Thursday, April 14, 2011

ABC Discards Some Old Soap

soap-operaGet your stories in while there’s still time: ABC just announced plans to end long-running soaps All My Children and One Life to Live within the next year. They will be replaced by lifestyle shows about food and fashion.

All My Children, winner of over 30 Daytime Emmy awards, first premiered in 1970. One Life to Live hit the airwaves back in 1968. That’s almost 85 years of amnesia, pregnancies, car crashes, and ineffectual murder trials combined! On a serious note, both shows also broke ground in daytime television by being among the first soaps to address sensitive issues such as interracial marriage, teen pregnancy, and homosexuality. Their ability to navigate these landmines while still providing daily melodrama of the zaniest variety imaginable is to be commended.

Both shows recently surpassed the 10,000th episode mark, but now neither will have the chance to supplant the now-cancelled Guiding Light as the all-time leader (15,762 episodes on CBS). Of the soap operas with 40-year-plus histories, only NBC’s Days of our Lives and ABC’s General Hospital (home of James Franco’s character “Franco”) remain.

I watched All My Children for a month or two once and Days of our Lives holds a special place in my family, so I have an oddly familiar relationship with soaps. I’m constantly amazed by their consistency despite how shoddily produced they feel. The episode counts alone prove that this is some kind of entertainment by attrition. It’s sad to see the dwindling daytime audience claim more victims.

The Internet’s forever changed our relationship with television. Endless serialized content just doesn’t have the audience it once did. Reality/talk show programming is also cheaper to produce and more readily adapted to changing tastes. I would not be surprised to see other titans of television fall in the coming years.

Just – no one touch Sesame Street, okay?

[via LA Times]