If you find yourself glued to the TV at two in the afternoon, waiting to see the result of a disputed paternity suit, you are most likely watching a soap opera. A soap opera is a dramatic TV show that follows the lives of a set of interrelated characters.
A classic soap opera is a daily television or radio series with many characters, most of whom are related to each other or connected in complicated ways. The themes and plots of soap operas are often melodramatic and sentimental. The sponsors of the very earliest radio soap operas were soap companies, which is where the name came from. Sometimes these shows are referred to as soaps for short.