Last night, I finished watching the last of the episodes from the 50 Years of Coronation Street week. I won’t say what happened in case I spoil it for any viewers who have not yet caught up but I was returning after a long hiatus.
I used to watch all the soaps when I was a stay-at-home mum with young kids. They were my escape valve. I could see other women in similar situations coping with the same problems. It made me feel normal.
However, when each of those programmes started to be on three or four times per week, I realised that I no longer had the time and I started to cut out the ones that I liked the least until, finally, I discovered that the trials and tribulations of my own life were interesting enough.
EastEnders was one of the first to go – to fulfil the needs of the schedulers, it became dark, miserable and filled with some rather unpleasant people that I wouldn’t want to spend time with in real life so why would I waste my valuable free time?
Corrie was the last when it seemed to be going the way of EastEnders. Part of me blames these scriptwriters for the misery in so many lives. To keep interest and ‘remain current’ they introduce story lines that reflect isolated and unusual incidents and accidents in the real world and transport them into their fabricated worlds almost as if they are commonplace, invariably to wipe out a few inconvenient characters who have run out of road due to some of the impossibly ridiculous things that have happened to them.
It’s not just huge-scale tragedies, it’s the inter-personal relationships. Soaps somehow make it ‘ok’ to have an affair… how many happily married couples can you think of in our mainstream programmes? Almost everyone seems to have been involved in some form of extra-curricular activity, forming Venn diagrams of inter-personal relationships within the small casts that could not possibly occur in real life.
Seeing people behaving badly, mouthing off, becoming violent with each other – these occur on an almost daily basis and, yes, eventually some may get their comeuppance, but not always.
Subliminally this has an effect on our own behaviour if exposed to it regularly and accounts for a lot of the less than helpful attitudes we encounter in our own lives.
I watched the 50th Anniversary episodes with interest but I won’t be going back to giving them 30 minutes of my time every couple of days. I have enough dramas of my own to contend with.