ABC television is doing, what is to me, is the unthinkable. They have cancelled two daytime soap operas and are replacing them with “lifestyle programming.” Several months ago, media was abuzz with the news that iconic soaps All My Children, or All My Kids to long time viewers and One Life to Live (OLTL) with more reality based shows called The Chew and The Revolution.
All My Children debuted in 1970. Situated in fictional Pine Valley, it featured may historic ground-breaking stories, including abortion and homosexuality and AIDS. Even if you weren’t a fan of the show, you heard the joke about Bobby Martin going up in the attic to get his skis and never being seen again. And even non soap fans were caught up in the “will she win the emmy,” drama that surrounded Susan Lucci, who played the iconic Erica Kane. All My Children wasn’t just a show for housewives to watch while the kids were at school. Some of Hollywood elite were fans, and funny lady Carol Burnett even played a role on the show. All My Children will be leaving the airwaves and will be replaced by a show called The Chew. The Chew features 2 former Food Network Stars, Mario Batalli and Michael Symonds, and What Not To Wear’s Clinton Kelly. There are also two female hosts who have done nothing but annoyed my during their promos. I have to be honest, this show looks incredibly STUPID. I’m a huge fan of Food Network and I love Clinton Kelly, but you couldn’t pay me to watch this show.
Next on the network chopping block is One Life to Live. Set in the fictional town of Llandview, OLTL premiered in 1968. It told the story of the Lord family and the Buchanan’s and a myriad of other families. It too, had ground breaking story lines, and Erika Slezak won an unprecedented six Daytime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Victoria Lord Buchanan. OLTL is being replaced by a show called The Revolution. This show is a health and lifestyle program with some reality tv components. It will be hosted by Tim Gunn of Project Runway, Kimberly Locke an American Idol reject, and Harley Pasternak is a personal trainer who authored a diet book. Okay, I shouldn’t be so harsh regarding the hosts. But seriously, would I rather watch them or the trials and tribulations of the Buchanan family? OLTL wins hands down.
To say that many people are less than impressed with this programming change is a massive understatement. Campaigns are popping up all over, urging people to boycott these shows. Will it work? I don’t know, but I can say I’ve seen it work before. I’ve blogged before about a show called Roswell. I loved this little show despite it’s many flaws. At one time, when it was on the now defunct WB network, they tried temporarily replacing Roswell with a knock off of a British program called As If. To say that Roswell fans went ballistic is putting it mildly. There was no way this show was going to replace their beloved teen alien drama! Boycott they did, and As If aired only three shows before the network pulled the plug and put Roswell back on the air.
Maybe daytime drama is a dying genre, but I don’t think so. Does it need to be revamped. Quite possibly. I am sure with the large casts it is very expensive to put on five days a week. Maybe a simple solution would be to cut back production and only air each show two or three times a week. Maybe not, I don’t know, but it’s one idea. I know there was talk of making All My Kids a web series, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. All I know is that daytime dramas played a huge part of my teen and young adult years, and I still watch General Hospital to this day. In college, we wouldn’t sign up for any class that interfered with our favorite soaps, and if you walked through the common area during soap time, you would find boys as well as girls glued to the television waiting to see what would happen next. I can remember setting the VCR to tape Ryan’s Hope, Loving, All My Kids, OLTL and GH when I was in school or work and coming home to watch every evening.
It’s the end of an era – and it’s one I’m sad to see come to an end. I think ABC is going to find it’s made a huge and epic mistake in canceling these two shows – one they are not going to be able to rectify.