Romance Novels vs Soap Operas

Romance Novels

People who don’t have anything to do with either frequently equate romance novels and soap operas, but I really don’t think it’s a fair equation. I grew up on soap operas and kind of looked down on romance novels, but as my real job involves recommending books to people, I figure it’s part of my job to occasionally read books outside of my comfort zone to be able to discuss them with some familiarity, so over the years I’ve read some romance novels. I’ve read a few more in the last few years, looking for inspiration for fanfic. I was always surprised by how quickly romances (even historical romances – does it really matter if a story set in 1800 was written in 2012 or 1979?) date out. Romance readers take a shockingly abrupt attitude towards their books. I’ve actually seen a romance reader finish a book and then systematically destroy the book, not because they hated it, but because they just didn’t care about it. But really, while they are different levels (some have graphically descriptive sex, others reach a marriage proposal stage with barely a kiss), romance novels are designed to give release either sexually or emotionally. They are also designed to come to a happy ending and stop rather than moving on as soaps do.

Soaps Are A Community

Soaps, good soaps, are about a community. Where romance novels are almost exclusively focused on two people and their relationship, soap operas have a much broader focus. Although the rise of the  supercouple focused attention on individual couples than ever before, soaps find drama not only in the individual people, but in how other people, their families, their children, their parents, their friends, their enemies connect and react because of the relationship that really is not present in most romance novels. The closest romance novels come is when there is a series and a minor character in one title is introduced to become the hero or heroine in the next. A good friend or sibling of the star of one title will become the focus in the next book in the series and might return later to make an appearance showing a flash of happily ever after or showing support in return in a future book further along in the series with someone else as the star couple. Although it would be interesting to see them spin around and tell another story about a couple already featured on how they are settling into their happily ever after, this just isn’t done to my knowledge.

Different Purposes and Needs

So while soap operas and romance novels have some things in common (some of the same audience, romantic couples, romantic situations, emphasis on weddings), they really fill different needs and have different focuses.

UPDATED June 27 2017: I added the signature block and the heads. I also made a couple of small edits for clarity.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


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2 Responses to “Romance Novels vs Soap Operas”

  1. Gina D Says:

    Exactly right, glmanny, couldn’t agree more.

  2. glmanny Says:

    Reblogged this on Glmanny's Blog and commented:

    Are romance novels and soap operas the same thing?

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