The soap opera, one of U.S. television’s longest-running and most influential formats, is on the brink. Declining ratings have been attributed to an increasing number of women working outside the home and to an intensifying competition for viewers’ attention from cable and the Internet. Yet, soaps’ influence has expanded, with serial narratives becoming commonplace on most primetime TV programs. This book investigates the causes of their dwindling popularity, describes their impact on TV and new media culture, and gleans lessons from their complex history for twenty-first-century media industries. It contains contributions from established soap scholars, along with essays and interviews by emerging scholars, fans and Web site moderators, and soap opera producers, writers, and actors from ABC’s General Hospital, CBS’s The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, and other shows. This diverse group of voices seeks to intervene in the discussion about the fate of soap operas at a critical juncture, and speaks to long-time soap viewers, television studies scholars, and media professionals alike.