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Friday, April 15, 2011

End of an Era: So Long Erica Kane

Yesterday it was announced that All My Children and One Life to Live were being cancelled. I cannot help but wonder how this effect our seniors and in particular our housebound seniors. Soap Operas to our seniors are often their lifeline to a family, to the world and to changes occurring in the world.

Yesterday in the press release it was noted how both of these soap operas have won awards for doing story lines that no one was talking about in real life. When you think about it, soap operas are much different than the half hour sitcom or the hour long drama. Hour long dramas such as law and order often end with a point being made or something for you to think about it. It a quick resolution to a situation that has occurred. Soap operas on the otherhand often take two years to develop a story line. I was never a big watcher of the soap operas but you have to admit we have seen certain situations develop and then resolve over time. I used to kid that an actress could get diagnosed with cancer and be in the hospital bed for like 5 months or more and it seemed to drag on like forever but really what was going on was the soap opera writing takes us through in detail all the issues that come up when someone is sick. It allowed all of us to walk through that illness with the character and then sometimes resolve it in a natural way. Sometimes the characters would recover and sometimes not and that too would help us to walk through our own grief of losing a loved one. How many times did we see characters who developed drinking problems or depression after losing a loved one on a soap opera? These hour long dramas can only be described as the first reality tv hybrid meaning they were part reality and part television. We have to admit that every time a character died and came back as an evil twin or someone had a baby and then in one year that kid was a teenager was unrealistic but we must admit those who are committed to their soap operas do not care about those things.

For the committed watchers the characters are family. For seniors who probably have watched the shows for over 40 years, the characters are their children, their sisters and brothers and their parents. I don't think the networks really care that many of our seniors sit and eat their lunch with Erica Kane or that some seniors won't go out of the home or take phone calls during their soaps. The networks don't care that at holiday time, our housebound seniors who have no family or visitors often sit and spend the holiday with Erica Kane or enjoy a meal with Vicki Buchanan. I realize that salaries are high for some of these actors and that the profits for television are not what they used to be. Susan Lucci just stated on Oprah that many of them took pay cuts to try and keep the show on the air. This is a truly sad day for everyone. As I think about our seniors and how it will affect them, I forget about all the television people that will be out of work. Now some will say oh they are actors they will find work but honestly reality television has taken over and there are not that many acting jobs any more and what about all the camera operators, set designers and costume makers? They will all be looking for work. Cancelling these soaps has an effect on everyone. It is a sad day. I feel like we are losing part of our traditions, part of our television history, something that has always been there as long as I have been alive is now gone. Sad.

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