Daytime Television, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

Life in the USA is a complete guide to American life for immigrants and Americans. All materials on this site Copyright © Elliot Essman 2014. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Life in the USA
American Culture
Television

Daytime Television
Daytime television features a range of programming depending on time of day.

Morning hours are usually devoted to news, both local and national, followed by more news, with frequent weather and traffic reports. Many of these programs use a “magazine” format, with features on social issues, lifestyle, and community concerns, usually with a light and breezy tone. A cooking demonstration or a feature on schoolchildren may be interspersed with news items and in-studio interviews.

Although the late morning and early afternoon will feature a game show or two, the kings of the early afternoon are the daily dramatic serials. These are called “soap operas” (or “the soaps”) because of the preponderance of commercials for household and cleaning products. A few have been on the air for many decades, and they have extremely loyal fan bases. Soap operas brim over with drama: murders, trials, abortions, treachery, mistaken identity, strange diseases and everything else horrible that can possibly happen to a group of human beings. It is wrong to say they can be addictive. They are addictive. They might not be realistic depictions of everyday American life, but they certainly reflect hopes, dreams, worries and fears.

Once the soaps finish, later afternoon television revolves around the audience participation program. Guided by a dynamic host, like Dr. Phil or Oprah Winfrey, these programs feature a panel of people with some strange problem that the audience can comment on, like nephews of alcoholic uncles or people born with twelve fingers. Sometimes you will see screaming, shouting, even violence on these programs, which have begun to be broadcast at all hours.

As afternoon fades into the commuting and pre-dinner hour, the programming goes full circle, with more news, weather, and traffic, sometimes lasting several hours.


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