It is surely beyond dispute that soap opera is the most consistently popular type of television programme in the world. It has succeeded in capturing the imagination of millions since it first emerged as a genre back in the 1930s. The word ‛soap’ alludes to the role originally played by detergent manufacturers, who promoted their products during commercial breaks. Soap operas have been dismissed as mindless entertainment, with viewers only resorting to these programmes in order to escape from reality.
Soaps are often set in friendly, tightly-knit neighbourhoods, evoking nostalgic feelings in some viewers, since such communities may no longer exist in many areas. The subject matter of soaps also holds great appeal for viewers since the stories invariably focus on domestic problems they may have experienced themselves.
There has been a significant shift in attitudes with many soaps now addressing moral and social issues. The characters and situations depicted are complex and ambiguous, providing much food for thought and no easy answers.