Love them or hate them, Soap Operas are still very much part of people’s live. It’s a fact that we live in a golden age of television with spectacular action movies and series and countless hilarious comedy shows and engaging dramas available on a daily basis. However, television was not always as exciting and modern and back in the day soap operas were the bread and butter of most TV networks.
You may have watched a soap opera or two on occasion, but if you are not older than 40 you probably never had a chance to really experience what soap operas meant to people living in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Today we take a look at the history of soap operas and uncover some interesting details about them that you may have never heard before.
Why they are called Soap Operas?
Soap operas originated as radio dramas which would air during daytime on major radio stations. These dramas had so much in common with operas in terms of their plot lines that it is easy to understand how the word opera made it into their name. However, why they are called “soap” operas is something that many people don’t quite know.
The reason is quite mundane and not what you may think. Even back in the early days, TV stations needed sponsors for their programs and soap manufacturers were often the main sponsors of TV novellas, thus leading people to start calling them soap operas. Less glamorous than you may have imagined, but the truth nevertheless.
They have tens of thousands of episodes
When we look at modern TV shows, it is not rare to hear people say that they tend to grow tedious after 5 or 6 seasons and very few actually make it past season 10. This is not the case with soap operas, as they are characteristically very long, with the longest ever soap opera boasting an amazing 15,762 episodes over 57 years.
This soap opera was called Guiding Light and it shockingly aired from 1952 all the way until 2009. The show was finally cancelled due to low ratings, but managed to draw in millions of viewers over its 57 years on TV. Other soap operas such as General Hospital and Days of our Lives also features well over 10,000 episodes, which is absolutely shocking by modern day standards.
They Are Still going Strong
While many people see soap operas as a thing of the past, this could hardly be further from the truth. In fact there are plenty of them still airing on a regular basis and drawing in massive crowds. Great Britain’s Coronation Street is probably the best example of this as it still airs on British TV and has just hit the 10,000 episodes milestone in February 2020.
Soap operas focused around the daily lives of regular working class people have been major hits among general population in Europe and America alike over the decades and still remain as such today. The secret to the success of those that are still running lays in complex characters and at least a bit of quality humor tossed in for good measure.
Check out the Soap Operas Infographic below to find out a ton of things about Soap Operas below
It looks like South Africa’s popular Soaps have a long way to go before they reach the episode levels of Soap Operas in the UK and USA. We are not that far behind Australia, so we’ll probably catch up with them in a few years.
Watch this space for updates in the Television category on Running Wolf’s Rant.