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A Soap Watcher’s Legacy: My Grandmother’s Gift to Me

Soap operas are a legacy passed on to me from my grandmother. Prior to my preschool days I spent every weekday afternoon sitting on the floor in front of the television soaking up the drama occurring in Pine Valley and Llanview.

And when it was time for preschool and kindergarten, I conveniently went in the mornings and still made it home to sit in front of the TV with her. Considering she was a volunteer at my preschool, I now realize she probably made my schedule work that way. Once I grew older, I still managed to keep up with the shows thanks to her and spent my summer breaks with her every afternoon.

To some parents, All My Children and One Life to Live may have been a little inappropriate for their child to watch. To a soap viewer, it’s normal. I’ve found that a lot of viewers started watching with an older person in their home and the show became something more than just a handful of characters that lied, cheated, and slept their way around town.

We remember the stories involving autism, sexuality, eating disorders, AIDS, drug addiction, alcoholism, rape, and one of the biggest driving forces behind soaps, stories of romance. All of these topics were covered by ABC soaps, some for the very first time. All My Children was a pioneer when it came to stories about AIDS and sexuality, and even had the first same sex marriage on daytime. So many soap “outsiders” tend to think that soaps are about nothing except conniving liars and cheaters, but there is more to them (or in some cases, there used to be). They broke new ground for television and went places that other shows weren’t willing to go yet.

I vividly remember when Haley Santos burst onscreen with that jet black hair and an attitude that was ready to take on the best of them. I remember when Todd Manning raped Marty. I remember the grace, gentleness, and kind heart of Stuart Chandler. I remember anxiously waiting for the next time that one of Viki’s personalities was going to break through. Even as a child, I couldn’t get enough Nikki in my life. Not to mention all of Erica’s men, Asa’s women, and Adam’s constant wars with whoever stepped in his path.

We remember the classic couples, the romances that made daytime worthwhile. For All My Children: Dimitri and Erica, Julia and Noah, Edmund and Brooke, Haley and Mateo, Greenlee and Leo, Bianca and Reese, Jessie and Angie, etc. For One Life to Live: Viki and Clint, Bo and Nora, Todd and Blair, Jessica and Nash, Max and Luna, Cristian and Jessica, Joey and Dorian, David and Dorian, Patrick and Marty, Cord and Tina, etc.

The list is endless. Every fan has their favorites. These are just the ones I remember. I loved the first love sweetness of Cristian and Jessica, the flair and humor (that still exists) of David and Dorian, and the drama that Kendall stirred up between Dimitri and Erica. Each romance was magical yet deliciously complicated.

All viewers remember the friendships, the girl fights, the boy fights, the paternity secrets, the scandals, the psychopaths, the affairs, the funerals, and pretty much every moment of heartache that played out on our screens. We remember everything because we lived every single moment of it with these characters. We felt everything that happened to them and had the same flood of emotions. When they were sad, we were sad. When they were in love, we were in love. And when they were completely enraged, we were, too.

But what we remember most is that connection that soaps have given us to other people aside from the characters and actors on the show. We remember that very first time we saw a soap, who we were watching with, and what was on the screen, and mostly we remember how it became such a beloved past time.

When I think of All My Children and One Life to Live, I think of my grandmother and the hours spent watching these shows together that formed into the kind of bond that only a soap viewer can understand. For those couple of hours a day (which eventually turned to three when we added General Hospital to our day), my grandma was all mine and the stories of these people in Pine Valley and Llanview were ours.

With the news of All My Children and One Life to Live’s cancellation, I’m heartbroken for those who have lost their jobs, for my fellow viewers, and for that little girl inside me who still tuned in from time to time just to feel closer to the grandmother that isn’t here anymore. She gave me this legacy of drama, complicated relationships, and kinship, and it’s become increasingly obvious that I’m not going to have it to pass on some day.

For me, that’s the worst thing of all.

Please take the time to visit the Save Soaps website for information on how to rally support for All My Children and One Life to Live. It’s very informative and gives you everything you need: http://savesoaps.freei.me/. TVSource is also looking for fans to share their memories of growing up a soap fan and watching AMC and OLTL. Please e-mail your stories to mailbag@soapoperasource.com.

Amber Cunigan
Senior Editor, TVSource Magazine

Special thanks to @Robansuefarm for helping me with the title!


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About the author

Amber Cunigan

Amber Cunigan is a sarcastic mid-twenties undergrad, extreme book hoarder, Netflix addict, and reality TV aficionado. She enjoys excessive amounts of chocolate and caffeine, tweeting, and all things Ezra Fitz and Ryan Gosling. When it comes to TV, she expects to be thoroughly entertained and when not, she will slam and mock you, but still tune in next week. She's a glutton for punishment. Basically, she's awesome.