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39 December 11th, 2011 FRATERNITY ROW: How OLTL is reflecting upon its own cancellation!

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

Last week, the fans of One Life to Live learned that Llanview’s long running soap within a soap, “Fraternity Row” had been canceled and the beloved characters of the town all have a special affinity, or deep rooted connection, or feeling, about their favorite daytime television show.

With brilliant and clever writing and performances abound that were not only humorous and deeply touching, but are also mirror-reflective of how millions of viewers are feeling about the cancellation of the 43-year-0ld OLTL too! In fact, there is a line spoken by Ilene Kristen (who is doing a star-turn as Roxy in this storyline) that “Fraternity Row” is being canceled after 43 years too! But where at first you might think it was played for laughs, it really isn’t, if you look at it.  In fact, the set-up is quite unique. And we, the audience, are in on the bitter joke, as at times the story is just as heartbreaking as the shows real-life cancellation.

Ed Martiin, media critic at and posted a blog at Media Post over the weekend with some commentary on “Fraternity Row” mirroring the ending of One Life.   Here are just some excerpts!

Martin stated: “At first blush, it may appear that this brilliant bit of reflexive storytelling is being played for laughs, especially because it has so many of the show’s adult characters in tizzies of varying intensity. After all, “Fraternity Row” is just a TV show (or in this case a show-within-a-show), right? Not really. Apparently it’s as important to the fictional characters on “OLTL” as “OLTL” is to the real people who watch it. There is nothing funny about the end of a soap opera, especially one that has entertained millions of people on a daily basis over the course of five decades. It leaves those people just a little bit less interested in broadcast television and a little less apt to commit to something else that might be taken away from them. It is also a terrible loss for the dozens of hard-working people in front of and behind the cameras.

The many reactions by “OLTL” characters to the end of “Fraternity Row” have been priceless. Perhaps it’s because news of the show’s cancellation hit — on the cover of Soap Opera Weekly, no less — just after the shocking revelation that Brandon and Brianna, “Fraternity Row’s” hottest young couple, were actually brother and sister. This stunning plot turn left its fictional viewers more riveted than ever by their beloved soap and certain that its ratings would rise.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story is that many male “OLTL” characters have been outed as closet soap fans who watch their shows on different platforms, just like the many men in real life who are rarely included in formal audience measurement for daytime dramas. They include evil teen preppie Jack Manning (who admitted to watching old “Fraternity Row” episodes online), hunky conman Cutter Wentworth (who stopped a rattled waitress from spoiling the surprise about Brandon and Brianna because he was going to watch “Fraternity Row” that night on SOAPnet) and ruthless business tycoon Clint Buchanan, who watches the show the old-fashioned way, when it is actually on broadcast television.

It was eccentric hairdresser Roxy who first saw the headline about the show’s cancellation on the cover of Soap Opera Weekly and emitted a scream, the likes of which soap characters usually reserve for news that a loved one has died. “It’s not just a TV show! It’s family!” Roxy wept. “My mom Stella passed it down to me, and I passed it down to [her kids] Natalie and Rex, and you bet that Rex is passing it down to [his son] Shane.” In that moment, she pretty much expressed the emotions that millions of people are having during this decade’s ongoing soapageddon. Eventually Roxy regained her composure. “There’s no use in crying just because some empty suit thinks ‘Fraternity Row’ is for the birds,” she sighed.

Roxy has since made it her mandate to singlehandedly save “Fraternity Row.” I suspect this will make for an entertaining story during the final weeks of “One Life to Live.” The best soaps have always reflected reality while telling stories, no matter how intimate or over-the-top. Even in its last weeks, “OLTL” — one of the best soaps ever — is holding true to form, this time reflecting the harshest reality of all: its own heartbreaking demise. “
Are you enjoying the Fraternity Row story as much as we are,  as part of the wrap-up of OLTL?   Let us know your thoughts!

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  1. Marni says:

    I hope that the wrapup of OLTL during the final week does include what CLint suggested–a sendoff to Fraternity Row….


  2. vik says:

    Hell yes, Im enjoying it, like I do every thing on this soap. The reference to Oprah, not taking the soaps on her network,,,with Clint saying, “believe me if there was a nickle to be made…I’d be making it” PRICELESS! Poor Roxy, I think she’ll be dissapointed like we fans, that we / she couldnt save her beloved soap!


