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All My Children Soap Opera Farewell: WHAT IT MEANS

By Melissa Garza

(Courtesy of Scared Stiff Reviews)

Sadly, this Friday ends the 41-year run for the well-known and adored soap opera All My Children which was a staple in my childhood home since I can remember.

Even before my first day of kindergarten, I was enthralled with this genre of television. While other children fought to watch PBS, I was more than happy to sit with my mother and older sister watching the ABC line-up which back then was Ryan’s Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, and ending with General Hospital.

I knew all the characters names and all the storylines that were taking place. One of my first crushes (that still exists
today) was for David Canary who played both the hardnosed business tycoon Adam Chandler and his kind and sensitive twin Stuart Chandler. During this time, the most intriguing drama filled arguments were between Palmer Cortland portrayed by the amazingly talented James Mitchell (RIP) and Adam. The conning, scheming, backstabbing and dialogue-filled moments of coming clean kept everyone at the edge of their seat.

I remember at the height of its success, a board game for the show was created. My older sister always insisted on being the very prim and proper Hillary Wilson (Carmen Thomas). I on the other hand, at the very young age of 7, insisted on being the conniving, outspoken Dottie Thornton (Tasia Valenza). I always enjoyed the villains far more than the heroes.

Some may say that a child has no place watching soap operas. By today’s standards, I probably agree. That said, the soaps during the 80s were mild in comparison to today. I remember waiting forever for couples to kiss and admit their feelings for one another. The glamorous weddings and fairytale elements to some of the love stories sang to me – and when I think back to the greatest couples of all time, it still does.

Soap operas often are wrongly ridiculed and viewed as a lower class of television. Even in the time before reality TV when sitcoms reigned as king, I disagreed. Some of the greatest actors of all time have been on soap operas. David Canary is a fine example. The emotional rollercoaster that each character is placed into due to the dramatic storylines allows the actors to shine. There is no CGI on soaps. It’s far from a Michael Bay film and thankfully it isn’t a bunch of annoying rich kids being filmed for a warped fake documentary style show. No. Instead, it’s actual acting! It is a few hours a day of watching an art-form where a group of talented individuals are allowed to show their craft. There isn’t a laugh track or forced humor. At its best, it is a perfectly written drama based on the interpersonal relationships of a group of well-known characters portrayed by wonderful actors who create scenes that forever last in the memories of the fans watching.

That said, over the last ten years, soaps have changed – and not for the better. Rather than focusing on great actors and characters that build relationships slowly, they (like much of Hollywood) have turned to beautiful model-like individuals with limited talent. Many times the characters jump into bed with any and every-one as fast as they are introduced. I remember waiting forever just to see a couple finally kiss. The buildup was torture but the payoff was amazing. I agree times have changed and society has changed, but I will take a talented actor over a playgirl model any day of the week. More-so, I would rather wait months to see a couple the magnitude of Jesse and Angie, Greg and Jenny, Tad and Dixie, or Langley and Phoebe, finally admit their feelings than two gorgeous bodies jump each other upon meeting. The instant gratification cannot compare to the lingering need to see two people end up together so much so that one tunes in everyday to see it happen.

This change of direction along with the cheapskates-that-be who would prefer to pay far less to have a bunch of chefs sit around and mimic a crappy talk show has caused the very tragic downfall. As a fan until death, I hold out hope that the soap opera will return. I hope that idiotic reality-TV and crappy food shows die out and that actors are once again given a home.

Soaps offer so much when done correctly. When All My Children was at its best nothing could beat it. I do hope that the
show survives online as some have suggested – but it would be far better if ABC would just keep it alive.

For nostalgia reasons alone, I hate thinking of the last episode airing. Beyond nostalgia, and simply for the talent lost – Friday will be a very very sad day.

Long Live Pine Valley and screw The Chew

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