The Survival of Soap Opera

The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era

SAM FORD
ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK
C. LEE HARRINGTON
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt12f63j
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  • Book Info
    The Survival of Soap Opera
    Book Description:

    The soap opera, one of U.S. television's longest-running and most influential formats, is on the brink. Declining ratings have been attributed to an increasing number of women working outside the home and to an intensifying competition for viewers' attention from cable and the Internet. Yet, soaps' influence has expanded, with serial narratives becoming commonplace on most prime time TV programs. The Survival of Soap Opera investigates the causes of their dwindling popularity, describes their impact on TV and new media culture, and gleans lessons from their complex history for twenty-first-century media industries.The book contains contributions from established soap scholars such as Robert C. Allen, Louise Spence, Nancy Baym, and Horace Newcomb, along with essays and interviews by emerging scholars, fans and Web site moderators, and soap opera producers, writers, and actors from ABC's General Hospital, CBS's The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, and other shows. This diverse group of voices seeks to intervene in the discussion about the fate of soap operas at a critical juncture, and speaks to longtime soap viewers, television studies scholars, and media professionals alike.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-717-2
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. SECTION ONE CHALLENGES TO THE FUTURE OF SOAPS
    • INTRODUCTION: THE CRISIS OF DAYTIME DRAMA AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE FUTURE OF TELEVISION
      (pp. 3-21)
      SAM FORD, ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK and C. LEE HARRINGTON

      This collection aims to intervene at a critical moment in the history of daytime soap operas, as one of television’s longest-running genres faces increasingly alarming questions about its economic viability. Scholars have argued that soaps are the most uniquely televisual of all TV genres, designed to capitalize on the intimacy and constant access television provides with a daily, serialized narrative that never ends. From an industry perspective, serials have long been seen as the perfect genre to deliver audiences to advertisers. However, soap opera ratings have been declining for more than a decade, a decline commonly attributed to radical work/lifestyle...

    • PERSPECTIVE: SCHOLARS BARBARA IRWIN AND MARY CASSATA ON THE STATE OF U.S. SOAP OPERAS
      (pp. 22-28)
      C. LEE HARRINGTON

      U.S. soap operas today are struggling. Ratings are down, longtime viewers have left, and younger viewers are not replacing them. These shows still attract millions of viewers every day, but—with fewer soaps on the air and changes in our society, our lifestyles, and our media habits—soaps have lost more than three-quarters of their audience over the last twenty years (seventy-eight million viewers in 1990 as compared with seventeen million in 2009). Further evidence of the struggle came with the September 2010 cancellation of CBS’As the World Turns (ATWT)on the heels of the September 2009 cancellation of...

    • PERSPECTIVE: HISTORIAN WILLIAM J. REYNOLDS ON MEMORIES OF THE EDGE OF NIGHT
      (pp. 29-30)
      SAM FORD

      I literally grew up with bothThe Edge of Night (EON)andAs the World Turns (ATWT), as I was born only three weeks after their CBS debuts in April 1956. When I was in college some twenty-five years ago, I was enrolled in a course entitled “The History of American Popular Culture.” One of my class projects was “The History of Radio and Television Soaps.” It was while I was doing this project that I was fortunate to meet my now dear friend, Dagne Crane, who played Sandy, the second Mrs. Bob Hughes, onATWTfrom 1965 to 1971....

    • PERSPECTIVE: WRITER PATRICK MULCAHEY ON CHANGES IN SOAP OPERA WRITING CONTRACTS
      (pp. 31-33)
      GIADA DA ROS

      I started out in daytime working for Bill and Joyce Corrington onSearch for Tomorrow(CBS; later NBC), and then for Douglas Marland onGuiding Light(CBS). I didn’t workforthe shows. The Corringtons hand-wrote the paycheck I picked up every week. Douglas’s agent wrote the writers’ paychecks. My bosses worked for the shows, and the shows contracted with them for all writing services. Douglas and the Corringtons were free to hire whatever writers they liked. We were a team. We were also a package deal. If Proctor & Gamble was unhappy with the way a story was developing, they...

