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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The End of an Era...Death of a Soap Opera

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Soap Operas are still an addiction for many, who can easily recite three years worth of plots on their favorite soap opera. For years, many have taped, DVR'd and watched the Soap Network -- after hours -- to catch a glimpse of their daytime soap operas in the evening. Unfortunately, it seems as though the serial programming is becoming a thing of the past, as my all time favorite soap opera, One Life To Live, came to an end last week, following the cancellation of ABC's All My Children last year. Producers cite high production costs and continually lower ratings for their demise.

In their place, reality television has taken over the nation's living rooms, as the lives of washed up rock stars and wrestlers become more intriguing than bouts of amnesia and long-lost love children.

Today, American's prefer to tune in for even more shocking shows, such as Jersey Shore and the teen reality show, 16 and Pregnant, leaving the 40-year plus soap opera reign of fictional families in the dust. From Erica Kahne to Vicki Buchanan and Luke and Laura, characters became household names -- almost TV family -- and the "realistic" lives they shared for that magic hour daily became ours, as we recalled every marriage, nervous breakdown, kidnapping, birth and wedding. Coming back from the dead or a child growing from birth to teen in four or five years was something we never questioned -- we just remained engrossed in their lives, in anticipation of the next plot twist.

The attraction to this type of programming, part mystery, drama and action rolled together in one -- kept us coming back daily. Soaps were undoubtedly successful, due in part, to America's need for drama, and a break from ironing and mopping in the middle of the day.

Many plots, albeit farfetched, could relate to some minor aspect of our daily lives. Maybe it was just the clothes envy or the attraction to the mansions in which the characters lived. We have laughed, cried, oohed and ahhed at the shows.

Having soaps be replaced with reality television does not make me happy. I am pretty sure the "Real Housewives" could never relate to the housewife I used to be -- hanging out in pj's with no makeup, eating peanut butter out of a jar with a spoon, as I watched Vicki and Nicki's split personalities and tried to guess what Erica's last name would be next. The element of surprise was the determining factor in keeping a captive audience, where reality television is so very predictable and quite frankly, boring.

I suppose it is the end of an era, an "evolve or die" thing, but I am not going down easily. I am sure, tucked into retro-green living rooms with orange shag carpet all over America, there are armies of people who still insist on watching I Love Lucy reruns in their cat's eye glasses and will swear that the Dukes of Hazard is really set in a small town in America. We all relate to certain things, but to me, Jersey Shore just isn't one of them.

So die if you must soap operas -- I will resist as long as I can, and Vicki will always be my hero. Who knows, maybe I will start a lost soap opera survivors group. Wanna join me?