24 April 2011
The continuing saga of daytime soap opera cancellations
Posted by admin under: Television .
Tonight, I was reading a recent blog post on Michael Fairman’s On-Air, On-Soaps site called, Michael Fairman on state of soaps, cancellations, & what fans can do!, an interview that he’d done with Soaptown USA.
I realize that I may get some slack for what I say in this post, and that’s fine. I’m a long time soap fan, and I’ve got a fairly thick skin. This is my blog and my thoughts on the matter.
This past week, online daytime audiences (and beyond, as mainstream media covered some of the news) have been contacting the sponsors of the cancelled soaps, All My Children and One Life To Live, having learned the lesson post-Guiding Light and As The World Turns cancellations of first trying to shop the shows around to other networks, but that didn’t work. Earlier in the week, Hoover, one of the sponsors did announce that they were pulling their advertising dollars from all of ABC programming (daytime and primetime) as of April 22, 2011, in support of the fans. This is a pretty big forward movement – pretty historic in many ways – of using advertiser dollars to ‘speak’ to the network executives. There have been targetted movements to contact many other sponsors to see if they would follow suit. While this may work in the short term to send a message to the network executives that we fans not only watch our soaps, we care about them – and the actors, actresses and crews who put their livelihoods into producing the shows – pulling advertising hurts the programs that remain behind.
I do agree that there is so much vitriol and anger going on online with the cancellation of two of ABC’s soap operas, and I do understand it, empathize with it. Coming from the Canadian side of the border, though it sometimes feels like its a futile effort for us with the protests and the like, especially as our demographics don’t really mean squat in terms of ratings and viewership numbers. We watch the shows on the ABC, NBC, CBS channels that our cable companies carry, but those viewings don’t count for anything outside the US. In addition, since we can’t watch the shows streaming from ABC, NBC, CBS websites or from SoapNet – which is not picked up north of the border, we can’t even help out that way. This is all seeming to sound rather negative, so moving onwards. For me, it takes too much energy to be negative, when I can use that energy to be positive.
What we can do as audiences both inside and outside the United States, is post to the online boards, forums, etc and get people to WATCH the shows that are on the air until they go off. Talk about it, encourage people to watch who maybe haven’t watched for a while. Talk about the great storylines on OLTL, or some of the other soaps people are interested in. Write to the print soap presses (while they still exist) and talk about what you like or don’t. There are ways to promote what’s there – even if it’s from the fans or online soap press. Talk to each other on social media and keep it positive.
I can understand the frustration and being pissed off at Brian Frons, Anne Sweeney and ABC for their daytime choices. I’ve been there when GL was cancelled. But boycotting a network’s primetime serial dramas is not the way to do it, and it will only serve have some really good prime time shows be cancelled when their numbers go down; shows like Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Body of Proof, or Private Practice. There are few enough scripted programs on ABC primetime. Any show wherein one episode that follows builds on a previous episode and tells character stories over an arc of episodes or a whole season, is serialized drama. It’s not the primetime ‘soaps’ of Dallas, Dynasty, The Colbys, and Falcon Crest. There’s a disconnect in mainstream prime-time that decries the notion that their show may be considered ‘a soap’, even though the continuing drama format is not only viable but still thriving in such shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Off the Map, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters. They’re the kinds of dramas that pull you in and make you want to know what happens next. I don’t get that pull from reality television.
As Michael Fairman said in that interview, the cancellation decision has been made. I’m not being defeatist. I’m being realistic. There was no reprieve when Santa Barbara, Another World, Passions, Guiding Light, As The World Turns or any of the soaps that pre-dated them, were cancelled. When network executives including Brian Frons and Anne Sweeney want to be be rid of the soaps from the ABC line up and already had shows in preproduction to take their slots, that is maddening. Especially in light of their treatment of the loyalty of generations of soap fans and the casts & crews of both OLTL & AMC. It was absolutely appalling. However, what we can choose to do is just not watch the replacement shows. I’ve not watched the shows that replaced GL & ATWT on CBS Daytime, but I do watch shows on CBS Primetime.
Frons may well be fired by ABC/Disney execs, but who’s to say that his replacement will be any better or supportive of the serialized daytime drama? Unless they pull a rabbit out of the hat and put in Frank Valentini once OLTL ends. All I can say is WATCH the soaps that are on the air.
I decided earlier to google the lyrics for One Life To Live, as I remembered them vaguely but they haven’t been used on air in a while. The lyrics got me thinking about our efforts, our love of our soaps, and the communities that we form because of our interactions with each other (and more recently with cast and crew members from the soaps). Life changes and we adapt and move on, because we only do have one life to live. We don’t forget, we remember. We lament the bad times and we cherish our memories of good times and share them with each other.
The lyrics of One Life to Live tell the tale:
Here’s what you do
When you don’t find the rainbow’s end
Here’s where you going to do
When it looks like the rain won’t end
There’s always tomorrow
Where you can have a second chance
And after tomorrow
All that you have to remember.
Here’s what you do
When you think nobody cares
Look in my eyes
And see there’s an answer there
We’ll find tomorrow
A place for us
I know because
Time only knows
How long forever’s gonna last
Let’s live today
And find someone to share it with
Cause we only have one life to live.
I’ll give you tomorrow
Let me be the one to share it with
And each day that follows
Cause you only have one live to live!