A soap opera is a serial suspense drama which features related story lines about the lives of mu...
A soap opera is a serial suspense drama which features related story lines about the lives of multiple characters. The stories typically focus on emotional relationships and are heavy in melodrama (a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions).
The term "soap opera" originated from being typically sponsored by soap manufacturers in their early years. A crucial element that defines the soap opera is the open-ended serial nature of the narrative, with stories spanning over multiple episodes.
In 2012, Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Lloyd wrote, "Although melodramatically eventful, soap operas also have a luxury of space...conversations that a 22-episodes-per-season weekly series might dispense with in half a dozen lines of dialogue may be drawn out...for pages. You spend more time even with the minor characters (and) the apparent villains grow less apparently villainous."
Soaps are built on chance happenings, coincidences, missed meetings, sudden conversions, last-minute rescues and revelations, and deus ex machina endings (a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved).
Soap opera storylines sometimes weave intricate, convoluted and sometimes confusing tales of characters who have affairs, meet mysterious strangers, fall in love, and often commit adultery - all of which keeps audiences hooked on the unfolding story twists. Crimes such as kidnapping, rape, and even murder may go unpunished if the perpetrator is important to the ongoing story.
In soap opera storylines, previously unknown children, siblings and twins (including the evil variety) of established characters often emerge to upset and reinvigorate the set of relationships examined by the series. Unexpected calamities disrupt weddings, childbirths, and other major life events with unusual frequency.
There is little to no reality in the soap genre, it is meant to border on fantasy. With the recent popularity of reality TV, and with reality being stranger than fiction...soaps are becoming less popular and more criticized.
(info from GH Wiki, and the book Watching Daytime Soap Operas: The Power of Pleasure)
(originally posted in April)