If a poster is bodacious enough to use the word ‘sage’ as part of his screen name, BELIEVE HIM! I was reading the Official GL board when I read a post by ‘SuperSage’. If you’ve read SS’s posts before, you know the inclusion of the word ‘Sage’ is an understatement. He has a tendency to knock it out the park when discussing what’s wrong with soaps, in general, and the Guiding Light, in particular. With his permission, I’m reposting his comments about ‘Why Soaps Are Already Dead’ below. If you want to read more of SuperSage or join the GL posters who’ve come together to discuss the show, click the link to the side marked “ATWT/GL (Telenext)’ at the side.
It isn’t because my favorite couple isn’t on all the time. It isn’t because the show is in “reality” mode. And it isn’t even because of the wardrobe or hair is a mess. Soaps are already in the grave because of one thing, and one thing only: The powers that be are ignoring their viewers.
Oh, you say that the viewers shouldn’t dictate story? I totally agree! Can you imagine how confused we would all be if they listened to us about Reva, Josh and Jeffrey? They might as well move to Utah because this would be a polygamist marriage! AND Reva wouldn’t know who the triplets’ father would be. AND they would have to move into the Beacon because there isn’t room enough for all of them at Cross Creek (by all of them, I mean Shayne, Marah, Hawk, Billy, Bill, Jonathan, Lizzie, dead Tammy’s rotting corpse and the ghost of H.B. and Sarah).
What I mean is, the powers that be have, for too long, been consulting with focus groups that if you added up their ages, you wouldn’t get over 100 on any given day. The focus groups have told them they want to see scenes that ARE real, not just “look” real. They want to see “real” human experiences. And they don’t want to wait long for them. Problem is, the younger demographics are still a fickle little bunch and don’t stay around long enough for the common daytime soap opera. I kind of see where Chris Goutman (EP of ATWT) gets his notion that “we” don’t want to watch soaps five days a week.
The demographic the powers that be should be going after are the older viewers (35 and up). Is there any of us that didn’t get introduced to soap operas by an older family member or friend? The older viewer (yes, I am one of them… I would call us “veteran” viewers, but that sounds “old” to me, too ) has more disposable income (well, not anymore, but you see where I’m going with this) and we have more influence over the younger viewers. How do I know they aren’t going after this “older” demo? I’ll answer myself with a question: “Where are the characters that have been on the show for more than five years?”
To be GL specific, I’m talking about Alan, Rick, Olivia, Reva, Josh, Vanessa, Hawk, Billy, Alexandra, Blake, Lillian, Buzz, Frank, et al. They should be front and center EACH and EVERY day. I can still hear Wheeler saying, “They can’t be… our budget won’t allow it.” Therein lies part of the problem. They won’t invest in characters we “know.” Make it cheap and make us money. That’s the American motto, isn’t it?
Quality of the writing helps. I’d rather see a well written show than eating, and I’m a big eater. But quality doesn’t translate into ratings. What translates into higher ratings? Seeing characters we already know living their lives in our little make believe world. When viewers continue seeing these characters every day, not just once or twice a week, the ratings go up. We saw this short burst of increases in July with Josh and Reva centered primely in story. And then in August, ratings decreased once again.
I’ve preached for quality and emotion and romance, and all of this is important, but what that doesn’t include is seeing characters we know and love. Y&R and B&B knows this practice to be true. How many years have we had Victor, Nikki, Jack, Ridge, Brooke (oh gawd…) and Stephanie on our screens? The familiarity needs to be there.
The common soap opera might as well be dead if the powers that be aren’t willing to give viewers who they want.