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Death of the Soap Opera & End of an Era

OK, I admit it, the title of this post sounds a bit melodramatic, but then isn’t that what soap operas are were all about, melodrama? And now they’re slowly dying off, one by one, almost reminiscent of the characters in the shows that seemed to do the same thing, die off. Miraculously, some of the characters were resurrected. I don’t think the shows will be that lucky.

The latest two soap operas to bite the dust are ABC’s “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.”

Do you care? Do you, or have you ever, followed a soap opera? It’s OK; you can admit it if you do or if you have. You certainly would not be alone.

Recently when I heard the announcement about the last episode of “All My Children” airing on Friday, September 23, 2011, my reaction surprised me, especially since I don’t watch “All My Children.” I never did. (The final episode of  “One Life to Live” comes in January 2012) The soap opera I used to tune into on a somewhat regular basis was “As the World Turns,” which also succumbed to cancellation last September.

That particular cancellation made me sad, well; maybe nostalgic would be a more appropriate word choice.

That’s because my mom watched “As the World Turns.”

One of my earliest memories of childhood is observing my mom ironing while she watched “As the World Turns.” Later on when I was in high school, I sometimes walked home for lunch (yes, we were actually allowed to do that) and my mom had ATWT on, so I often watched it with her for those few minutes. Well, those few minutes were enough to get me hooked and I continued watching sporadically during college, while working, while being a stay-at-home mom and when I returned to working part-time.

That was the nice thing about soap operas; you could tune in whenever and realize you had missed absolutely nothing!

So why are soap operas dying off?

I’ve heard it’s because they’re too expensive, there aren’t that many women at home during the day anymore, they move too slowly and other various reasons. Today’s audiences want fast-paced action; they want reality-type shows. By the way, I don’t understand the reality show label. Once the cameras are rolling, in my opinion, reality ends.

One good thing that did come from soap operas is they helped bring taboo subjects out into the open. Sensitive topics like drug abuse, alcoholism, rape, homosexuality and yes, cancer were included in the soap opera story lines way before such things made their way into prime time.

Granted the slow death of soap operas is no big deal. The demise of two more is not earth shattering news, not even close.

Still, this slow demise makes me a little bit sad somehow because another link to my past is disappearing; another piece of my mom, another thing we shared is disappearing too.

And loss is about missing all those little links and pieces isn’t it?

Do you, or have you ever, followed a soap opera?

Is the “death” of the soap opera the end of an era?

What’s a link or piece of your past that you miss?




Monday 28th of September 2015

I am very worried about the future of soap operas, and of television altogether. This makes me worry about the decline of my favourite soap, Neighbours (I'm from Australia). It has been moved off to a digital secondary channel and has only a quarter of the viewers of five years ago.


Tuesday 4th of October 2011

I used to always watch Days of Our Lives with my mom-- hence the nickname 'Sami' like one of the lead characters ;-) She'd be happy to know that that one is still kicking! But it's definitely sad that we are coming to the end of the soap opera era. Even though I no longer watch any, it was just nice that in a world that's constantly changing, those shows stayed the same! They will be missed!


Tuesday 4th of October 2011

Sami, It's so good to hear from you! Thank you so much for sharing this memory of you and your mom. I guess there are a lot of us who spent a lilttle time watching a soap with our moms. It's just a little thing, but you know about missing those little things don't you?

Jan Hasak

Monday 3rd of October 2011

Nancy, My mom also watched "As the World Turns"! She would iron while she kept track of all the characters' lives. I didn't really follow any soap opera, but watched this show along with my mom sometimes after I got home from school.

I think the “death” of the soap opera is the end of an era, because that type of show is a part of our culture, the way the viewers can relate and identify with a situation or a character that mirrors their own lives.

I miss the link to my mom and dad. Once my dad passed away, I felt like an orphan. He was the last of the uncles and aunts, so all we had left were siblings and cousins after he died. Not that siblings and cousins are bad, mind you, it's just that they don't know you intimately or as far back as your own parents. I've grieved them over and over. Now I'm going through a life phase where I miss them more than ever.

Thanks for this nostalgic piece.

XOXO, Jan What’s a link or piece of your past that you miss?


Monday 3rd of October 2011

Jan, Thank you for sharing about your mom and soap operas. It's great that you two were also tuned into ATWT. I agree, their slow demise marks the end of an era and that's kind of sad. I know what you mean about missing your parents as you go through this tough time in your life. I've thought about that aspect of missing my mom a lot since my diagnosis, but also have concluded I'm glad she was spared that heart ache. Still...


Sunday 25th of September 2011

I started watching General Hospital in 1965 in California. I was painting the living room. I had been listening to talk radio which made me too angry. I worked part time, but when I was home I watched GH. Jessie was always getting pregnant and losing the baby. We moved to Colorado in 1967, I was pregnant and I said to myself if Jessie loses this baby (yes, she was pregnant again) I will never watch again!! Low and Behold she lost the baby and I turned it off and never watched again. I had no idea it was still on! I never watch "Reality" shows either. The previews I've seen seem like everyone is angry at someone. Not my cup of tea.


Sunday 25th of September 2011

Betty, Thanks for sharing your memories of GH. I don't blame you for deciding to quit watching it. I guess you could still tune in since that one's still on. I know what you mean about the reality shows, not my cup of tea either. Thanks for your comments.

Ginny Marie

Friday 23rd of September 2011

I was very sad when Another World was canceled - my sister and I had watched it since high school. My grandma's favorite program was One Life to Live...I watched it with her once, and she kept turning off the TV with the remote when the kissing parts came on! (I was in my 20's, so I really didn't need "protecting!") That is one of my favorite memories of my grandma. Thanks for this post!


Saturday 24th of September 2011

Ginny Marie, Thanks for sharing some thoughts and memories. That's amusing how your grandma felt like protecting you, or perhaps she was just uncomfortable herself! It's funny the little things we remember that stick with us isn't it?

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