Every day intimacy

Private moments, played out to millions

Kirk and Beth…
Porter: ‘the banality of the dialogue does not matter. It is the camera that does all the talking required, as it lingers fondly on the lines of a body or alternately frames the two beautiful faces in sexual dialogue’

We have become so familiar with soap operas that we sometimes forget how powerful the content is.  The American academic Dennis Porter cleverly pointed out 35 years ago how sexually charged soap operas can be. Quoting Roland Barthes’ suggestion that the most erotic part of the body is the space where a dress opens a little, “un vêtement baille”, ‘then the narrow space that separates a man from a woman on the TV screen possesses a similar charge’.

While Leaving, the married-woman-sleeps-with-younger-man drama on ITV is all about sexual charge, it is almost too much to watch.  You can imagine middle-aged couples around the UK country watch it with a peculiar silence, and yet with so much unsaid.  Something exciting/ depressing/ terrible and wonderful is happening simultaneously.  It’s a tense watch.  But this sort of intimacy is routine on soaps. We sit on our couches but are thrown into that most personal and private of situations, two people in close up, getting to know each other.  That way.

Last night on Coronation Street, we saw the early stirrings of something between Kirk and Beth, when she thanks him for helping her the previous night.

‘Any red-blooded man would have tried to snog me or summat. A woman left alone in a van, wearing that top, all emotional.  I don’t know how you controlled yourself’. 

As Porter says ‘The intricate patterns described in soap space are designed, as in a dance, to leave the spectator excited yet anxious, hopeful yet suspenseful and in a state of eroticised expectation‘.

And this happens every day, in millions of homes as routine.  You can see why they are so popular.

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