Thursday, April 14, 2011

All My Children and One Life to Live - My Father's Intertwined Legacy

Strange title for a post, right? 

I suppose I have some explaining to do right from the start here. 

You see, my Dad loved the soaps.  Only the ones that air on ABC.  He'd watched them for as long as I can remember, and then even longer before that.

He worked alone almost all the time, but he couldn't stand silence.  He had a television at work, but never had more than the most basic channels.  For decades that meant that he had little to choose from in the middle of the day. When I was a kid, every major network aired at least 2 hours of soaps.

There wasn't anything else to watch. 

At some point he settled on the ABC shows.

It was always normal to me that he watched them so religiously, and he used to catch a lot of flak for it from people who didn't understand what it must be like to sit in silence by yourself all day.

Throughout my life I'd pop in and out of watching the shows.  I'd see an episode here and there, but never was an avid every day watcher.  If I had a question about who had married who, or why that person was back when they'd been killed off months ago, or who the mystery teenager was (inevitably the kid that was a baby the last time I'd watched), he would know.  He always knew.

All the receptionists and hygienists in the dentist's offices used to give him a hard time about watching the soaps, but they'd often find themselves asking him for updates about the shows too.  It was an unusual topic of discussion that he always was willing to talk endlessly about. 

Plus it just made him unique.  Not many guys are fans of those shows.

This afternoon, my brother told me he'd just heard that these two shows were canceled.  Llanview and Pine Valley will be gone soon, taking all their drama with them.  Replaced by reality shows, the kind of programming change that Dad hated.  Even with the cheesy story lines and occasionally horrible acting, he liked the fact that the stories were fictional.  That you could get drawn into the imagined world they lived in. 

He hated reality shows.  He watched TV to escape reality, not see more of it.

I guess it's only fitting that these two shows, which served for so many years as his daytime companion, are taking their final bows.  I find it ironic that it's so soon after he left us. 

It's because there weren't many people left like him.  Real fans.  Not enough, anyway.  The fans weren't there anymore to keep up the ratings and justify the shows in the eyes of the network.  Which is a shame. 

When these shows go dark, they'll be closing a chapter on my personal history too.

Insert silent dramatic pause.

Fade to black.

Roll credits.

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