On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman was asked by SoapTown USA for an interview with their online platform to get his impressions and thoughts on the state of the soap genre, the recent cancellations of OLTL and AMC, what fans can do and how fans are dealing with the loss. SoapTown also takes a look back to when Fairman started his career in soaps through the the tail end of it’s heyday, to it’s dwindling days of current times.
Here are just a few excerpts below, but make sure to read the entire interview at SoapTown USA for the context of these remarks below and more.
Fairman on what fans can do over losing AMC & OLTL other than boycotts or petitions: “When people ask me, ‘What can we do?’ The decision has been made. I want people to fight (this decision) but I want them to fight smart. The way to be smart is to NOT turn off One Life to Live, but tune in to the last nine months, because the show is going to be great. One way, to illustrate, to counter ABC’s decision-making is to tune in and make the ratings go way up! Show them, ‘We’re at a 3.5, look what you did!’” We can pick up and celebrate what we have left, but right now, I think we’re all feeling a bit deflated. But you should still watch your shows. They’re still vital. What people really to want to see is good story. How are the writers going to structure the canvas? Who are we supposed to root for, I don’t know at times. You need people to root for. Fans want to see the characters they love. And then have things shaken up. We’re running out of time. I think everybody should feel that the clock is ticking.”
Fairman on of why televnovelas are scoring big ratings and American soaps are not : “They really capture the imagination right now of the Latin community. They’re over the top, they’re dramatic, and they feature beautiful people. All the stuff that soaps should be and it’s working in that market. And the telenovelas have a beginning, middle and end, unlike U.S. soaps which go on to infinity, unless you’re canceled! We’re stuck here in the States. It’s a fast food mentality. If I can see all my bitches, hunks and babes on these reality shows that cost a smidge to produce, why would the networks want to put on Days of our Lives when these shows are cheap and get more audience? That is what is going on through the networks minds. Many out there will say the serial format is your grandmother’s and it’s old, but you have to remember that soaps are passed down from generation to generation, which is why this is so horrible. It’s crushing. I asked people on my Twitter page, ‘What would you say to a programmer if you wanted to sell One Life to Live to them?’ The responses were amazing and well-thought out. One Life to Live was also under budget and lately has had some decent ratings, which makes this decision even more of a slap in the face to the intelligent One Life viewers.”
Fairman on how replacements series: talk-shows, game shows, vs soaps, and the network’s perceptions: “You have to understand, soaps are not the cash cow they once were, the advertisers are not clamoring to sign up, the ratings are down. When The Talk scores ratings equal to or better than As the World Turns, that’s a sign to networks execs that they’re doing something right and justifies their decisions, I think. As for game shows, there’s no emotional investment for viewers, again it’s an hour of fun or distraction but there is no heart. But we have to remember the networks are running that, a network which does need to be filled with all types of programming options for the farthest reach to the public. The bottom line is that soaps have validity, they comfort people, they’re part of Americana, and they bring social issues to life wonderfully when done correctly. They have attempted things that should be commended. Soaps can be used to help families, mothers, children that might be around during the day, or whenever they can tune-in. But why couldn’t soaps get back the audience they lost a decade or more ago? Part of the thing that failed was soaps needed to get back the audience that they lost and get new people in, and that’s one of the struggles they’ve had for several years. A lot has to do with the times we live in, working families, tons of options on channels, it has become a very difficult climb to get back up the mountain for soaps.”