Goodbye Pine Valley

The end of an era will come as All My Children closes its opening credit book for the last time on network television. This cancellation comes amidst low ratings and low interest in the soap opera genre.

It is with a bittersweet goodbye that fans bid adieu to All My Children after 42 years on the air. The final tribute was guaranteed to satisfy the most ardent fan of the residents of Pine Valley.

All My Children cast

Susan Lucci, who portrayed Erica Kane, the first soap vixen, had mixed emotions about saying goodbye to a character she has breathed life into for 40 years.

“Erica Kane was a spectacular role for any actress to play,” she revealed. “I feel so lucky to be the one who got to do it. To find the part of a 15-year-old girl that was juicy and had that much potential, I really thought Erica Kane had the possibility to be a modern-day Scarlett O’Hara.”

She later stated, “I went through the whole range of human emotions, sadness and disbelief and some anger. It kind of messed with my sense of self-worth as a performer, and my journey through that. At the end of the day, I’m filled with gratitude.”

Lucci and the hundreds of actors who brought the characters of Pine Valley to life for so many years were the underdogs of the television world and at times, the butt of many a cruel joke. But for all the quips made about it, the soap opera genre was the only television staple where new material was portrayed five days a week. Soap opera actors have often stated that it was like performing a four-act play every day and the ability to flesh out their characters was influential to their later career choices.

Today’s lead actors, such as Josh Duhamel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eva LaRue, Kim Delaney and Kelly Ripa have all found their acting legs on All My Children. Celebrities such as Carol Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor have graced their stage. One has even won an Academy Award (The Fighter‘s Melissa Leo, ex-AMC‘s Linda).

But with the changing economic climate and fans who can eagerly get their fix via the internet, the genre has been in sharp decline in recent years. Some have stated it was the O.J. Simpson trial and its interruption of all regularly scheduled daytime programming that was the final nail in the soap opera coffin. Now with a handful of soaps left on the air, (One Life to Live takes its bow in January of 2012), it seems the genre that changed several generations of television viewers has passed on.

All My Children, with several surprises in store for fans during its final show, will continue to live on the internet with new web episodes. Lucci has said she was still “undecided” whether or not to return to the character she has finally put to bed.

Photo Credit: ABC