A Sad–But Not Final–Day in Soap History: When OLTL Was Canceled


Five years ago this week, “One Life to Live” (OLTL) went off the air. New York City lost its last remaining soap, and the genre lost one of it’s greatest and longest running shows. I wrote the editorial below that day. I am reposting here to mark the anniversary of that sad day–and to remind readers that as Soap Cities recently reported, the fight to bring back “All My Children” (AMC) and OLTL continues! I co-founded a group, Soap Fans United, which organized protests outside ABC Studios in New York City the same year AMC and OLTL were canceled. And, we’ve recently gotten word that ABC is discussing what to do with our beloved shows now that they have the rights to them back. Also, the fans aren’t giving up the fight to save our beloved AMC and OLTL.

It is sad when a network decides to kill the soap opera genre to put on reality/unscripted shows against the wishes of its very own audience. As Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord, OLTL) succintly put it, “We were told the daytime audience doesn’t want entertainment anymore, and that they just want information. Well, that’s the biggest load of bull—t. People always want entertainment.”

And the numbers prove it–the latest ratings show that from December 26th-30th OLTL is ABC’s top rated daytime show, coming in at #3 with a total household viewing audience of 2,897,000–that number is up a whopping 279.000 viewers from last week and 52,000 viewers last year. How can ABC justify cancelling a soap opera that entertains millions and comes under budget, making a profit? If this happened in primetime, the people in charge of ABC (Anne Sweeney/Bob Iger) would be held ACCOUNTABLE and their careers would be in jeopardy. Why is this travesty allowed to go on? Why won’t ABC/Disney listen to our voices? Why haven’t the AFTRA, WGA, and NABET unions spoken up to defend its own members who are being put out of work? Why hasn’t the NYC Film & TV Commission spoken up, along with the Mayor of NYC.

A viable & vibrant art form that is revered and respected in other countries is being killed. Where will the next Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Julianne Moore, and the next Meg Ryan will come from?

Give us your input in the comment section below. Check back with Soap Cities for more AMC/OLTL news, updates, fun, and more! Follow us on Twitter at @soapcities, on Instagram at @soapcities, and come chat with us in our Facebook group. “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” will one day be back on-screen—never doubt!

Akbi Khan has been watching and loving soap operas for 31 years and writing about them for the last four. She also loves sitcoms; musicals; laughter; going dancing; spending time with family and friends; fighting for animal rights, ethical environmental stewardship, civil liberties preservation, and LGBTQ rights; and evolving along a spiritual path. She has a Master’s in rhetoric and composition. Akbi is 39 years old and lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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