    • PERSPECTIVE: ACTOR TRISTAN ROGERS ON CHANGES IN SOAPS’ INDUSTRY, AUDIENCES, AND TEXTS
      (pp. 34-37)
      ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK

      The current economic crisis has led to soaps basically being talked about, from the networks’ point-of-view, as being cancelled. Cancellation was always in the works, but now it’s out in the open, and there is a plan to do it. In five or six years—or it could be six months—that’s going to be it, unless something drastic happens to change it, but even that would only be a delay. The investment from the network standpoint today is strictly dollars and cents.

      This crisis was a great opportunity that the soaps completely blew. They had a chance to bring...

    • DAYTIME BUDGET CUTS
      (pp. 38-43)
      SARA A. BIBEL

      2008 will surely be remembered as the year a lot of American institutions collapsed, leaving Wall Street decimated and the automotive industry circling the drain. Though it’s generated a lot less publicity and has a cultural rather than economic impact, the American daytime drama also found itself in danger of dying an ignoble death by year’s end. As someone who has been part of the daytime television industry as a fan, a writer, and a blogger, I have felt like I was watching a beloved family member slowly succumb to a terminal illness.

      I began the year marching in endless...

    • AGNES NIXON AND SOAP OPERA “CHEMISTRY TESTS”
      (pp. 44-48)
      CAROL TRAYNOR WILLIAMS

      My conversations with soap opera pioneer Agnes Nixon took place between November 2008 and April 2009. This was the time the country’s economy was failing, and the same can be said of soaps. CBS’Guiding Lightwas cancelled. Classic stars were fired, incuding Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn (Marlena and John) and Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans (“Patch” and Kayla) from NBC’sDays of Our Lives. Other major stars became ancillary, such as Erika Slezak (Viki) from ABC’s Nixon creationOne Life to Live(OLTL), and even Susan Lucci (Erica) of Nixon’s “baby,” ABC’sAll My Children(AMC) was...

    • GIVING SOAPS A GOOD SCRUB: ABC’S UGLY BETTY AND THE ETHNICITY OF TELEVISION FORMATS
      (pp. 49-57)
      JAIME J. NASSER

      The above headline (Dominguez 2006) is attached to just one of the many popular and trade press articles appearing in the Summer of 2006 that positioned Latin American telenovelas as completely different from, and perhaps “better” than, U.S. daytime serials.¹ Around this time, the television industry in the U.S. started generating significant buzz regarding the possibility of adapting telenovelas for the American market. In Fall 2006, two attempts at translating telenovelas into American television programs took place. One of these attempts occurred as the result of the merger of UPN with the WB to form the CW Network. News Corporation,...

    • THE WAY WE WERE: THE INSTITUTIONAL LOGICS OF PROFESSIONALS AND FANS IN THE SOAP OPERA INDUSTRY
      (pp. 58-78)
      MELISSA C. SCARDAVILLE

      A common complaint among soap opera fans is the belief that no one within the daytime industry is listening. Letters to soap opera magazines and posts on message boards reveal fan anger with “the idiots in charge” (or TIIC, as soap opera fans often refer to them), as well as an abiding frustration with the fact that this formally stalwart genre is dying with no one trying to save it. Industry professionals bemoan rapidly falling ratings and search for the right combination to lure back old viewers and attract new ones, yet find themselves continually stymied because the magic formula...

  5. SECTION TWO CAPITALIZING ON HISTORY
    • PERSPECTIVE: SCHOLAR HORACE NEWCOMB ON THE PLEASURES AND INFLUENCE OF SOAPS
      (pp. 81-82)
      SAM FORD

      I began writing about soap operas because I had noticed that soaps offered more complex narrative strategies than primetime shows. Even if some of the performances and topics were conventional, or even stereotypical, the possibilities for storytelling were much greater than in episodic primetime series.

      WhenDallas(CBS) andHill Street Blues(NBC) hit screens in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was clear that episodic TV had to change. All the moral complexities of serialized TV made primetime more complex. This opened doors for dealing with socio-cultural, political topics in more powerful ways. It’s not that episodic television...

    • PERSPECTIVE: SCHOLAR ROBERT C. ALLEN ON STUDYING SOAP OPERAS
      (pp. 83-85)
      C. LEE HARRINGTON

      My initial interest in soap operas emerged within the context of graduate course work in cinema studies at the University of Iowa in the mid-1970s. Cinema studies was still very much a discipline in formation at the time, drawing its approaches and methods from a range of other fields of inquiry, including anthropology, political philosophy, and literature. A number of us took a seminar on narrative theory, taught in the English department. We spent a lot of time discussing the basic elements of narrative and the relationship between narrative and narration, using myths, folk tales, short stories, and novels as...

