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Romance, secret relationships, extramarital affairs, and genuine hate have been the basis for many soap opera storylines.In US daytime serials, the most popular soap opera characters, and the most popular storylines, often involved a romance of the sort presented in paperback romance novels.Australian and UK soap operas also feature a significant proportion of romance storylines.In Russia, most popular serials explore the "romantic quality" of criminal and/or oligarch life.Both UK and Australian soap operas feature comedic elements, often affectionate comic stereotypes such as the gossip or the grumpy old man, presented as a comic foil to the emotional turmoil that surrounds them.This diverges from US soap operas where such comedy is rare.When one storyline ends, there are several other story threads at differing stages of development.Soap opera episodes typically end on some sort of cliffhanger, and the season finale (if a soap incorporates a break between seasons) ends in the same way, only to be resolved when the show returns for the start of a new yearly broadcast.
As examples, East Enders focuses on the tough and grim life in London's east end, while Coronation Street invokes Manchester and its characters exhibit the stereotypical characteristic of "Northern straight talking".
An individual episode of a soap opera will generally switch between several different concurrent narrative threads that may at times interconnect and affect one another or may run entirely independent to each other.
Each episode may feature some of the show's current storylines, but not always all of them.
Fitting in with these characteristics, most soap operas follow the lives of a group of characters who live or work in a particular place, or focus on a large extended family.
The storylines follow the day-to-day activities and personal relationships of these characters.