Those involved in the production of soap operas frequently make strong claims
regarding the particularly close relationship between their products and ‘reality’,
simultaneously distancing themselves from any suggestion of ‘construction’.
Perhaps the best-known such claim (in the UK at least) was the assertion
made by Julia Smith, then producer of the English soap EastEnders, to the
effect that ‘we don’t make life, we reflect it’ (Geraghty, 1991: 32), though as
we shall see later in this article, such claims are by no means restricted to
England. The question of ‘realism’ in both its broad (‘realistic’) and its narrow
(‘realist’) meanings is a vexed one, and indeed what counts as realism can be
highly culture-specific (O’Donnell, 2007).
- social realism