    • GROWING OLD TOGETHER: FOLLOWING AS THE WORLD TURNS’ TOM HUGHES THROUGH THE YEARS
      (pp. 86-100)
      SAM FORD

      Television is an actor’s medium. While budgets and schedules have often given movies a greater mastery of grand visual spectacle than television, the on-screen performer has always remained the currency of television fiction. Even today, with television series consistently raising the bar for production values, the actor still holds the most power in connecting with the audience. The value placed on the exploration of character and on-screen performance is more suited to the seriality of television as well. While films visit a character’s life for a short time, a television series depicts characters on a regular basis, over a number...

    • PERSPECTIVE: WRITER KAY ALDEN ON WHAT MAKES SOAPS UNIQUE
      (pp. 101-103)
      SAM FORD

      The soap opera is historic in terms of the quantity of material that has been produced within the genre. For instance,CSI: Crime Scene Investigation(CBS) bemoaned the fact that William Peterson was leaving the show after some one hundred-plus episodes. I’m writing the newest daytime drama currently on the air, CBS’sThe Bold and the Beautiful(B&B), which celebrated its twenty-third anniversary in March of 2010. We are currently writing episode 5,830 at the time this is going to press. CBS’sThe Young and the Restless, which has been airing for thirty-seven years (since 1973), is currently writing episode...

    • PERSPECTIVE: SCHOLAR NANCY BAYM ON SOAPS AFTER THE O. J. SIMPSON TRIAL
      (pp. 104-105)
      ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK

      I guess I’m a very distant observer of soaps—I haven’t watched a whole episode of a soap opera in a long, long time. It was hard to get back into soaps after the 1995 O. J. Simpson trial, which came at a time when I had been so intensively writing about soaps and reading about soaps, and I was overexposed to the genre. It was good to get a break from soaps at that time. The storylines that I was a total sucker for were these long-arc romances where the couple can’t be together and the parties don’t realize...

    • OF SOAP OPERAS, SPACE OPERAS, AND TELEVISION’S ROCKY ROMANCE WITH THE FEMININE FORM
      (pp. 106-118)
      CHRISTINE SCODARI

      In 1987, Fiske catalogued television’s gendered attributes, observing that the masculine brand of TV programming marginalizes women, the private sphere, and committed relationships, instead focusing on “lone wolf heroes” or “hero teams” that bond within a context of hierarchy and goal orientation. In terms of narrative structure, masculine TV relies upon action to advance plots that reach episodic closure and punctuates them with celebratory triumph. Feminine television—epitomized by the soap opera genre—features personal settings, interactions, and relationships, ensemble casts with a solid female presence, and a preference for character-driven storytelling. Structurally, the feminine narrative favors process and the...

    • THE IRONIC AND CONVOLUTED RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DAYTIME AND PRIMETIME SOAP OPERAS
      (pp. 119-129)
      LYNN LICCARDO

      I’ve always believed that, the higher one’s tolerance for ambiguity, the more fully one is able to appreciate soap opera. Perhaps, then, it’s oddly fitting that the run-up to what many consider daytime soaps’ greatest triumph—the iconic wedding of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber on ABC’sGeneral Hospital(GH)—points to many of the reasons why the genre finds itself in its current sorry state. The 1981 event transcended anything daytime had ever seen:Newsweekfeatured the couple on its cover, legendary movie star Elizabeth Taylor made an appearance, and more than fourteen million viewers tuned in for the...

    • PERSPECTIVE: SCHOLAR LOUISE SPENCE ON COMPARING THE SOAP OPERA TO OTHER FORMS
      (pp. 130-132)
      ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK

      I need to confess that I haven’t been watching soaps since my book,Watching Daytime Soap Operas, went to press nearly five years ago. I know I could probably get right back into them if I wanted to start again. I did take an almost ten-year hiatus once before and had no problem starting up again. But my concentration in the book was as much on methodology as on soaps themselves. And following this methodological approach, when contemplating the continuing appeal of soaps, or the lessening of that appeal, one might want to start by looking not only at daytime...

