When ABC announced it was cancelling All My Children and One Life to Life last week, I was saddened. Although I don't watch either show now, I grew up with them and watched them on and off over the years. As a pre-teen, I bought Soap Opera Digest with my allowance every two weeks, and was always excited to bike to the corner store on Tuesdays when the magazines arrived. My lifelong love of romance comes in large part from the influence of soaps.
Even when I wasn't watching them, there was something reassuring about soaps still being on, featuring the same families and in some cases the same characters and actors I remember from the '80s and '90s. I did watch the last few years of As the World Turns, and despite issues with the writing quality, I do miss it.
Clearly lifestyles have changed since the heydey of soaps, and many more people -- especially women -- work out of the home. But I feel that there are still audiences for soaps. Look at the popularity of telenovelas and soaps worldwide. The networks just need to find a better way to deliver them to us here in North America. Four soaps remain, but for how much longer?