The popular perception of soap operas among those who are not fans is that this form of television entertainment is little better than reality TV with outrageously unbelievable storylines, B-grade acting and a genre where actors who can’t make it in prime time TV or movies go to linger. Fans of soaps know better. For the true fan, a soap opera is a family friend, and the place where forbidden topics are first introduced into the American conversation. By that standard, soaps are often a life saver for many who watch on a daily basis. By introducing controversial topics long before they have entered the mainstream, soaps have often acted as a sounding board and test case to determine what Americans think of a particular issue. Many could argue that soap writers and actors have treated the American people with much more respect than so-called main stream media and press, because the soaps trusted Americans to be able to handle controversial issues without slipping into a hysterical panic.
September 2013 marked two years since ABC cancelled the much beloved “All My Children” and took soap icon Susan Lucci and her alter ego Erica Kane away from the daily lives of soap fans. When ABC made this move they cited declining ratings and expensive production costs and they scheduled talk shows to replace these iconic soaps arguing that the cost to produce such shows would be far less than the cost to produce the soaps. What ABC didn’t count on was the fans of “All My Children” and sister show “One Life to Live” rising up to say enough and turning their considerable ire towards ABC and its parent company Disney. Fans even threatened to turn on another beloved daytime icon, Oprah Winfrey, when she announced that she would not carry the two cancelled soaps on her OWN network.
Fans of Young & The Restless are growing increasingly anxious as Executive Producer Jill Farren Phelps cements her position on the show. Already, fans have seen their favorite stars like Michelle Stafford fired the show among so many others and they have read of long time employees in costume design and musical score being shown the door and replaces with less expensive and less experienced staff. This makes fans of the show incredibly nervous, since Phelps has a reputation for coming in and taking actions that lead to the cancellation of the shows she works on. The soap world is littered with cancelled shows that have been touched by Phelps. The graveyard includes fan favorites like Santa Barbra, Another World, Guiding Light, not to mention the near death of General Hospital after an experience with Phelps. Now fans are asking if Young & The Restless, the top-rated soap for the past 25 years, is next. Although that may seem impossible, it is not when Jill Farren Phelps has her name attached to the show.
This is an open letter to the networks: I hope you are reading this because many soap fans feel the way I do!
I get that all the major networks still operate by the almighty advertising dollar and that their profits are based on viewing figures for every program. It makes no sense to me to keep this model. TV is recorded and ads are fast forwarded at least 70% of the time.