Due to a deal with the sig-other, I have, for almost a year now, watched every single episode of General Hospital, the soap opera that focuses about 1/3 of its time on a hospital and 2/3 on Sopranos-lite, watered-down, mafia-type organized crime drama (the mobsters are the good guys and never seem to do anything particularly illegal). In the show's defense, I have to admit it's much better written and acted than I had expected, especially with the need for five new episodes every week year-round (listen to staff commentaries on most prime-time shows and they make it sound like an act of soul-wrenching heroism to produce 22 episodes in a year).
Indeed, I'm somewhat disappointed at the lack of incredibly cheesy melodrama and over-acting that I had expected (though there's a little bit here and there & I'm told that doomsday weather machines were big in the 80s). The one annoying thing is a tendency to repeat certain conversations and debates between characters ad nauseum, which I'm told is partially because many viewers don't watch every single episode. I don't think I would probably keep watching if the deal with my sig-other was off because five hours a week is a significant time committment; on the other hand, soap operas do offer something that no other form of entertainment does--the chance to watch characters portrayed by the same actors slowly evolve over years or even decades of real-time.