"Soap" for unwashed Russia: why do we love serials?

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"Soap" for unwashed Russia: why do we love serials?
"Soap" for unwashed Russia: why do we love serials?

The series came to our country in the early 1990s. There were no groceries in the shops, people did not see salaries and pensions for months, prices were growing by leaps and bounds, but every evening people were playing cheap "soap". And he, the people, several generations of which grew up on high cinema, watched "soap", looks and, it seems, will watch.

TV series Clone

TV series: what they are

Years passed, and instead of love "soap operas" our country came to our country, domestic serials - with short episodes, each of which looks like an almost finished film (this trend can be explained by the ever increasing mobility of our life). There was a division of serials into "male" and "female".

In "male" serial films ("Cop Wars", "Streets of Broken Lanterns", "Truckers", etc.), the main character is a man (or men). The main task of this character is not to experience emotions. The hero must reach the goal and furiously go to the finale, no matter what the difficulties. This series will appeal to many men.

In “female” series, accordingly, everything is the other way around: the more feelings and emotions the heroine experiences, the better (“The rich also cry,” “Wild Rose,” “Slave Izaura,” etc.). Generally speaking, the task of serials, according to psychologists, comes down to replenishing the deficit of activity and goal achievement in men and a lack of emotions in women.

However, in recent years, mixed and youth serials ("Interns", "Fizruk", "Univer", "Real Boys", "Kitchen", "Voronins", "Daddy's Daughters", "Happy Together "Etc.). Their main characters are of different sexes, there are several of them at once, the vicissitudes of the relationship between them are completely superficial and even half-joking, no "love until the grave", fatal deaths, illegitimate births, memory loss.


Apparently, our people, tired of twisted plots, "demanded" something simpler and closer to a common man in the street. But the serial fairy tale, of course, remains: the relationship of serial characters is shown to the limit with simple and too bright strokes (although their "colors" have changed: primitive, exclusively black and white, dramatic range - the division into absolutely good and absolutely bad - has sunk into the past), plot elements are also fabulous: plain women turn into fatal beauties, and homeless people turn into millionaires.

Slightly less demand in our country is for detective series - both domestic ("Kamenskaya", "Secrets of the Investigation") and foreign ("The X-Files"), as well as the so-called "intellectual" ("Doctor House") and fantastic (" Game of Thrones ") serials. The demand for traditional “soap operas” like “Santa Barbara” or “Milkmaids from Khatsapetovka” also remains.

What do TV shows give us?

First of all, what is lacking in our real life: men - achievements, and women - vivid emotions. TV shows make us, living a boring and monotonous life, live the life of fictional characters. However, in most cases, perhaps, the task of serials is simply to reflect the life of an ordinary man in the street, allowing him to escape from everyday worries (the same function is performed by mass literature like Daria Dontsova's detectives or popular romance novels) and to take care of others (a psychological technique that helps make the perception of their problems a little less painful).Finally, another reason for the love of TV shows is the natural desire of people to "peep through the keyhole", to replace with something not very socially acceptable gossip and condemnation.

For this we love TV shows, and also for intrigue. After all, the favorite technique of “soap” directors is to put the viewer on the “hook”, to interrupt the episode “in the most interesting place”, giving rise to an irresistible desire to find out what happened next. Oddly enough, but on the other hand, series can give a certain illusion of safety, reliability of this world: “I, as usual, will come home in the evening, and at home, as usual, my favorite TV series will be waiting for me”. Popular actors also play an important role in the craving for TV series, so people often watch them because of their favorite “stars”.


So serials can provide us with temporary relief from existing difficulties. It is worse if they begin to replace real life and real emotions. After all, if a lonely person quickly runs in the evening to his favorite TV series, it means that he has nothing more important in life. And if this is done by a family person, there is hardly enough emotional closeness in the life of the spouses.

According to TNS Russia, TV series rank second in demand after entertainment programs among Russian viewers. From January to October 2013, TV series accounted for 20% of the total broadcast time of programs of all genres. At the same time, the demand for television series significantly exceeded the supply and amounted to 30% of the total viewing time of programs of all genres. Research data show the preferences of Russians in cities with a population of more than 100 thousand people, the audience is from 4 years old and older.

