When speculation broke yesterday that All My Children, the popular soap opera created back in the 70s may be the latest victim of poor ratings and ultimately cancelled, many were disappointed. A lot of us grew up watching that soap opera. I know I did, and even though I only got to watch it on Wednesdays when I got out of school early, it was a fun part of my teen years.
The soap just recently moved its stars to L.A. after taping for over 30 years in New York, but it looks like the move isn’t helping viewership quite enough. As always Susan Lucci, AKA Erica Kane is currently involved with two men and deciding which will be her next husband. Perhaps it’s the same storylines that turned off viewers after so many years (although that is the nature of the soap opera), but like my colleague Meredith mentioned, perhaps it is the new kind of modern mother that has emerged.
I don’t have many friends that watch the soaps, but the ones who do are very loyal to their favorite shows. Also, my mother and mother-in-law are tuned in each day. If they miss an episode, they’ll catch it on Soapnet that night. It seems to be a generational switch that happened and directly affected the soap opera. As The World Turns was replaced by a talk show, The Talk, and there is speculation that All My Children may also be replaced by a talk show of some kind.
I think today’s moms aren’t interested much in soap operas the way our moms were. That old notion about stay-at-home moms doing nothing has long since been debunked. (Interestingly, now dads are also getting the same rap.) At least I hope it has. Moms I know are much more interested in current events, politics, parenting news, health, education, technology, and a host of other things.
I don’t deny that soaps can be addictive. When I was a young teen, I watched All My Children with my mom, so Tad and Dixie, Jessie and Angie, and Adam and Erica certainly mean something to me. Like many others, I couldn’t wait to see what happened at the Pine Valley Ball and I mourned when Dixie was killed (or kinda killed) and Tad was left distraught after all those years of being Tad the Cad. Incidentally, Michael E. Knight who plays Tad was a huge teen crush of mine. Back then, we had a group of young actors rent out our second story in our house and one night when we weren’t home, Knight came and visited. After our tenant told us, I couldn’t believe that we had missed him.
Even if you’re not familiar with All My Children, most people know Susan Lucci. Lucci was a pioneer when she filmed the abortion story in the 1970s and soaps were used to highlight the new era of current social drama. Ironically enough, Lucci says she suffered a miscarriage while filming that abortion story and had not told anyone at the studio about it.
Upon hearing the news, one of my friends told me she is in fact still obsessed with the show, and will schedule her son’s feedings around the one o’clock hour so she can escape to Pine Valley and away from her own life for just 60 minutes each day. Soaps hold an escapism that I think a lot of us can use amidst the proliferation of 24 hour news channels and abundance of reality television.
Do you watch All My Children or any other soaps? What are your favorites? Did you watch when you were a teen?