    Sharon replied

    Yes, the reference to Oprah was priceless!! I’ve read that Roxy will start a Coupon Campaign (just like we have done) to save her soap!!


    lipstickcat replied

    Yes! I thought the same thing! Clint was Oprah! I bet she’s second guessing that decision now since she would’ve had a guaranteed audience every night & her channel is a big failure! I love OLTL poking ABC in the eye!


    vik replied

    Yes , me too. And its really GREAT of the writers, because really they are paying tribute to us fans, writing the story line of trying to save the soaps. THEY KNOW WHAT WE are going through, and who we are, and appreciate our efforts! So its really nice I think.

    Jan replied

    Oprah slammed….she’s as phoney as phoney is.

  3. SiteAdvocate says:

    It truly is a reflection on all devoted daytime drama fans. Great ingenuity!


  4. heidi says:

    It’s great… I hope they keep it up for awhile and maybe they will give someone some ideas…


  5. Carole says:

    This is far more satisfying than the ending that AMC was forced to leave us with. Better than GL and as good as ATWT and AW! These suits (Mr. Frons) think it’s all about business and dollar signs. It’s not. Soaps are still relevant. All you have to do is look at the list of online soaps that have sprung up. These are very professional and just as good as their TV counterparts. Disney/ABC is supposed to be the family channel but but it’s not beinf fair to its “entire” family. Well done Ron and Frank. Let’s hope you can work your magic on GH.


    barbara t replied

    yes carole you are right about abc/disney .they are not the family channel,not any more ,I started watching abc with gh ,it was my first soap,my girlfriend linda and I would run home from school just to see what would happen that day,that was 50 years ago and soaps were slow,back in the day.several years later oltl came into my life ,I was hooked. I love amc and gh,but when oltl comes to an end ,It will break my heart.because I love that show more than any other soap.saying goodbye to vicki clint dorian blair todd roxy all of them ,It will be hard ,and will be the end of me watching anything on abc.


    Carole replied

    Barbara just to support the genre I will watch the remaining soaps including GH. I started watching GH when Jessie (and I ) fell in love with Phil Brewer!

    barbara t replied

    those were the days, I will continue to watch gh I just feel that abc should have kept oltl if they are keeping one soap ,I dont trust them , and brain fron did not do his homework ,because one life to live had the highest ratings than the other two soaps and its had to beleave there not up for any awards and all my children is ,phil brewer was a good looking guy,but Im going to miss bo ,clint john todd one and two and david vickers and all the rest of the wonderful cast of one life to live who gave me so many entertaining hours of drama love humor.they will be missed.

    Heather replied

    You’re wrong barbara t. General Hospital had higher ratings than One Life to Live . It’s only after One Life to Live got cancelled that it got better ratings than General Hospital. Look at past Nielsen ratings and you’ll see.


  6. Brian Greene says:

    This is one rocking storyline that OLTL is giving these last few weeks–yay! :)


  7. Matt says:

    I’ve been a devoted fan of OLTL since the eighties and the height of Tina’s hijinks. Even with all of the over-the-top stories of Heaven, the Old West and the underground city of Eterna, Agens Nixon’s social conscious and brilliant acting most especially by Erika Slezak have made OLTL not “just a show.” It’s really the end of an era.


  8. CTwildheart says:

    Not only am I LOVING the entire show right now…they had me in tears! First with laughter, then with – I don’t know what…pride? I was overcome with the feeling that I MATTERED! That TPTB at OLTL used Roxy to show their appreciation for the fans loyalty and love all these years. I truly felt like they were saying all that about me. Thank you SO much OLTL for everything over the years….


  9. jp says:

    A brillant idea! OLTL has always been the soap who came up with the most ingenious plots and storylines. I am truly enjoying this last ride. It has been entertaining and yet sad at the same time. I hope someone will save Fraternity Row for Roxy and all of Llanview residents, just like I hope someone will save One Life to Live. Bravo OLTL for another creative storyline.


  10. Sharon says:

    I absolutely LOVED the episode about “Fraternity Row!!!” I haven’t laughed (and cried) so much since ABC announced the cancellation in April. I know that Agnes Nixon was involved in writing this episode!!! She KNOWS what us soap fans are going through—I felt just like Roxy did when I found out!!! I heard that Roxy is going to start a Coupon Campaign ( just like what we have been doing!!) I just hope that OLTL wont end with a cliffhanger—like AMC did. That just wasn’t fair to us!!!


