Giles: I watched Passions with Spike. Let us never speak of it again.
The Daytime Drama Queen is a predominantly American trope. If you want to show a character as sad, pathetic, and in dire need of a life, show them watching and caring about the events of a Soap Opera. If an actual real-life soap opera is mentioned, it's usual a show like General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, All My Children, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful—if it's not a real-life soap opera, then it's some kind of Soap Within a Show.
This trope is mainly applied to unemployed men. Since they can't work, they have nothing better to do than stay at home and watch daytime soaps, and since watching soaps is generally seen as a female pastime, a man who does so is seen as having lost everything. May be slightly more positively portrayed as a hard man's only soft spot. Expect any character who mocks him for it to watch the show for five minutes and straight away get just as hooked on it.
In Britain, watching soaps is more acceptable, and since the better-quality soaps tend to be broadcast during primetime, daytime drama queens just don't show up so often on the European side of The Pond. On the other hand, they've now got an entire television channel (called "Dave") that fills nearly the same role, a fact regularly mocked on Top Gear (UK) and the various BBC Panel Shows it repeats ad nauseam. A closer British equivalent is to mock a character for watching daytime talk shows, such as Tricia or Jeremy Kyle, or daytime quiz shows like Countdown.
In Australia, this type of character does appear occasionally but tends to be shown as addicted to American rather than Australian soaps due to their more over-the-top nature. In Latin America this type of character is virtually absent since soaps are, in most countries, pretty much the only kind of dramatic production locally produced; and given that in Hispanic culture soap operas are so far on the serious side of the scale that they are Serious Business, such a character would be seen as too aware for his own good, or a shot in the network's foot.
It's possible that this trope will die out in America and become a Forgotten Trope in the next decade. Five of the nine American daytime serials airing have been canceled since 2007 (Passions, Guiding Light, As the World Turns, All My Children, and One Life to Live). Only Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and General Hospital remain, and many say they're on their last legs anyway. Of course, with telenovelas still airing outside of the US, and are distributed through binge watching platforms like Youtube and Netflix, this would float on.
See also Explaining the Soap. Addictive Foreign Soap Opera is a Sister Trope. Compare and contrast the Hikikomori, who has similar social connotations of being a loser, but is usually more addicted to Sci-Fi and other Geek stuff than to soap operas. Compare and contrast Girl-Show Ghetto.
- When not being a psychotic gunslinger, Revy of Black Lagoon likes watching soap operas.
- Delicious in Dungeon: In an omake after a chapter that involved shins, basically dream eating clams, they notice that the dreams being projected from the shin that was eating Marcille's dreams was basically a romantic soap opera. Nearly the entire party gets enthralled by the story over the first "season", with the finale leaving them in tears. The second season was apparently a drop in quality, as they progressively get more annoyed with the forced drama until everyone but Izutsumi gives up on it.
- In Crocodile Dundee II, it becomes obvious that Mick needs to get out and have some new adventures when he reveals that he actually cares what happens in Days of Our Lives.
- Chiun, Remo's Sinanju sensei in Remo Williams, is addicted to his soap opera, considering it to be high culture, saying, "It concerns family, love, honor and courage, all that is noblest in the human spirit."
- Mr. Mom: Michael Keaton goes from high-powered automotive executive to homemaker after being let go. Part of his transition is shown by having him originally scoff at daytime dramas only to become more and more involved in their storylines as he spent more time as a househusband.
- In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Roy Neary has Days of our Lives on when he's building the model of Devil's Tower in his living room, though he doesn't seem to really be watching it.
- In Joy, Terri is an agoraphobe who spends all day in her room watching soap operas.
- In Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Biff is able to sneak away from the angel Raziel (yes, that angel Raziel) while Raziel is watching soaps in their hotel room.
- David Sedaris is, or at least used to be, a daytime drama queen, which is frequently played for comedy in his essays.
- Matilda's parents are addicted to television, which is shown as one of their many character flaws. When Miss Honey goes to visit them at home, there's an American soap opera on, and Mrs. Wormwood in particular objects to being interrupted when "Willard is just about to propose to Roxanne."
- Ax is quite a fan of these. Of course, he doesn't have much to do all day normally. (And he's also a fan of commercials.)
- Bill Bryson, writing in Notes From A Small Island, described the after-effects of a particularly unfortunate encounter with British Weather thus:
"I'm not saying I nearly died, but I was ill enough to watch Richard and Judy the next day."
- Averted with Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer who was shown enjoying Passions on several episodes and it was shown as something he genuinely enjoyed and appreciated, indicating he had liked it before becoming a pathetic crypt-dweller. Since he's a vampire, daytime soaps may have been like late-night TV for him. Possibly.
- Giles, in his year off between being a librarian and running the Sunnydale magic store, watched with him. Buffy's mother Joyce also has familiarity with it, discussing plot points with Spike.
- In an episode of That '70s Show, an out-of-work and depressed Red Foreman becomes obsessed with a soap opera as a symbol of how hard he's having it.
- In an episode of Becker, the title character was called for jury duty, and over the course of a week or so became addicted to the soap opera that was playing in the waiting room.
- House claims to be an ardent fan of the series' Show Within a Show, Prescription: Passion. Since the show is a Medical Drama, he probably watches it for the unintentional comedy. note
- House's alternate universe twin, Dr Cox, has a similar habit of watching Days of our Lives, along with Laverne - who, being a middle-aged black female, is rather more in the traditional demographic.