    • PERSPECTIVE: SCHOLAR JASON MITTELL ON THE TIES BETWEEN DAYTIME AND PRIMETIME SERIALS
      (pp. 133-139)
      SAM FORD

      I think that, just like a lot of soap researchers, my research interest in narrative complexity on primetime television shows stemmed first from my personal tastes and fannish investments. I remember a number of programs that I was watching around 1999–2001 that seemed distinctive in their narrative strategies, offering new possibilities for primetime programming. Some specific examples includeThe West Wing(NBC),Buffy the Vampire Slayer(WB/UPN),Angel(WB),Six Feet Under(HBO),Alias(ABC), and24(FOX). All of these shows seemed invested in expanding the vocabulary of primetime television, both by incorporating serial form (which had been...

    • PRESERVING SOAP HISTORY: WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF SOAPS?
      (pp. 140-153)
      MARY JEANNE WILSON

      Television is, by its very nature, an ephemeral medium. Without home recording or playback technologies, a television broadcast disappears from a viewer’s reach as soon as it airs. This lack of permanence creates a constant struggle to capture and preserve historical television texts, and viewers and researchers alike can be regularly frustrated by a lack of access to programs not being currently broadcast or rerun in syndication. The daytime soap opera is a particularly “unruly” genre when it comes to accessing past programming.¹ Unlike other narrative television, a soap opera episode is seldom broadcast more than once.² In addition, while...

    • DID THE 2007 WRITERS STRIKE SAVE DAYTIME’S HIGHEST-RATED DRAMA?
      (pp. 154-160)
      J. A. METZLER

      I was raised from a young age on a diet of CBS network daytime dramas. In fact, one of my earliest television memories, dating from when I was nine years old, was of a drunken Katherine Chancellor—a character onThe Young and the Restless(Y&R)—driving her cheating husband Phillip off a cliff, simultaneously depriving Phillip’s pregnant, working-class mistress, Jill Foster, of any type of happy future, and sealing my fate as a long-term closet fan of the serialized genre. My parents were understandably worried by their child’s interest in adulterous, alcoholic, and sociopathic characters. However, I was fascinated...

  6. SECTION THREE EXPERIMENTING WITH PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION
    • “THE RHETORIC OF THE CAMERA IN TELEVISION SOAP OPERA” REVISITED: THE CASE OF GENERAL HOSPITAL
      (pp. 163-174)
      BERNARD M. TIMBERG and ERNEST ALBA

      In Spring 2009, ABC’sGeneral Hospital(GH) underwent a makeover of its seventh floor central nursing station set after an on-screen disaster/fire. The set has been a constant on the show, with modest updates, for nearly half a century. The fire cleared the way for other changes on the show as well: moving into the use of high-definition cameras, for example.¹GH, like other venerable soap operas discussed in this book, was facing the challenges of the twenty-first century.

      Levine (2001, 66) points out that cultural studies scholars such as Stuart Hall (1980) and Richard Johnson (1986/7) have called for...

    • IT’S NOT ALL TALK: EDITING AND STORYTELLING IN AS THE WORLD TURNS
      (pp. 175-179)
      DEBORAH L. JARAMILLO

      On March 1, 2007, two storylines collided on CBS’As the World Turns(ATWT) to yield a critical representation of romantic and sexual relationships. By exploring only two storylines (instead of the usual three or more),ATWTestablished uncomfortable continuities between a deceptively benign courtship and an overtly dangerous encounter. Just as significant as the textual implications of the episode is the way in which the editing of these two stories departs from the genre’s standard style and pace of intercutting—a tradition that differs starkly from episodic primetime dramas that unfold quickly and end with a sense of closure....

    • GUIDING LIGHT: RELEVANCE AND RENEWAL IN A CHANGING GENRE
      (pp. 180-186)
      PATRICK ERWIN

      U.S. daytime soaps have endured many transitions. As the longest running soap in the genre’s history, CBS’Guiding Light(GL) survived the move from radio to television and witnessed every shift the genre has experienced. In the last decade, daytime has undergone significant changes and budget reductions. These changes had a noticeable impact onGL. When the program was renewed in 2005, several actors were taken off-contract and placed on recurring status, paid per appearance. Some veteran actors left the show after being taken off-contract, including Jerry verDorn, who had won multiple Daytime Emmys for his twenty-six year portrayal of...