  11. Chaz says:

    Since its debut OLTL has been innovative and taken on issues many other daytime dramas wouldn’t (or at least until they gauged viewer reaction). I proudly have been watching this show from day one and while it has had its share of less than compelling storylines, OLTL has always been top notch and not afraid to give a few wink, winks to the audience (showing the original Blair, Mia Korf, several times in reflecting on past events, as an example). This “Fraternity Row” story and having it mirror the feelings and anguish of the OLTL audience is another feather in the caps of Frank V. and Ron C. – men who love the genre and genuinely care about the viewers.

    It is a shame that ABC has chosen to kill another staple of the network. While I have watched other shows (probably most other soaps) throughout the years, OLTL was the one show I never let slip away except for some time in the ’70′s before acquiring a VCR ( thank goodness for soap mags). A stellar cast and show that has always gotten the short end of the stick when it came to awards and recognition, OLTL will go out as it has always been – a burst of brilliance.


  12. jerseygirl says:

    Roxy is speaking for us, and why is nobody listening??? Millions of people watch and love OLTL, we don’t need or want another stupid talk show!!! ABC, you will lose me once this show goes off the air, and obviously you don’t care. You have the best soap on TV, and you’re letting it die. Shame on you.


  13. Sean says:

    This really is something that no other soap has done before, doing a soap within a soap. and the good thing is, they aren’t just saying, “We’ve always watched Folgers City since it began” and us wondering why nobody ever talked about it before, like when they did “Christina Comes home for christmas.” Just all of a sudden one christmas it was on and everyone said how they’ve been watching for years but it had never been talked about before. This is much better because OLTL historian’s know that Faternity Row came to Llanview with Megan Gordon in the 1980′s and it had storylines surrounding it for like five years before Megan died. Brilliant!!!!


  14. Linda Dowell says:

    It’s amusing me with an aching heart – well said in the article above – but I have to say I’m so p@ssed over what they’re doing with my beloved Todd that it’s keeping me from uncontrollable sobbing – I hope to all that’s Holy that this is a ruse and at the end we’re going to find out what we have been sold as truth IS NOT TRUE.

    Right, fans? Yes?

    AMC didn’t make me ache, as much as I loved Zach and Kendall, but OLTL is killing me…………I’m really feeling this loss. I will take it out on someone at ABC, when that day comes……..



  15. Blake says:

    It’s brilliant! Shows how OLTL is so genius right now and so much better than the other shows. But brilliant shows never last as long as they should (Community anyone?), yet horrible ones stay on all the time.
    These episodes could really get the show Emmy awards for Best Show and Writing next year.


  16. Gail says:

    I love it. I think it is the best shout-out to the fans we could get from OLTL and it shows they know how we feel. I can’t help but thinking somehow OLTL will be able to continue in some format….miracles do happen. So I am with Roxy on this on, fighting til the end!


  17. Jenna says:

    I HATE ABC right now. HATE HATE HATE


  18. bj says:

    How perfect is it to have Roxy show how much fans love their soap ‘families’. I’ve loved Ilene Kristen since Ryan’s Hope- she is such an amazing actress; one of the best comedians ever!! I love all of the others on OLTL; and AMC too- can’t say enough about them all; writers and everyone involved, too. Hope that someone with money can pick up on that, too, and not let these shows and their incredibly talented casts and crews go completely. So many scenarios could have happened to make these shows more affordable to produce- combining them, or making them a few times a week, or half an hour a day, etc, etc. Why can’t ABC or PP have been more creative? What other shows on TV last over 40 years?


  19. Doe says:

    I also think this was brilliant writing and clever. And with Roxie being the one to be the purveyor of the news couldn’t have been more perfect. I loved it. Can’t wait to see how all the characters react. Even Shaun breaks me up. This is like a shot in the arm! Bravo writers….


  20. Deb says:

    This storyline is genious. Remember though, at the time this was written, they had all intent on going to PP. So I imagine that this story ends of a high note going to the internet. (which we now know isn’t happening) EGG on PP face.

    Good luck to the writers going over to gh. Perhaps a ‘miracle’ can be saved.

    btw-I missed the Oprah comment. Anyone care to share it with me?


  21. Monica says:

    I loved the headline on the fake SOW Roxy was reading about FR being cancelled “Prospects in the Park”. I wanted to laugh and love the brilliant writing and acting but knowing what the end of this story will be is making me bitter. FR will be saved but OLTL has no further “prospects” in the park. I was skeptical of how the PP would go right from the start and agreed with TSJohn (ex Todd) that “it would take a miracle” for PP to make it work. This story would have been fun if OLTL indeed had been saved. But it hasn’t and now it feels like salt in the wound.


