Love in the Afternoon: Soap Operas Dying a Slow Death

5 years ago

I remember when soap operas use to be THE guilty pleasure -- no one really admitted to watching them but somehow we all knew the storylines. 

Today, my beloved soaps are dying a slow death, with just four remaining. At one time there were six or seven on the three ‘big’ Networks. ABC,NBC and CBS, each had three soaps in their afternoon timeslots and CBS had an additional 1/2 hour soap beyond that; first Capitol, now The Bold and the Beautiful. 

At their best, soap operas, somehow melt far out storytelling with a dose of social issues. In 1973, the character, Erica Kane on All My Children (played by Susan Lucci) a married woman, chose to have an abortion. This was a groundbreaking story.  (It was a shame when years later the writers chose to rewrite history). Oh, and All My Children tackled alcoholism and drug addiction early on!  One Life to Live did a story about prostitution that propelled Judith Light’s career. God, did she cry on the stand. It was a trial and she was awesome!

Oh, and then in 1992, One Life to Live did the AIDS Quilt storyline, it was enlightening and heartbreaking --

General Hospital brought it home with Robin and Stone’s painful AIDS story.   Of course, there was the controversial rape storyline on General Hospital with Luke and Laura.  This storyline is still debated years later…..

And the heartbreaking transplant storyline of BJ dying, General Hospital again. And we mustn’t forget the fun stories: Cassadine adventures on General Hospital! Time travel on One Life to Live!

And soap operas bring us the greatest villains. We love to hate them but couldn’t imagine the afternoon without our baddies. From Days of Our Lives; Victor Kiriakis (did you know the actor is Jennifer Aniston Dad?) to the villains that straddle the line...sometimes bad, sometimes good. The Young and Restless brings us Victor Newman, Jack Abbot and Phyllis, just to name a few.

How about the stars that soap operas have produced? Meg Ryan. I remember her as Betsy on As The World Turns. She was adorable!!  Eva Longoria from Desperate Housewives played Isabella, an awesome crazybitch on The Young and the Restless. Shemar Moore on the hit show, Criminal Minds, well, I still refer to him as Malcolm, his character on Y&R.  Honestly, I could go on and on and name some huge stars!  Many and I do mean many top stars popped in. One of the biggest, Elizabeth Taylor, she played Helena Cassadine on General Hospital. She loved the soap and wanted to do it!!

And speaking of LOVE. Soaps rule the cheesy, romantic and hot love scenes. Some came close to being rated R and boy did they get a lot of heat (pun intended) for those scenes! Now, those scenes seem tame compared to Nicole ‘Snooki ‘Polizzi on Jersey Shore, funny where we have gone in life!  But,the weddings and the ‘destined to be’ couples are so much fun on a soap opera. They take you away.  Soap operas give you that fantasy love, romance and hot sex!!! All My Children had Jenny and Greg and Nina and Cliff, what a wedding! One Life to Live had Blair and Todd, Max and Luna, Vicki and Clint. General Hospital, well they had the ultimate couple, Luke and Laura. I am not sure anyone can beat those two!!

There was Brenda and Sonny, and Brenda and Jax on General Hospital but still (Brenda was played by Vanessa Marcil, she branched out too)

I mean it is so much fun to watch couples almost die, escape death, land on a beach and then...

Sadly, only four soaps remain.  I watch General Hospital and on occasion The Young and Restless.  I mostly read in the afternoon or gossip with my husband.

So, do you like the new guilty pleasure, Reality Television or are you missing the old one? 


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