A couple of interesting theories – about our viewing habits, as well as the business of soaps, have come to my mind in the last few days.
As some of my readers are aware, I was one of the lucky lottery winners who lost their job last year as the economy started to tank and went into a big ole freefall. I’ve spent a lot of my weekdays since then in my home office, trying to shake the tree and find a new job. That also means I’ve been at home during the day.
You all know the lovefest I’ve been having about Guiding Light over the last few weeks. And what struck me last week, as I was liveblogging, was this: GL is on here in Chicago at 9 AM. We don’t have a DVR, or Tivo. And no matter what any given day is like, I’m generally here at 9 AM, starting my day. So my last few months of GL-watching have been without an FF button. I’ve seen it top to bottom because I’ve HAD to watch it this way.
Hmmm – you think one might have anything to do with the other? That getting a sense of everything that’s happening makes me more invested, gives more context to what characters are saying and thinking?
It’s an interesting idea. Maybe I’ll have to make a point of watching As The World Turns “live” (which is on at 1 PM Central and which I only catch at broadcast maybe once a week or so) and see if that changes my opinion of ATWT.
And, speaking of layoffs….
When I first became aware of the economy tanking, I knew how fragile the soap business already was. And there’s been a slew of firings and pay cuts since that have only validated those worries.
My immediate feeling was, “Oh, shit. This is going to be what pushes it over the edge.” The tipping point, if you will.
But then I read this post from the team over at Daytime Confidential. It talks about radio soaps, and how P&G used them to stay afloat during the Great Depression.
And it occurred to me: Hey, there are almost 2 million people out of work who weren’t three months ago. Some of those people will actually now be home during the day. AND may start watching soaps.
It’s an opportunity that writers and producers would be wise to take advantage of with a mixture of tricks – some returns of historical characters, an exciting, challenging fresh story, and maybe (gasp) lots of family and love for them – support from your friends and family during a rough and challenging time.
If I were a writer or producer, I’d have one of my longtime characters lose a job, and go through the process – how it happens, what the aftermath is, and how to find something else. (GL, you could do this with Rick or Frank.)
After all, people watch film and television to see their lives reflected on screen – and to see how someone else might handle the situation.