We all know soap operas to be incredibly cheesy and funny to watch. But what most people don't know is that Argentina made soap operas popular, one could say they created the genre. America tends to focus on family problems or business problems, mainly because American soap operas are censored, so curse words are not allowed and sex scenes are prohibited.
Soap operas in Spanish-speaking countries refer to SO's as Telenovelas. One main difference between Telenovelas and SO's is that they come to an end and new stories are created, almost like a series (as apposed to chapters). Also, there are not as many constraints, so scenes can be more explicit and/or dramatic. Plots tend to go along the lines of teen drama and twisted romance (such as Chiquititas or Belíssima. Though places like Brazil, who create more realistic and historical dramas, Chile and Colombia focus on comedy, everything usually depends on the countys' culture.
In America, SO's have become less and less popular, but with that, Telenovela has become increasingly popular, especially in Mexico. Most shows revolve around romance and the conflicts between two sides, so there's always a villain. One of the most popular is Los Ricos Tambien Lloran, which actually become popular is other counties, like Russia. Mexican SO's have made a comeback since the 70's, mainly because they can also reflect reality, but in a more entertaining way.