    • THE EVOLUTION OF THE PRODUCTION PROCESS OF SOAP OPERAS TODAY
      (pp. 187-190)
      ERICK YATES GREEN

      During the early weeks of April 2009, ABC announced that its venerable soap operaGeneral Hospital(GH) would launch high-deinition (HD) broadcast.¹ At the same time, CBS, in a once unthinkable action, killed offGuiding Light(GL), television’s longest-running soap opera, even afterGLhad introduced technological innovations other shows have since considered emulating in an attempt to stay alive. These two developments underscore the impact changing technologies have had and will have on the soap genre at a time when viewers—and budgets—are in a continual decline. While soap opera scholars have made significant contributions to an understanding...

    • FROM DAYTIME TO NIGHT SHIFT: EXAMINING THE ABC DAYTIME/SOAPNET PRIMETIME SPIN-OFF EXPERIMENT
      (pp. 191-200)
      RACQUEL GONZALES

      Historically, due to its ability to inspire loyal, long-term viewership and to target a definable audience (Allen 1985, 47), the soap opera has been one of the most stable, dependable, and predictable television genres in the U.S. These characteristics, however, are now open to question, as the formerly stable genre has experienced falling ratings since the 1990s and continues to hit new lows (Janofsky 2007; Levine 2001, 69–70). One crucial contribution to soaps’ state in the digital age is the growing disconnect between industry priorities and the desires of the soap audience. A key component for profitable success in...

    • “WHAT THE HELL DOES TIIC MEAN?” ONLINE CONTENT AND THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE THE SOAPS
      (pp. 201-218)
      ELANA LEVINE

      As overall ratings have declined, as the average age of viewers has risen, and as commercial slots have generated fewer dollars, the U.S. broadcast networks have sought out new ways to attract viewers to daytime soap operas, in particular the young viewers—those eighteen to thirty-four and even younger—most valuable to advertisers. With market research claiming that young people spend an ever-increasing amount of their time online, the soaps’ networks and producers have turned to Web-based platforms as a way to retain existing viewers and appeal to new ones. Soap fans have been eager participants in user-generated online communities...

    • THE EVOLUTION OF THE FAN VIDEO AND THE INFLUENCE OF YOUTUBE ON THE CREATIVE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FOR FANS
      (pp. 219-230)
      EMMA F. WEBB

      I first began participating in an Internet community for ABC’sGeneral Hospital(GH) in 1997, primarily through a text-based Web site called “Port Charles Online.” This site, named after the fictional town whereGHis set, started in 1994 as a free-to-post message board for fans coming online to converse aboutGH. The “Port Charles Online” community focused on discussing and dissecting the soap, both through this earlier incarnation and, starting in 2001, through its transformation into a pay-to-post site called SoapZone.¹

      However, beginning in 2000, I noticed that members of this fan community were creating and posting what they...

  7. SECTION FOUR LEARNING FROM DIVERSE AUDIENCES
    • SOAPS FOR TOMORROW: MEDIA FANS MAKING ONLINE DRAMA FROM CELEBRITY GOSSIP
      (pp. 233-249)
      ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK

      In his 1986 novelCount Zero, a handful of years before the creation of the World Wide Web, noted sci-fi author William Gibson (1986, 38) predicted what soap operas would become in an age of digital technologies:

      [Bobby’s mother would] come through the door [and] just go straight over and jack into the Hitachi, soap her brains out good for six solid hours. Her eyes would unfocus, and sometimes, if it was a really good episode, she’d drool a little. […] She’d always been that way, [….] gradually sliding deeper into her half-dozen synthetic lives, sequential simstim fantasies Bobby had...

    • SOAP OPERA CRITICS AND CRITICISM: INDUSTRY AND AUDIENCE IN AN ERA OF TRANSFORMATION
      (pp. 250-264)
      DENISE D. BIELBY

      At the heart of all relationships between producers and consumers of media texts is a struggle over the meaning of those texts. This struggle is just as likely to occur over popular cultural material, such as soap operas, as it is over canonical literature. Because popular cultural texts specialize in the familiar and are relatively “open” to interpretation, it is not uncommon for audiences to develop expert knowledge and seek participation alongside professional critics in the evaluative process. In the case of daytime serials, dedicated fans have been shown to develop sophisticated insight amassed from long-term viewing and to assert...

