April 14, 2011

ABC Cancels One Life To Live and All My Children

The expected ax has fallen. I have some personal reasons for being depressed about these shows biting the dust. I watched both of them from inception, used All My Children as a "text" in my daytime television course, and had the enjoyable duty of consulting with ABC all of its soap operas in the early 1980s: along with my beloved Ryan's Hope, AMC and OLTL were my favorites.

Here's to Agnes Nixon, one of the most remarkable people I've ever met in television. I have little doubt that if she had creative control over the shows over the past twenty years, they'd still be on the air in 2012. I stopped watching both shows long ago. I couldn't watch the deterioration of a form that I love so much.

Soap opera lives in other forms now. Scripted shows like Friday Night Lights and The Good Wife
and unscripted fare like The Real Housewives and Pawn Stars
provide some of the aesthetic pleasures, if not the complexity of soap operas.

In my popular culture studies, I specialized in analyzing continuing stories, and wrote often about the relationship between wrestling and soap operas. Ironically, on the day when the two ABC soaps have been canceled, the WWE has taken over the mantle. The WWE's pompous press release merely acknowledges what has always been true -- we watch "fake" wrestling for the same reasons we watch soaps.

Although I worked in daytime and prime-time programming, daytime was so so much more fun. Budgets were low but most of the cast and crew and creative staff were glad to be working, and went about their work with passion but also a sense of humor. More than a couple of my friends from AMC and OLTL are still working in the genre long after I exited into the land of Imponderability. Here's to all of you, especially Agnes Nixon, and thanks for all the good times.