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Scholar Nancy Baym on Soaps After the O. J. Simpson Trial

(p.104) Perspective
The Survival of Soap Opera
Abigail De Kosnik
University Press of Mississippi

In this chapter Baym discusses the changes in her personal relationship with soaps after the mid-1990s O. J. Simpson trial. After the trial, long-arc romances, where it took forever for people to get together, were considered too long. Everyone on soaps went from being strangers to being married in six weeks and then got divorced. The trial also made people realize that they could get through the week just fine without their soap. Whenever Baym turns on the soaps now, she does so not to really watch but to experience something very powerful—the endurance of the characters, their continued existence. These people have been around Baym whole life, creating a parasocial relationship—a kind of family—and she feels emotionally attached to those people, even if she never liked their characters that much.

Keywords:   soap operas, daytime television, daytime dramas, criminal trials, parasocial relationship

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