The Lawyer, the Mobster, and the Corporate Raider: Representations of Gender, Violence and Justice on Daytime Television

Julie Cowgill, Arizona State University

Daytime dramas constitute a gendered genre that differs from programs on primetime television. Unlike primetime shows, daytime dramas draw primarily female viewers, possess an ongoing narrative structure, and emphasize dialogue rather than action. Although "soap operas" have traditionally focused on themes surrounding relationships and family, stories increasingly center on crime and violence.

Studies of violence on television have examined primetime programs, new coverage, and children's programming. While such literature exists on gender and daytime television, none has addressed the recent changes in representations and storylines. I draw on a social construction approach to analyze gender, violence and justice on daytime television. This paper presents a qualitative media analysis of the long-running daytime drama General Hospital from May 2002 to August 2003. In recent years, General Hospital's stories shifted away from traditional soap narratives toward stories centering on the town's organized crime "boss." This shift has increased the amount of cime and violence, challenged traditional gender represtnations on daytime, and shaped the presentation of justice themes. These changes have vaired implications for "soapland" justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006