Three years ago, CBS pulled the plug on the longest-running program in the history of broadcasting, Guiding Light. Soap fans who had watched the show (or even listened from its radio days) at any point during its 72 combined years on the air were outraged that their show was leaving the airwaves.
They were even more enraged to learn that a game show would replace it: Let’s Make a Deal took its slot with a wilder, wackier update to the original Monty Hall version. Game shows are cheaper to produce than soaps, so CBS figured that even if ‘Deal’ pulled in the lower ratings ‘GL’ commanded at the time, they’d be better off financially.
The idea seemed to pay off.
The following year, soap fans suffered another blow: the network announced that its 56-year-old soap, As the World Turns, which had become the longest-running soap currently on the air, was also being canceled. It was replaced with The Talk, accused by many angry soap fans as little more than a ripoff of ABC’s The View.
Like game shows, talk shows have a lower budget than soaps, so they help the bottom line, even if the new shows earn the same low ratings the canceled soaps brought in.
These programming changes left only two soaps on CBS’s daytime lineup: The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, which are daytime TV’s two highest-rated soaps.
In the past couple of weeks, CBS has announced two renewals so far for its daytime lineup. And if you’re a soap fan, you may not like it. Yes, it’s the two non-soaps that have so far received the nod from the renewal gurus. Let’s Make a Deal will soon start taping its fourth season, and The Talk is getting its third season this fall.
But there’s no reason to panic: a multi-year renewal will keep ‘Y&R’ on the air through the 2013-2014 season, and ‘B&B’ is already renewed through the end of next season, which will be its 25th.
The landscape of daytime television is likely to continue this trend. ABC and NBC each have one remaining soap on the air.
ABC’s General Hospital is now the longest-running soap, about to reach its 50th anniversary in 2013, assuming it lasts that long. Days of Our Lives, NBC’s last holdout, debuted in 1965.
The Young and the Restless premiered in 1973 and shook things up a bit with its more modern pacing and themes compared to the long history of drawn-out scenes punctuated with organ music. The Bold and the Beautiful, the youngest of the remaining four soaps now on the air.
When I was a kid, my grandmother watched Days of Our Lives. She also watched Search for Tomorrow, a long-defunct soap that had a 35-year run on CBS and NBC. Early into ‘Y&R’s} run, she started watching that. So I grew up with the genre, like many other people.
The nostalgia buff in me hates to see it completely die out, even if soaps are filled with some of the most ridiculous plotlines ever devised.
Are you a soap fan? Are there soaps you used to watch regularly that are no longer on the air or are you still a fan of one or more of the remaining soaps?