The Death of Soap Operas (Is Greatly Exaggerated) — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #105

Writ­ers Sarahlyn Bruck and Kay­la Dreysse join your host Mark Lin­sen­may­er to dis­cuss how this once very pop­u­lar TV show type has simul­ta­ne­ous­ly become niche, yet has had a tremen­dous influ­ence on cur­rent pres­tige TV as well as real­i­ty shows. We talk about soaps’ sto­ry and struc­ture con­ven­tions, the demands on soap actors and writ­ers, and how chang­ing mar­ket forces and tech­nol­o­gy have affect­ed the genre. How much of a role does sex­ism play in the crit­i­cal dis­missal of soaps?

In addi­tion to the day­time soaps like Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal and The Bold and the Beau­ti­ful, we touch on night­time soaps like Dal­las, teen soaps like Bev­er­ly Hills 90210, Down­ton Abbey, White Orchid, Break­ing Bad, 24, Gray’s Anato­my, and more.

Get Sarahlyn’s nov­el Day­time Dra­ma and fol­low her at @sarahlynbruck.

We all watched the 2020 doc­u­men­tary The Sto­ry of Soaps, which is avail­able on YouTube. A fun pod­cast Mark lis­tened to some of is A Trip Down Soap Lane.

Oth­er sources that inspired us includ­ed:

Sam­ple the Mup­pets’ fake soap opera that Mark’s intro ref­er­ences.

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

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