Death of daytime

If video killed the radio star, then I guess it can be said that Snooky killed Erica Kane.

Sure, it may sound like a great idea for the latest incarnation of daytime television drama, but I am sorry to report, it’s true. Come next September, Susan Lucci sightings will be relegated to late-night infomercials, plastic surgery waiting rooms and Michael Jackson look-alike contests.

That’s right, after 41 years of the best days of their lives, ABC has pulled the life support on two of its longest running soaps, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” (Other ABC mainstay “General Hospital” escaped the hatchet, but only because it gets regular house calls from James Franco.)

If you happen to be a regular consumer of pop culture such as myself, you probably already know all this, have had a good cry on the couch with some bonbons and are desperately clinging to the hope that in the final episode, we will at last learn who parented all these conniving, delusional children in the first place. And in case you didn’t know, or perhaps you have been desperately trying to escape from a remote fortress where you have been locked away by your evil twin for the last few years, I apologize for the news flash. And no, I’m pretty sure it’s not a faked death to throw off the husband’s gold-digging mistress.

Anyway, as saddened as I am to say goodbye to such great childhood friends as Jenny, Greg, Nina and Cliff, I can’t say the latest twist in daytime TV is all that surprising. Seems I wasn’t the only one told to “get off my lazy ass,” clean my room and get a life. Yes, over the years, “The Real World” as well as the real world have slowly eaten away at the soap opera’s faithful fanbase: teenage girls who were forced to abandon the reflective raft and tanning accelerator and seek gainful employment that unfortunately interferes with the prime tanning and viewing hours of 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

And what about those of us who like to sneak away to the “home office” for an occasional dose of what the handsome doc who is being framed for murder ordered? Not to worry – ABC will be replacing our beloved trash TV with what it calls “lifestyle” shows about health and food. Excuse me? What could be more enriching than watching a bunch of self-absorbed rich people (practically like family) stab each other in the back or get run over in cold blood by a jealous step-sister driving the car of the man who supposedly fathered her illegitimate child? I’m sorry, but that beats Mario Batali saving the world any day.

Perhaps I am a little biased because I was practically weaned on the boob tube. I can remember the sacred hour of 2 p.m. in my grandmother’s house, when the ambulance sirens whined through the streets of Port Charles. For the next hour, you were ordered to remain silent or scarce, and anything not immediately life-threatening or requiring a blood transfusion (unless, of course, it happened to be on the TV) was ordered to wait until a commercial break.

So yes, I was hooked at a young age, sort of like Erica right before she went into rehab. And the best part about it all was the glacial pace at which the storyline moved. Sort of like having amnesia, you could take off weeks, days, years, and never miss a beat. And even more remarkable, none of these people seemed to age, ever. Sure, the pancake got a little thicker and the focus a little softer, but overall Victor Newmann looks the same today as when he rescued Nikki from the stripper club 25 years ago. It’s as if they have been encased in a hermetically sealed tanning bed.

Ok, I know times are changing, and there may be no need for over-the-top outrageous drama when modern-day housewives from hell seem to contrive plenty on their own. But I’ll take the safe, well-trodden streets of Pine Valley over the greasy skids of the Jersey Shore any day. Plus, where would Kelly Ripa, Demi Moore or John Stamos be without their starts in dysfunction junction? I shudder to think of a “Half-Full House” or “Regis and Whoopie.”

Alas, I am aware that the times are changing, even if the plotlines are not. I also know full well that a good majority of you have no idea what I’m talking about (or at least pretend not to). And this whole discussion only highlights the fact that the death of soaps means I’m just one step closer to that giant cathode ray tube in the sky. But for those who do get it, rest assured – rumor has it that Susan Lucci will not be left hawking pilates DVDs to insomniacs. No, the dastardly diva is reportedly taking up residence on Wysteria Lane later this summer.

As for the likes of Snooky, Bethany, Kim, Khloe and the rest of the reality “Me-TV” crowd, we can only hope their end is nearing, too. But if you really want to find out who killed the reality star, you’ll have to stay tuned …

– Missy Votel



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