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Susan Lucci's Soap Bubble Pops
April 14, 2011 12:07 PM   Subscribe

ABC cancels “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” Thanks to the slow decline of soap operas -- and the coming signoff of cable's SOAPnet, two more daytime series will end decades-long runs. The replacements are a food show called The Chew and a lifestyle show tentatively titled The Revolution. AMC ends in September and OLTL in December; SOAPnet goes dark in January, 2012

(For those who still need a fix, Telemundo airs telenovelas with English subtitles on CC3 and HD captions service 2.)
posted by Yakuman (112 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The people who need to watch soap operas on telemundo with english subtitles are the ones I worry about most.
posted by pwally at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

RIP Strangely Bright Sets; Absurdly Dramatic Pauses; Amnesiacs and Evil Twins.
posted by MasonDixon at 12:10 PM on April 14, 2011 [13 favorites]


So the Mayans were right, about the world of Soaps at least.
posted by fnerg at 12:10 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I haven't watched either since I was 18 or so on a regular basis, but there were many quality hours spent obsessing over Max and Luna in high school.

Damn.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:12 PM on April 14, 2011


So Susan Lucci will only be able to lose one more Daytime Emmy?
posted by Madamina at 12:14 PM on April 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


And then there were...what, four now?

Young & Restless
Bold & Beautiful
Days of Our Lives
General Hospital

Down from dozens 40 years ago. End of an era.
posted by Melismata at 12:14 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"The Chew?"
The Chew will be produced by Gordon Elliot (Paula Deen’s Home Cooking) and is a one-hour series that enables viewers to “get the dish” on anything and everything related to the world of food and beyond. Hosts will include Mario Batali (Iron Chef America); entertaining expert Clinton Kelly (What Not to Wear); Carla Hall (Top Chef); Michael Symon (Iron Chef America), and nutrition expert Daphne Oz.
Watching Clinton Kelly make snide, catty remarks about Mario Batali's clothing choices will probably be equally entertaining to One Life To Live's built-in audience.
posted by zarq at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2011


Oh thank God.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


One Life to Live was the first show that I remember showing teenage me that other teenage gays existed. And for that, it (and a young Ryan Phillipe) will always have a place in my heart.

For all their mockability, both shows, over the years, have brought a lot of important social issues to the forefront in popular culture when their nighttime drama counterparts wouldn't have touched the same issues with a ten-foot pole and a haz mat suit -- and because of their connection to the audience and the ways in which they tell the story (lo-o-o-o-o-ng and drawn out) -- could do so with more sensitivity and detail than others. Like I said, there's plenty to mock about "my stories" but there's plenty to appreciate as well, and I'm sorry to see the genre slowly dying.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2011 [24 favorites]


I remember being in college in the 80's, all the students were glued to the soaps every afternoon in the student union. I guess they are not there any more, y'think?
posted by Xurando at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2011


Wow, end of an era is right. I remember when Phil Brent came home from Vietnam. . . .
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2011


Soap operas keep a lot of people working. So can lifestyle shows, but they don't actors, which is probably the whole point.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


*they don't NEED actors
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

Some of these shows were really good sometimes. RIP one distinctive art form; may you live again in some unimaginable post-post-apocalyptic future, although please let's not bring back the organ music next time.
posted by AugieAugustus at 12:24 PM on April 14, 2011


guess they are not there any more, y'think?

While it's true that cable and the internet have forever fragmented the audiences, the unwillingness for the shows themselves to update their storylines (or sets; you'd think Jack Abbott would have redecorated the Abbot mansion at least a little bit after his father died!) hasn't helped. I mean, they have storylines about accidentally switching DNAs and sneaking into mental hospitals to impersonate nurses or whatever, which pretty much didn't/couldn't happen 20 years ago, never mind now. It's one thing to stretch the truth a bit; it's another to make it so unbelievable that a young person raised on computers just goes "huh?" and changes the channel.
posted by Melismata at 12:28 PM on April 14, 2011


Does this mean Soap Opera Digest and its sisters of the supermarket checkout aisle are going to fold? With only four shows left, what do they have to write about?
posted by Yakuman at 12:28 PM on April 14, 2011


a lifestyle show tentatively titled The Revolution.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by tommasz at 12:29 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll be honest and admit I didn't know either of these shows was still broadcasting new episodes...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:29 PM on April 14, 2011


Some day, the sun will go supernova, and all... this... *sweeps arm* ... will have been for naught.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2011


I feel a little bit sad about this. Sure, I haven't watched "All My Children" for more than a decade now, but those were my mother's "stories." She has been watching that show since she moved to this country in the late 60s. And when my dad was stationed in Germany and brought the whole family with him, my mom's sister would hand-write long letters from San Francisco, telling her everything that happened in Pine Valley. I feel like I grew up with some of those characters, even the ones portrayed by several different actors.
posted by zerbinetta at 12:32 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't believe they're dead unless you see the bodies. They'll be back with beards and strange tales just in time to disrupt the widow's wedding.
posted by pracowity at 12:32 PM on April 14, 2011 [17 favorites]


"The Chew?"

