Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about various topics including celebrities and entertainment.
As you read this articles consisting of 10 fun facts about soap operas, keep these three things in mind:
- This article is about daytime soap operas instead of prime-time soap operas.
- This article is only about daytime soap articles that have aired in the United States.
- Every daytime soap opera that has aired in the United States is not listed. Only the popular and well-known ones are mentioned.
1. Soap Opera: Definition
A soap opera, also known as just soap for short, is a radio or television series that is aired on a regular basis with believable stories surrounding multiple characters who are related in some ways.
2. How Did the Name "Soap Opera" Come About?
The stories are called soap operas or soaps because they were originally sponsored by soap manufacturers. Soaps, detergents, and other household products were advertised because the targeted audience used to be housewives who stayed home and would be motivated to purchase the products to make their everyday lives easier.
Now that women are working outside of the house, the advertisements are not limited to merely soap products. The ads now are not only geared to housewives, but to a variety of people who are now watching the soaps, including many men.
Procter & Gamble was the very first major advertiser to sponsor a daytime drama. Its product was Oxydol soap powder, a laundry detergent. Many other manufacturers got in on the act and began advertising their soap and other household products.
3. Origin of Soap Operas
Soap operas have come a long way since they first came about. Back in the 1930s, they came only on the radio for only 15 minutes. Then when they came on the television, they were in black and white.
4. First Soap Opera in the United States
The longest-running television soap in the United States was Guiding Light, also known as The Guiding Light before 1975, which began on the radio in 1937. It didn't air on television until 1952. That soap opera was viewed and enjoyed by millions until it ended in 2009 after 72 years.
Guiding Light's running times:
- 15 minutes from 1937 until 1968
- 30 minutes from 1968 to 1977
- 60 minutes from 1977-2009
5. Common Themes
The drama in soap operas is always based around the lives of the same groups of people. The groups might be families, co-workers, and friends. The drama heightens as the lives intertwine with one another from episode to episode. This keeps people watching to see what will happen next.
Soap operas have characters with some of the same issues people have in real life. Some of those themes could include the following.
- family life
- marital issues
- love and romance
- personal relationships
- emotional conflicts
- moral conflicts
- work-related issues
It is safe to conclude that a soap opera is a representation of what happens in real life.
6. Common Elements of Soap Operas
All soap operas have stories that do not conclude in one episode. One issue could span many episodes. It might take an entire season to see the solution to a problem or get an answer to a question. In order to entice viewers to continue watching day after day, each episode ends with a promise that the storyline is to continue in the next episode.
In a regular one or two-hour movie, the main characters have bigger parts. Since soap operas are longer, minor characters get their fair share of screen time.
Soap operas have storylines that are continuous, concurrent, intersecting, and even leading to other stories. Viewers are able to see parts of many stories because there are several scene changes in every episode.
Storylines do not all conclude at the same time. Therefore, viewers have to keep watching even after one or two stories come to an end. There is always a cliffhanger if there is a break between seasons. That technique is to get viewers to continue watching when the soap opera returns for a new season.
Soap operas have more emphasis on dialogues and hearing what the characters say instead of on their action. The pace in a soap opera is much slower because there will be more episodes than a regular movie.
7. Popular Soap Operas Over the Years
|Soap Opera in Alphabetical Order||Years Aired||Network|
All My Children
January 5, 1970-September 23, 2011
May 4, 1964-June 25, 1999
As the World Turns
April 2, 1956-September 17, 2010
June 27, 1966-April 2, 1971
The Edge of Night
April 2, 1956-December 28, 1984
June 30, 1952-September18, 2009
Love of Life
September 24, 1951-February 1, 1980
One Life to Live
July 15, 1969-January 13, 2012
Search for Tomorrow
September 3, 1951-December 26, 1986
The Secret Storm
February 1, 1954-February 8, 1974
8. Soap Operas Still Around Today
Between 1990 and 1999, watching soap operas was at its peak, and there were plenty of them on television. In fact, there were 10 to 12 soap operas airing on daytime television at any given time. Ratings for soap operas began to decline around the mid to late 2000s. Therefore, many soap operas were canceled.
Only four daytime soap operas still exist on the major television networks.
- General Hospital - since April 1, 1963 on ABC
- Days of Our Lives - since November 8, 1965 on NBC
- The Young and the Restless - since March 36, 1973 on CBS
- The Bold and the Beautiful - since March 23, 1987 on CBS
Needless to say, the soap operas that are still around today have different sponsors than they had originally. Advertisers today have those manufacturers to thank for giving the stories the name soap operas.
9. Who Watches Soap Operas?
Soap operas might have come about originally with women in mind. However, that is not the case at all today. The soaps are not just for women to watch. They are for anyone who loves to watch a good drama on television. That includes men, women, and even college students.
People who watch soaps might fall into one or more of the following categories:
- retired people
- unemployed people
- those on sick leave
- those who work nights
- those who work from home
- those who love to watch television
Today, people do not have to be home when something comes on television. They can tape the show and watch it later at their leisure.
10. Why Men Watch Soap Operas
It takes only one storyline or cliffhanger to get people hooked on a soap opera, whether the viewers are males or females. Before they realize it, they look forward to watching more than one episode.
Men get hooked on watching the soaps because of two interesting reasons.
- Men were brought up in a household of women where mothers and sisters watched the soaps. Those were the days when there was only one television in the house and everyone had to watch the same shows or watch no television at all.
- Some husbands watch the soaps because their wives watch them. If wives watch soaps and their husbands are home, the couple might sit on the couch to watch them together. Later, they would have discussions about what they saw as well as predict what they think will happen next.