With the news April 14 that ABC will be canceling “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” in September and January respectively, I can only feel a little lost. I realize that the soap opera genre has been dwindling, but the ABC soaps, with their popular story lines and characters, seemed to have been above that. They were still popular with certain demographics. But they are to be replaced by cheaper shows on the self-help issues of food and health.
Susan Lucci, always gracious, reacted in ABC Soaps In Depth magazine with dignity. Of course, she did. She thought of the fans and of the opportunities that might be forthcoming. And others have commented, too.
Cancelation of shows is not new, nor is the outcry from fans when it happens. But when a show that has been running for decades leaves, the fans who have been with it and its characters throughout the duration feel a different kind of loss. Their routines change. Their additional commitments to the show, such as their magazines, their clamor for glimpses of their favorite stars on other programs and on Broadway and in music, are gone, too.
And the soaps have been like a farm club for new players. And “One Life to Live” has been a ground-breaker in so many way. Some folks got training on OLTL before they were stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Berenger, Nathan Fillion, Judith Light, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Phillippe and Phylicia Rashad, among others. Where will young actors go now to learn on such a big canvas?
My friend Dan Hagen, a fan, too, suggested that some smart programming executive might insist on filling the void left by no more daytime stories of human dramas, perhaps putting these shows on prime time. Maybe another network will pick them up. According to the fans on Facebook and Twitter, they won’t give up. They will keep on hoping that their favorite characters will live on.
I will keep hoping, too. OLTL has given me strong female characters of a certain age who have complicated relationships, and I have identified with them. I certainly will miss them.