I think that for some people the soap replaces real life because real life has become too painful and bleak. Perhaps that is one reason why we read novels, watch soaps, play games - unless we find something meaningful in our lives we seek an escape, reject one reality and become aborbed in one that is more enticing.
Banksy puts it like this:
"...The human race is an unfair and stupid
competition. A lot of runners don't even get
decent sneakers or clean drinking water.
Some runners are born with a massive head
start, every possible help along the way and still
the referees seem to be on their side.
It's not surprising a lot of people have given up
competing altogether and gone to sit in the
grandstand, eat junk food and shout abuse...'