Gesundheit.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:33 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My impression of television soaps (what little I've seen) was actors, in poor lighting on flat videotape, portraying characters lying clumsily to each other.

"Mark! I'm glad... you're here"
"Anne... I'm... sorry... it took me so long to... arrive"
"Is that... a ring?"
"Why yes... yes it is. I, I found it... on the, uh, patio"

etc
posted by mmrtnt at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


:( All I know about soaps really is that Nathan Fillon got his start on "One Life to Live".

Nathan on Soap Acting.
posted by kmz at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Huh. And now for another odd oil rig culture anecdote from my boyfriend:
All oil field work stops for soap operas. I'm serious. Depending on where you go, loyalties shift, but every platform has its favorite soap opera and everyone gathers around the TVs in the break room at the designated time.
Make of that what you will.
They are going to be so upset.
posted by domo at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


Passions was the only good soap opera ever.

There, I said it.
posted by giraffe at 12:38 PM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Because there's such a shortage of food and lifestyle shows that time of day.
posted by tyllwin at 12:38 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well I just sent two of my coworkers into a panic with this news which is the most entertainment I've ever gotten from soap operas.
posted by ghharr at 12:39 PM on April 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


In the central Illinois town my mother came from, every single weekday when the farmers and hands came to the house for dinner (the big noon meal), someone would wheel the TV cart up to the table so they could watch As the World Turns.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:39 PM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


While it's true that cable and the internet have forever fragmented the audiences, the unwillingness for the shows themselves to update their storylines (or sets; you'd think Jack Abbott would have redecorated the Abbot mansion at least a little bit after his father died!...
posted by Melismata at 12:28 PM on April 14
---------------------------------------------------------

You certainly can't accuse ABC of not changing the sets, although the last time the network did that it may be likened to repositioning the deck chairs on the Titanic.

A while ago (a year or two if I remember correctly) ABC moved production from New York to L.A. in order to get production costs down. As a result all of the sets were completely redesigned.

As I posted on the green a while back, I hadn't watched AMC or OLTL in ages but I flipped them on not so long ago. Besides not recognizing most of the actors, the biggest shock was not recognizing any of the sets (so I could at least attempt to figure out who the characters were supposed to be via geographic clues). I don't know what they did on the technical side of things, but the entire look of the production was different -- maybe it was different lighting or different/cheaper filming techniques or cameras. It just felt and looked very wrong.

I know that soaps are a dying form and that most (if not all) of them are in trouble, but boy, when I saw that FPP it really hit me. I'm going to miss the idea of AMC being around, even if I'm not watching it.
posted by sardonyx at 12:40 PM on April 14, 2011


I didn't even know Nathan Fillon had done acting post-OLTL.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:40 PM on April 14, 2011


> every platform has its favorite soap opera

"All My Roughnecks"
"As the Drill Turns"
"The Deep and the Fruitless"
"Spills of Our Lives"
posted by mmrtnt at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hate seeing news like this. I can certainly understand their waning popularity, but soap operas have always fascinated me with the way they bring people together and breed semi-obsession with these fictional people. It gives me a lot of insight on how humans are so fundamentally social animals. Still, I won't be too upset as long as one show in particular surives (My uncle is Jack Abbott)
posted by Hargrimm at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2011


it's another to make it so unbelievable that a young person raised on computers just goes "huh?" and changes the channel

Well, I admit that in high school (we're talking 2000-2002) I was a daily viewer of Passions, which to its credit wholeheartedly embraces unbelievability.

I guess soap operas just don't have a built-in audience any more - like others have mentioned the playing field has fractured, and they can't count on white middle-class women age 19 to 45 to all be at home and bored in the afternoon any more. My mom tells a story to explain how she became addicted to soap operas - she moved to the Bay Area right after she married my dad at the age of 19 - no job, no kids, living away from her parents for the first time in her life - I just don't think that this happens much any more.

When I was in college, instead of soaps we watched reruns of Quantum Leap on Ion, or by that point we were streaming ripped DVDs off a shared network drive.
posted by muddgirl at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2011


Actually I always wanted to see Robin Strasser (Dorian Lord/OLTL) show up on Castle as Susan (Falcon Crest) Sullivan's old friend. It would have been especially fun for old OLTL viewers if said friend was intent on getting into a older woman/younger man relationship with Fillion's Rick Castle.
posted by sardonyx at 12:46 PM on April 14, 2011


I didn't even know Nathan Fillon had done acting post-OLTL.

*boggles* Like, until just now?

Anyway, there's a huge number of stars (of varying levels) who got their start in soaps. Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jensen Ackles, Susan Sarandon, John Stamos, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, Morgan Freeman, etc. And that's just the American ones. The British soaps like Easteners and Neighbors have produced their fair share too.
posted by kmz at 12:48 PM on April 14, 2011


While it's true that cable and the internet have forever fragmented the audiences, the unwillingness for the shows themselves to update their storylines

What, are you kidding? The last time I tuned in to Y&R all I saw was a bunch of tweens with laptops sitting at a poolside juice bar in some sort of Internet startup. I waited through twenty minutes of their bullshit whining until I finally got to see Nikki and Victor.

