The Story of Soaps: Andy Cohen Says Housewives Franchise Has 'Replaced' Soap Operas

"The goals of reality TV and soap operas are pretty similar: It's to educate sometimes, entertain always," Andy Cohen says in the upcoming special, The Story of Soaps

Andy Cohen loves a little drama!

In The Story of Soaps, the primetime documentary special presented by PEOPLE and ABC, the longtime Bravo exec, producer and host, opens up about the close similarities between soap operas and reality TV — and why he believes the Housewives franchise carries on that legacy.

"The goals of reality TV and soap operas are pretty similar: It’s to educate sometimes, entertain always," Cohen, 51, says in the special. "Once you’re telling the people who were watching soaps, 'Wait, watch this, this is compelling,' it was pretty easy to get sucked into that. And then you’re starting to consider Court TV or CNN as a viable alternative to All My Children or One Life to Live."

Andy Cohen Signs Copies Of His New Book "More Adventures From The Andy Cohen Diaries"
Andy Cohen. Slaven Vlasic/Getty

"We’re voyeurs, but we also love stories," he adds. "We want to be entertained, and I think that the ultimate expression of voyeurism is reality television. I know [Susan] Lucci doesn’t agree with me, but I think that the Housewives have replaced soap operas because truth is stranger than fiction. Soaps became kind of unnecessary because you could do it with real people, and they’re writing the drama themselves."

Premiering May 19 on ABC, the special features some of today’s biggest stars — including Carol Burnett, Alec Baldwin, John Stamos, Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm and more.

“It was one of the most important moments of my life,” says Baldwin, who starred in several soap operas over the years, including The Doctors and Knots Landing.

Carol Burnett The Story of Soaps
Carol Burnett. ABC

Revealing just one of the ways soap operas have shaped the television landscape over the years, Cranston — whose early roles include a stint on the ABC soap opera Loving in 1983 — notes, “Daytime created serialized television, which we love now.”

“There are elements of soap opera in every dramatic television show,” Hamm adds. “It was the first binge-watch.”

The Story of Soaps airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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