Soaps.com's newest columnist, John Beadle, ponders the question we all want to know.
I don’t fall into this category, only because I was already watching soaps before I was unemployed. But I imagine that many a new soap watching man fan was lured in slowly by their wives who were watching. It only takes one storyline or cliff hanger really. It starts with recognizing a few of the characters, "Hey isn’t that Jack?", and then giving a damn about what they are doing, "Wasn’t he sleeping with Sharon yesterday? Why is he with Phyllis now?" Before you know it, you are actually sitting down to watch segments of imaginary people or one imaginary person. But since everyone intermingles with everyone and the schemers are mixing all the storylines, you find that soon the one storyline you thought you cared about now encompasses the entire show.
Men Are Confused By Soaps - So They Start Watching More Than One:
For whatever reason, once a guy gets wrangled into one storyline, and then adds a second soap to his TV viewing day, he'll start to think two different soaps are actually that first soap he was secretly watching. He doesn’t even know that Ridge isn’t on Days and he just looks like John from One Life To Live. He unwittingly gets sucked into that similar storyline which then intertwines and now this poor guy is a fan of multiple soaps. It could go downhill from there as this confusion continues. Plus there is a wearing down effect and soon this guy is watching Melrose Place at night instead of NBA basketball.
Sex Is Rampant On Soaps:
Women like to point out there is too much sexploitation on the TV men watch. This might be because those women are worn out from watching non-stop sex scenes all day on daily soaps. It isn’t the type that men are used to. The bimbo with implants laughing about how cool the dude with a large belly is while he drinks down his beer is not present. Instead, the type is usually fit muscular dudes with their shirts off whisking women up off their feet and carrying them off to the bedroom. A lot of women are carried off to the bedroom in soap operas. Often, and confusingly, he makes idle talk (called romance) with the girl before she starts to unbutton his shirt. This is steamy, passionate - with plenty of skin, hot sex going on during the daytime. Usually seen once each show. Sometimes the whole day is full of it. I think Wednesday is ‘all day soap sex’ day.
You Are A Gay Man (Mostly Myth):
This leads me into dispelling the myth that only gay men watch soaps. Now, certainly plenty of gay men watch soaps but I’m positive there is at least one non-gay man who is watching them too. That would be me. I firmly believe there are many straight men out there watching soaps. We just don’t admit it. Like when you prefer to take a bath over a shower. That doesn’t make you gay. It makes you a soaker. It makes you appreciative of life and the moments it has to offer. Maybe only sensitive men who can follow multiple storylines at once like soaps? Maybe a lot of those men are gay but surely not all of them. If I was braver I’d ask some of my male friends if they watch soaps but I think I’d rather tell them I prefer baths to showers. It could be though that more gay men watch soaps than straight men… So I had to list it.
Raised By Women Who Watched Soaps:
One of the reasons I watch soaps is due to the fact I was raised by women. So soaps were on the TV all the time. From early childhood I wondered why that guy with the German accent and funny mustache was keeping this very hairy, shirtless man in his basement. I wondered if he would ever get out. I worried about him. This hooked me some. I was also curious back then about a different kind of soap that had monsters in it called "Dark Shadows." My mom would trick me into taking an afternoon nap with her and if I did I could watch "Dark Shadows" when we woke up. Little did I know that she was going to watch it regardless if I watched or if I played with my Leggos. Often, I played with my Leggos behind the couch because the werewolves on the show frightened me. It became convenient though to have this additional "soap knowledge" I picked up by watching TV with mommy. I found I had the answers when my sisters would be talking and catching up on one of their soaps, "Is Michael with Julia yet?" "No. Victor still has him locked up in the basement!" I liked the funny looks it got me. Plus at 5 years of age your brain is like a sponge. I was as familiar with the cast of Guiding Light as I was with "The Muppets" when I was growing up. Thanks mom.