Maybe Jack Abbott didn't change the mansion around because he knew not to fuck with a classic.
posted by scrowdid at 12:49 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


*boggles* Like, until just now?

Yeah. We pretty much only watch Jeopardy and Survivor on network TV.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:50 PM on April 14, 2011


How on earth are the talk show hosts like Letterman going to embarrass their guests now? Showing clips of past soap performances was always good for a laugh.
posted by orange swan at 12:57 PM on April 14, 2011


but soap operas have always fascinated me with the way they bring people together and breed semi-obsession with these fictional people.

But there are lots of shows that still do that. Television Without Pity is all the evidence you need that obsessive TV fandom is alive and well and willing to put up with any number of improbable plotlines.

The soaps broke the ground that True Blood and Weeds and Desperate Housewives took advantage of, but they couldn't keep up. But considering they've been around since the beginnings of radio, I'd say they had a hell of a run.
posted by emjaybee at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I often joked that we should name our twin boys Tad & Ted.
posted by togdon at 12:59 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


People, we still have Mad Men. Don't worry.
posted by Evstar at 1:00 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ok, so I never watched this crap, but I just learned from wikipedia that tehse two shows took place in the suburbs of philly, separated by Villanova Univeristy. This means that AMC was set in Radnor, and OLTL was set in Bryn Mawr.

No wonder everyone on those shows was white, rich, and a doctor.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:01 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sad. I believe one summer that I watched all 10 soaps that were on at the time (mid-90s -- Loving, anyone?). AMC and OLTL were never my favourites, but that's two more nails in the coffin of the daytime soap genre.
posted by pised at 1:01 PM on April 14, 2011


Aw, this makes me kind of sad. I watched OLTL from the late 80s through college. I got started while babysitting; the mom sat me down and explained who everyone was and their relation to each other as if it was an integral part of the job.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2011


Also, I was totally listening to this for the first time in ages yesterday. Spooky!
posted by JoanArkham at 1:07 PM on April 14, 2011


I'm kinda saddened by this. "All My Children" was my mother's favorite. I often watched it just so I'd have something to talk to her about.

And now that I reread that, I'm even sadder.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:09 PM on April 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Watched All My Children quite a bit in high school; I'd sometimes eat lunch at home, and my mom would often come home for lunch from work and would have it on.

Dixie was hot.
posted by aerotive at 1:11 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


kmz: Nathan on Soap Acting.

He really is ruggedly handsome.

zarq: "The Chew?"
The Chew will be ... a one-hour series that enables viewers to “get the dish” on anything and everything related to the world of food and beyond.
And I was really hoping The Chew would instead a daily show based upon Chew,
an Eisner Award-winning American comic book series about an FDA Agent who solves crimes by getting psychic impressions by eating things, including people.
Because that could really fit in with other day-time dramas, if it was really hammed up. Don't believe me? Check out the floating head in the powdered wig. It's a thing character in Passions (which, in looking at the cast of recurring cast members, also includes a Demon Elf and a Little Angel Girl).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Passions was the only good soap opera ever.

There, I said it.


I came in here just to admit my love of Passions, the only soap I ever watched. In college, I had an hour and a half break between classes when I'd come back to my dorm just to nap and see what Timmy was doing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2011


Tuning into a soap (any soap, at any point in the episode) will launch you into one of:
* A wedding or preparations for one
* Someone in the hospital, frequently birthing
* Amnesia
* A kidnapping
* An icy stare across the room
It's a hell of a drinking game.
posted by sageleaf at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2011


Oh shit!

I used to love All My Children — My mom had grown up watching it (though her mom moved over to As The World Turns), and so a lot of my childhood sick days involved watching Tad and Georgia and Erica and Palmer the rest of 'em, and it was always comforting that they were still on and I could pick up on the plots within, like, five minutes because even though I stopped watching them daily (my ma used to tape 'em while she was in grad school), they've got pretty much the same stuff day in and day out.

My hardcore favorite was Adam Chandler, one of the two rich villains on AMC — along with Palmer Courtland (what a great melodrama name!) — and his moron identical twin Stewart who was simple and good, and the shenanagins they'd get into! Seriously, if there was a show that was just those two and their wacky misadventures done in five-minute webasodes, I would watch it every damn day.
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 PM on April 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


There is an essay to be written about how our melodrama is connected to a false versmillitude--how soaps have been replaced by "reality" shows--i think that its a sophistication of the viewerhood who is willing to be real and unreal and surreal in competing levels at the same time.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:25 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Dixie was hot."

Totally.

But she's gone downhill, or had the last time I tuned in. Which is to be expected, since she's aged ten years and is still playing the exact same plot device.
posted by klangklangston at 1:25 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally, some resolution.
posted by anazgnos at 1:26 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


My mother watched All My Children pretty much from the beginning, and I watched it with her whenever I got the chance from about ages 11 to 18.

