Soap operas losing audience appeal

Growing up, I watched my mother cook, clean the house, and do laundry before she

went to work at her night job. It seemed like the only time she took a minute to pause was when the soaps came on. For a couple of hours a day, she could forget about her life and get absorbed in the fictional lives of others.

The reason this memory surfaced is because it was recently announced that “One Life to Live,” a once-popular soap opera created by Agnes Nixon, will be ending Jan. 13.

The name “soap opera” comes from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio

that had soap companies as sponsors. When the shows came to television, the name stuck.

A variety of soaps included “Search for Tomorrow,” “Dark Shadows,” (the dark side of soap operas about a family of vampires) “The Guiding Light,” “Another World,” the Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital,” (who could forget the saga of Luke and Laura?)  “The Edge of Night,” “The Young and the Restless,” “Ryan’s Hope,” and “All My Children.”

In the late 1970s, soaps inched their way into prime time programming (though people didn’t want to admit that’s what they were.) “Dallas,” a weekly show about the drama of a wealthy Texas family had people glued to the televisions, having to wait a whole season to find out who killed J. R. Ewing. The spin-off, “Knots Landing,” followed suit. More shows made the move to have a storyline continue every week, some of which have a faithful following week after week.

A few months ago, “All my Children,” went off the air. I was busy with school and other things, and didn’t really think much about it. But when I saw that it’s “sister” show,”One Life to Live,” (I call it that because it was always after “All My Children”) was also ending, it made me a bit sad.

I went to its website to find out more about it and found that the show would be airing its last show a week from today.

I admit that I watched it during the summers when I had nothing to do, and it really is addictive. And it’s funny because 30 years later I turned it on and some of the same characters were still on there. Not a lot had changed, just a few different faces.

If you talk to women, like my mother, who were home during the days taking care of the house, you’ll find that this was their entertainment. They didn’t have a lot of time to sit and watch TV at night because they were busy taking care of other things.

But that has all changed. Women work much more during the day and the popularity of soaps has been declining at a steady rate for many years. It was bound to come to an end. And I would have to say that after 43 years, they had a good long run.


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