The “Soap-Opera” Genre: Fact or Fiction?


A “soap-opera” is a dramatised television series based on real life. The majority of soap-operas are set in a fictional, present-day location and focus on daily life. A characteristic soap-opera plot concerns a community and the social, domestic and personal life of the people in that community.

The soap-opera genre features storylines which often address taboo issues. For instance, soap operas are known for addressing motherhood, sexual relationships, domestic violence and the experience of ill-health.


  • Enjoyable:
    Soap-operas are both enjoyable and educational. Essentially, soap-operas are televised dramas with recurring characters whom the audience watches as they cope with the everyday difficulties they face. The audience can empathise with these on-screen characters because the problems they face are common in society. Soap-operas can often be melodramatic and exciting which adds to their enjoyability.
  • Educational:
    Soap-operas can also be educational. This genre is unique because it acknowledges the shared experience between the fictional characters and real-life audience. By showing taboo topics on-screen, soap-operas allow their audience to talk about social and personal issues.

For example, the Senegalese soap-opera C’est la Vie created by Keewu (a production company founded by the Réseau Africain d’Education en Santé) is set in a fictional health clinic; this particular soap-opera discusses childbirth, pregnancy and marital relationships. C’est la Vie also focuses on reproductive health, access to contraception and HIV prevention and management.


Documentaries are a great way of educating and informing a wide range of people – and so are soap-operas.

Soap-operas are simply an entertaining way of formatting educational and informative material. Comedy and tragedy are both included in the soap-opera genre, which means watching soap-operas can be thought-provoking and fun.

Soap-operas often discuss family relationships and include a cast of all ages (from babies to grandparents) so they can bring the whole family together because there’s something for everyone watching.


C’est la Vie, set in the fictional ‘Ratanga’ village, has become very popular and is broadcast on multiple channels. The soap-opera now reaches 100 million viewers and it is known for sparking debates: in Senegal and Togo, the television series and its subject-matters are often debated in town squares after being broadcast.


Photo Credit:Vocal Media




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