With the recent cancellations of popular daytime soaps As the World Turns and Guiding Light, and the rumors speculating the demise of One Life to Live, it’s becoming evident that daytime dramas are slowly dying. The once rulers of daytime television are now facing a time when they’re antiquated and irrelevant. Story lines are consistently recycled – faked pregnancies, stolen babies, being killed off only to miraculously come back to life. And in a world where reality television portrays “real life” drama unfolding before our eyes, viewers no longer relate to the highly fictionalized lives of once-beloved characters.
I’ll admit I’m a loyal fan of Days of Our Lives. I started watching the show as a kid in the afternoons with my sister. Characters have come and gone, only to come back again, and the formula hasn’t changed much over the years. I still tune in every once in a while to see what’s going on in Salem, but the show fails to capture my attention, except when I find ways to criticize it.
Soap operas in general are slower paced than other dramas simply because they’re broadcast daily. It could take months for a story arch to play itself out, and lets face it, viewers don’t have the patience to wait so long for a resolution. And then there’s the problem of relevance: characters live lavish lives with no job in sight and can only be bothered to back-stab, cheat, extort and murder. I don’t know about you, but these stories and characters don’t reflect a thing about my life or my friends’ lives. But I’m still invested in my favorite characters. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t watching Sammi Brady wreak havoc on the people of Salem.
Melodrama is a thing of the past. Viewers want to see characters like themselves, in situations somewhat realistic. While I understand that entertainment is supposed to allow viewers to escape their own realities, it’s difficult to suspend any disbelief when story lines are so outlandish and often times repeated. The formula of daytime dramas needs to change in order for the genre to stay afloat.