Saturday, April 21, 2018

All TV Shows are Soaps

TV has changed so dramatically since I was a child.  Not just the fact that there are more than 3 channels... nor the myriad ways you can view it and sources that create what everyone now calls 'content', but the way it is written and the ways stories are told.  A fundamental shift has occurred in visual storytelling.

As a kid you have a short attention span and plots don't really mean anything.  You want to see your hero escape from whatever perilous misadventure befalls him or her.  There aren't really any other motives the writer needs to convey.  Yet, back then, they did. 

I'm not saying the writing was good, it just had a starting point and an ending point.  It followed logical cause and event plotlines.  There were no continuing subplots.  All subplots ended at the conclusion of the episode.  Rarely, there were "To Be Continued..." episodes, but they were almost always resolved in the next story.

Modern TV storytelling more resembles older soap operas.  Soap operas were written to keep home-bound viewers tuning in every day, selling housewives and retired people all the products they could.  There was never any real resolution to the storyline of any episode.  Soaps followed storylines that resembled child's play in that almost every episode introduced new plots and ended very few.

What is hard to comprehend is why they do this, now.  Netflix doesn't need you to watch, it just needs you to subscribe.  TV programming can be 'Tivo'd'; you don't have to incentivize viewers.  Why, then are all the TV shows soap operas?