  22. auotb says:

    Please transfer John McBain from Llanview to Port Charles!


  23. Debbie Boland says:

    i’m one of the very-disappointed fans who is upset that One lIfe To Live is being cancelled; especially hurtful is that the network is choosing to retain the rather juvenile, and certainly redundant , General Hospital, the soap opera for ‘teeny boppers’! I clearly don’t understand why they are continuing with this move, after they have had ample response that there is a significant audience that does not want to see the show cancelled. They already replaced one of their soap operas with ‘The Chew’, yet another – cooking show – we have plenty of them already. Are you sure you couldn’t put ‘The Revolution’ on somewhere else? Maybe in the time slot you have for General Hospital. Does anyone at ABC even listen to the comments made by their viewers, or do they just assume they are all-knowing and accurate in deciding what people will like. Although this analogy refers to a a different television network altogether -your taking ‘One Life to Live’ off the air (which has a very loyal and consistent following) – is as stupid as NBC seriously thinking they could just put ‘Conan O’Brien’ on the Tonight Show, in lieu of Jay Leno! Hello – O’Brien is a very different kind of entertainer, appealing to a significantly younger age group with a very quirky, unique sense of humor, and a much smaller segment of the population -as opposed to those that have watched the Tonight Show for years. Jack Parr and Johnny Carson both retired from their spots; and although Jay Leno doesn’t possess the same universal sense of humor that Johnny Carson had, he comes much closer than Conan O’Brien possibly could. It appears that NBC didn’t bother to find out what the viewers wanted. Now, It seems that ABC is about to make the same mistake – they’ve decided that soap operas are a thing of the past – so they will eliminate them, replacing them with 2 new shows that the majority of current watchers could care less about. Please rethink this decision, and leave ‘One Life to Live’ on television. If you MUST eliminate one – get rid of General Hospital. The Luke and Laura story line died many, many years ago; Sonny and his world of crime and love life is dull and old news; and the vast majority of your audience is kids who watch after school. Seriously, instead of taking the time to write in the “Fraternity Row” saga paralleling the demise of the show; how about really taking the pulse of the viewers. For the remainder of the year, at the end of the show each day – list 2 phone numbers – one for people to call if they want to have the show continue, the other for those who don’t care. Or, if one show must go – have people call a number in support of either General Hospital or One Life to Live. Unlike our congressional leaders, how about showing that you really do listen to what your viewers say.


  24. Jan says:

    Who wrote this, its so amazingly good, they’r writing about fans getting screwed over.
    Which brings me to INSTANT STAR of CTV, THIS BUNCH behind IT. (sorta joking)
    I agree WE need soaps on our TV’s but the same stories kept coming back over and over and thats why people stopped watching.
    I know people who stopped watching because shows just started copying off shows. Fans are still demading a FINISH.


  25. Jennifer Palmer says:

    it is my hope that there will be a last minute save for one life to live. It is the end of a family tradition passed from my mom to me to my daughter now it ends. Makes me sad. Kudos to the writers and the cast for 43 years and the current story line


  26. msfcent says:

    First abc gives us a show about fodd and eating, then they add another show on how to diet! That’s some irony.


  27. msfcent says:

    First abc gives us a show about food and eating, then they put another one on about dieting. How ironic!


  28. bob says:

    within 3 years there will be no soaps on tv at all. the expense of paying these people has exceeded the revenue generated. that’s just a fact that can’t be ignored and you can blame reality tv for opening the eyes of network executives who are only interested in advertising profits and not paying salaries to actors and production people..


  29. John Fredericks says:

    I will truly miss OLTL it was the one soap I actually continued to keep track of even though I didn’t watch it on a regular basis… I still remember the first time Viki Lord Bucannan Riley Buchanan flipped out as Niki.


    1loveabcsoaps replied

    For all the men that are supporter of our soaps, We applaud you…!!
    You guys understand what needing a little mellow drama is to entertain you. And your not shy about standing up for the soaps with us.


  30. John Fredericks says:

    I think Prospect Park was a joke company to begin with… They had little Prospects of getting this show on line in the first place… probably just to string us fans along to watch until the bitter end… Roxy had it right when she said I hope they give these star crossed lovers the send off they deserve…


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