The world has stopped turning.
Okay, so I should have put quote marks around the word “world” in the headline, as this post revolves around the fact that As The World Turns shall, come next September, turn no more. But by doing it this way, at least most of you didn’t tune out (at least until now, that is) – unlike most soap fans, who’d long since ceased watching the World turn.
If you’re one of the millions who didn’t watch the show – and I’ll freely admit that I didn’t – then the impending doom facing Carly, Craig, Paul, and…um, Starsky and Hutch won’t matter much to you. And if you’ve never paid any attention to soaps, you’re forgiven for perhaps thinking that we just did this story … even though that was actually Guiding Light that was extinguished in September.
But while GL‘s passing made real headlines — something that comes with the territory when you’re the longest-running entertainment program in broadcast history — ATWT‘s smackdown hasn’t sent many reverberations around the media landscape.
If you’re like me, you don’t have to have watched any of the many daytime dramas that have come and gone to feel a little pang of regret to see an entire pop culture genre’s slow death (possibly next for the chopping block: ABC’s One Life to Live, whose terminus at least is hinted at in the title). Generations of fans used to “pass along” viewership to younger members of their families, and back in the ancient days before the Internet, DVR, or even VCRs – you know, when Julius Caesar was president – college students used to tape the audio of each episode to listen to after class.
Does it matter if daytime soap operas vanish from our lives? Is it possible that the need for evil twins, multiple marriages, and those mind-bending events when someone who was a pre-teen on Friday was suddenly recast as a college senior the next Monday, has passed?
Well, maybe. But let me remind you that Guiding Light was replaced by yet another new version of Let’s Make a Deal – roughly the twenty-seventh time that thing’s been revived – and chances are that World’s exit will be followed by something like Match Game 2010, with your host Omarosa. Which would be more like As the Stomach Turns.
What do you think? Do soaps deserve to live? Are Gossip Girl and its ilk enough to keep us wallowing in fictional characters’ tawdry lives? Or is this just the way the TV business turns?