As the Chile Peppers

Surprise! This isn’t about the Habs (who play their last regular season game tomorrow against the hated Leafs (who didn’t make the playoffs (again)) – and btw how fast was this season? Wasn’t it just October yesterday?)

No, this one is about the highly likely timely demise of the soap opera, All My Children. I was just reading about it, about how the soap opera itself is a dying genre, with many long-lived soaps wrapping up their 30-year-old stories in recent years. All My Children is one of the last 6 surviving soaps, and it looks like this story too, due to financial hardship and waning viewership, will soon come to an end.

I haven’t watched it in years, but I’m admitting here that I used to, for a long, long time.

When I was a little girl, before I was even in school, I would watch it with my mom. As a matter of fact, this was before I even knew English. My mom, who with my father had immigrated to Canada with 3 children under the age of five, was stuck in a cramped apartment on Decarie in the freezing months of winter with us kids, husband at the office all day, not knowing a single soul in Montreal,and speaking only basic  English and no French, did what I imagine a lot of other mothers in similar situations did during the day, in between cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting, washing, and feeding 3 highly dependent children – she flicked on the fancy black & white RCA set to the soaps.

Of course she didn’t have tons of time to watch, and for whatever reason, the favourite she picked was All My Children. Back then, Susan Lucci was ACTUALLY in her 30s instead of being, what, 70, and looking to be in her 30s. Look, I’m just jealous. If when I’m 70 I have the means and the access to the brilliant plastic surgeons she has at her disposal to make her look decades younger without looking like a walking freakshow, I’ll take it. La Lucci looks amazing.

Anyway, the crazy storylines were pure entertainment and a way to, besides learn English, take a little break out of a busy day. I’d sit with her and watch for a few minutes at a time, but again, I had no idea what these crazy people were saying and being merely 3 or 4 I wouldn’t have understood these topics even if I knew English. A few minutes would end, then I’d probably go back to terrorizing my brothers for a while (side note – epiphany – now I know where my daughter gets it. Forget it, I’ll never admit that in real life).

The years went on and as I grew up, I’d still watch, with or without my mom, during summer holidays and if I came home for lunch during the school year. That was the good thing about All My Children, it was on at noon. I’d keep up with the teen love storylines that happened every summer.

When I was in my last high school year, my family moved back to Chile and of course, they didn’t show it in Chile so I missed about 7 years of the story. But I got enough gossip and entertainment magazines mailed to me to know that Erica Kane was still blazing through husbands, had crazy long lost siblings coming out of the woodwork, and that many characters we were sure were dead were brought miraculously back to life to continue their diabolical ways.

When I moved back to Canada, it was first to Ottawa. The day I landed, in the morning, I checked into my hotel and switched on the TV while wating for my boyfriend to come get me – and wouldn’t you know – All My Children was on. A lot of the old characters I knew were still on it, and though I’d missed 7 years, in 2 or 3 episodes I was caught right up. Good old soap operas.

I would record it while I was at work, and watch it in the evenings, or maybe watch Monday to Friday’s episodes all in one go on the weekend. When you watch them that way, you realize just how much of the program is just filler. Fast-forward, fast-forward. I had one friend who said she would just watch Friday’s and Monday’s shows – Friday for the cliffhanger, Monday to wrap up the cliffhanger, then the following Friday that wrapped up the rest of the week which was always basically filler. Not a bad little system.

After becoming a mom, I’d pop in the show when I was up for 1am, 3am, 5am, etc. feedings and it kind of kept me sane. Funny that.

It was when my marriage ended that I basically stopped watching the show. Frankly, I had enough stupid soap opera drama in my real life that the last thing I needed was to turn to a soap opera for escape. Besides, working full time and looking after my own children by myself the rest of the time only permitted so much time to escape – so I dropped the show altogether. Something had to give. (I actually watch almost no TV shows at all anymore. Since Lost went off the air, I basically just make time for hockey. Oooh, and Grey’s Anatomy. Which is almost getting insane itself. Oh, and 30 Rock.)

It was weird. After all those years, I didn’t even miss it. Sometimes I wonder what all those crazy folks are up to, but I’m not curious enough to actually find out. I saw that the show itself moved from New York to Los Angeles to film, to cut down on costs, but that’s all I’ve really heard about the show since unceremoniously breaking up with it.

And now, it seems that the soap is preparing to write its final scene. I’m not sure, but that’s what I read today. I kind of hope not, even though I’m sure that La Lucci, with endorsements and Shopping Channel products and the like, will be just fine.

However, if and when they do shoot their final show, I’ll set my PVR. Maybe I’ll watch it with my mom.

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Comments

  1. I used to catch a few minutes myself when I was on summer vacation. My mom watched it religiously (along with One Life to Live and General Hospital).

    I hated them then, but could never fully turn away (especially when Vanessa Marcil was on screen). I won’t lose any sleep, but I have to admit that I’m a little sad that such institutions are dying off slowly but surely.

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