What will we lose when daytime soaps go kaput?
"General Hospital" looks iffy and "All My Children" is exiting, but should we care?
One by one, theyâ€™re biting the dust: â€œAll My Childrenâ€ (September 2011) and One Life to Live (January 2012) are the latest casualties in the world of network daytime drama. And while â€œThe Bold and the Beautiful,â€ â€œThe Young and the Restlessâ€ â€œGeneral Hospitalâ€ and â€œDays of Our Livesâ€ are keeping the chat shows at bay, the status of one of those already looks a little shaky: with Katie Couricâ€™s announcement that sheâ€™ll be debuting a syndicated talk show next year, ABC noted theyâ€™d like to use the weirdly elfin broadcaster Â to fill the 3 p.m. slot â€“ the time â€œGHâ€ airs on its stations. While it doesnâ€™t mean a certain end for â€œGHâ€ (the chat shows â€œThe Chewâ€ and â€œThe Revolution,â€ which are taking the place of â€œAMCâ€ and â€œOLTLâ€ could certainly fail, leaving an opening for â€œGHâ€), it does seem like another step closer to the end. But is that such a bad thing?
The end of soaps will mark the end of an era: Forget Brangelina. In the 80s, Luke and Laura of â€œGeneral Hospitalâ€ defined the super couple. Sure, it wasnâ€™t a perfect relationship, given that Luke raped Laura (hey, attitudes about sexual assault were less evolved back then), but when they finally wed in 1981, 30 million people tuned in â€“ making that episode the highest rated in soap opera history to this day. To put that in perspective, this year the Oscars were watched by 37.6 million, a number thatâ€™s even less impressive given that there are now about 82 million more people in the U.S. These days you might be relive the punchlines of the latest episode of â€œCommunityâ€ with a coworker or two, but you probably donâ€™t gather in the lunch room (or set your VCR, since those donâ€™t exist anymore) to watch the must-see program of the decade. Thanks to basic cable, out choices are limitless â€“ but we as an audience are more fractured as well. It isnâ€™t likely you watch the same shows as your spouse, your friends of ever your dog (he likes Animal Planet 24/7). Given that our society is increasingly divided, thereâ€™s something to be said for being able to connect over something, even if itâ€™s a fake TV wedding.
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