Monday, August 9, 2010

COMMENTARY: Are Soaps a Dying Art?

It's a question that's been asked a million times.  I've asked,  you've asked it, everyone has asked it.  How can we not?   We see the demise of long running soaps like Guiding Light and As the World Turns, and not as long running soaps like Passions, and we wonder...who's next?  Are we next?  Will the network really take my beloved AMC away from me and replace it with God forbid, an infomercial?  Or worse, another tired reality show or talk show?   Can this happen?  Really?   It can.  

I was just reading a very interesting article on the subject on Advertising Age's websiteCBS is adding a new talk show to take the place of ATWT.  What's to stop ABC from doing the same? Already there are more talk shows than soaps... The View, Live with Regis and Kelly, Dr. Oz, Oprah, Ellen, Rachael Ray... that's six right there off the top of my head and I'm sure there are more.... Jerry Springer, Maury, Bonnie Hunt, Martha  AHH!!!!  

AMC was dead in the water, so it's said, without the move to LA.  OLTL is constantly rumored to be the chopping block.  NBC has one soap left.  Are soap viewers like me, like you, clinging to something that we will ultimately lose?  What can be done to stop it?  I wish I had the answers.  Next month CBS will air the final episode of ATWT and replace it with a blatant View rip off called "The Talk."  Is that progress?   Tell me what you think?   Is it time for soaps to pack it in or should they fight harder to gain more viewers and keep the old ones?   On the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland, Wendie Malick plays an aging soap star, desperately clinging to her glory days.  Is she metaphor for the genre as a whole?  What are you thoughts on this subject?


Karen said...

I keep hearing this and hoping that it's not true. I surely would NOT be tuning in to more Blah blah. Love in the afternoon is they way I like it!

NuttyAboutSoaps said...

Yes, soaps are a dying breed, but I have always believed that they would survive in some way, shape, or form. My current prediction is that each network will go down to just one - and that the viewers from canceled soaps will rally around the shows that remain.

The only question is - which show will be the ABC survivor? The smart money is on GH, because of the amazing appeal of its leads, but they are increasingly expensive to keep. That gives AMC a chance to carve out a niche as "the place to be" for fans of non-violent, non-mob-related stories, which GH tends to focus on.

I'm saddened by the changes in the industry, but hopeful that the remaining shows will do what is necessary to ensure their own survival, which to to write good stories about characters and families the audience is willing to invest in.

That's what got me hooked 40+ years ago, when the shows were about people and families we cared about. If the writers get back to the basics, I genuinely believe the genre will survive.

Kenneth Allen said...

I think it is partly a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. The network is way too involved in the stories and casting. I believe that more every time I see one of the kids carrying a Disney toy.

To get back on track, I believe one writer needs to be given freedom and control. And we need to get back to stories about families and the history of the show. It's sad when Tad (and I love Tad) is just about the oldest, wisest character we have (and I'm his age, so I know how old and wise he is).

divamcknitster said...

i started watching AMC after a nearly 20 year hiatus (i went to college and lost track of the show), and some days i fast forward through it. the story lines feel recycled. the characters are vapid. i miss the "older" characters. what hooked me back to watching was jesse and angie's storyline a couple years ago (they and jenny and greg were my favorites when i was little). i realize "seasoned actors" cost money, and i understand when people seek retirement, but no one is really filling their shoes. i really hoped that the new writers would "fix" what was messed up in recent years, but i've yet to see that.

you would think with tivo and dvrs, soaps would do okay. and it doesn't bode well when disney plans on closing shop on soapnet and turning it into yet another kiddie channel (like we need more of them!)

AMC is the only soap i watch. i sure hope it doesn't end!

Joseph said...

I hate to think it's true, but the writing is on the proverbial wall. I bemoan the loss of these art forms. You mention Hot In Cleveland, Kathy. I was glad to see that show developed because it is an attempt to keep the traditional three-camera sitcom alive. That breed is dying, too, and giving rise to more reality shows. Now, like Hot in Cleveland, perhaps some soaps can survive or be resurrected on cable as opposed to network TV. However, with the ruination of SoapNet, the field is considerably narrowed. And, yes, it IS a case of too many cooks. The network people have to heavy a hand in the production of the shows. While the network is focussed on bringing in coveted younger viewers, the loyal long-time viewers are starving for want of good storylines and appearances by the characters they've grown to love. Let Erica have a realistic, interesting storyline. Give Opal a love interest! Let Tad be something other than a doormat for yet another unexpected child. Focus on the long-time viewers. give them what they want, and, by gosh, they'll buy the products you're advertising. Soaps don't have to be phased out. The audience is STILL there. They just don't have a voice. This to me is all part of the world's backing away from traditional art forms. It's my great continuing rant against the abandonment of the things we've created. I suppose that's why I've devoted an entire blog to trying to maintain some beauty in the world. We can have progress and still honor and cherish existing art forms.

sonja said...

I think it's just a matter of time before soaps are all the way gone. It's sad. I got into soaps because of my grandmother. There's something really intense about multiple generations watching the same show - and not reruns but a continuing show! And I admit that I've had fantasies about talking/complaining about AMC with my children when they grow up. But I highly doubt that will happen now. They're only 4 and 5 now, and I'm pretty sure soaps will be gone long before my kids are teens and potentially interested in them.

I don't know why I like soaps. Or I guess I should say that I don't know why more people *don't* like soaps. I'm just going to enjoy AMC as long as it's around to enjoy.