Soap Operasby Tyler Woods on Jan. 15, 2012, under Life
I could not help but read the news yesterday that there is another soap opera that will be going off the air. Some of the soap operas that are going off the air are ones I recall my mother watching and they are still on. I was reading in the paper how upset people were that some of these long-lived soap operas are going and it got me thinking…
When we think of soap operas many of us think of the long running TV shows like One Live to Live, General Hospital, As the World Turns. Truth is, for those who might not have known, soap operas did not originate on television rather they had their start in radio. That’s right, back then it was called “domestic radio dramas” which I must say I love the way that sounds. So popular where these radio dramas that by the early 40s, these radio shows dominated the air waves and were responsible for over 90% of commercially-sponsored daytime broadcast.
So where did the term soap opera come from? The term came from soap manufacturers who were prominent sponsors to these dramatic shows like Tide, Duz, and Ivory. In fact, Procter and Gamble, maker of several soap products, produced the first network soap opera for TV in 1950. It was called The First hundred years and lasted only two years and would be replaced by The Guiding Light. Search for Tomorrow soon followed.
In 1956 As the World Turns hit TV stations and yep, it was Procter and Gamble once again along with CBS that were involved. They were smart and knew who to target. That’s right the homemakers because they knew that in the 50′s the husband did not buy soap! Don’t think that radio soaps went off the air completely though as that did not happen until 1960.
In 1963, the medical soaps launched and General Hospital and the Doctors came on the air.
Soaps were taking the country by storm. Women from the age of 18-49 were glued to the TV. I recall my mother watching the soap operas, though I suspect to this day the only soap she will claim she watched was Dark Shadows, and I must admit, I too would run home from school to watch this vampire soap. I loved that show! I recently watched old Episodes on Netflix and giggled a bit because as a child it scared me, as an adult I wonder what spooked me so much? Still I loved the show.
The bottom line is soaps come and go. There have been a variety of soaps like Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, The Guiding Light, As the World Turns, Secret Storm, and The Edge of Night, One Life to Live, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, The Bold and the Beautiful, All My Children, The Young and the Restless and Ryan’s Hope to name a few.
One needs to give credit to the soap opera as they have really made TV history. Alas, like all good things, there is an end. I think more and more people are growing tired of the soap opera genera and networks are losing money. What will replace this 60 some odd year television genera? Will it be more cooking shows? Will it be more reality shows? Will it be more magazine or talk shows? Stay tuned to find out…