You Were A Total Momma’s Boy
Some men, who may not be momma’s boys, find themselves interested in soaps during college. It is an experimental time of life. Many young boys who were spared from the soaps and instead worked on cars or built furniture will now find this new media belching all day long out of the TV located in your doom room’s shared "Den". During the day, the girls of a co-ed dorm generally have the TV tuned to a soap opera. Boys who want to be around girls and are just sitting there trying to get idle conversation in, quickly learn that they need to discuss what is playing on the TV. The motivation is there so they pick up a few names and storylines and act interested in the hopes of getting a date later. They are not intimidated by the other boys in the dorm who already know all about the soaps because they assume those guys are gay. But their game backfires when the male soap viewers actually get reeled in by this game they play. Pretty soon, they actually want to know if Adam is really going to steal Ashley’s baby and give her to Sharon. By the end of the 1st semester at most co-ed dorms you will find a mix of sexes watching the daytime soaps and often the "Be quiet!" is coming from a male who is trying to hear what Robert Scorpio has to say.
Can’t Find the Remote Control:
No doubt a few men, possibly unemployed, find themselves trapped into watching a soap because they can’t find the TV remote control. They started out watching some morning news show that ran into a daytime soap. Most men cannot keep track of a television remote for longer than 15 minutes and refuse to consider the idea of getting up and touching the TV to change the channel. This leads them into the first soap of the day. They don’t watch at first but the storylines are repetitive and the first time Carly takes off Jack’s shirt and they romp about in the bed half naked for 3 minutes, the guy’s interest is piqued. Pretty soon he is actually starting to care if EJ is the father of Sami’s child or not. This kind of man probably has to stay in the closet and can’t admit he watches the soaps because he is not gay nor secure enough in his manhood to just admit he watches. Or likes baths.
Intriguing Story Lines:
Ok, let’s keep it real - no one is watching the soaps, not even women, for the intriguing story lines. If anything, the fact that the story lines are so predictable is probably what keeps viewers (especially women - who love to be right) watching. Women love to be right. They love moments where they can say, "I knew Sheila wasn’t dead!" When the light bulb goes off in the man’s head and he can figure out that Sharon slept with all those guys and what a mess that is going to make, he’s in. He’s joined the soap speculation game. Soap story lines consist of pretty much "I know something you don’t." You need a scorecard to keep track of who knows what and who is keeping what secret from whom. Soaps just keep you hanging and people, including men, generally want to know those secrets. We’re all suckers for the cliffhanger stories, especially if they’re mixed in with lots of sweaty semi-nakedness. Once a man is exposed to it a few times, he’s going to be hooked. We are easier marks than women and even though men might not be the target audience of daytime soap operas, they can still be snared by the trap set by daytime writers.
Because The Wife Does:
This goes along with not finding the remote or being raised by women. If you find yourself at home during the day, you’ve probably not watched daytime TV. It is foreign ground. You’re accustomed to watching "Monday Night Football" or "Thursday Night Football" or "Sunday Night Football" or "Special Edition Thursday Night Football," (which is on Saturday and I have no idea why it just isn’t called "Saturday Night Football," but it isn’t). So if the wife is watching soaps day after day and you are nearby and receiving some exposure to it, you will become trapped into watching the sex, cliffhangers and/or gossipy storylines. It is just plain human nature and vulnerabilities daytime takes advantage of. And men are human. We are.
We’ve No life. Men Are Just Neanderthals:
I’ve come up with as many reasons as I could think of on a morning’s cup of coffee as to why men would watch daytime soaps. If you don’t fall into one of the categories I’ve mentioned the only one I have left is that men are just a Neanderthal with no life. You are the type of man who doesn’t really decide. You have time on your hands. You sit around at home. You can’t stomach "The Price Is Right" without Bob Barker. The soaps are on. There is only so much "Sports Center" a person can watch. You don’t read. You don’t do crafts. You find the same set of soaps on day after day and you just mindlessly watch until one day you realize that you care about Lily’s baby. You take an interest. You are actually less mindless and have some purpose in your life. But you can’t admit it to your friends. You just have to ponder about all the back stabbing, affairs and plotting from the comforts of your warm noon bath.
- John Beadle