    • HANGING ON BY A COMMON THREAD
      (pp. 265-271)
      JULIE PORTER

      Soap operas are the stories of our lives—women’s lives. Watching CBS’sAs the World Turnswith my mom in 1960, both of us sipping iced coffee, was my entrée, as a six-year-old, into the world of adults. As my mom took a break from housework and we perched in front of our tiny black-and-white TV screen, our mother-daughter roles were temporarily suspended. I gained a view of my mom as an individual as she stepped outside her usual role as a caretaker and fixed herself on the goings-on in Oakdale. My values and my views on adults’ roles in...

    • PERSPECTIVE: FAN SITE MODERATOR QUEENEVE ON FAN ACTIVITY AROUND AND AGAINST SOAPS
      (pp. 272-274)
      ABIGAIL DE KOSNIK

      My involvement in online fan Web sites was a progression. In 2000, I got involved on a fan site dedicated to a particular romantic pairing on ABC’sGeneral Hospital(GH) and posted regularly. I developed a persona; I had never done that online. Then I started reading fan fiction, and I asked,“What is this?” I had no idea it existed. I thought, “This is much better than the show. There isn’t that extraneous stuff you don’t care about: just the stuff you like.” I thought I would try writing a story, and I did. I got all sorts of positive...

    • THE ROLE OF “THE AUDIENCE” IN THE WRITING PROCESS
      (pp. 275-278)
      TOM CASIELLO

      Walking into NBC’sAnother World’swriters’ room for the first time in 1999 was a terrifying experience. Prior to getting that job, I was part of The Audience, one of those passionate fans who drank every last drop of history, of nuance, of the daily struggles of soaps’ fictional characters. Now, here I was, entering the sacred ground of the writers’ room of what had long been my favorite soap. What I found was both fascinating and completely the opposite of what I thought it would be. There wasn’t a lot of focus on The Audience. That is not to...

    • THE “MISSING YEARS”: HOW LOCAL PROGRAMMING RUPTURED DAYS OF OUR LIVES IN AUSTRALIA
      (pp. 279-292)
      RADHA O’MEARA

      After screening episodes of the NBC daytime dramaDays of Our Lives(DOOL) in a continuous sequence for over thirty years, Australia’s Nine Network skipped approximately one thousand episodes in 2004.¹ The Nine Network continued to broadcastDOOLdaily, but most Australian viewers missed four years’ worth of episodes. Dubbed the “missing years” by fan magazines, the disjunction caused by this programming decision undermines common conceptions about how viewers engage with soap operas, raising a number of questions. How does this fissure change the viewers’ relationship with the text and the network? How do viewers understand their own position in...

    • AS THE WORLD TURNS’ LUKE AND NOAH AND FAN ACTIVISM
      (pp. 293-299)
      ROGER NEWCOMB

      When Luke Snyder (played by Van Hansis) came out of the closet in May 2006, a number of new fans tuned in to CBS’sAs the World Turns(ATWT) (Fitzgerald 2008). However, it wasn’t until August 2007, when Luke shared his first kiss with future boyfriend Noah Mayer (played by Jake Silbermann), that a strong fandom was formed. Soaps’ history of short-term same sex relationships made some potential fans of a gay storyline hesitant to check outATWTat first, believing it might be another example of a daytime drama exploiting the issue without ever intending to follow the story...

    • CONSTRUCTING THE OLDER AUDIENCE: AGE AND AGING IN SOAPS
      (pp. 300-314)
      C. LEE HARRINGTON and DENISE BROTHERS

      As in many other media markets, the target audience for daytime soap opera is viewers eighteen to forty-nine years old, with those younger than eighteen considered desirable as future long-term viewers, but those fifty and over considered (by implication) undesirable. The industry’s efforts over the past several decades to court younger viewers as a strategy for combating declining ratings have occurred, somewhat ironically, in the context of a rapidly aging U.S. population, and thus a rapidly aging television audience. We explore the possibilities of re-constructing soaps’ target audience to include older viewers and suggest alternative economic models and new narrative...

  8. REFERENCES
    (pp. 315-330)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 331-344)