Why do we call them soap operas?

Professor Robert Thompson gives us the origin story of soap operas.
The Young and the Restless is one of America's top soap operas, and has been on-air for 44 years now. (CBS)

Originally published February 8, 2017

We all know what soap operas are, but why are they called soap operas?

Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture and television at Syracuse University, is an expert of sorts on soap operas and he explains it all on today's show. As it turns out, the popular TV series used to contain a lot of product placements — primarily for soap. And not only does this mark the origin of the phrase, "soap opera," but it's also one of the earliest forms of product placement.

Hear as Thompson breaks down soap opera's history, dating back to the '30s. 

— Produced by Dawna Dingwall


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