Illustration is the author’s own

I have been a soap opera viewer for as long as I can remember. I used to watch Days of Our LivesThe Bold and The Beautiful and The Young and The Restless with my American grandfather every evening after school while sneaking ice-cream without telling grandma. It became a bonding ritual between the two of us. I continued watching The Bold and The Beautiful, even after my grandfather passed away in 2018 because it was comforting to me to be able to come home every day and watch a new episode of our show. My life changed completely after my grandfather’s death; I started my PhD which I had always planned with my grandpa and started a new job. The Bold and The Beautiful has been the only constant in my life, always there for me. 

The Bold and The Beautiful made its debut in 1987, way before I was born and is one of the most highly-rated soap daytime operas, still watched by millions of viewers every day. It is an American soap opera set in Los Angeles and was initially conceived as a sister soap opera to The Young and The Restless as both shows take place in the same fictional world. The Bold and The Beautiful revolves around the lives of the Forresters, the Logans, and the Spencers, three families involved in the fashion business since 1987. I remember wanting to discuss with my grandpa the relationship that Ridge Forrester had with Brooke Logan and Taylor Hayes, as the three of them were involved in a love triangle. Ridge and Brooke’s relationship has been the cornerstone of the show for over three decades. I remember talking for endless hours with my grandpa about Ridge’s infidelity and diverse love affairs as well as Brooke’s feuds with Ridge’s mother, Stephanie. Of course, The Bold and The Beautiful had to undergo many changes in its plotline throughout the years, as it is necessary for the main narrative to evolve in order to keep the attention of the viewers. Throughout the years, new characters were added, some of whom were related to the show’s main families. Nowadays, the focus has shifted on the main characters’ children’s love lives.

The soap opera “fashion”; Ordinary people-extraordinary lives.

Regular viewers of soap- operas religiously watch the show because they can relax watching something with which they are familiar without having to analyze everything. They do not have to concentrate on the plot because they are already familiar with the main events in the lives of the soap opera characters and even if they lose an episode, they will still be able to catch up. After all, when you need to break away from your own problems and forget what is worrying you, why not watch someone else’s troubles? Dwelling in the world of the Foresters and the Logans, can lead you to believe that your own life can actually become as extraordinary as theirs. They work in the multi-billion fashion industry and make it seem easy to get involved in such business and live a lavish life. Part of their appeal is that they feed into people’s vanity. Getting caught up in the lives of these figures is part of the phenomenon of escapism. Its dramatic plotline has drawn in viewers for over 34 years, as they feel as personally involved in the characters’ lives.  

Soap-operas and the pandemic.

When the corona-virus pandemic hit in March 2020, American television production stopped. It is remarkable that the ‘the first US network TV drama to resume shooting’ in June was The Bold and The Beautiful. Shooting resumed with every necessary precaution taken, as wearing a mask was mandatory off camera. There also had to be some changes in the way that the scenes were shot, due to covid restrictions. Huge adjustments had to be made as only one or two actors could only be present in each scene due to social distancing. However, soap operas often involve kissing or feature ensembles; therefore it was extremely hard to adhere to the restrictions at hand. How can you create a kissing scene without actually having the actors to kiss? The producers ‘came up with innovative solutions such as body doubles’. For instance, when Steffy had to kiss Finn, Finn’s wife in real life, the actress Kayla Ewell kissed him and the whole thing was shot from behind. In another scene in which Carter kissed Zoe, a mannequin was used in her position. The viewers realized that Zoe was not moving at all and the scene went viral. This resulted in mannequins becoming a cultural icon. They were featured in the main plotline as part of Thomas Forester’s hallucinations.

Watching The Bold and The Beautiful during the pandemic is what personally got me through it. I am sure that others may have had a similar experience. Being in lockdown was particularly stressful to me as to most people therefore, to know that for half an hour each day I can dwell in the drama of the fashion world really helped me unwind and not think about my own worries. Doing a PhD is very challenging so watching this show gave me the opportunity not to think deeply. Every day for couple of minutes, I get to forget everything that is making me sad and focus on Steffy’s relationships. Others may say that watching soap- operas is mentally incapacitating however, trying to wind off and not think is part of the reason why I am so drawn to this kind of shows. 

Binge-watching vs slow-drip tv.

The real question is: Why are we still drawn in watching soap operas even though we are accustomed to bingeing entire seasons? Soap operas are designed for every-day, routine watching, definitely not for binge watching. They always reiterate the most important plot points many times as their target group is distracted viewers. It is worth noting that because of the number of episodes of the soap-operas it is not possible to have them available to mainstream streaming mediums like Netflix. Therefore, they are not as accessible as other series to viewers. What is interesting is that since September the 1st, episodes of season one of The Bold and Beautiful have been streaming for free on YouTube. Every day, one new episode is being uploaded building on the archive. For those who have already watched the first seasons of the show, it is a trip down to memory lane as for those who have never watched them, it is a novel experience. Either way, The Bold and The Beautiful has been renewed for two more seasons and will be running at least until 2024. 

Overall, my everyday life might be hectic but watching a soap opera is the only certainty. It provides me with what I need the most at this stage of my life, comfort. I have the sweetest memories associated with watching this show, as it was part of my routine with my grandpa. We used to discuss about the show for hours and would try guessing what we thought would happen next. I think that The Bold and The Beautiful is captivating because it makes me feel as if I were part of the characters’ intimate life. After all Brooke and Ridge have been part of my life for as long as I can remember myself so even though it could be hard at times to pinpoint why we still watch soap operas when we still have to deal with a million of things every day, ultimately, they have a special place in our hearts. Understanding how others would act in a particular situation is necessary, even if certain plotlines are highly unlikely to occur in real life is part of their charm. Soap operas are here to stay, as they are based on the ultimate recipe for passion and drama. As long-running series they offer us the comforting familiarity we need.