It has been a week since the devastating bombshell announcement of the cancellations of All My Children and One Life to Live. The double-whammy, which will now live in soap infamy, hit mainstream press and our culture as an unbelievable news flash that spoke to the state of our society and a slice of Americana that is dwindling fast. It is so hard to be witness to what looks like soaps are on their last legs, or perhaps soon to have their final cliffhanger.
I have attempted to write this several times, but each time I did not feel the words could express my utter disappointment, anger, and sadness by this decision by ABC. But it’s even more than that for me. Someone who has championed this genre for decades, and who for lack of a better way to put it, never left its side and continually forged ahead believing in its viability, its performers, and its far reaching effects to its long enduring and faithful audience. This pains me to see it happening. I know many of you have that one soap opera above all else that holds a very special place in your heart, and all of us for different reasons. But there is still a commonality to it. Comfort, extended family, escape, living vicariously through some of our favorite heroines and baddies on daytime, these are just some of the things that come to mind which make daytime soap viewing something we can all bond over.
Well, I don’t think it’s any secret to everyone, that my favorite soap of all-time is One Life to Live. I certainly have made no bones about it over the past week, once the news delivered by Brian Frons threw the industry into a complete tizzy! In fact, I owe my life to One Life to Live. It threw me a lifeline when I needed one so desperately. At a very young age, guess who was an asthmatic like Shane Morasco? Guess who was bullied at school, so much so that they could not face or bear to walk into the hallways? Yup, that would be me; being a sickly child with no friends, and feeling isolated with no contact with people my own age. I started to hang out with my mother, who would watch the soaps. I remember just loving the stories, the characters, and the actors in this unique daily entertainment format. But it was One Life to Live that captured me from the very beginning, with the Woleks, Lords, and the Craigs. Does that date me way back to the beginning of OLTL? You bet. I have seen almost every episode. And in giving me something to look forward to each day, and through the genre’s ability to touch us and strike a chord in humanity, it would be cathartic for me. I could cry and let out my sadness at my life, or laugh and escape when the stories unraveled on-air.
I remember when I finally went back to school, after six months of health issues and facing my fear of the bullies, I would still run home for lunch to catch OLTL. It became appointment television, which is something that we should not forget during these soapy turbulent times we are facing. And who was the actress who was acting circles around everyone at that time and took the genre by storm? Judith Light as Karen Wolek. The courtroom confession scene to this day is the all-time classic and the quintessential soap opera performance. And who can forget Karen’s cohorts Marco Dane, sister Jenny Wolek, and hooker Katrina Karr? Later when I grew up I moved to Los Angeles and then to New York, and back west again, and I had the good fortune to meet Judith. I told her how much I loved OLTL. And what do you know? Judith got me on as an under-five on my favorite soap! So here I was years later, trying to be an actor and I landed a tiny stint in none other than Llanview, thanks to the two-time Daytime Emmy winner. Well, I realized I stunk as an actor, so that was not going to be my calling. But the magical world of soap operas, now there was something that I thought I could thrive in, understand, and knew about, unlike many others. I immersed myself in the world of daytime through the many incarnations of a daytime career, but I owe it all to OLTL.
Last year, I think fans know of my trip to the new digs, which sadly to say, will now be their final digs at ABC. I say that with a heavy heart. But again, it was a magical experience to see the cast and everyone in the Big Apple. I do have the show publicist, Lauri Hogan, to thank for that and for opening the doors so you all could see the video interviews on this website with the various Llanview residents. And if it can be arranged, and before all is said and done, it is my hope to get back there one more time before the series ends its run. And as of today, an offer has been extended. But, I don’t know if I could get through the on-camera interviews without losing it. But hey, I am a professional, right? I can do this.
Sitting here a week later, it still boggles my mind. How can a show that is so cleverly written, and well run and executed, and features some of the most talented veterans and young performers in the business, be facing the ultimate doom? I cannot wrap my head around it, though I have tried and tried. Yes, I understand network and economical business decisions, but are we really going to be intrigued by watching an everyday woman lose twenty-five or two hundred pounds each week and go through some kind of doctored up, and edited metamorphoses, instead of watching Viki, Dorian, Natalie, John, Todd, Tea, Nora, Bo, Rex, Gigi, Clint, etc? The answer is a resounding NO.
Think of the history of OLTL, and the unbelievable memorable moments that would take a whole other blog to detail what makes this soap incredible. Here are a few: Viki’s biggest battle with DID when we first saw Jean, Tori, Princess, Tommy, and not to mention Niki, (who was seen many times previously) played by daytime’s very best actress, Erika Slezak. And the heart tugging and timely AIDS quilt storyline that addressed the issue of the day so majestically, and the stirring remote with the quilt and the performance of Roy Thinnes. As Sloan he comes to term with his son’s sexuality, while mourning his death at the same time by adding his panel to the fabric of one of the most important social issues of our time. Also, the rape trial of Marty Saybrooke and the amazing performances of Hillary B. Smith and Susan Haskell, who both won Emmys for this knockout story. And of course, the arrival of the Buchanans at the height of the Dallas-craze, that changed the landscape of the series forever. Those beloved ‘Buchs’ are a staple of the show continuing on through today.
There were the 80’s adventures of Eterna, Fraternity Row, and Time Travel. There was the saddest death scene in the history of soapdom, that of Megan Gordon as her beloved Jake held her in his arms at the window of her hospital room. There was Marty and Patrick. There was Paris, Texas, and Marcie McBain and the Tommy hostage crisis. And there is, and has been for decades Dorian Lord, played with delicious delight every day by Robin Strasser, who along with her ultimate on-screen partner, Erika Slezak as Viki, comprise soaps’ true super couple. I have only scratched the surface here. There were so many gems and nuggets on the series for the last forty- three years, and yes, Kish was one of them, although short lived or shall we say, cut short.
Over the last week, I have seen and read all of the comments and outpouring of support for both OLTL and AMC on my websites and throughout the online community. I am just amazed, overwhelmed and heartsick, reading your extremely thought-provoking remarks. I have read every one of them. We are all suffering this loss together. While I don’t feel anything will overturn ABC’s ill-fated decision, all we can do now is celebrate the legacy of the series, tune-in like there is no tomorrow, and let the ratings go up while the final months of the airshows hit our TV’s. Let’s hope that some other SMART outlet will pick up the show and see that it has legs, an audience of loyal viewers who are still important, and amazing production and talent pools that any programmer would be remiss if they let an opportunity go by to snatch it up. If that does not happen, we will have to prepare ourselves for the final goodbye. We have done it before with Guiding Light and As the World Turns, and that was tough, tough, tough! So to do this all over again is a tall order! In the end, we might have to face another huge mourning process. I wish and hope not. But, ABC already pulled the plug.
Now, I have told you my story and connection to One Life to Live. Now please share yours with me. Let me know how OLTL or AMC impacted or affected your life, and what memories you have of the series. If all we will have left will be YouTube, and our recollections, it will be sad, but at least it’s something to hold on to. In the end, that’s what soaps have done for me and I think for many of you. They give us something to hold on to and look forward to, so we are not alone… and they gave us so many family members that we never knew we had.
Love to all during this difficult time,