Why do men watch soaps? Could it be for the same reasons why women watch soaps?

Soaps aren’t solely for women or for gay men. They’re for anyone who enjoys drama, emotional catharsis, fashion, glamor, humor, and sometimes a little crazy or supernatural storylines mixed in for good measure. Watching soaps as a man doesn’t make a man any less masculine, in fact watching any television show has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept of masculinity or femininity. Watching primetime soaps with mixed company back in the 90s such as Friends or Beverly Hills, 90210 didn’t make anyone bat an eyelash. Flashing forward to the past few years watching Mad Men and Game of Thrones again in mixed company, Soaps.com can’t help but point out that those too are soaps and the men, straight or not, lap them up!

Some men say they don’t care for soaps perhaps because they distain high emotion or the melodramatic, while some simply say that the storylines take too long to get anywhere. One guy told us, “There’s no action. It’s for people who like relationships and talking about them.”

Unemployed, retired, work nights, an athlete or in show business

I don’t fall into this category because I was already watching soaps before I was unemployed, I’m not retired, I’m no athlete, nor am I in the ‘business of show’, which would leave those who are with their days free to watch. But I imagine that many a new male soap fan was lured in slowly by their wives who were watching. It only takes one storyline or cliff hanger. 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 having sex with Sharon yesterday? Why is he with Phyllis now?” Before you know it, you are actually sitting down to watch segments. Once wrangled into one storyline, many add a second soap to their viewing and unwittingly get sucked into a similar storyline from another soap. There is a wearing down effect and soon you’re 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 television but the type of sex scenes in daytime TV usually has fit muscular dudes with their shirts off whisking gorgeous women up off their feet and carrying them off to the bedroom. This is great for women and men, straight or gay, might I add. A lot of women are carried off to the bedroom in soap operas. That’s the kind of romantic scene women usually want to see which gives men ideas.

More: How sex has changed in soaps over the decades

Raised by women who watched soaps

One of the reasons I watch soaps is due to the fact I was raised with a household of women. Soaps were on the TV all the time. From early childhood I wondered why that guy with the German accent and funny mustache (Y&R’s Victor Newman) 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 Legos. Often, I played with my Legos 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.

Easy to slip into watching soaps as a student

Some men find themselves interested in soaps during college or university. It is an experimental time of life. Many young men 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 dorm room’s shared “den”. In my day, the girls of a co-ed dorm generally had 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. Pretty soon, they actually want to know if Adam is really going to steal Ashley’s baby and give her to Sharon.

More: How primetime TV is more soapy than they’d admit

Intriguing storylines

Ok, let’s keep it real – no one is watching the soaps for the intriguing story lines. If anything, the fact that the storylines are so predictable is probably what keeps viewers watching. Who doesn’t 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 had sex with all those guys and what a mess that is going to make, he’s in. He’s joined the soap speculation game. Soap storylines 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 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.

Because the wife does

This goes along with not finding the remote or being raised by a household of women or your grandma. 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 football possibly. So if the wife is watching soaps daily 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.

How many men watch soaps out there? How many have male friends who watch with you? Women – is it strange to you to watch soaps with men? Do you feel uncomfortable with it or are you happy to share your passion?

– John Beadle/Christine Fix

Originally written by John Beadle January 12, 2010 and refreshed by Christine Fix June 6, 2018.