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Archive for April 4th, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

This is going to be difficult. By its nature, there’s a lot of history to this soap opera. There was over a decade of material that aired before this author was born, much of which no longer exists thanks to a vault fire, and will be going largely off memories of the series, some of which comprise his earliest memories of television. Therefore, if this seems rambling, bear with me. This is a work of memory, passion and pain, since when it was good, it was great, and when it was off, it hurt, because it could be so great when it wanted to give a hoot. I will be leaving a lot of characters out, and giving short shrift to many more. For that, I apologize, or this thing could easily become a book.

There have been dozens of daytime serials in the history of American television. There are, currently, only four of them. The genre has lost a lot of audience, with the advent of the internet, expanded cable and satellite options, as well as the fact that people just do not stay home to watch television during the day, the way they once did. Especially women, to whom the earliest series were pointedly marketed.

Soaps, as they were called-because Procter and Gamble was a major sponsor of a goodly portion of the serials on air, at one point-have always been a generational deal, handed down from family member to family member, or passed along between friends. These were “our” or “my” stories for generations of people-men and women. The typical soap opera, in 1968-the year One Life to Live arrived on the air-was largely a very slow moving half hour about the love life of winsome rich white women in fictional or even nameless small towns. There had been some exceptions-including the rise of ABC’s Dark Shadows, which was extremely fast paced, and full of supernatural doings, but had indeed started its life as a series concerning the mysterious arrival of a governess in a small Maine seaport. (more…)

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