"Daytime serials are from 2 eras – radio and television. They represent an American art form, the soap opera, that has held millions of listeners and viewers captive since 1930," it was explained. At one time there were as many as 54 soap operas on the air. Critic Betty Vogler made the point in 1959, "The serial is comparable in theater to the novel form in literature and is unfolded in such a way as to keep the audience, day to day, intrigued, teased to know the next day's events. Often the serials are developed from a basic idea such as in the case of 'As The World Turns' which was conceived as a cycle of life in a family unit comparable to the changes of seasons 'As The World Turns'. The characters of the family are created and integrated into the story of their own and other families whose lives they touch.
"Writing is done story-wise for a year or 2 ahead and script-wise for 4 to 5 weeks ahead. If it becomes necessary through unforeseen events, such as illness of actors, to change a script, it can be done as late as the morning of the day the show goes on air." It was understood, "The soap writers relied on 2 methods for developing plot lines. One was the 'Meanwhile, back at the ranch,' technique, in which the writer opened the serial with several complicated interwoven personal major conflicts and then shifted at will among them for years, if need be. The other was that 'sequence system' – a fixed number of major characters were led through one adventure at a time, which would, one day, truly come to an end, and a new adventure would be started."
Dixie Carter mentioned in 1976, "I think some of the best acting can be seen on daytime TV, and Henry Fonda agrees with me. He's a great fan of the soaps and has said that they provide a splendid opportunity for a performer to pursue his craft." Dame Judith Anderson added in 1984, "You can't compare the writing of Shakespeare to the serials. In drama you learn your character, you play her, curtain comes down. And the next day you do it all over. With a serial you do a part of your character one day, and the next day you do another part, and so on. You never finish the character."
Bob Cenedella believed, "There is almost no reason a soap couldn't be as great as a great 19th century novel like Dickens. He used a multiplicity of plots." It was noted, "Soap operas must also have various characters retell the action for the benefit of viewers who may have missed an episode or 2." However Agnes Nixon insisted, "We have a rule of never recapping anything twice in one show."
In conclusion, "Soaps are the genre which is used to convey archetypes of human nature with whom we identify. Homer's epic poem was the soap opera of the Greek campfires, and Dickens' novels were shipped in instalments to American docks loned with expectant fans waiting for the doings of Little Nell. In dreams, as in soap operas, we find the symbols and archetypes which make sense of our lives and we see acted out our fears and fantasies. Psychoanalysts like Jung believed dreams played an essential and therapeutic role in the workings of our unconscious."