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