Sunday, October 05, 2008

On Soaps of the television kind

What explains the popularity of soaps of the type aired on Sun TV or the Kabhi-Saans-bhi-something-something variety? It is all well to mock people for being hooked to them, but as students of marketing one has to take a different look it. What hidden need are these serials catering to that they hook people so strongly to them?

I used to see two serials quite regularly when I was in 9th and 10th. One was Marma Desam and I really used to enjoy that. My memory is very hazy but there was one "season" when people used to get killed mysteriously by lorries and the symbol of a dog used to occur frequently. There was also some nadi astrology fundaes. Overall it was a pretty engaging whodunnit. But that was only one year. The next edition was pretty boring, so I lost interest.

Another thing that I used to watch regularly was Dindigul I Leoni. For some reason, the name is etched in my memory. He used to draw most of his material from mocking the tamil songs of the day. But that got predictable after a while.

Another show of this type was Yugi Sethu's Naiyandi Durbar. The man was especially in form during election time. But after a point, the material got stale. (It is quite amazing then that Letterman, Colbert etc. keep their game up for so long.)

Chithi had actress Radhika in it. And I don't even know why I used to watch it. Maybe the slot was right during dinner time or just afterwards. I don't know, but I guess most families eat between 8:30 - 9:30 PM and that slot is very important. But the after slot of 9:30 - 10:30 will also be important because after eating, you want to relax and the relaxation after a heavy meal is one of life's greatest pleasures.

As an aside, I really miss those Sunday afternoon meals at Sri Krishna Kafe after L square. Typically, I would be at L square till 2-3 am and then crash till 1:30 - 2pm. (In Europe they don't use the AM/PM thing. It is the 24 hour clock. AM/PM is a redundancy if you ask me) I hope you can imagine my state then. Ravenously hungry, savage hunger would approximately describe my state. At that state, going and hogging away at the unlimited meal at SKC is the closest to orgasmic bliss that I have experienced.

In Finland too, we have parties that go really late, like friday night's. But as a vegetarian the possibility of eating to my heart's content is just not possible. For one, there are no proper Indian restaurants near the area I live. And secondly, it costs 7 euros for such a meal! The unlimited meal at SKC costs 1.4 Euros equivalent and that is itself costly if you ask me. One must not convert, but the cost structure in Scandinavia is so ... much! So much that yours truly has been forced to cook just to save on money... sigh!

Anyway, coming back to the topic of soaps, the one theory I can think of is that most of these soaps have strong women characters. Maybe, the sight of men grovelling before an ugly matriarch (there is usually a matriarch and she is hideous) may be the stuff of every woman's dreams. I don't know. It would be interesting to hear perspectives. Fire away please, for I am really curious.


Brat said...

Perhaps the sheer inactivity associated with watching television is somewhat relaxing! Another theory suggests that people like to envision what's most unlikely to happen in real life (the positives, usually), which explains the melodramatic emotional power plays and good succeeding at the end always! I personally don't subscribe to any of the "good (vs) evil" plots, but I used to be hooked on to some shows myself - such as the X-Files and Star Trek! :-)

~junkie said...

Interesting post :)

I think the obsession or the TRP ratings stem from our basic voyeuristic desires, the craving for the platitudes on TV is as natural as our inclination towards any juicy gossip next door.
As a girl myself i can safely say that very few of us identify with the characters on screen, and almost no one thinks that the soapy-version of scenarios ever occur in reality. Love or hate the dramatic excesses, the truth is that an average viewer is hooked on to the sasu-bahu way of life, however pointless it may be!

Or simply the soap aficionado has nothing better to do on a lazy evening than sit in front of the idiot-box and grab everything that's served to him ;)