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Scott D. Pierce: Soap opera fans lashing out at wrong people

Published August 22, 2011 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Soap opera fans are an angry bunch these days, and that's understandable.

But in their anger, some of them are lashing out at the wrong people.

As we all know, daytime soaps are dying. Once there were 19. Only four will remain once "All My Children" signs off on Sept. 23, and "One Life to Live" exits on Jan. 20.

And the future is none too bright for the remaining four: "General Hospital," "Days of Our Lives," "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."

There are a lot of reasons for this, but what it comes down to is simply this: Soap ratings have been declining for decades. And the ratings are too low to support the expense of the shows.

TV shows get canceled all the time. The difference here is that prime-time shows might last a few years, while soaps have lasted a few decades. So the emotional attachment of the remaining soap fans is, understandably, strong.

And emotional people aren't always rational. Like the fan who tweeted at me, "Viewers didn't quit watching. ABC quit counting."

So: ABC plotted to kill successful shows because it's not in the business of making money? That's not rational thinking.

Which explains why soap fans are taking their anger out on ABC's new daytime show "The Chew" — an unfortunately named talk show that's about food, lifestyle and entertaining.

"Are you at all concerned that there's a pretty active online movement to boycott your show?" one critic asked the producer and stars of "The Chew." "Are you concerned that there's a lot of resentment that really has nothing to do with your show itself? That people are just not going to give your show a chance?"

Indeed, there are a whole bunch of online sites promoting not just a boycott of "The Chew," which is replacing "All My Children," but "The Revolution," a talk show that's scheduled to replace "One Life to Live" in January.

"Chew" executive producer Gordon Elliott was quick to point out that both "AMC" and "OLTL" are headed for the Internet. But no one is convinced that will turn out to be anything soap fans will recognize.

But Elliott hit it on the head when he said, "We were asked to come and join the daytime lineup because daytime tastes have changed."

The fact is that ABC decided to cancel the soaps before it decided what would replace them. If it wasn't "The Chew," it would be something else.

I'm not saying soap fans will like or should watch "The Chew." I'm more than a bit skeptical about the show myself.

But blaming "The Chew" is ridiculous. If your longtime friends who live next door were bumped off, you'd blame the killers. You wouldn't boycott the new people who move into their house.

That wouldn't be rational.

Scott D. Pierce's column appears Mondays and Fridays. Contact him at spierce@sltrib.com or on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.






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