I actually have a lot of respect for AMC. I believe they were the first soap to have a character who was HIV-positive. They had a gay character fairly early on (I'd say early 90s). Then they had a MAJOR lesbian character (Erica Kane's daughter, yet!), and I believe they still are the only soap to have a transgender character. They went all out for that one, showing her transition in a sensitive manner, and even bringing on a panel of notable trans folk as a support group. Getting that stuff into suburbanites' living rooms and normalizing it is a huge deal, and more (and usually earlier) than many prime time shows are willing to do.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:27 PM on April 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


If only they were replacing them with new episodes of Soap.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:28 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"They had a gay character fairly early on (I'd say early 90s). Then they had a MAJOR lesbian character (Erica Kane's daughter, yet!), and I believe they still are the only soap to have a transgender character."

Yeah, that was pretty sweet.

They also gave America an opportunity to hate Sarah Michelle Gellar's terrible acting long before Buffy.
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


They also gave America an opportunity to hate Sarah Michelle Gellar's terrible acting long before Buffy.

Oh, but they also gave America the chance to see Kelly Ripa as a GOTH. That was fabulous. I was so upset when she went blonde.

And I forgot--although this was before my time of watching the show, Madeleine L'Engle's husband Hugh Franklin was also a longtime actor on it, which just ups the cool factor for me.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:37 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT! In the final episodes all of the major characters will either go into or awaken from a coma.
posted by Gungho at 1:49 PM on April 14, 2011


My parents liked to tell people I was named after a character on AMC. Then she died. Then she came back to life one summer while my father (who, in retrospect, may have been unemployed? Maybe?) was watching and I got to see her as a ghost or something. It was awesome!
posted by jenlovesponies at 1:54 PM on April 14, 2011


Jenny Gardner. Died in a jet-ski accident. (How many characters have died that way?)
Part of a very famous super-couple.
Portrayed by an actress who went on to bigger and better things.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Nelson_and_Jenny_Gardner
posted by sardonyx at 1:57 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


In college we watched Hogan's Heroes in the TV lounge during lunch and then turned on Days. It was good campy fun. I never really could get into AMC but admit that I really liked the introduction of the Sarah Michelle Gellar Kendall Hart. She was so deliciously over the top as a villain and I've always kinda wondered if she'd have done better playing more villain roles like Kendall Hart and Cruel Intentions rather than playing Buffy and her post Buffy roles.

I also vaguely remember watching General Hospital with my mom during the whole Rick Springfield run in the early 80s. I also remember some big wedding event but for the life of me I can't remember the characters.

Unlike others here I just couldn't get into Passions, it always seemed suspiciously over the top but not in a good way.
posted by vuron at 2:00 PM on April 14, 2011


As a stagehand in NYC who has worked on both shows for years and is still 25 years from retirement, this really frightens me. I was at the meeting when they announced to cast and crew that the show was moving, and I can honestly say I've been at funerals that were more cheerful. There's a lot of quiet tv studios today full of really nervous people, a ton of good blue-collar jobs just went up in smoke.
posted by nevercalm at 2:05 PM on April 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


I also vaguely remember watching General Hospital with my mom during the whole Rick Springfield run in the early 80s. I also remember some big wedding event but for the life of me I can't remember the characters.
posted by vuron at 2:00 PM on April 14


The wedding was likely for Luke and Laura -- the super couple of the 80s. I didn't really watch GH, but it was so popular at the time, you didn't have to watch it to know what was going on.
posted by sardonyx at 2:08 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sad. I believe one summer that I watched all 10 soaps that were on at the time (mid-90s -- Loving, anyone?).

My first ever call was on Loving. The best nights/mornings were Mansion days.
posted by nevercalm at 2:10 PM on April 14, 2011


Sorry to see AMC go. I was a fan in high school, it was about the only show on TV that interested me. My favorite characters were Brooke English and Adam Chandler. The last line of Brooke's character description, "Adam and Brooke decided to start a new life together and left Pine Valley to travel." left me all warm and fuzzy. I always knew they were perfect for each other!
posted by BigSky at 2:11 PM on April 14, 2011


I really liked Loving, until the random serial killer story line that morphed into the ill-fated The City.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:16 PM on April 14, 2011


Normally I wouldn't comment on this type of thing, but boy is the gender divide really evident in this thread. Pretty much every one who came in here to make a flip comment about how all soaps are crap or how they didn't watch the shows (and still think they're crap) is male (at least judging by the profile descriptions and pictures).

Now I'm not saying that guys haven't actually contributed their memories of the shows or made positive comments (as I haven't looked at everybody's profiles) but boy this really feels like a girls-over-here and boys-over-there thread.

