Eventually, they find themselves talking about the day or night's episodes as if the characters they are talking about are real people they know and interact with.
The soap opera has indeed been given a place and significance that it did not have in the beginning and in certain places like the United States. At present, television can no longer be more entertaining without the presence of these soaps. But how does this genre came into being How and why did it grow popular as time passes From a simple radio program, it has blossomed to be a permanent part of the series of programs in commercial television networks. The telenovelas are added with koreanovelas, ranging from the Americas to the rest of Asia.
Since its conception in the 1930s until the 1990s, soap opera has not been taken with high regard by critics and social commentators; however, it remains to be 'the most effective and enduring broadcast advertising vehicle ever devised' (Allen, 1995). It has been considered a low class fiction that only caters to the emotional weakness of the masses. It is considered inferior to the already stable world of fiction and its different genres with Eurocentric conventions. However, at present, soap opera has retained its popularity worldwide amidst this negative treatment.
The dictionary defines soap opera is as any ongoing work of fiction that is episodic in nature. In other words, it refers to a story that is told over an extended period of time and that which focuses on several characters in different settings and situations. A soap opera seldom presents the story immediately nor does it focus on a single character unlike the usual short story. It covers various characters with various interrelated stories or incidents to depict. There appears to be a lingering and a casual movement of interrelated incidents that draws along with its pace the audience's interest and anticipation of the next events.
One unique characteristic of soap opera according to studies and observation is that every series ends with a note of a succeeding suspense and drama. It leads the audience to look forward to something more in the following episodes that moves on and on until the final episode. It is unlike other programs like sitcom that has a different story or incident in each showing. Sitcoms may deal with one complete event or concept and is complete in one telecast. The soap opera on the other hand is continuous and if one misses one episode, he/she feels he/she has missed a piece of the puzzle.
We may wonder why the term 'soap' is used in this genre. According to the history of the soap opera, the first sponsors of the first soap operas were the soap manufacturers like the Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Lever Brothers. Since the advertisers were soap producers, the term soap has been referred to as the serial fiction. Since then, the name soap opera has been retained to refer to these presentations.
In contrast to other television programs, the plot and theme of the soap operas focus on family life, personal and sexual relationships, emotional and moral conflicts and issues of serious concern like rape, teen drinking, drug abuse, adoption, illness and the like. Moreover, these serials are made to reveal the daily routines of the characters are they