It is official. All My Children and One Life to Live have been cancelled. Surprise surprise — no not really. Just last year, As the World Turns dissolved into soap heaven. I have been watching soaps for a long time (almost 20 years). I would have to say that Another World was my favourite and General Hospital and Days of Our Lives was a close second and third for different reasons that I cannot altogether explain. It wasn’t until two years ago that I started watching As the World Turns out of curiosity but it lacked something which is probably why it got the axe. But in the grand scheme of things, who watches soaps nowadays? With busy lives and short attention spans, who has the time to be that involved in a character or storyline. Soaps have had a good ride but now there is reality television and there is no need for scripted drama with c-list actors. But many a big star got their start on soaps. Ray Liotta starred in Another World
for many years before making the leap as did Meg Ryan (As the World Turns), Nathan Fillion (One Life to Live), Anne Heche (Another World), John Stamos (General Hospital), Demi Moore (General Hospital), David Hasselhoff (Y & R) and Julianne Moore (As the World Turns). I remember watching many of these actors hamming it up as they delivered corny lines for even cornier plots. So what does the future look like for the soap world? Grim. It is not the end of the world though, there will always be something to replace it and the stars of these shows will most likely move on to late night soaps as is the rumour with All My Children’s Susan Lucci for Desperate Housewives.
It is not the end just a reinvention of something that has been popular for over 60 years among housewives and even some men too. Soaps don’t seem to have a place in a world that is eating up shows that feature scripted real life which I am sure consists or will consist of real actors too at some point.
Daytime soaps offered some of the most far-fetched storylines imaginable and served as an escape away from daily stressors and the mundane: saving the world from destruction; demonic possessions, resurrection (common theme), appearance of long lost twins and so on. But soaps have remained cutting edge by tackling controversial topics of the day such as abuse, AIDS and eating disorders to name a few.
While this genre of television entertainment is going the way of the dinosaur, I will always remember monumental shows in soap history that were watched by millions; namely the Luke and Laura wedding of General Hospital’s most beloved characters. At the time, I wasn’t a fan but I had to watch just because. In fact, it is the audience’s couple favourites that helped to drive ratings through the roof: Santa Barbara’s Eden and Cruz; General Hospital’s Luke and Laura; All My Children’s Jenny and Greg and Jesse and Angie; Days of Our Lives’ Bo and Hope and Kayla and Patch and The Young and the Restless’ Victor and Nikki. What is nice to see is the longevity of these characters and the actors who play them. Mrs. Catherine Chancellor, has been portrayed by Jeanne Cooper since 1973, while the tempestuous Victor Newman (portrayed by Eric Braeden) has been delivering his lines since 1980 and has appeared in blockbuster hits such as Planet of the Apes and Titanic. Alison Sweeny of Days of Our Lives is living somewhat of a double life as host of The Biggest Loser and playing Sami on Days. Talk about playing her cards right.
The first time characters from one soap would move away to another town and emerge “in tact” in another soap altogether, i.e. evil Sheila of Y&R to The Bold and The Beautiful, it was revolutionary. I don’t really watch soaps that much anymore, I more of a reality show junkie. I am sure that phase will pass when the next form of entertainment takes its place. Who knows what that will be.