It’s the end of an era, as two iconic shows in the soap opera world were cancelled.
On Wednesday, ABC Wednesday that All My Children and One Life to Live were cancelled. Both programs will end their respected runs within the next 9 months.
AMC, which started back in 1970, will finish in September. Susan Lucci, who has played “Erica Kane” since the very beginning, tweeted, “It saddens me that All My Children is canceled,…I’ve loved playing Erica Kane and working with (creator) Agnes Nixon & the incredible people at AMC.”.
OLTL, which started in 1971, will end production in January, 2012. Dozens of future stars who came from the soap included Ryan Phillippe, Marcia Cross, Tommy Lee Jones and Judith Light.
This is the third and fourth serial that has been cancelled within the last 24 months. CBS ended the long running soap, “Guiding Light” in 2009 after 72 years on radio and television. “As The World Turns” ended it’s run on CBS after 54 years on daytime television.
The serial genre has taken a beating on television over the last 20 years. A few factors in its demise can be put into play.
One is the changing habits of TV viewers. More people watch less television than ever before. They’re more likely to be on the computer or doing other activities, other that TV. It’s hard to imagine, but at one time, there were 19 soap operas running on one of the three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) during daytime. Even with in advent of DVR’s, the popularity of soap operas have died down.
Second, reality-based programming. The story lines on serials have tried their best to be in line with what the real world is. But with shows like, “Jersey Shore”, “The Real Housewives of….” and “Teen Mom” out there, why go fake when you can go real?
Finally, and what I consider to be the most significant factor in soap operas fate, the O.J. Simpson trial. 16 years after the end of the trial, soap opera audiences have not come back. Ratings for serials tailed off dramatically. In 1995, AMC had a 6.1 rating, the second highest rated soap on television behind “The Young and the Restless”. As of the the last ratings book (February, 2011), AMC received a 1.9 rating, finishing last out of six soaps.
Sadly, the contributing factors I’ve mentioned may signal the end of the soaps as we know it. Another style of serial, such as “Novellas” run on Spanish-language channels, may peak viewers interests with shorter run-time spans. But long-running serials are clearly a thing of the past, the victim of our changing times.
And that’s too bad.