I’ve been debating on doing a post about the cancellation of my soap (All My Children) but while I was in town today, my thoughts sort of came together in my head, so why not. *
All My Children has been a part of my life for 20+ years. In fact, the only time I really remember NOT watching it was when I wasn’t allowed to watch, so I’d peek over the back of the sofa while my mom watched and I was supposedly playing barbies in my room (more often than not, they were named after characters in the show). I don’t remember exactly when I was allowed to watch, but it was while we were living in rose hill, so it was somewhere around the age of 6 — Though after a bit of research, I clearly remember the character Billy Clyde Tuggle, and his last airdate was in 1990, so I was 5. Almost 22 years of my life I have followed along with the lives of the citizens of Pine Valley, and as much as it’s just a tv show it hurts to say goodbye.
I think what ABC didn’t realize is that lower ratings weren’t due to a lack of interest, but rather a change in times. Soap operas have been geared towards the home-maker, who could take a break from her daily chores and relax for an hour to follow along. But as more and more women have gone to work, there are less people at home to watch. Watch at noon, that is. For people like me and my mom, our VCR (and now DVR) have always been set to record AMC and heaven-help my father if he turned the VCR off, or fiddled around with the program, because you don’t mess with the soap. I remember my mom buying extra VHS tapes for when we spent 6 weeks in Denmark so that our house sitter could record all 6 weeks for us. I guess the ratings don’t count when you don’t watch at noon. But then again, I’m not sure how that works anyway.
So now ABC is trying to gain better ratings with another show geared toward homemakers, stay-at-home moms, retirees – whatever you want to call them. A show about food and family and blah blah blah. But what they haven’t realized, is that those are the exact same people who watched the soaps. Changing the show won’t change their ability to watch at noon, and soap fans are nothing, if not loyal. I can’t think of a single AMC fan who will tune in to see a show about food. That’s what the food network is for, and Paula Dean and no matter how much good fashion advice Clinton Kelly has given – I won’t watch it.
I have mixed feeling over the finale (don’t read if you still haven’t seen it and it’s saved on your DVR). On one hand, you could read the emotion radiating off of everyone during the show. It wasn’t just because Stewart was really alive after two years, but it was genuine emotion. And even the bit of drama between Jack and Erica (and was that a Gone with the Wind reference?) fit in and was expected – because Erica = drama. I never really thought Erica would settle down, and I’m kind of glad she didn’t. But the cliffhanger of JR presumably shooting someone felt a bit like a slap in the face. I see a bit of the humor in ending it that way as a nod to the ‘Who shot JR’ finale of Dallas (not that I ever have seen it), but knowing that a majority of the people in the final shot won’t continue on with Prospect Park has, a.) left PP a big mess to clean up when/if they start airing AMC again, and b.) to the older viewers who likely won’t make the switch to online viewing it was… harsh, abrupt and left viewers a bit rattled after the heartfelt speech by Tad. It was so very clear that he wasn’t just speaking to those in the room, but to the longtime fans and viewers. It just didn’t sit right, and if the show wasn’t cancelled, it would be one of those many, many times I threatened to stop watching (kind of like when Dixie died. And then died again). Until the next day when I found myself parked in front of the TV at noon.
But you know, maybe it isn’t the end of soaps, only the end of soaps the way we know them. Prospect Park now has the rights to both AMC and OLTL – both of which are to air online starting in the new years. When soaps first started they were 15 minutes on the radio and then brought to TV, the entire genra pioneered by women who felt just as passionate about the stories as the fans do today. So maybe this is just another step in the evolution of this beloved brand of television. Maybe, when I’ve got my own Children, we’ll sit on the sofa with the lap top to catch the latest happenings in Pine Valley.
But until then: Paging Doctor Battaglia, paging Doctor Battaglia.
*And just because it came together in my head, it doesn’t mean it’s come together on ‘paper’.