Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The End Of Love In The Afternoon

By now you've heard the news that ABC is pulling the plug on iconic soap operas One Life To Live and All My Children. I can't tell you how heartbreaking this is, especially for those of us in the romance writing industry. Soaps are the visual equivalent of what we do. Grand sweeping romances are told via hot actors and beautiful actresses and offer viewers entertainment in the same way our romance novels do.

And like in romance novels, we fall in love with the characters, but unlike romance novels, we get to follow soap characters for decades.

Kristen Alderson played Starr Manning on One Life To Live since abut her toddler years and viewers have literally watched her grow up on screen. Same with Kimberly McCullough who plays Robin on the thus far safe General Hospital.

Who hasn't followed the duchess of Daytime Erica Kane on All My Children through her many many MANY husbands? She was soap's version of a fictional Elizabeth Taylor and who didn't cheer when her portrayer Susan Lucci FINALLY won her emmy after 18 losses?

So faced now with losing beloved characters like these, we romance authors can't help but feel we're losing a bit of our industry too.

Why are we losing our soaps? I don't think anyone can deny that the 80's and 90's were the golden age of soaps. Star crossed lovers were put through every trial imaginable but you knew true love would conquer all in the end and we had TALENTED writers back then who didn't see bringing a couple together as the end of their story. I mean how many adventures did our beloved couples go through and still remained strong? GH's Luke and Laura and the Ice Princess storyline? OLTL's Vicki/Ginny and Clint and that whole crazy awesome time travel story and the awesomeness that was the outrageous Eterna storyline? And let's not forget Tina going over the falls and showing up at Cord and Kate's wedding not so dead after all and with baby in tow?

And the piece de resistance Days' Marlena's possession by the devil!

Yes, outrageous stories all but told brilliantly by writers with balls who weren't afraid to take risks. You can make a reader/viewer believe anything if you write it well. I've always believed this.

What has changed? Is it the writing? OLTL is brilliantly written still and All My Children is still good. And they get the axe? Yet Days Of Our Lives has been on a downward spiral since signing the hack that is Dena Higley (who the grand Erika Slezak had booted off Oltl when Dena was head writer there because she was destroying the show) back in 2008 and yet Days is still on the air, though dead last in the ratings. So is it the studios that are pulling the plug? It sure looks that way if all the fury at Brian Frons (head of ABC I think) is to be understood. He's pulling oltl and amc off the air and replacing them with...what else, reality shows??? So I'm thinking that it's not the writing really but the studio heads who are now running the homes for our beloved shows. They used to be men and women who yes, ultimately wanted a profitable business, but the way to make those profits were through fantastic storytelling. They had a love for entertainment. Now we have men and women more interested in the quickest way to turn air time into money in their pockets with no respect to storytelling or the fans that have kept these shows on the air for generations.

There are petitions springing up everywhere to save OLTL and AMC. I for one REFUSE to watch the shows the replace my beloved soaps with. Will it help? Will the studio heads change their minds and actually listen to the fans?

Stay tuned.


Miou said...

Nancy, great post. You make an excellent point about soap operas connection to the romance novel. My whole reason for watching soaps was for romance and the supercouple and forbidden romance. If only the people who produce soaps had remembered those roots -- perhaps soap operas wouldn't be the endangered species they are now.

Thanks for sharing the link with us at FL. Great read.


E. Jamie said...

Thanks Miou! If only we had people who loved soap operas running them now. You're so right. Many of these 'writers' have forgotten the true meaning of romance are now think couples have to play musical beds to keep viewers tuned in. Long live FORBIDDEN LOVE! It worked for Romeo and Juliet.