Are soaps only just starting to tackle tough subjects?

television, soap operas, student media, UCLan, Pluto, tackling the real issues, entertainment

By Ashleigh Clarke

Within the past few years, TV Soaps have been tackling issues left, right and centre. Even though they are fictional, they still have a right to portray their characters and storylines in a realistic manner. To make a good TV show, you need to be able to connect with your audience, and tackling hard subjects is a risky and delicate concept. As long as they are handled in a respectable way, audiences are more likely to keep watching not just for the drama, but for how certain situations are controlled.

Despite being on TV at tea time, Hollyoaks has tackled subjects such as sexual abuse, eating disorders and self-harm. On many occasions, the show was the first UK soap opera to tackle such issues. Series Producer Iain MacLeod says that “their viewers understand serious issues and are going through them in the real world so it’s their responsibility to tackle them head on”. The channel 4 show is currently featuring a storyline in which Cleo is being sexually abused by her step-father, Macleod says that charities are using the story in sessions with victims to help them open up. Not only do soaps address these issues on TV, but they are being talked about and used to help people in real life.

television, soap operas, student media, UCLan, Pluto, tackling the real issues, entertainment

EastEnders is another soap which deals with hard hitting issues, one in particular was the quite recent stillborn storyline between Shabam Masood and Kush Kazemi. The story followed them as they suffered through the loss of their baby and the effects it had on their lives after. They approached the subject with incredible sensitivity and portrayed the impact it has on bereaved families as truthfully as possible. All the while this was going on, it was raising awareness and encouraging people to come forward and talk about their own experiences. Recently accounced, the show is to have its first transgender character which series creator Julia Smith says it’s her “desire to make a series that accurately reflects real life, favouring ‘realism above all’”. Over the past 30 years EastEnders has tackled hard hitting issues such as homophobia, racism, HIV, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy and it doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

These soaps are just among the few which approach sensitive topics and do it in a way which is honest and realistic. Each show that has done this has always offered their audience a support number that they can get hold of at the end of the episode encouraging people to open up and talk to one another. Shows continue to approach sensitive issues with a hope of letting their audience know that they’re not alone and someone will always be there to help them.

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