On a completely different note, best of luck in the future, nevercalm. You're right, these shows did employ (and train) a host of people -- not just actors, but writers and producers and stage hands and set decorators and wardrobe mistresses/masters and so on. I think the industry is really going to feel the aftershocks of soaps dying. No matter how many reality shows and talk shows are produced, the training and the number of people (and types of people) employed is not going to be the same.
posted by sardonyx at 2:26 PM on April 14, 2011


January 5, 1970. I am less than two weeks away from my eighth birthday, watching a tiny black and white tv with Mary, our housekeeper, more aptly named my closest ally and friend. I have an older brother, but he is fairly ancient, as Roald Dahl would put it, being six years ahead of me. I'm more like an only child, and my mother is (unlikely as it may seem in 1970) a career woman.
So it's me and Mary. And All My Children. I remember seeing the first episode. Mary was ironing (pillowcases? why?) and it premiered along with two other shows, "The Best of Everything," based on a Rona Jaffee book and "Ryan's Hope," a kind of Irish thing with a matriarch named "Maeve."
I liked the other two better, but they were soon cancelled and AMC was what was left. It filled the bill, I guess. By the time I got to college in 1979, everyone who was anyone (with access to American tv) had a bare grasp of the plotline/characters, boys and girls alike. As for boys not caring about soaps, referenced above, I beg to differ. One of my best friends freshman year was an avid, no rabid AMC fan. And just for the record, he was/is heterosexual and spent years in the Miramax stable as an attorney. The allure of soaps would seem to transcend sterotypes. TV, on the other hand, I can hate equal opportunity style, capische? End of an era, I guess.
posted by emhutchinson at 2:43 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


stereotypes, sorry.
posted by emhutchinson at 2:44 PM on April 14, 2011


*stares off into distance stoically*
. *single tear rolls down face*
*camera zooms in slowly*
posted by benzenedream at 2:46 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been watching since '85, with some breaks, depending on school or work.

It's easy to make fun of soaps, just because of the cheese. But -- the cheese is fun! And it's also true that the viewers grow up with these characters, and have some very definite relationships with them. And as has also been said above, that All My Children in particular was very good for some social groundbreaking, bringing some issues and causes through their stories to a much wider, more mainstream or socially conservative audience. So there was both an entertainment factor and an educational one, although given the investment a soap watcher has with their soap, it's still something more than that.

If you go a bit deeper with it -- these actors and writers, they're real workhorses of their craft. Day in, day out, X pages of script to memorize and get out there every single day... And it has to be exact. If they're the slightest bit off, say Adam's a bit too much Stewart in a scene, the audience knows, and they're unforgiving. The writers, too -- they have to produce and produce and produce, and it all has to be of the right quality. The pace is unrelenting.

Movie actors? They do a few takes, and move on. A project lasts a couple of months. Stage actors, they have it tough, too, but it's the same dialogue, and how long is their run really going to be? A television writer elsewhere produces one episode at a time, or a show a week -- nothing like a soap, with multiple storylines at the same time, or storylines projected well out into the future for filming purposes, and it all has to match later.

So for all the joking -- I have nothing but respect for soaps. They churn it out, every single day, year after year, and it has to be good enough to keep us there, and it is. It may be the most difficult way to go in their craft. And if you watch it on those terms, it's incredibly rewarding. Noticing the subtleties, a certain ad lib, or a slipped-in Freud joke -- it's everything great television should be.

Thanks, All My Children. You will be missed. Your likes will not come by this way again, and we're all the poorer for it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:55 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The wedding was likely for Luke and Laura -- the super couple of the 80s.

We named a pair of guppies Luke and Laura because of the wedding and my mom's love of General Hospital. Secretly, however, Laura was "Leia" to me, since soaps were boring to a seven-year-old while Star Wars was the greatest thing ever.
posted by Spatch at 2:56 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since everybody is naming their fist soap, I guess I should contribute mine. It was Another World, home of the Matthews and Cory families. I also watched its spin-off, Texas.

I can't remember why I transferred my allegiance to AMC, but Another World was what introduced me to the form.
posted by sardonyx at 2:57 PM on April 14, 2011


They also gave America an opportunity to hate Sarah Michelle Gellar's terrible acting long before Buffy.

YES. One of the reasons I even started watching Buffy is because I hated Kendall so much.

This news made me sad. I remember watching AMC and OLTL with my Mom during the summers in grade school. Neither of us were really the stereotypical soap watcher, but when it got to be a million degrees outside it was nice to sit together in front of a fan and watch fabulous people lead fabulous lives for a bit.

Soaps used to be a common touchstone. Everyone knew who Luke and Laura were, or Erika Kane, or Victor Newman. I mean, the writing was often pretty terrible and the acting could be wonky, but I'll miss the shows nonetheless.

I'm curious WHY this is happening, though. Are people watching other things during this time, or are they all in front of the Internet, or what?
posted by jess at 2:57 PM on April 14, 2011


I can't believe All My Children and One Life to Live are going. I am still getting over the loss of Edge of Night :(
posted by DarlingBri at 2:57 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'm curious WHY this is happening, though. Are people watching other things during this time, or are they all in front of the Internet, or what?"

My guess is that women be gettin' jobs, yo', so they ain't sittin' around watching AMC anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 3:08 PM on April 14, 2011


In other words, it's Another World.
posted by mazola at 3:13 PM on April 14, 2011


Soaps began to run into trouble in mid-eighties, with the rise of cable and the multitude of options; when a new writing/directing/producing regime came in and ruined things*, which was very common, there were more and different options available, so people who weren't captured by the fictional worlds on the other two channels could find something else to entertain them. It became easier to walk away for the viewer who no longer felt so connected to their preferred fictional world.

