I really liked this monologue from the penultimate episode of One Life to Live. It really showcases how, love them or hate them, (and regardless of your feelings on what they’ve done to story lines and characters), the writers really “get” their viewers. They understand why we watch soaps, our connection to the cast and characters, the history, and our sorrow at show’s end.
The fans are so loyal, so passionate, so invested in their stories. I always ask how they started watching “Fraternity Row.” Some of them were stay-at-home mothers taking a break before their children came home from school. Others were college students with free time between classes. Many of them inherited a love of the show from their parents or their grandparents, who were longtime fans themselves. I remember the first time I tuned in to “Fraternity Row.” I was hooked instantly. I needed to know what would happen next to these fascinating people. Would the hero and heroine find their way back to true love? Would the villains get their comeuppance? Or would their crimes go unpunished? Would loving families overcome their obstacles or would their troubles prove too difficult to surmount? Ultimately, that’s what soap opera is about — families. Close families. Rival families. Even families that are unexpected. Or the ones we choose for ourselves. And when a show is lucky enough to be on the air as long as “Fraternity Row” has been on, these families become extensions of our own. The audience might be upset when a favorite actor leaves… but they’re always willing to welcome a new one, even when that new cast member is quite different than the one being replaced. After all, this is a place where people come back from the dead, go off to grade school in the morning and come home from high school in the afternoon. Because for every new face, every new couple, every new family, there are long-familiar faces… some who have grown up before our very eyes and a few more we hope to watch grow up. We know them so well. They’ve become our friends. We yearn for their happiness, especially when it’s hard-won. We laugh as they laugh. We cry as they cry. And we can’t imagine doing without them. And when things are at their very worst on the show, that’s when we seem to enjoy them the most. There’s just one thing we have to do to keep them in our lives. Tune in tomorrow. Erika Slezak as Victoria Lord on One Life to Live
OK, I’m done writing about soaps now. Hopefully my use of the word “penultimate” makes up for my shallowness in caring about this particular genre of television, and my sorrow at its demise!