- Ignacio on Ugly Betty seems to have nothing else to do but hang around watching telenovelas.
- Julius on Everybody Hates Chris gets hooked on The Young and the Restless when he is at home from work with gout. Once he returns to work, he tapes the episodes.
- In The West Wing the President was sick and ended up watching a soap, making remarks like "Don't any of these people have jobs?" and "That woman has changed her clothes a lot for one afternoon". When it switched to a Springer/Lake type show, he hopes none of the guests vote.
- In one episode of Psych "Lights, camera, homicidio" we found out that pretty much everyone is a fan of a daytime drama, a telly novella called 'Explosion Gigantesca de Romance'. Shawn's the only one not addicted, and he ends up starring in it as 'Chad'.
- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, the Big Giant Head finds out about sex from watching a soap opera. ("I want to do that. I want to do what Drake is doing to Amanda's sister.")
- In a rare female example of this trope, Amy Matthews on Boy Meets World is shown to be one to highlight her boredom with being a housewife. This prompts Eric to convince her to get out and do something. Later in the episode, Cory becomes this after getting fired from the work-study program.
- On Modern Family, Jay Prichett decides to watch a Colombian telenovela with his wife, Gloria, who was born and lived most of her life in that country, grudgingly as an attempt to acclimate to her cultural climate. Jay ends up getting interested in the program while Gloria deals with other matters.
- On Friends, Joey plays Dr. Drake Ramoray on a fictionalized version of Days of Our Lives. He gets a deranged fan (played by Brooke Shields) who takes this trope to the next level, being so obsessed with the show that she believes that the events of the soap are real and Joey really is Dr. Drake Ramoray. He has to convince her that he is instead Dr. Ramoray's evil twin in order to get her to stop harassing him.
- Rachel and, to a lesser extent, Monica are both big soap opera fans even before Joey gets cast on Days of Our Lives. Several episodes feature plots where Joey tries to keep his friends from embarrassing him in front of his co-stars with their Fangirl behavior.
- Schitt's Creek: Moira regularly runs into fans of her former soap opera Sunrise Bay and eventually signs autographs and sells pictures at a fan convention. While this is poked fun at, Moira is also proud of her work on the show and the fact that they were number one, despite the absurd storylines. Mayor Roland Schitt, in particular, was a big fan of the soap and Moira's character in particular.
- Frasier: Both Crane brothers have indulged in watching soap operas despite their usual high-brow tastes, earning mockery from their friends (and in Niles' case from Frasier) for their hypocrisy. They both attempt to claim the shows are much deeper than they seem, comparing the complexities to the works of Charles Dickens or Commedia dell'Arte, but nobody buys it.
- In one strip of Garfield, Garfield shrugs off Jon telling him that Odie destroyed one of his toys and that they ran out of his favorite cat food, but is utterly appalled to learn that a character in a daytime soap had left her boyfriend for another man.
- In an episode of Outland, the cast force Opus to get out and live his life after seeing him lounge about watching Days of our Lives. Actually, they wanted to get him away from the TV only so they could watch the then-current O.J. Simpson trial.
- When a teacher's strike suspends school on The Simpsons, lowlife bully Jimbo spends the extra time watching the soaps with his mom: "I just can't believe Starr would stoop to that...right in the middle of Montana and Dakota's wedding!"
- Phineas and Ferb:
- In the episode "Oil On Candace", Perry the Platypus is shown to sit on the couch, eat snacks, and weep over soaps when his family isn't home.
- In "Sci-Fi Pie Fly", Candace declares she's fed up with her attempts to bust her brothers blowing up in her face, and instead spends the episode watching soap operas on TV (despite being sorely tempted several times).
- In an episode of As Told by Ginger, Carl and Hoodsie are cleaning a house to earn some extra money. Hoodsie is seen watching a Spanish soap, which Carl turns off.
"Hey, I was watching that! Carla was just about to get the results of her pregnancy test back!"
- Really Really Big Man from Rocko's Modern Life is a fan of telenovelas.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Berry Scary", most of the house is hooked on The Loved and the Loveless, more notably Terrence, although he hides it from Mac.
- In DuckTales (1987), Fenton Crackshell aka Gizmoduck's mother is this.
- Big Bob Pataki of Hey Arnold! injures his back and has to stay home while his wife runs his beeper emporium for him, as he stays at home watching Physician's Hospital and becoming quite wrapped up in it.
- On The Wild Thornberrys, Debbie starts getting enthralled by a Russian soap (as they were in Russia in that episode) and fully understands what's going on despite not knowing Russian, as "the language of soap operas is universal".
- The Transformers episode "Prime Target" featured the Autobots watching As the Kitchen Sinks while off-duty.
- In Detentionaire, after he gets suspended for accidentally admitting he cheated on an assignment and subsequently grounded by his parents, Cam becomes addicted to a telenovela. He later desperately tries to summarize said telenovela to the pizza boy in order to have some form of communication with the outside world.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) showed Krang as a fan of a soap opera.
- Sports Illustrated once did an article on athletes coping with boredom while recovering from season-ending injuries, and at least one mentioned watching soap operas. One particular example is Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Rice, who actually mentioned his fandom of The Young and the Restless in his Hall of Fame speech!
- Bruce Lee was a huge fan of General Hospital and was known to get very cranky if he missed an episode.