The soap opera was originally a radio format in the U.S. (radionovela), in which a radio program ran daily, backed by large and numerous commercial breaks. Soap operas have existed on U.S. television since the 1950s. The target audience was mainly women, who watched the shows while men were at work. Therefore, commercials often offered products for beauty and household.
The soap opera refers to a serial format that usually runs on television from Monday to Friday. The individual episodes run during the day or in the early evening before the evening news. The plot is designed to be long, based on different characters and events, and runs for several years, if not decades. The German soap opera Lindenstraße ran on TV for over 40 years, the English soap opera Coronation Street has been running since 1960. A soap opera does not have a clear ending, as there are different storylines and a variety of characters. The tension through the episodes is maintained by means of melodramatic elements and cliffhangers. A close bond is built between the audience, which watches the soap opera regularly and the characters. Even if you have missed a few episodes, it is easy to catch up with the storyline.
Find more information about soap operas:
- Gordillo, Inmaculada (2011): La hipertelevisión: géneros y formatos, Pp. 119-123.
- Brunsdon, Charlotte (1995): The role of soap opera in the development of feminist television scholarship. In: Robert C. Allen (Hg.): To be continued. Soap operas around the world. Transferred to digital print. London: Routledge, Pp. 49–65.