The end of the soap opera?

ABC canceled two of its three soap operas on Thursday, consigning “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” – and Susan Lucci, daytime’s most famous actress – to television history.

The move leaves “General Hospital” as ABC’s only daytime drama, one of only four that will remain on ABC, CBS and NBC’s daytime schedule.

Soap operas have slowly been fading as a TV force, with many of the women who made up the target audience now in the work force. In place of the two canceled dramas, ABC will air shows about food and lifestyle transformations.

“Viewers are looking for different types of programming these days,” said Brian Frons, head of ABC’s daytime department. Frons went to the California set of “All My Children” to deliver the news on Thursday, where a video link was also set up to the New York set of “One Life to Live.”

Interestingly enough, those are the two daytime soap operas I have ever kept on top of, courtesy of my mother and my ex-girlfriend Julianne’s mother.

I grew up with All My Children on every day, without fail, at noon. My interest in it was limited, for the most part, but there was nothing else to do. We either didn’t have cable or when we did we only had it on the TV that Mom was monopolizing. So it was on and I would find something to do. Sometimes in the living room. And it was on. So I picked up bits and pieces. There seemed to be two summers in particular when it piqued my interest enough that I remember the storylines at least a little. One involved Erica Kane’s romance with Jackson something-or-other following the death (but preceding the resurrection) of Tad. The second I remember more clearly: Natalie in the well. Natalie and Trevor (the local police chief, perhaps why I was interested in this storyline) were engaged or something and Natalie’s twin sister Janet threw Natalie down a well and took over her identity. This one was so interesting that I had Mom record it when school started back up again until the story was resolved (I FFWed through the other storylines).

I remember thinking that Janet (pre-transformation) was hot while Natalie was take-it-or-leave-it. They were played by the same actress. I would like to think that I like Janet more because she had dark hair and glasses and not because she was nuts. Given my romantic history, either is possible.

One Life to Live was the favorite soap of my ex-girlfriend Julianne’s mother. I spent a lot of time at her house. It was on. So I would periodically watch. Particularly the storylines involving Bo Buchanan, Llanview’s police chief (noticing a pattern here?). There was a storyline involving mentally-struggling Todd breaking out of the loony bin and the introduction of Sam Rappaport. And a fake marriage that was required for someone to get an inheritance. That’s about all I remember, other than a vague recollection of the characters, where they fit in to everything, and so on. Julie’s Mom also watched General Hospital, but for some reason that never caught my interest. Maybe it didn’t have a police chief.

Anyhow, I’m not entirely sure what it says about our society that these shows are going by the wayside. It’s not like they are high-entertainment, but I will take just about any scripted show over any of the shows that are slated to replace them. The main problem with soaps, and particularly the daytime sort, is that everything has to constantly change to keep things interesting. So there’s never a happy ending. Never any sort of payoff, ultimately. So after one summer of watching OLTL, for instance, I’d catch an episode and be alienated by how everything changed over the course of a year. It’s not unlike comic books and wrestling that way.

Category: Theater

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4 Responses to No More Lives To Live

  1. Sexy Pterodactyl says:

    Trumwill, I’m your father! You are Aunt Enid’s) and my secret love child

    —Some Female says

    More seriously, while Shakespeare is considered great literature, when I was (forced into) reading it in high school, I always thought it was the original soap (the 16th century version), complete with soapy plots (Aunt Mildred) must never know!). It’s interesting how the pop culture of prior eras becomes the high culture of the current one. I.e. you can be soapy, but if you’re also Ye Olde, it’s art.

    —End Some Female

  2. Sexy Pterodactyl says:

    Dude Trumwill, my comment was not meant to be spammy or anything, just thought I’d share a soap silly 🙂 And the point re Shakespeare and soapiness was serious (unfortunately I cannot comment on actual soaps, as I’ve never had the patience to watch much of one, except for the early 90s evil preppy teens classic Swan’s Crossing)

  3. Maria says:

    It’s interesting how the pop culture of prior eras becomes the high culture of the current one. I.e. you can be soapy, but if you’re also Ye Olde, it’s art.

    There’s a funny scene about that in one of the 80s Star Trek movies (it was the one about the whales) in which Spock refers to Jacqueline Susann novels as “the classics.”

  4. trumwill says:

    Yeah, those that survive become high-class with age.

    The main issue with soaps, as mentioned, is that without the beginning and without the end, it’s just one damn thing after another. Entertaining for the ride, but not satisfying the same way that even a Freddie Prinz Jr movie is.

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