Philosophy of mediocrity

“TV shows perform the same function for adults as fairy tales for children: they show us typical life situations and behavioral models,” says the famous St. Petersburg psychoanalyst Dmitry Olshansky. - How to behave in similar cases, what is permissible and what is condemned, how to get acquainted, how to express your feelings, how to have breakfast, how to go to work, how to button up your shirt, how many children to have, how to call your parents, how to be happy, how to express sadness, grief, sadness, anxiety, despondency, and so on - the series provide incredibly detailed information about our civilization. And for the person who watches them, this is just a textbook on how to become the average man in the street.

The series tells us about the most typical people and the most common relationships between them in the most generalized situations, about what is the ultimate commonplace. Any particulars in the series are unacceptable, their characters cannot experience any individual feelings. Actors of serials sometimes quite deliberately play love, hate, sadness, using all theatrical cliches, extremely generalizing and even bringing to the grotesque. "Everything is like everyone else" is the main principle of serial characters, their relationships and feelings. The task of the series is precisely to form a certain average taste of the majority and provide models for imitation: “how everyone acts”, “how everyone says”, “how everyone thinks”, “how everyone feels”.

At the same time, the plot of the series can be the most fantastic, its action can take place in another era or in general in a fictional world, the series can be animated, but the plot models, events and types of characters for all serials remain the same (however, they were also described V. Ya. Propp): whether it is "Sex and the City" or "Dexter", "Knickerbocker Hospital" or "Penguins of Madagascar", "Santa Barbara" or "Game of Thrones" - they are all assembled from the same puzzles, are cut from the same patterns, only the names of the characters, the costumes and the proposed circumstances change. The directors just do not want to show us the differences and characteristics of the characters, they show us the heroes with whom we are already familiar, creating a recognition effect.

German director, screenwriter, actor and playwright Rainer Werner Fasbinder: “And now the family acting in such a series begins to appear regularly at their homes, so that soon they are already well versed in the vicissitudes of her life. From that moment on, you can politicize the content of the television series and continue this activity until the viewers themselves begin to resort to the primitive, narrow-minded judgments of the characters in their perception of life."

The series differs from cinema (and from art in general), because its task is not to surprise, amaze or show us something different from our everyday life, to acquaint us with the depths of the human soul or the beauties of the starry sky. The series does not represent a hero to us, but a type. It doesn't matter what the name of this character will be - Homer Simpson, Tony Soprano or Cece Capwell - they all perform the same function. This is the fundamental difference between a serial character and a movie hero: Laurence Olivier's Hamlet and Smoktunovsky's Hamlet are two completely different people, and Carrie Bradshaw and Selma Bouvier, Charlotte York and Lisa Simpson are one and the same type of women, they act, speak and feel exactly the same. We recognize them each time under different names and in different ways, but they are always the same repetitive and predictable type. Whereas, having come to the theater, we run the risk of meeting a completely different Galmet, with whom we have known until now.

Therefore, it is impossible to watch a series the way we watch a movie. You cannot peer into it, look at it, “think with your eyes,” because everything is predictable in advance.

Studies have shown that viewers of television series in our country are, first of all, women over 55 years old (29.5% of the total audience watching TV series), women from 35 to 54 years old (20.8%), as well as men aged 35 up to 54 years old (12.7%) and men over 55 years old (12.6%).

Whatever the plot, after ten minutes of watching, we can predict what will happen in the next fifty episodes. Why, for example, was "Santa Barbara" so popular, where in episodes 2137 something happened that could be retelled in a couple of minutes? Because the function of the series is not to say something new for us, but, on the contrary, to repeat well-known plots and behavior patterns. Therefore, the pleasure of the series is exactly the opposite of the pleasure of cinema, where we experience catharsis from touching something unique. The pleasure of the series is the pleasure of repetition that Sigmund Freud wrote about.

This is the main goal of the series: to tell a recognizable story with a typical development and a predictable ending, so that the viewer has a recognition effect and a sense of fulfilled expectation. “Cinderella has lost her slipper again, everything goes on as usual,” the serial viewer should feel. The function of the series is the same as that of a fairy tale: to lull you at night. Therefore, the more repetitions, expected decisions and predictable actions in it, the better the series will be. And the more deeply the consciousness of the viewer will doze.

Dmitry Svetozarov, Russian director and author of such series as Streets of Broken Lanterns, Agent of National Security, as well as screen versions of Russian classics (Crime and Punishment): “In modern television, when demand obviously exceeds supply, a director can become anyone who has not proven otherwise. All that remains is to feel embarrassedly nostalgic for the times when the art councils, hated at that time, did not allow vulgar and ignorant people into the profession.

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