With 'Revenge' A Hit, Did Soap Operas Really 'Die' This Year?

Revenge TV Show Sure, ABC used up its "One Life to Live" as far as many a daytime soap opera fan is concerned.

But is the genre really dead? Or simply evolved and hidden in plain sight?

Look at what's made the biggest splash on the network this season, then glance over these pilot orders. Soaps still reside on ABC; they just found some new digs. The Hamptons-centered "Revenge" has been drawn numbers unprecedented in its time slot over the last half-dozen or so years. It's averaging 8.7 million viewers Wednesday nights and destroying whatever CBS and NBC can throw into its path, especially among 18-34 adults - TV's most prized demographic - and females almost across the board, Entertainment Weekly reports.

For some healthy perspective, the last show that held down the current "Revenge" hour like that? That would be a forgettable little drama called "Lost" during the 2006-2007 season.

And really, should that be such a big surprise? Or, if you're an ABC exec making "Desperate Housewives" comfortable until it perishes with a bang at this season's end, a bad thing? "Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" have spent years as ratings juggernauts, but "Grey's" is getting longer in the tooth and not any younger. Besides, the times, they are a-changing. Social norms just don't make daytime dramas a viable commodity anymore.

Fact is - and please, by all means, every possible exception should comment about how overly general I'm being - that daytime soaps market primarily toward adult women who spend their days in the home. I speak as a son who grew up with a stay-at-home mom in the '80s and '90s who now cyber-commutes from her dining room table. But life changes, and more and more women in the demographic that once would've absolutely been expected to be tuning in to soaps like "One Life To Live" now work or sleep when daytime soaps normally air - either because they chose full-time careers, or because no amount of political sunshine being blown up America's collective butts will alter the reality that the job market and economy still suck and more couples must both have jobs to make ends meet.

So, what do you do when you have a product people love, but it's withering because the sun doesn't shine the same through the same window where you've plopped it for decades to soak up the rays? Simple: you move it. You put it where you know the light hits things, and in this case, that's primetime, the one time networks absolutely know people tune in and watch.

Courtesy of EW.com, check out this list of dramatic pilots ABC has picked up, along with their respective producers - which, it should be noted, is about one-fourth to one-third longer than the list of comedy pilots. Your soaps didn't die, folks. Someone just found a better place for them.

666 Park Ave (David Wilcox): When a young couple accepts an offer to manage one of the most historic apartment buildings in New York City, they unwittingly begin to experience supernatural occurrences, which complicate and endanger the lives of everyone in the building.

Americana (Michael Seitzman): A soap set around a legendary fashion designer and his family and business.

Nashville (Callie Khouri): A family soap set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene that follows one star at her peak and one on the rise. (Contingent on closing the co-production deal between ABC Studios and Lionsgate.)

Gotham (Michael Green): After pursuing a seemingly unsolvable case, a female cop discovers a magical world that exists within New York City. A world that goes unseen by normal humans, and takes all of the familiar NYC landmarks and reinvents them in a magical otherworldly manner.

Zero Hour (Paul Scheuring): A bizarre twist of fate pulls a man who’s spent 20 years as the editor of a skeptics magazine into one of the most compelling conspiracies in human history.

Devious Maids (Marc Cherry): Based on the Mexican format, this soap follows four maids with ambition and dreams of their own while they work for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.

Penoza (Melissa Rosenberg): Based on the Dutch format, drama centers on the widow of an assassinated criminal who is forced to adopt her husband’s role in a crime syndicate in order to protect her family.

Scruples (Bob Brush, Mel Harris): Based on 1978 novel Scruples that follows the life of Wilhelmina Hunnewell Winthrop, a.k.a. Billy, a previously plump woman who loses weight, becomes fabulously cool, and survives a very rich (and very old) first husband. She ends up opening up a Beverly Hills clothing boutique called Scruples.

Beauty and the Beast (Jonathan Steinberg): A fantastical reimagining of the classic fairy tale set in a mythical, dangerous world wherein a beautiful and tough princess discovers an unlikely connection with a mysterious beast.

Gilded Lillys (K.J. Steinberg): Set in 1895, this epic love story follows the opening of the first grand luxury hotel in NYC, against a backdrop of vicious family rivalries, scandalous secrets, and conflict and comingling of classes.

Last Resort (Shawn Ryan, Karl Gajdusek): An international action-thriller-soap that follows the story of establishing a new society in a world held hostage by the crew of a ballistic missile submarine. Basically a U.S. nuclear sub crew refuses orders to fire their missiles and escape to a NATO outpost and declare themselves the smallest nuclear nation.

 
 
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