Sad news from the world of daytime TV: All My Children and One Life to Live are both in their last days. AMC will end in September: OLTL in January 2012, marking the end of the reigns of two daytime divas: Susan Lucci and Erika Slezak.
In an effort to match “the changing viewing patterns of the audience,” the soaps will be replaced by two lifestyle-type shows. The Chew will “focus on food from every angle” and The Revolution will center on health and “lifestyle transformations.” Because goddess knows we need more food and lifestyle shows. Yawn.
OK, I watch All My Children. Well, more accurately, I have it on while I wade through email and figure out priorities for the day. Depending on the storyline, I have various levels of attention to what’s going on, but I can usually tell you which man Erica Kane is shtupping or which girlfriend is breaking Bianca’s heart this week. And quite honestly, I don’t think a show could get me as angry as AMC does at times unless I really cared about the characters.
The storylines are often silly and predictable, true, but AMC has often been the first daytime show to address LGBT issues. We were all glued to the set for the First Lesbian Kiss Ever On Daytime TV! between main character Bianca, a lesbian, and her girlfriend Lena.
A few years later, with a different GF, Bianca was part of The First Same Sex Wedding Ever On Daytime TV! — and, again, we watched every second.
AMC also broke ground when it introduced transgender character Zarf who was transitioning from male to female, even though the storyline that had Zarf and Bianca involved was ill-conceived. And despite the fact that we have sighed with the sighs of a million processing lesbians at all the sadness the writers have put on Bianca, she has been a wonderful example of how to live as an out lesbian without apology. I hope we get to see her be part of The First Lesbian Couple To Live Happily Ever After On Daytime TV! before the show goes off the air.
One Life to Live, also created by Agnes Nixon, got our attention with a 1992 storyline about homophobia (Ryan Phillippe played the gay teenager) and featured one of the most positive gay relationships on TV with its “Kish” storyline (Kyle Lewis and Oliver Fish). AfterElton.com’s snark-filled live blogs of OLTL can catch you up with every minute.
Although OLTL had no official lesbian storylines, a recurring character Amelia was an out lesbian of color who managed Dorian Lord’s mayoral campaign — and married Dorian in an attempt to win the gay vote at a mass same-sex wedding. (The story wasn’t as ignoble as it sounds on the surface.)
In fact, the wedding is when Oliver came out and stopped Kyle from marrying another guy. Let’s hope Kish returns to say goodbye to Llanview.
I realize that TV viewership has changed a lot in recent years. Cable gives us more choices and daytime viewing is no longer dominated by bored housewives. But to me, that seems like even more reason for daytime soaps to continue. After all, entire networks are devoted to food and lifestyle shows, but only on soap operas can you reliably find melodrama that is more histrionic than the average lesbian relationship.
Will you miss All My Children and One Life To Live? What would you like to see before the shows come to an end?