(we like) Soap In Our Eyes

12 Jan 2009

We’re drafting a GLBT transmedia narrative with the Emmy-winning sudser Peter Brash. So in order to smarten up on soaps, I’ve been reading the writings of our pal Sam Ford.

While at MIT, Sam’s studies focused on the worlds of soap operas and professional wrestling – two highly sophisticated narrative structures that are all too often looked at askance.

These two worlds provide an unparalleled on/offline space for fan immersion into narrative. One of the best examples I’ve ever seen is described below, cribbed from his thesis As The World Turns in a Convergence Culture

The most interesting of these interactive extensions…launched in late March 2007. Brad and Katie, two characters on As The World Turns who host a (within text) show called Oakdale Now, decided to have a contest where viewers would write in explaining why Brad and Katie should come to their home and help them complete their least favorite household chore….

Brad and Katie then choose one of the entries for a cash prize and would also go to their home to do the chore, with the cameras rolling. The twist, though, is that the contest was actually opened to ATWT viewers, with the winning essay getting a $5,000 cash prize and a visit from Brad and Katie to do the promised chore, with the actors actually coming out to the winning fan’s home in character.

The show aired them doing the chore as a segment filmed for their Oakdale Now show, making one of the fans—and their home—part of the narrative world. As opposed to the other interactive forms of content, this Oakdale Now contest [actually] invited viewers to become part of the narrative.

content gets relevant @1:47

Fiction intermixing with Game Show, Reality and News Magazine structures. Note that Brad says they got 25,000 entries. Pure Genius.


  1. 14 Jan 2009 Johanna

    Now, that’s cool. I guess I was a victim of generalizations as well – didn’t know/think soaps had it in ’em.

    Same went for wrestling for the longest time… have you seen The Wrestler? The scenes right before the matches were fascinating, every single move and facial expression planned & acted out.