Soap operas are known for their over-dramatic telling of domestic issues and emotional turmoils but they no longer are appealing to audiences anymore. Daytime soaps are a dying breed in television with only four remaining soaps left on air. Everyone's heard of 'General Hospital', 'Days of Our Lives', and 'The Bold and the Beautiful', and it's almost common to reference soap operas when someone is being dramatic or emotional.
While all that is true, there's whole other side of soap operas operating across the continent and creating quite a stir. It's true that American soaps are no longer as popular as they once were but a lot of Middle-Eastern / Asian soaps are watched religiously. This has started to impact the environment they live in and the way they perceive romance and marriage. In the Middle-East, a lot of the soap operas are tailored to fit a conservative mindset and has been consistent about showing women in a nurturing role but a lot of that is changing.
There's been an influx of soap-operas, specifically from Turkey and India, that have been trying to establish new roles for women in the industry. Now, women in soap operas are shown to have jobs, ambitions, and romance on their terms. Women, who have been systematically oppressed in the Middle-East, are watching these shows and realizing that they don't need to stay in abusive relationships, that they no longer have to stay in relationships that are bad for them. It's creating a new revolution for women who aren't aware of a revolution happening. These small changes are helping women in more oppressed countries create new mindsets on how women should behave.
All in all, Turkish and Indian soap operas are trying to change the system but it still has a lot of problems. Women characters will start off strong and independent, and then transform to the role of a nurturing, warm caretaker once a man is introduced in their life. A lot of the times, soaps are helping the women who have never heard the word feminism before but at the same time it still profits off of stereotyping women into one role. The change is there, but it's taking a while to stick. The characters are developing, no longer one dimensional women, but for some reason it still lands on the one characterization that they know they profit off of: a loving wife/mother.
I've found a new love for Turkish soap operas, after initially starting off with Indian ones, but I can't turn a blind eye to the problems they still need to fix including - toxic masculinity, the jealousy trope, the nurturing woman, the violent yet protective man, virginity. Although I recognize all the problems with the soaps I'm watching I also have a newfound appreciation for the new ideas they've implemented in the community around me. These were women that shied away from boldness and romance because it was deemed inappropriate, now they have the desire to find love on their own terms.
I'm hoping this is just the start and there's more improvement to come, because when we hold the creators accountable they're more likely to fix their mistakes. Now that we're self aware of what kind of an effect soaps can have on us, I do think they're still worth watching.
Here's a list of soaps that I think are worth watching despite the problems:
Siyah Beyaz Ask (Turkish)
Kiralik Ask (Turkish)
Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (Indian)