On Friday, the final episode of the soap opera ALL MY CHILDREN will air. I have to admit two things.
1. I haven’t seen it in years.
2. I’m really going to miss it.
It’s hard to explain how that’s possible, but there was something magical about soap operas. And I don’t mean the stories. Yeah, they could be compelling. Certainly, they were outrageous–evil twins and husbands back from the dead and colorful pimps and every tawdry affair you can imagine and some you can’t. And there were also important story lines–gay characters and rape storylines and eating disorders and a character who died of AIDS –all of it back before it was “okay” to tackle those subjects on TV.
But that’s not what I miss.
I miss the way soap operas were shared. The way you could find people everywhere you went who knew about Erica Kane. The way you’d get in a conversation about the soap with a complete stranger who suddenly didn’t seem like a stranger. Maybe times were different then because we didn’t have so many choices of programs. By necessity, we all watched the same shows. There were only a few networks and they all had daytime soaps, and everyone seemed to have a favorite.
I’ll never forget my college years and the way the TV rooms would fill to overflowing at 11:00 for All My Children and then at noon for General Hospital. When Luke and Laura got married, it was like watching the wedding of two people I knew. And the other fifty people crammed in front of the TV? Well, they were like family–sharing the moment with me.
That was the power of the soaps. Crazy but true–kinda like the shows themselves. So when I was at the grocery store this weekend and I saw a special magazine devoted to the 40 years of All My Children, I had to buy it. And when the check out lady ran it through, she paused and held it close to her heart for a moment.
“I remember All My Children,” she said. Her voice dropped and her eyes got a little shiny. ”I watched it with my grandma every day up until she died.”
We both sighed together while the person is line behind me got impatient. But some things transcend check out lines. Maybe that’s why I’m sad. It’s not just All My Children that’s ending. It feels like an era is ending, too.
How about you? Do you have a special memory about watching soaps–or a character or storyline you’ve never forgotten? Who knows, I might be able to share it with you…