And as soap ratings dropped, there was more upheaval in the upper ranks, more pressure to fix it, and more new regimes coming in and alienating fans.

*by ruined things, I mean, of course: firing popular long-time actors, replacing skilled writers with the head writer's offspring, horrific recasts, abandoning long-beloved characters/families/groups for the new and shiny, fostering a narrative imbalance so intense that even fans of the new overfavorite think he or she is getting too much focus, and always demonstrating the new regime has no sense of the past history of the show and its characters.
posted by julen at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm another dude who was into a soap at one point. I haven't commented yet because my "story" was Days of our Lives. My high school girlfriend (and now wife) was into DOOL due to her grandfather's obsession with the show (and his slightly unhealthy crush on Marlena) and my Freshman dorm in college also had the lounge TV turned to the show every afternoon. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but the glacial pace of the plot made it pretty hard for me to keep up with it much past that. Sorry to all the AMC and OLTL fans out there.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:35 PM on April 14, 2011


The death of these soaps is like having a string that tied my late grandmother, my mother and me together cruelly cut.

We were an ABC family -- my early TV memories include Ryan's Hope (Delia & the gorilla, anyone?), AMC, OLTL and General Hospital. I hopped over to Young and the Restless during college, but once I started working, the clunkiness of trying to time VCR recordings and keep my tapes in order for the weekend overshadowed the pleasure I got from watching.

Now I sit back and wait for the sad phone call from Mom, who still keeps up with AMC.
posted by ladygypsy at 3:51 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, my favorite soap opera, Deadliest Catch, just started its new season this week.

PPPHHHHIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:55 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


AMC was definitely groundbreaking: Erica Kane had an (elective, non-life-threatening) abortion in 1973.

Though the storyline goes in some pretty weird directions, unsurprisingly:
"Erica's abortion was simply because she didn't want to have a child, and I think if you do that now, you would perhaps hurt your character," said former All My Children head writer Megan McTavish.[35] McTavish later rewrote the story so that the doctor who performs the procedure, Greg Madden (Ian Buchanan), transplants the aborted fetus into his infertile wife.
(Wikipedia article on Erica Kane)
posted by nev at 4:29 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't need soaps. MeFi satisfies all my over-the-top drama needs.
posted by jonmc at 4:45 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people who need to watch soap operas on telemundo with english subtitles are the ones I worry about most.

The people who worry about what other people watch are the ones I worry aboutlaugh at most.
posted by jonmc at 4:55 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always hated soaps, or at least my mom's favorite, Days Of Our Lives. However, I got into One Life To Live a while back when they had a pretty good gay storyline going on, and I actually really enjoyed it. It was campy and funny, and it had memorable characters.

My favorite moment was when one character was pushed out of a window onto a press conference that her (straight) aunt was holding in which she was pretending to be engaged to her lesbian campaign manager to pander for gay votes.

Unfortunately, after a while the show lost a lot of its charm. They brought on boring himbos, got rid of the gay characters, created painful storylines and it just generally became a chore to watch. I haven't watched the show in at least a year. That having been said, I'll be sorry to see it go off the air. It was nice knowing that it was always there if I ever wanted to check in with the citizens of Llanview. I imagine there are a lot of people who grew up watching the show and feel the same way I probably will when the Simpsons finally goes off the air.
posted by Dismantled King at 5:12 PM on April 14, 2011


Frankly, when The Edge of Night was canceled, I gave up all hope for the genre.
posted by doctor_negative at 5:24 PM on April 14, 2011


Thanks for that clip, Dismantled King.

I was aware of Dorian's campaign ploy, but wasn't watching on a regular basis, and I never saw Blair being pushed out the window (or was aware of that storyline).

Watching that clip made me realize I won't ever get to see the David Vickers character any more. I always liked Tuc Watkins in that role.
posted by sardonyx at 5:53 PM on April 14, 2011


roomthreeseventeen writes "I didn't even know Nathan Fillon had done acting post-OLTL."

roomthreeseventeen writes "Yeah. We pretty much only watch Jeopardy and Survivor on network TV."

But. But. But, Captain Hammer.
posted by Mitheral at 6:11 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


holy shit, I just heard.
posted by clavdivs at 6:29 PM on April 14, 2011


Mrs. Fartknocker and I feel that CSI is little more than a soap opera these days. Of course, probably more blood and gore than is typically depicted in actual soaps.
posted by fartknocker at 6:33 PM on April 14, 2011


Is it true that AMC will end with all the major characters getting on a plane to return from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Sydney, only the plane hits turbulence over the Pacific and never makes it back to LA?
posted by adamg at 6:40 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been a closet viewer of OLTL for many many years. My stepsister would watch AMC and OLTL over the summers, and though I liked AMC, OLTL really hooked me in (I think I was 12?). Most people who know me are surprised when they hear I watch a soap, and I generally don't volunteer the information until I've known someone a good long time. I know it's probably silly to hide it, but I do. Well, til now.

