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Q: Remember the Whoopi Goldberg movie "Soapdish"? Was that based on the TV show "Soap"?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Believe it or not, no.

The ABC sitcom "Soap," which aired for four seasons from 1977-81, was created by TV producer extraordinaire Susan Harris (who gave us "The Golden Girls" and so many other hits). The critically beloved big-screen hit "Soapdish" (1991), on the other hand, was made from an original script by Robert Harling (coming off his success with 1989's "Steel Magnolias") and Andrew Bergman ("Fletch," 1985).

The existence of two completely separate, ensemble-cast soap opera parodies is a little less surprising when you think about when they were made.

The 1980s have been called the golden age of soap operas -- a time when their popularity peaked and their audience finally extended beyond "stay-at-home moms or the elderly watching their 'stories,'" according to Medium.com critic Kathy Copeland Padden.

Of course, when something enters the wider pop culture conversation like that, it's pretty much asking to get spoofed. That kind of humor relies on audiences understanding the patterns and tropes of the thing being parodied. (Think of musical-comedy legend Weird Al Yankovic -- he's not spoofing pop stars' B-sides, he only does the hits.)

Soaps had been around since the radio days, and so have been a part of the TV landscape since its beginning, but it wasn't until the late '70s that enough people were familiar with them that they would understand a parody, which is why we got "Soap." Their popularity only grew throughout the '80s, which justified "Soapdish's" dip into the same mockery well in 1991.

 

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