ABC to Dump AMC/OLTL: A Tribute Grandmas Everywhere
I’m a little sad to say that I just read that ABC has decided to cancel both All My Children and One Life to Live. AMC will end its forty-one year run in September and OLTL will end its forty-three year reign in January. We all know that soap operas have been declining in ratings (and subsequently, viewers) for years and we all know that people (often rightfully so) make fun of the writing and acting, etc. But – and this is a big one – these shows… these stories stood for more than forty years. People were that invested in the characters. People like my grandma. And probably yours as well, sat there and watched these stories unfold. How many of you remember watching a soap opera – maybe not OLTL or AMC, but one of them – with your grandmother? I’d say that roughly MOST of you are saying, “yes” now.
I mourn the loss of these shows not for me; I have long stopped watching them. I mourn the loss of these shows for the thousands millions of women (yeah, mostly women) who spent their days watching, loving and getting invested in these characters. Who doesn’t love Erica Kane? She is the epitome of the successful woman. Susan Lucci became a household name through that character, pretty much the only role she’s had in the past 40 years. I get that ratings are what they are and that no one has time for these shows anymore. But, like with any dying art form, it is sad to see them curl up and die. Especially after a long battle to remain relevant and keep up the good fight.
ABC’s decision to kill off both shows at once is, business-wise, a smart decision. But, in my heart of hearts, I remember those days at Bobbie and PaPaw’s house, Bobbie would rush to get lunch cooked for us so we could sit down and watch Erica and Vicki and the likes. And we did. We would sit there all afternoon, watching the stories and enjoying what we saw. I think that they had as much influence on my decision to become a writer – to be able to create new worlds and develop new and interesting people – as my dedication to the local library when I was a kid.
When I heard the news today, I was hit with a pain… and I realized it was because I associate soap operas with my grandma and my heart broke a little thinking of back in the day… I can imagine, again, that many of you immediately think of your grandma when you hear/see any mention of soap operas. It was a bonding thing for us and while my Grandma Bobbie is still kicking it at my parents’ house, I don’t get to see her like I should and I miss those days when I was a kid and we’d have her special spaghetti (with a whole onion in it that she lied to us and said it was an apple; stupid kids) and watch the soaps. So yeah, my heart breaks thinking about how those days are gone and how today’s kids don’t really get the same opportunity. To all of you who did watch the soaps with your grandma – whether it was AMC, OLTL or any of them – call her tonight.
To All My Children – Thank you for Erica Kane and all 36 of her last names. Thank you for Cliff and Nina. And Palmer. And Opal, Tad, Jenny and that Jet Ski. Thank you for the Chateau Restaurant, even though it burned down with that kid inside. Thank you for Jesse and Angie. Thank you for the summer Jesse spent in NYC with Jenny. Thank you for Trend and Tempo magazines. Thank you for race cars. Thank you for Myrtle and the Glamorama. Thank you for Ruth and Joe Martin and their son who went to the attic and never returned. Thank you for Adam and Stewart Chandler and Stewart’s wife who died of AIDS. Thank you for Cecily and Nico. Thank you for Noah and Julia and that dress Maria Santos wore when the tornado came through and the chandelier crashed down, cutting her sister’s face. Thank you for telling stories that were not as over-sensationalized as some shows, but rather rooted in reality.
To One Life to Live – I grew up and quit watching, but thank you for Vicki Buchanan and Dorian Lord. Thank you for the Cord/Tina/Max love affair and the trip over the Iguazu Falls in Argentina. Thank you for the secret world of Eterna. Thank you for the Wild Wild West, Fraternity Row and the Daisy Awards. Thank you for halo burgers and secret rooms. Thank you for Victor Lord and Asa Buchanan. Thank you for Marco Dane and the character Judith Light played who broke down on the witness stand and admitted that she was a prostitute, “a common whore!” Thank you for the episode where Nora Buchanan realized in the middle of her closing arguments that she was, in fact, representing a guilty client in the Marty/Todd rape sage. Thank you for Luna. Thank you for giving me a place to go when I was a kid and wasn’t feeling my life as that kid in the country who didn’t know what he wanted to do, but did know how to dream.
And with that, I leave you with the words the great Agnes Dixon – the woman who created, wrote and produced both shows for years – wrote when she was creating All My Children…
The Great and the Least,
The Rich and the Poor,
The Weak and the Strong,
In Sickness and in Health,
In Joy and Sorrow,
In Tragedy and Triumph,
You are ALL MY CHILDREN
All My Children Opening Titles, 1980s
One Life to Live Opening Titles, 1968 – 2004