I grew up watching those characters - Tina and Cord, Max and Luna, the Buchanans, Dorian and Viki's endless feuds and my god, the preposterous story lines that were so much more acceptable when I was 13! As I got older it got sillier, and later there were characters like David Vickers (Tuc Watkins, who always makes me laugh) to keep me watching. Sometimes I make fun of it, but I still keep recording it on the dvr every single day, and when my work day is done it's what I watch to get out of work mode and let myself relax. Yes, Mefi, I admit it. Even as I scoff and joke about how stupid it is, it is something I've watched for so many years that it would be weird to have it gone. I've gone without it here and there (in my late teens I was never home to watch anything on tv) and was fine, but I liked being able to come back and dip into the ridiculous lives of Llanview. They always do something to keep my interest when it starts flagging, as well - like bringing back old characters or having actors who've gone on to bigger things return for a big event (Nathan Fillion returned to the show a couple years back for a funeral, playing Joey Buchanan, which made me grin like a school girl).

So. I am sad to hear this, especially after discovering Roger Howarth is returning in a few weeks (what timing). On the other hand, now I can say goodbye to my shameful soap habit. But before I do, I'll lose myself to my alternate ego, get into a car wreck where I will kill my best friend, suffer from amnesia, have twins with two different fathers, lose them to the leader of a cult, and then be presumed dead in a horrible shipwreck only to come back 2 years later with a different face.
posted by routergirl at 6:49 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I once saw Rusty from Guiding Light in a strip mall in enfield. I thing he was buying boots.
posted by jonmc at 7:37 PM on April 14, 2011


Coronation Street is still going though.
posted by unliteral at 7:37 PM on April 14, 2011


Pretty sure Neighbors and... that other one are still around.
I've heard people compare soap operas to comic books. Would love to see a site that runs down the best weird/sci-fi/fantasy plots from them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:17 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


PRESIDENT BARTLET: I don’t understand. Don’t any of these characters have jobs?
CHARLIE: I don’t know, Mr. President. I think one of them is a surgeon.
PRESIDENT BARTLET: They seem to have a lot of free time in the middle of the day.
posted by Rangeboy at 8:51 PM on April 14, 2011


Some say that soaps started going downhill the last day Jonathan Frid graced our tv sets. I guess there's no hope that they'll bring back (a non-Johnny Depp movie) Dark Shadows then, huh?
posted by Mael Oui at 9:09 PM on April 14, 2011


Yeah, a vampire TV series with a complex, romantic plot could probably do really well. Might run for, say, 7 years. Maybe get it's own spinoff after two seasons.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:54 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I started watching All My Children when I was working in a hospital. We'd take lunch at the same time every day and watch Kurt get drunk and chase his wife Leora around the house with a fire poker. Dr. Martin next door was always there with a kind word and ready to patch her up. Good times, good times.

.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 10:27 PM on April 14, 2011


I was not a big soap watcher as a kid or a teen, except for Santa Barbara. I caught one of the first few episodes broadcast when I was 14 and developed the hugest crush on Lane Davies. When he left, I was done with soaps and I haven't seen any since. At uni, my dorm cafeteria was completely crowded every day at lunchtime, because Days was on. Besides the girls who lived there, there'd be professors, athletes and practically random passers-by filing in like clockwork and hunkering down at 12pm for an hour of Salem shenanigans on all 4 TVs. I'd get my lunch to go.

The first thing I thought of upon seeing this entry was all the crew and staff who'll be out of work. When I was a PA, I had always wondered how I could get a gig on a soap (I didn't have any connections, though). Bless. I hope they all get work somewhere soon!
posted by droplet at 10:38 PM on April 14, 2011


I grew up on All My Children ("All My Chi-Chis", as... someone in my family called it). I think it was a cultural constant for my mom and her sisters, since they grew up with it-- Erika Kane is just a bit older than them, and they've seen all of her trials and tribulations over the years.

I remember there was a commercial for ABC's short-lived sitcom "Cupid" that listed every single one of Erika's marriages and then said "Cupid: If only he'd been there" and it was, to me (I must've been between 8 and 10 at the time) one of the most hilarious things I'd ever seen.

I still check up on the characters every once in a while-- well, Bianca, really, because she was the one I watched grow up. They all have really amazing Wikipedia entries because of how long those shows run.

I know that the drama has really replaced the soap opera in our hearts and minds, but there'll always be a place in my heart for the over-the-top cheeseball daytime soaps.

.
posted by NoraReed at 11:58 PM on April 14, 2011


I hope neither show has a terrible ending that matches the notorious 1993 send-off of Santa Barbara. One of TV's all-time tackiest movements is the last shot (starting at 4:44 on this SLYT). Executive Producer Paul Rauch arrogantly walks across an empty stage, throws his cigarette on the ground, stomps on it in disgust, and walks away.
posted by Yakuman at 12:58 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting to read all the ways that Soap Operas touched our lives. This is a big cultural change and I like to imagine that 50 years from now the Soap Opera will be reborn in some form. After all, they are simply on-going melodramas about a handful of characters and therefore can be linked back to stories told around the fire which gave rise to myths both preserved and forgotten.

