-You're watching it between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM.
-It looks like it was shot on a camcorder.
-The acting is extremely melodramatic and over-the-top.
-The quality of the writing makes you realize, "Hey, maybe the second season of Heroes wasn't so bad after all."
-The cast was picked solely for their looks, not because they have any real acting talent (which they usually don't).
-Somebody just came back from the dead in a totally unbelievable manner.
-Everybody is related to one another in some convoluted fashion.
-Everybody is having sex with one another, even if they're related (and don't know it).
-Are years of backstory getting in the way of the show's ever-more-outrageous plotlines? No problem. Just retcon it all away.
On a soap opera the average age difference between a parent and child is roughly 8 years. (Yes, usually a 40 year old woman on a soap will have a son that is over 30)
On any given soap opera episode there are anywhere from 3-6 different storylines, usually interrelated somehow. Every few years or so, the same episodic material is completely recycled. Soap operas are all about couples seeking to elope because their families are enemies. On most soaps there are between 15-30 characters broken down into 2 or 3 families. Someway the families know each other. Either they are business partners or elsewhere.
A soap opera is a show where you can't go 5 minutes without seeing a tampon commercial.
In every soap, in every scene their is a fireplace in the background and a tote of wine.
A soap opera is a show to watch for people with a lot of time on their hands or don't have a life!!!
Me: What is this the 23rd time?
That's a soap opera