Soap Operas That Changed The World

April 28, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Soap operas generally have a bad reputation. They’re thought of as vapid dramas that lack any real depth. However Stephanie Hegarty argues that soap operas have a long history of educating people and changing established norms. Some examples include:

  • In 1951 the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Agriculture created a soap opera called The Archers that taught farmers ways to increase productivity. 61 years later the show is still running and it is believed to be the longest running soap opera in history.
  • In 1975 half of Mexico’s workforce did not know how to read. Miguel Sabido wrote a soap opera that ends with an emotional scene of a father reading a letter his daughter wrote to him. In the next year enrollment in government literacy programs increased by 9 times.
  • After Sabido’s success in challenging norms in Mexico, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi invited him to India to help establish a new set of Indian values. In the soap opera that he wrote a Hindu girl falls in love with a Muslim man, and an upper caste man wants to marry a lower caste girl. At the end of each episode a famous Indian personality would encourage families to discuss the themes depicted in the show.

To read other examples, including the soap opera that convinced girls to celebrate their birthdays, the East African soap operas that have encouraged discussions about sexual health, and the soap opera that taught Afghans how to avoid landmines, click here.

Source: BBC