My grandmother was a housewife in the 30's and so she started following her stories (As The World Turns was one of the them) on the radio. She followed them to TV and watched them to her dying day. My mother, a housewife of the 60's, was therefore primed to be a follower. As The World Turns, The Edge of Night, and The Guiding Light were on when I was home sick from school. (I can still hear the theme songs in my head.) She followed them faithfully until she went back to school, got her degree and then got a job. At first she taped them everyday, then only on Fridays and then only once in awhile. Even though she has been retired for a few years, I don't think she ever watches day time TV because she is too busy.

I never cared for any of them. And then Luke and Laura's wedding gave me a chance to enter that world, I mean Elizabeth Taylor made a guest appearance for goodness sake! The rapist marrying his victim! Everybody-- even people who had never watched a Soap Opera in their lives-- talked about it and millions either watched or at least taped the event. I always despised Luke but I did like the Emma Samms character Holly Scorpio. In 1982 a cast list for one episode includes: Demi Moore, Sally Kirkland, Rick Springfield, and Janine Turner. I watched for a little longer, now and then, and my interest slowly petered out.

I'm sorry for all the jobs lost however and the training ground.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:20 AM on April 15, 2011


Since everybody is naming their fist soap

Holy shit. Fist soap?

"Oil My Children"
"Rubbing"
"Genital Hospital"
"One Wife to Give"
"The Tongue and the Restless"
posted by grubi at 7:03 AM on April 15, 2011


Between soap operas folding and L&O franchises biting the dust, it must be tough to be a New York City actor these days.

That said, I am sorry to see them go. Watched AMC and the now also defunct As the World Turns in my university days -- no better place to get my daily dose of diva than watching the antics of Erica Kane and Lucinda Walsh...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 4:59 PM on April 15, 2011


"I'm curious WHY this is happening, though. Are people watching other things during this time, or are they all in front of the Internet, or what?"

Me again, guy who works on the shows. Other people have touched on it kinda. It's a combination of a lot of things, and I'm writing something about it to remember the day, so I might as well put it here too. (And I have my own blog.)

The whole thing is, frankly, idiotic. They actually developed a special filter to eliminate the sounds of head-slapping and face-plaming by the crew. We pretty regularly were all behind the cameras with our multitools out miming slitting out throats.

It's also very expensive. The infrastructure is crazy. Over the past year, two big workshops have closed (a carpenter shop and a scenic (read: paint) shop), and the electric shop is not far behind. What these shows represent to ABC (and all the networks, but ABC was really the last doing big soaps the old fashioned way) is a massive drain on their bottom line. Behind the questionable lighting (we do what we can, but hey, we start at 3am and have just a few hours) and the crazy sets is lots and lots of money....the sets are warehoused offsite and trucked in, maybe 8, 10, 12 trucks a day at $500 per, at least. The warehouse where everything's stored, and that whole crew. Maintenance of the sets....things get broken being moved around and being set and struck. Paint? Wanta talk about paint? Those sets are almost repainted completely every time they're put up. Plus all of us, the crew. To knock down 6 big sets and put up six more, plus backdrops, flooring and whatnot takes a decent chunk of time, so there's the cost of all of us, and if we're lucky (lucky is a really really ironic word for it) we're on crazy overtime, having started work at 3 am and finished at 7 or 8 or 11pm. The actors, each with hair and makeup (at the higher level, they all have their own people.) The real estate, a 12,000 square foot studio. Cameras, control rooms, directors, stage managers. Catering.

Now take a reality show. Everything's on the fly. Whole segments done with flip cams and youtube....looks like shit, but who cares? It's only about selling commercial time, which is accomplished even during the show, working more and more product crap into content. Talent is desperate for work, or soulless assholes who really just want to be famous, and people eat it up as they embarrass themselves on national television for production costs that are pennies on the dollars that used to be spent. Why make television that requires production and money when you can do The View, or The Chew, and have your segments be commercials between your commercials? We never had a chance. I keep saying that being a stagehand right now, in TV, is the only place where you're hear people wishing they were older, so they could retire already and stop worrying.
posted by nevercalm at 6:59 PM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I didn't even know Nathan Fillon had done acting post-OLTL.

His recitation of scripts and ability to not to bump into the furniture could, generously, be called acting. I suppose.
posted by crossoverman at 2:09 AM on April 17, 2011


Yeah, a vampire TV series with a complex, romantic plot could probably do really well. Might run for, say, 7 years. Maybe get it's own spinoff after two seasons.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn 4 days ago [2 favorites +]


You mean Dark Shadows? All the kids ran home from 7th and 8th grade to watch that one.
posted by Gungho at 6:11 AM on April 18, 2011


It's also very expensive. The infrastructure is crazy.

I'm home brainstorming ideas to become a multimillionaire in time to save One Life to Live. I read here that the annual budget to produce a soap these days is $50 million. That sound right to you?
posted by rcade at 4:12 PM on April 18, 2011


nevercalm writes "The infrastructure is crazy."

Why wouldn't they just rent a big warehouse somewhere, leave the sets up all the time, and just move the studio between the sets?
posted by Mitheral at 4:35 PM on April 18, 2011


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