A few weeks ago CBS announced that it would be canceling Guiding Light in September. I’ve been reading all about its demise and pondering what it means to all of us who love soaps. I have to confess I’ve never watched GL, being an All My Children chick myself, but the loss of this venerable soap opera sort of took me aback. I mean after 72 years you just pull the plug. Harsh. And replace it with another talk show? Double harsh.
There have been rumblings for a few years online and in the soap rags that daytime dramas are on their way out, and I have been the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand. Lose soaps? Never happen! Remember, I’m the girl who writes about lost love, sex and the trials of relationships and then breaks for lunch to watch. . . wait for it. . . lost love, sex and the trials of relationships. But now that the reality of such a cold, heartless decision to end GL’s daily dose of infidelity, romance, divorce, precedent setting three day operations and secret evil twins, I grew uneasy for my own chosen profession, as well as my own dose of AMC.
I even woke up the other night in a bit of a panic. How could this happen? Why are viewers leaving their soaps? What has been lost that has left viewers apathetic to actually sitting down and watching? And here is what I think:
Yes, you all know how I feel about spoilers, but I think spoilers, tips, inside scoops and chat boards that delve into and dissect upcoming story lines are killing soaps. Okay, I admit it, I read the soap rags occasionally, and recently signed up for an ABC soap update newsletter. I also belong to an online board for AMC fans who knit. Really, I do. I don’t know what that says about me, either I have too much time on my hands that I actually found that board, or I’ve really got to get a life. But here is the consequence of having too much information about contract talks, story lines and character reveals: I’ve lost the love. Because I’ve already been told that Krystal has some big dark secret that Adam has tracked down, that when it happened this week, I could have cared less, all because I’ve known this was going to happen for a few weeks.
It could also be that the AMC writers are telling their stories at the sort of pace that has me thinking they need to take the espresso machine out of the writing room, but that is another rant for another day. Well, one more little rant: Pacing, people! Pacing! Story telling is not about who finishes first.
Okay, back to my original train of thought.
I fear that as a society we are sinking the joy of being surprised, the thrill of being shocked, the roller coaster ride of following a couple going from true loathing to true love, all because we must be in the know. Really, we don’t need to know everything. Really, we don’t. Because it is that wonderful thrill of riding along and discovering the story as it unfolds that can fill your heart with a sense of wonder, overflow the experience with an entire range of emotions other than just a ho-hum sense of been there, done that. Do you truly want to live your life knowing what comes next? I think we as human beings are treasure hunters, and we thrive on the thrill of discovery, the wrong turns, dreaming of what could happen around the bend. I don’t want a map anymore.
There, I feel so much better because I know how to solve my own sudsy malaise–stop looking for the information. I suspect that will get my mojo back. How about you–are you willing to try–go to a movie without reading a review or watching the trailers? Check out a new book without reading an excerpt or a review? Watch your favorite reality show without searching for tidbits via Google? Treasure hunt with me, won’t you?