I too wonder how we define the parimeters of this new genre, "soapumentary."
For starters, many of the classics of cinema verite would seem to appeal
to the sort of voyeurism you describe, certainly those of Fred Wiseman
fit that description. From there, I can think of several PBS series of
documentaries which supposed to bring us the private life of everyday people.
THE AMERICAN FAMILY was followed by AMERICAN FAMILIES (I believe that was the
title) which featured one installment looks at families from many parts of
the country. A controversy errupted when certain families -- mostly black
and/or southern -- were shown with subtitles, while others -- Northern, white,
ethnic, etc. -- were assumed to be understandable to all viewers. There was
also HOME TOWN (again, I am drawing on the title from memory) which returned
to Muncie, IND., the focus of the Lynd's famous study, MIDDLETOWN, and showed
for a season various aspects of the town life -- from religion to football.
Finally, there was the network series of several seasons ago, YEARBOOK, which
took the senior class of a particular high school and focused on different
students each week with the previous weeks' characters making cameo appearances.
All of these series seem closer to traditional cinema verite than to REAL
WORLD in that they claim to be recording life as it was observed, yet the
question of the structuring role of the director and of the audience's pleasures
in watching these priviledged moments in the lives of everyday people pose
questions about their status in relation to your new genre.