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Why are soap operas called as such? Do they have anything to do with soap at all or is it something metaphorical?

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    This is explained in the Soap Opera entry on Wikipedia, right at the intro. – Walt Sep 28 '15 at 22:54
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According to Wikipedia:

Origin of the genre

The first series considered to be a "soap opera" was Painted Dreams, which debuted on October 20, 1930 on Chicago radio station WGN. Early radio series such as Painted Dreams were broadcast in weekday daytime slots, usually five days a week, when most of the listeners would be housewives; thus, the shows were aimed at and consumed by a predominantly female audience. In the name, "soap" refers to the soap and detergent commercials originally broadcast during the shows, which were aimed at women who were cleaning their houses at the time of listening or viewing, and "opera" refers to the melodramatic character of the shows.

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