Death of the daytime soaps

Published 2:29 am Sunday, September 27, 2009

Get the defibrillator! Call the Priest! Warm up the fat lady! The days of our lives as we know it are heading down the path of conclusion… housewives have left the building and the shrinking audience of daytime television is draining the life of what my grandmother referred to as her “stories.”

After all, how many times can Erica Kane get married? How many times can you kill of Luke or Laura? How many evil twins can one person have?

As a young, girl, I grew up with soaps, I suffered with Erica in the early seventies and I married when Luke and Laura were married, I had crushes on Jackson Montgomery, Scorpio and even the Hoff when he was Dr. Snapper on the Young and the Restless well before he began running on the beach with Pamela Anderson.

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Erica Kane has been with me throughout most of my life, sometimes on a daily basis. She began on All My Children on January 1970 and after 12 marriages, some legal and some not, she bears the name Erica Kane Martin Brent Cudahy Chandler Montgomery Montgomery Chandler Marick Marick Montgomery and etc… This daytime diva has staged prison breaks, ran corporations, hosted talk shows, hunted down terrorists in Bosnia, and confronted a grizzly bear. Now that’s entertainment!

But the times, they are a changin’ and the serial dramas are fading fast as was the case this week when after 72 years of marrying, killing, divorcing, and other dramatic activities, the Guiding Light turned off the lights.

I had no clue. A former Soap addict of the 70’s and 80’s, I had weaned myself off the daytime viewing by the mid-nineties. The main reason? I went back to school, to work, and by that time, I had seen thousands of plot lines that were starting to all look alike — very predictable and as for the new plots? Ridiculous; and not to mention with less substance, cast with only good looking, healthy bodies always well dressed. It became very ‘unrealistic’ and more like steamy soft porn; which made it easier for me to beat my soap opera habit. I moved on with my life in which became my own daytime drama.

Yet, I feel sadden the genre is dying out. I learned many life lessons watching the stories unfold with life and death issues. I saw how extramarital affairs could hurt a marriage, how out of child wedlock was tough, how doing evil was usually punished, and anytime someone with good character did anything wrong, it always came out with consequences.

I guess I did not realize the seriousness of the soaps demise until this past Friday, when on a treadmill at the gym, ( my usual soap opera viewing stand) I noticed at the end of one of the soaps the words, “The End” appeared. What? I had never seen that on a soap opera show before. You sometimes see credits, but a conclusionary ending?

The Guiding Light was dead. Really dead, not soap opera dead where you know somewhere down the road the actor or actress will return with amnesia, an evil twin, or amazingly never died at all because of some amazing survival feat!

With revolving door characters, it makes it easy after many years to pick up the story of soaps once watched. My mother-in-law stayed recently with me and she watches General Hospital. I knew a majority of the characters still (in their preserved state) it was not hard to figure out who was who.

You have to be careful not to get hooked on Soaps.

As I worked out at the gym, the screen above me played Days of Our Lives and the close caption tempted me to read the story line. Before I knew it, I had to finish a scene happening the next day, (they call it a tag,) but I wasn’t going to the gym the next day. I had to tivo that one day just to see what happened next… yep, you know what happens alright. I now tivo the darn soap and watch it through fast forwards in a matter of minutes every day. I have to keep up with baby Grace’s death, Nicole and Sammy’s battles until now I am hooked.

It is like any addiction, one drink leads to two and before you know it your dancing naked with a lamp shade on your head.

The twins are outraged at my bad habit. They roll their eyes, they grumble out loud when I turn it on, and even have begged me to stop this insanity. I refuse and warn them that they watch hours of nature shows, with poop eating guides and disgusting exterminator retrievals so why couldn’t I have my one secret pleasure?

Cade went so far as to sneak the remote from my hands and while I took a phone call, he deleted the program while his brother Conner laughed maniacally. They were so proud of themselves when I went back to finish my soap opera and it wasn’t there.

I became outraged then. I threaten to wipe out all of their animal, man versus, myth busting science dramas! How dare they touch my show! Khloe was about to awake from her coma!

It took me a few minutes before I realized the craziness of my actions. It was only a silly television show and my young impressionable boys were just trying to help me be a better person, to overcome my soap addiction that they had never been exposed to before. My twins loved me enough to take the keys out of my hands! They had called a cab and I was not grateful at all!

How sweet of them to try to help me. I got over it and told them not to do such a thing again, that it was downright rude to erase another’s show. I appreciated their concern.

After all, I could watch it via the internet anyway!!

So, as the shows were once numbered in the double digits, they have dwindled in number to seven. Their future is bleak, housewives are not home any longer, and with so many fast pace lives who can afford the luxury of time to watch daytime dramas. It makes me sad because they have been a part of my growing up process.

Besides, reality shows have become the new over the top drama in television. As strange as the plot lines get with Soaps, they can’t be stranger than real life.

My life is a soap opera and “So… are the days of our lives.”

(Tracy Williams is a guest columnist and can be reached at her website: You can also join the My Hometown FaceBook page.)