Goodbye, Erica Kane

Erica Kane

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ABC announced today that it was canceling two of its remaining three soap operas. All My Children and One Life to Live, shows that have been on the air since 1970 and 1968 respectively will wrap up in early fall of 2011 or in the new year of 2012. Perhaps the Mayans were right after all and the world as we know it is slowly winding to an end.

At one time or another, I have watched every soap opera ever filmed during the course of my life. Just ask me about one. I can probably remember something about it. And I place the blame squarely on my mother. She watched soap operas while she folded or ironed laundry in the afternoon when we were supposed to be napping. I qualify because I was a non-napping child. Something, to my chagrin, I passed on genetically to Dee, but by the time she came along, I was no longer a regular viewer of any soap opera though I doubt she would have been interested. She is only just beginning to prefer live action in equal portions to her animated fare.

The first soaps I ever watched have already been canceled. The Guiding Light and As The World Turns ceased to be last year. But they are hardly the only ghosts of soap operas past that I watched. My first brush with cancellation was Dark Shadows. It was also the first soap I watched because I wanted to as opposed to simply picking up my mom’s viewing habits. I was five and I would sneak across the street to the neighbors to see it. My parents thoroughly disapproved because it gave me nightmares. I would scream the house down regularly and woe to anyone who tried to wake me. I was a bruiser to the point that I had to warn my first college roommates not to try to touch me if I woke them with my dreaming.

Do you remember The Edge of Night? Sky and Raven? Geraldine Whitney? Just thirty minutes right after General Hospital and long since gone.

Loving? Watched it. Renewed my crush on Randolph Mantooth. Or Santa Barbara? Some of the best dialogue ever.

I peeked in on Another World here and there. That was the Frame family, I believe but I don’t remember the name of the town.

As The World Turns was Oakdale and The Guiding Light was in Springfield.

Ryan’s Hope starred Kate Mulgrew, so I watched it for her because she came from my hometown in Dubuque and I went to school with her bratty youngest sister, Jenny.

Pine Valley was a place I never cared much about though until everyone was watching it in college and I couldn’t avoid it any longer. It was the Greg and Jenny era. Tad was bedding Liza Colby‘s mother, and Opal wasn’t even a twinkle in Palmer’s eye because of his weird and creepy obsession with his daughter, Nina. Erica Kane was herself always but it was long before the skin-crawly molestation thing revealed she’d had a baby at 14 who grew up to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

One Life to Live was a guilty fallback. I watched it with a far amount of regularity for about 25 years. A time period that spans most of high school, all of college and a good chunk of my single adulthood. Asa is dead now. For real. They didn’t recast him when the actor who played him died a few years ago. Everyone else is old and the one thing I love about soap opera is how many of the female characters are allowed to age like real women do. Sure, a few are scary thin and obviously botoxed and tucked, but waists thicken and age drapes over them like actual skin.

I guess it’s sad that soaps are on the verge of extinction. The genre goes back to the days of radio and the continuous story evolution allowed viewers to watch characters grow up and cope with life – albeit in a melodramatic fashion – in a way that felt familiar to the way real families grew and moved through time.

ABC is replacing the shows with reality crap. One of the new shows will be a cooking/weight loss themed horror that follows women as they struggle to get thin because that’s what women need – more poor body image propaganda for entertainment purposes. The other show is one of those annoyingly condescending fashion make-overs where highly irritating people criticize normal folk’s wardrobes and dress them up for realities they don’t actually live in.

Not that it matters. We don’t have a television that accesses the world of network or cable tv anymore. But, it’s a shame when a performing art form passes away in preference of soul-killing garbage designed to sell audiences questionable values and crappy products.

R.I.P. Todd Manning. There’ll be no more resurrection days for you.

11 responses to “Goodbye, Erica Kane

  1. Pingback: Ratings Killed My Soaps | Monica's Tangled Web

  2. I remember the Greg and Jenny days on AMC. I started watching in college, when Joe and Ruth were prominent and Tara was in love with Phil. Nowadays, I’m glued to One Life. Remember Ryan’s Hope? I’m incredibly sad about the demise of this genre and am posting about it today on my site. I’ll be including a link to this post. Thanks for stirring up so many memories. I truly wish ABC would reconsider.

    • Ryan’s Hope – Siobhan and Joe. Who was the politician?

      I was too young for Tara and Phil, and even Erica, really. I don’t think the writing staff at OLTL has the chops to wrap it up properly though it looks like they are going with the current Todd being an imposter ala DOL’s John Black as they are bringing back Roger in May. It might pan out. AMC is a sad case b/c I think they have kept family continuity up as well as Young And Restless. The best shows hang onto the older generations to populate the younger set rather than constantly inventing new characters – it’s Soap 101.

      Thanks for stopping by and linking.

      • I like your last line about no more resurrections for Todd Manning. So true!
        But why bring back old Todd? Did the current one want to leave? I’m so used to this Todd and actually wasn’t watching during the period of old Todd.

        • As I mentioned in my other reply, they are likely going for an imposter storyline. Roger Howarth is an old fan fave. Bringing him back is a way to close out with a bang and throw a bone to long time fans. That’s my guess anyway. But aside from his sisters, Tina and Vicki, Todd has probably been granted more “do overs” than any other character on the show.

  3. I had heard a rumor but you’ve just confirmed it. The three on ABC, including General Hospital, were the only ones I watched [since high school]. The great thing was I could miss weeks at a time and still keep up with the “story,” which is what my elders called the shows. We lost ABC with the digital onslaught, so I’ve lost track of how things are going in Pine Valley and Llanview. I’m sure they will be missed by many who have followed the stories over the years. My husband is right when he says the reality crap is cheaper to produce; we don’t watch any of that, which means we watch little network TV these days.

    • My sis, DNOS, still watched GH. I watched it from about 1975 to 1983 religiously, and then sporadically since. And you are right. You can miss weeks – years even – and be able to catch up easily, which is another thing that made them so great.

      Ah, cheap crap. Definition of America anymore.

  4. I’m trying to picture you watching soap operas and it’s a stretch. I do remember the coolest mom in the neighborhood used to set a vcr to record them when she was flying (flight attendant) so my association with them is all glamorous women taking a break in the afternoon to enjoy themselves.

    • It’s the never-ending story that captivated me. Story flowed from one generation to the next and it was all character driven. I love well-written characters and long, long stories. My mother would laugh about the glamor part. It was just a way to make tedious housework less so and later when she started working, it was about being able to sit down and put her feet up in between working and picking up the housewife gig again.

  5. I remember how Grandma loved her “shows” as she called them. Guess she passed that love on to her daughters and granddaughters. Mom had her shows too, and I remember Grandma, Eileen and Mom talking about them, and how they couldn’t wait for the next day’s show to see what was going to happen. There were a couple of years when I first started teaching that I would get hooked for the summer on one of shows that Mom watched. I don’t even remember which one it was. I’d get home from teaching summer school and would watch while I had lunch. That didn’t last too long because once school started in fall, I didn’t have time to watch, and I just lost interest in them as they became more bizarre. Aunt Eileen will be lost if all of her shows are gone.

    • Her last show was canceled last fall – As The World Turns. I think that was Grandma’s favorite. But Auntie only had the one because she just doesn’t have time anymore – isn’t that funny. She’s retired now and pressed for time, but that’s the way of finally having time, running out of it because it’s filled with things that interest you and you want to do.

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