Explaining the Soap
aka: Soap On A Trope
Alice is a big fan of a Soap Opera. Barbara foolishly asks her about it. This is the cue for a long plot summary that is utterly meaningless, often serving as an excuse to lampoon any soap tropes the writers can think of, and generally serves to show how far Alice has gone. Compare Soap Within a Show. As a common variant, an Always Female cast member is addicted to soaps, when she meets another female cast member who ridicules the Soap Opera when the first female tries to explain the plot. Gilligan Cut to a week later and the two of them are now both addicted to the soap opera. In walks female character number three, who repeats the explanation followed by the ridicule of Soap Operas, Gilligan Cut. Eventually all the women are watching Soap Operas together- additional props include tissues, pillow hair, and bathrobes. For extra funny, make one of them a man. See also Daytime Drama Queen
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Anime and Manga
- Mihoshi from Tenchi Muyo! does this, and in later variations she gets all the female characters addicted.
- Played with in the gamer comic Dork Tower when Carson asks Igor about Babylon 5 and gets an eight-panel wall of text about the conspiracies, universal issues, and civil wars and ancient chessmasters. When Carson comments that it's a lot for a single season, Igor corrects him — it all happened in the previous episode.
- Parodied in the Discworld book Reaper Man. Mustrum Ridcully asks the High Priest of Blind Io (who happens to be Mustrum's brother Hughnon) what the gods of the Disc have been up to, as a possible explanation for the poltergeist activity plaguing Ankh-Morpork. Hughnon's description of the antics of the gods sounds like a cross between Greek mythology and the soap opera Recaps that used to be done by BBC announcers in The '70s, against still images from previous episodes. Mustrum brushes it off by saying "I've never been able to get interested in that stuff, myself."
- In the third book of Temeraire series, Temeraire's group spends an evening as the guests of a bunch of wild dragons. Temeraire watches a story being told through a combination of language and dance, and when he tries to translate it for Lawrence it comes off very soap-opera-esque with romantic intrigue, greed, battles, and a whole lot of characters. Lawrence doesn't get it.
- In Kim Newman's Diogenes Club short story "The Serial Murders", Richard Jeperson (who refuses to watch ITV because commercial television was created by Derek Leech) needs the plot of The Northern Barstows explained to him by his sidekick Vanessa. He then recalls that the night it was on, she said she couldn't go on a ghost hunt because an old schoolfriend was visiting. Over the course of the investigation, he finds himself getting addicted, and realises that this effect is exactly the psychic energy the villain is feeding on.
- In one story by Israeli satirist Ephraim Kishon, with The Forsythe Saga. Even two burglars join them watching. Everyone explains to each other and argues about details of old episodes.
Live Action TV
- Gilmore Girls: Paris spends a week in bed watching soaps, and delivers one of these to Rory when she comes around to visit.
- Happened once in The Nanny.
- Parodied in Dead Ringers: It was the characters themselves saying this sort of thing. Long-lost relatives or people turning out to be relatives were often discussed.
- On one Psych episode Shawn is investigating a murder on the set of a Spanish-language Soap Opera. Every now and then someone would try to explain the plot of the Soap Opera, which made less and less sense the more it was explained.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did this one once, with Uncle Phil for added hilarity.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike was addicted to soaps (Passions was mentioned specifically.) Joyce enjoyed it, too.
- Parodied on Malcolm in the Middle. Francis is jailed with a full view of where the police and their relatives inexplicably come to enact their affairs, shady business deals, discuss their sister's recent change in appearance, and other assorted soap opera plots. Naturally, Francis is released right before they reveal who the sinister figure sabotaging their upcoming land deal was and ends up begging to stay in jail until he finds out.
- Parodied on That '70s Show. Red loses his job and is afraid of looking emasculated, but ends up watching the Soaps during the day anyway and explaining them to a guest at a party in a condescending manner.
- One of the "Go-On Seminar" clips from Engine Sentai Go-onger involves Yellow Ranger Saki and her love of Korean drama series, which are known to be soapy enough in their own right. A later episode involves a high school with a drama club that's rehearsing a scene straight out of Korean drama, complete with an impression of Korean drama idol Bae Yong-Jun.
- Supernatural: Dean is definitely not a fan of Dr. Sexy, M.D. Never mind that he knows the show well enough to know that "Part of what makes Dr. Sexy so sexy is that he wears cowboy boots, not tennis shoes!"
- The Castle episode "One Life To Lose" features a murder of the head writer of a soap opera, and gleefully embraces, lampshades, parodies and otherwise plays with this trope. Castle himself spends most of the episode imagining increasingly over-the-top and ludicrous soap opera plots for the crime, only to be disappointed by the inevitable mundanity of what's actually going on; Beckett's revealed to be a closet fan of the soap (and Lanie a less-closeted fan) by revealing too much information about the absurd plots, and even Esposito recounts the crazy plot of a Latino 'telenovela' he used to watch with his grandmother,
- The 30 Rock episode "Generalissimo" centers on Jack Donaghy trying to figure out why his Puerto Rican girlfriend Elisa's grandmother hates him so much. It turns out that it's because the villain in the telenovela she watches looks exactly like Jacknote and the scene where they figure this out—and several subsequent scenes—involve Elisa explaining the incredibly complicated plot of the telenovela to Jack.
- A male frequenter Of Frank's Place would update the other patrons on soaps on a regular basis. The audio of this was used on morning radio.
- Happens in the Les Luthiers song "Radio Tertulia".
- In a FoxTrot strip, Peter gets this reaction (eyes glazing over and repeating "uh-huh") when Paige explains the plot of Melrose Place to him, but Paige had exactly the same reaction when Jason explained the premise of Highlander: The Series to her. It's even more amusing in retrospect, given one of H:TS's biggest fanbases.
Stand Up Comedy
- Totie Fields used to do these as part of her standup comedy act.
- Once you get her to open up, Sable in Animal Crossing: Wild World will describe Pointed Love, her favorite soap, in this manner.
- Sweetheart in Skin Horse tells Tip all about her soaps without being asked.
- Homestuck: Karkat explains the plot of a troll romance novel. Also without being asked (and in fact over the increasingly strident objections of the person he's explaining it to).note
- A variant in Dork Tower, where the "soap" is Babylon 5. Once the wall of text relating to the conspiracies and so forth is completed, it's revealed that this was a summary of the previous episode.
- In one episode of As Told by Ginger, Carl and Hoodsie are helping to clean houses in exchange for some extra money. Hoodsie is watching a Spanish Soap Opera, and Carl changes the channel.
Hoodsie: "Hey, I was watching that! Carla was just about to get the results of her pregnancy test back!"
- Time Squad did this on the season two episode, "Old Timers' Squad," only all of the people addicted to the soap opera ("The Elegant and the Dangerous") are male.
- One running gag on Atop the Fourth Wall has Linkara explain some obscure facet of comic book lore related to whatever he's reviewing, usually followed by a beat, and something along the lines of "comic books are weird".