what's the difference between the soap opera and series?

@seared (247)
China
November 6, 2007 8:33am CST
Today one of my student asked me this question.It seems for all of us know the difference in our mind.But it's hard to explaine it properly.I told him that soap opera is just like a kind of drama about the daily lives,which is very popular among housewives or someone they always have a lot of free time.But series have more complicated plot and the story is more fascinating.and finally I give him an example,something like we can call"friends"a soap opera but call"prison break"a series.Did I make it clear?and after that, I am considering what we call TV show means what kind of TV programes ? does anyone have better explanation? it will be appreaciated :)
2 people like this
6 responses
• United States
6 Nov 07
Hello Seared, Never thought about this like that. lol I see a series as something short lived, or seasonal. Like you said, a soap opera goes on about daily happenings. Sort of like fictitious reality. LOL Series arent date stamped, it could be about the past, future or present. Though I have heard terms like prime time soaps, but to me they are still a series. Like Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Greys Anatomy, those types of shows. Hope my thoughts helped out! :) Bay Lay Gray xx
2 people like this
@seared (247)
• China
6 Nov 07
lol thanks a lot!I thought it is a boring question.your words quite help a lot:)
@Minesky (245)
• Philippines
7 Nov 07
Gee! You made me think! hahaha lol! Am not really knowledgable on this topic, but I'll try to put my two cents in! haha I am an avid follower of various series, but was never a sucker for a soap opera as it takes too long. Both types have the same set of main characters and guest stars, I think it is the pace of the story that differs. For a soap opera, like reading a novel, for you to get through a chapter, it would compose of more than two continuous episodes to finish. Like a story of a child transforming into a college lady, they would present you with a number of episodes to get to that stage. Then another set of 3 or more episodes for her to get married, and so on and so forth. Latest examples would be Desperate Housewives, Prisonbreak, Heroes. Old samples would be Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful. A series, on the other hand, are stories about a certain group of characters, and their storyline is on a per episode base. Latest examples would Bones, CSI series, Law & Order series, Supernatural, NCIS. Old samples would be McGyver, Knight Rider, Remington Steele. On a series, there would be specials that takes 2 episodes to finish the story. Now, to differentiate, (new) Friends, Will & Grace, How I Met Your Mother, (old) Perfect Strangers, The Cosby Show, The Simpsons are examples of a Sitcom (Situation Comedy), but is also a type of a series, not a soap opera. Hope I was able to help, and not confuse you more!!! Cheers!
1 person likes this
@seared (247)
• China
8 Nov 07
your reply is very interesting.haha lol:) and I think you are a real follower of series if you have seen all of these series refered above.so you think we can differentiate them by how many seasons they have.but can we just consider a series which have more than two seasons as a soap opera?
• United States
6 Nov 07
well soap oprahs actually have a story line as well.. its just really hard to expplain.but i think u dud a good job tryn:)pretty good better then i would have
1 person likes this
@seared (247)
• China
7 Nov 07
you are so sweet! thank you!
@raulgc01 (306)
• Philippines
6 Nov 07
As I can see it, a soap opera is like a novel, it has only one plot and the story continues every day, up the the end of the novel which is also the end of the soap opera. A series is different, there is only one or more leading characters but the plot or the story is always different every series, even if sometimes it takes more than one day to finish the plot or the story. From this point of view, Prison Break can be classified as a soap opera, while, CSI as a series.
1 person likes this
@seared (247)
• China
6 Nov 07
I never see CSI. but I don't think prison break is a soap opera. still thank for your reply!:)
@lightningMD (5937)
• United States
6 Nov 07
My son says the difference between soap operas and night time dramas is the that the night time dramas have better actors. They also can be a little more violent or sexy because of their time slots.
1 person likes this
@seared (247)
• China
6 Nov 07
your son's opinion on this is quite interesting.so in his mind,the series is night time drama .he judge this by actors,very special standpoint lol:)
19 Jul 12
I'm almost scared to comment on such an old post but here are my two cents. I think we can break both down on different levels to notice some differences since it is my opinion that the key difference is in format instead of than content. 1. technical stand point: soap operas while not cheap on production tend not to have the same production values as a TV series you will notice that the look of a t.v series tends to feel closer to a movie than a soap opera. the same goes for audio and in some cases, even special effects we usually tend to see a lot more "post" work done on TV series. 2. general staffing: while a TV series tends or tries to keep the same cast for the entire production, long running soap operas most of the time have no choice but to change the entire cast. a TV series exception of this would be DR who. 3. theme: looking back in history soap operas got their name because they where usually sponsored by soap companies in the 1940's these shows would usually run from a 15 to 60 minute time periods which was great for short episode funding and also the name opera because these shows would be melodrama oriented. so while a soap opera will be drama oriented a TV series can entail almost any theme from sci-fi to the latter mentioned. I'm sure there are more things that can be pointed out but these are the ones that I can think off the top of my head. i hope these is helpful in some way.