Soap Operas have the unique opportunity to entertain and educate. Read more here ---->>>
Photos: CBS, ABC, NBC
Soap operas have a unique opportunity unlike most other shows to really explore their characters and their stories. Sometimes that may include strange and ridiculous plots that have us either rolling our eyes or howling with laughter. Other times they can tap into real things that we as human beings have to live through in our lives. The hardships that plague humanity. The relatable moments.
When soaps choose to highlight important issues it not only draws in the audience. It educates the viewers as well. And that’s why soaps are still very relevant in today’s culture. Over the years, many shows have chosen to tackle the “hard stuff.” From Erica Kane’s abortion the same year of the Roe v. Wade ruling to Stone Cate’s death following his AIDS diagnosis. Each was given the respect it deserved as a storyline and provided information that viewers may have not known if those characters didn’t live through it.
Recently, we have seen some amazing stories that touched on subjects that many people can relate to. On General Hospital, we have seen the heartbreaking decline of Mike Corbin (Max Gail) after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. The show has done a wonderful job not only showing the steady decline of Mike as his disease progresses but also how family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be affected as well. The Young and the Restless has done a similar story with Dina. Earlier this year, we spoke with Marla Adams about Dina’s disease. She noted how grateful she was for the chance to shine a light on Alzheimer’s and how the response she had received from around the world, especially from caretakers truly touched her. “The feedback that I get from all over the world has been incredible. I am so privileged to represent them.”
The Young and the Restless has also tackled the difficult subject of domestic violence when JT became mentally and eventually physically abusive with Victoria (Amelia Heinle). According to dosomething.org, a fourth of women worldwide will experience domestic or dating violence in their lifetime which includes physical, emotional, mental, and/or sexual abuse. That form of violence is very difficult to watch, which is why we don’t often see it on television. And that is part of the problem. Viewers watched as Victoria Newman, a powerful woman who seemingly had it all, became a survivor of such an awful situation. During which we learned many things. Domestic violence can happen to anyone at any time in their lives. And that the old adage “see something, say something” truly applies here. Victoria’s friends and family saw her shrink into a shell of her former self. They started to pick up on the fact that something was wrong and they reacted.
On The Bold and the Beautiful, we learned the facts behind kidney disease and the importance of transplants through the life of Katie Logan (Heather Tom). Often referred to as the “silent disease” due to its lack of symptoms until advanced stages, chronic Kidney Disease affects 10% of people worldwide. The soap even partnered with CBSCares to produce two PSAs on living kidney donation after Flo (Katrina Bowden) donated one of her kidneys to Katie.
Days of Our Lives has tackled mental illness and substance abuse with JJ Deveraux (Casey Moss). Some may not know that JJ’s family has a history of addiction and mental illness on his mother’s side. His mother Jennifer had an addiction to pain pills, and his grandmother Laura was institutionalized for over a decade. At the end of 2017, JJ had a major depressive episode and contemplated suicide. With suicide being the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, it was a very poignant moment for the character and for the audience. General Hospital also took on the #MeToo movement when Kiki (Hayley Erin) was sexually harassed at work. The show had a wonderful scene of women coming together to tell about their own experiences as they let Kiki and those watching know that they are not alone.
At their best, soap operas have the power to entertain and enlighten. That is why they have always been and still are relevant. As fans, we can be proud of the steps the shows are taking to put a spotlight on the important issues. And we can act as well! If you want to know more about any of the topics above you can check out the links below: