I met this week’s column when I had to say goodbye to an old and dear friend. “All My Children” aired its last original TV episode on Sept 23, signaling the beginning of the end for daytime soaps.
Everyone knows at least one person who watches daytime soaps. Like the dramatic friend who expects the handsome stranger to show up at just the right moment and save her from her gloom and doom. He’ll be strong and supportive and everything she ever wanted until he cheats on her — with her mother.
But soaps, aside from the overly dramatic, always feature a strong sense of family and people with an unusual ability to forgive and forget. Ex wives and new wives become best friends.
The doctor that tried to kill you last week will save your life this week. There is little that can’t be forgiven in a soap opera and the right tragedy will bring everyone together.
It feels like the end of a simpler time. You could always count on daytime soaps to be there and Erica Kane to be planning a wedding. Instead, we now have another show about food. There is an entire channel devoted to food. It’s even called the Food Network. And then there are the reality cooking shows on Bravo and Fox, if that wasn’t enough. We don’t need more people telling us what to eat. We eat too much already in this country. We need to spend time with our friends in Pine Valley. We need to dream of a shirtless Ryan Lavery saving us from the evil that must surely lurk outside our door. We need to dream that we are a long lost member of the Martin family that will be taken in right away and made to feel instantly at home with the coolest family ever.
I started watching “All My Children” because of my grandfather. It was strange to think of him as the daytime soap fan: he was a tall, masculine man. But back then, he didn’t have a lot of choices. There were three major networks when he started watching, so he couldn’t have watched the Discovery Channel or anything like that. Whenever I saw him, he would go on and on about the exploits of the Pine Valley citizens. I had to watch. If nothing else, it gave me something to share with my grandfather. He’s been gone over ten years now but I’ve never stopped watching. Every time I saw the Martin’s family gatherings, I thought of my grandfather and how he would love to see what messes they had gotten themselves into. Saying goodbye to “All My Children” is like saying goodbye to my grandfather again, and that just makes this world a much sadder place.