soap opera


soap opera

Broadcast serial drama, characterized by a permanent cast of actors, a continuing story, tangled interpersonal situations, and a melodramatic or sentimental style. Its name derived from the soap and detergent manufacturers who originally often sponsored such programs on radio. Soap operas began in the early 1930s as 15-minute radio episodes and continued on television from the early 1950s as 30-minute and later hour-long episodes. Usually broadcast during the day and aimed at housewives, they initially focused on middle-class family life, but by the 1970s their content had expanded to include a wider variety of characters and situations and a greater degree of sexual explicitness. In the 1980s similar series began to be aired in prime-time evening hours (e.g., Dallas and Dynasty). See also Carlton E. Morse; Irna Phillips.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on soap opera, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up soap opera? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More