I don't know much about the early history of the show. But after a couple of years if avoiding it while my wife watched I wound up watching too. I feel no shame about it. It's a tv show. Most tv shows that aren't overhyped game shows (looking at you Survivor) will have to focus on human relationships. So while the comment about it being a soap opera is usually intended as a mild jab. It's true in the sense that pretty much any tv show that isnt based on robots killing each other is some kind of soap opera.
I'm still happy to claim I've never watched more than about 1 minute of survivor before changing he channel.