about last week’s announcement that ABC is canceling both All MY Children and One Life to Live other than TV Guide’s Michael Logan has really good sources.
What I find even sadder than the actual loss of these shows is that for the third time in as many years heartbroken fans are working themselves into frenzy, organizing petitions drives and phone campaigns in what will undoubtedly be a futile effort to convince ABC to save the shows. I know that this is part of the grieving process, and fans need to get it out of their systems, but it's still hard to watch. One argument the shows' fans will will make is that because they will refuse to watch The Revolution and Chew (really!?), these shows will fail. Of course, what these fans fail to realize, or acknowledge, is that these shows are so much cheaper to produce than the soaps that even with fewer viewers, ABC will make more money. It's certainly working for CBS. And, at the end of the day people, it’s always about the money. And always has been.
The timing of the announcement was ironic, at least for me. Just the day before, I told a student who was interviewing me that after As the World Turns left the air last September, I had quit watching soaps cold turkey, and that even though I had heard great things about OLTL’s bullying storyline, I continued to resist watching. Now, I don’t know. It’s not just the time, but the emotional wear-and-tear, though I am curious to see if they close the show “in a manner that respects the show’s legacy and longstanding hope of many of the fans.” Lord knows that wasn’t the case with ATWT.
On a lighter note, over the years I’ve chided New York Times television critic, Ginia Bellafante, more than once for her refusal to acknowledge her soap fandom. So, I was pleased to see her piece on Saturday about how much she loved these shows growing up.
My friend and colleague, Sam Ford, weighed in with an insightful piece on Portfolio.com, closing with the sad reality that “soaps aren’t about happy endings: They are about the challenges of life and about worlds without end. Or at least they once were.”
The link at the bottom of Sam’s piece is to the Amazon.com page selling The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era, which Sam co-edited, and to which I am a contributor. There are two reviews, one of which is rather critical, first for the book being “unashamedly US centric” and failing “to address the other 2 great English speaking markets of Australia and UK.”
More interesting is the reviewer’s criticism that Survival... “does not provide a solution to the soap problem…” and “This is perhaps the biggest failing, at the very minimum the research affiliations (MIT, Berkeley and Miami) of the editors and sometime contributors puts them in an ideal position to look into the crystal ball and provide a future scenario for 2015 by connecting the tv broadcast medium with interactivity of Facebook to bring about new audiences as well as continuing the age old soap across a variety of devices present 24 hours and 7 days a week.”
That’s a lot to ask of a book that began almost four years ago, in late 2007, just as the tectonic plates were shifting, heaving really, not just under soap opera, but for all broadcast media. Of course, the reviewer had no way of knowing that an earlier version of the subtitle was Strategies for a New Media Era.
© 2011 Lynn Liccardo
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