Do you ever find yourself glued to the TV watching your favorite show, wondering why it’s called a soap opera? This term has been around for a long time and it’s become so common that we hardly think about where it comes from. Organized soap operas first appeared in the US in the 1930s and were aired by radio.
Initially, they were sponsored and paid for by soap companies who hoped that their messaging would be noticed. Eventually, radio soap operas became known as ‘soap operas’ because of their sponsorship.
The term was passed on to television shows in the 1950s and stuck around. The interesting thing is that while the term has been used consistently over the years, the content of soaps has changed a lot. Keep reading to explore why this classic form of entertainment has lasted so long and why it’s still called a soap opera!
Why Is It Called A Soap Opera?Soap operas, known today for their engaging plot lines and intense drama, have earned a special place in the hearts of millions of viewers around the world.
But what is the origin of the name “soap opera”? Here, we’ll explore the history of the beloved popular entertainment form, and answer the question– why is it called a soap opera?
The Origins of Soap OperasSoap operas can be traced back to the 1930s, with the first-ever soap opera, “Painted Dreams,” airing in the United States in 1930.
The soap opera was originally created as a 15-minute radio serial, which aired during the afternoon hours. This afternoon time slot, usually left open by the networks, was made to sell advertisers’ goods – mainly cosmetics and, hence, soap.
As the genre developed, television networks heard the public’s fascination with the stories being told on the radio. That’s when shows such as “The Guiding Light,” “As the World Turns,” and “The Edge of Night” began to appear on television sets across the US.
Why Is It Called A Soap Opera?
Because of their moniker, soap operas have been credited to the products that the networks were trying to sell. As these dramas were aired during the afternoon, networks sought out advertisers from the cosmetic industry.
These advertisers preferred to pay for commercials within the scripted shows themselves, as opposed to ads before and after them. Thus, the “soap opera” was born. The name “soap opera” comes from the fact that the sponsors of the radio shows were often soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble, and the “stories” were meant to relate to the products they were selling.
The term “soap opera” was first used to describe these radio stories in 194