Love it or hate it but you just can’t ignore it. Divya Thiagarajan sets out to find what makes TV soaps click with the youngsters.

Do you hate missing an episode of your favourite TV serial? Does your Id, Ego and Super-ego fight over watching soap operas and finishing important work? You love the suspense but hate to see the ‘To be continued…’ phrase on the same frame? Do you try everything you can to catch up with a missed episode: wake up early or stay up late to watch the re-telecast, YouTube it etc? And, have you ever wished there were no breaks in between? If you said yes/yep/ya to even two of the above, let alone all, then you have been officially diagnosed with symptoms of addiction to televisions soaps — Grey’s Anatomy style.

Soap operas are an escape from reality for an hour, or half an hour, into the realms of a perfect combination of drama, comedy, suspense, melancholy, thrill and everything that we look for in our day-to-day lives.

The TV remote has now moved from the women and the elderly to youngsters who tune in to watch their favourite TV serials, which are no longer stereotyped as something that is made only for a certain group. Susan Nandana, a post-graduate student calls this phenomenon “a good pastime which she likes following every day.”

What hooks them?

There are moments when you are at the edge of your seat, biting your nails, smiling because of the romance or wiping a tear off. There are also other times where there’s a turn of events about to happen and they cut into advertisements or let you wait until the next day. The desperation builds on so much that you hear voices in your head, dream about it and think about the many possibilities with every waking minute. This creation of curiosity is called ‘The Cliffhanger effect’ — The hero hangs from the cliff, will he die or will he be saved? To be continued...

It’s the interesting ones that top the list of any who watch. The TV soap has to be upbeat, finger-snapping fast and filled with all the elements that make life interesting available at the same within the hour.

Jerusha Margaret talks about how she used to follow Castle and The Mentalist but stopped after a point. She says, “With Castle, it got predictable. Only during the last ten minutes the criminal is caught; till then they trip on all the wrong ones. The Mentalist on the other hand though not predictable began to drag the plot, at least for me. But I’m waiting to know who Red John is; maybe I’ll watch the last few episodes.”

The extremes

They love their TV soaps so much that one missed episode can turn them into a desperate hunter.

They somehow manage to track this prey down with help from the internet, of course and sometimes through re-telecast.

They find the video by all means and settle for even the worst picture resolution, which is so unlikely of them but a missed episode is worse than anything else.

Lots of people like college student Pauline Roberts download the entire season and watch till they reach their ultimatum of satisfaction.

In Pauline’s case it’s Grey’s Anatomy she enjoys.

Some serials are solely watched on the internet; it is either entirely downloaded or watched episode by episode on YouTube or the channel/production house website and others sites like tubeplus.me, sidereel.com and cucirca.eu.

It’s just fine!

Karthick Murthy, Assistant Director at ITV talks about how he notices the ardent fan following of TV soaps from the younger generation.

“I remember hearing the ringtone of Saravanan Meenakshi serial on Star Vijay while I was travelling and was surprised the phone belonged to a college student,” he says.

Serials have come a long way; youngsters now make it their desktop wallpapers, backdrops and screensavers apart from the ringtones, carving a niche for the genre with cinema and cricket alongside.

TV soaps are very much a part of the lives of the youth as much as Facebook, Twitter, Cricket and Cinema. The remote may have moved from one group to another but when you ask a youngster who watches soaps on a daily basis and loves it too, the answer comes out uncertainly, afraid of what the other person would think of him/her.

Though it is not the common attitude, it’s time we tell people around us: ‘We do love our TV soaps. Go figure!’

My TV viewing begins at six every evening and goes on till 11 in the night. I switch between Vijay TV, Sun TV, Polimer TV and Raj TV channels to watch my serials. My favourite of the lot is Ullam Kollai Poguthada. The shows, in a way, reflect real life on screen, things that could happen to anyone. - Anitho Caroline (23), Teacher, St. Joseph’s Nursery and Primary School

I started watching TV soaps because my mother watched them and I had no other choice. But I really started liking them and now my favourites are Madhubala - Ek Ishq Ek Junoon and Uttaran. It has something about the youth, there’s romance, quarrel and good looking heroes and heroines. - Ayesha Khan (17), student, St. Aloysius A-I Hr. Sec. School

My girlfriend introduced me to the world of TV soaps; she has stopped but I couldn’t. My favourite is Dexter but I also watch Boss, Californication and others. It’s different when compared to movies. Movies give you only about few hours but with TV soaps, there’s season after season and so many episodes. The plots are so gripping; they intrigue me and keep me awake. - Sabari Ganesh (26), Manager – Business Relations, Beep Experience Management