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"I'd lather die than miss the soaps" is a play on "I'd rather die than miss the show" that expresses how a soap opera television fan doesn't want to miss these programs. A bar of soap lathers with suds from water and is used to clean a person's body in the shower or the bathtub and this is where "lather" is used instead of "rather" in the phrase. A "soap" opera is technically called a operatic drama which is a series of radio or television episodes about overly sentimental people in melodramatic situations. Many of the early radio programs were sponsored by soap manufacturers, hence the term "soap opera." Prior to the digital age, many shows including soap operas had so many daily episodes that they were not shown in reruns. If you missed one day of a soap opera's daily program, it was difficult to find information about what was missed.
Soap opera. (2020). Retrieved on October 30, 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soap_opera