So what if they have earned the distinction of “least watched daytime soap?”
Sure, almost every character has shot or been shot by another character (or both), and people pop in and out of comas like the little heads in a Whack-a-Mole game. Affairs and kidnappings occur with the regularity of a Boomer on a fiber supplement, and every scene ends with one character staring vacantly into the camera so that the audience will come back for The Response.
This is what soap operas DO, and I am distraught that As the World Turns won’t get to do it any more, come September. This neverending charade of misery has been my guilty pleasure on and off since my mother hooked me in high school during summer vacation, and I am going to miss Carly, Barbara, Jack, Lucinda, Margo, Emily, Kim, Bob, Lily, weird Paul and even perky Katie and stolid Holden like I would miss a big pack of familymembers that suddenly disappeared.
I don’t get to see it every day but most soaps can be caught up with in about the first ten minutes every five years or so. It’s one reason they are so popular. They never make you feel dumb.
Besides, ATWT has hatched such stars Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei and Julianne Moore and scored enough daytime Emmies to fill the party goods warehouse where Barbara has recently been held hostage by evil Iris Dembrowski. That’s proof enough it’s quality entertainment.
Besides, this show has entertained daytimers for 54 tear-stained years. With backstory like that, the characters in ATWT are so multi-dimensional that they frequently shapeshift from beloved heroine to hated villainess and back in the same episode. Of course, often that gets them committed to mental health institutes (I hope Meg gets out before the show ends).
Watching ATWT has even taught me a few things that have come in handy in my own work: mainly, that people will watch (read) anything if they care enough about the characters, and that a writer must never leave a scene without a gasp uttered, a secret learned, a body discovered, an illicit kiss stolen, a villain snickering, a hero passing out, a patient’s amnesia starting to lift, a pregnancy test stick turning pink, or a note carelessly tossed into a wastebasket from which it is sure to be retrieved.
But don’t misunderstand; I am not trying to justify having watched ATWT all these years — I am pretty much over the guilty part of the pleasure. I merely mourn the passing of old friends who wear designer gowns to the local burger joint and get really great facelifts every few years so that they never seem to age.
I do so love fantasy.