.. I grew up on the soaps and it's too bad there's apparently nothing out there worth my time right now.

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