This post was originally going to be titled “When You Can’t Find the Rainbow’s End” and it was going to be a tribute/en memoriam to One Life to Live which, as was announced Thursday, will be going off the air in January. I imagine that post will appear eventually. But I’m not up to writing it yet.
For a while now being a OLTL fan has been a bit like having a family member or friend with a terminal illness; you know the end is coming, but you still hold out hope for a miracle. After 43 years it seems the show is out of miracles. I thought I would cry. I still think I will eventually. But I haven’t yet. Wanna know why?
Because right now I’m too pissed off.
It’s not just because they canceled my show. That makes me sad, but like I said, I knew it was a matter of time. And I’m enough of a realist to know that television networks are businesses and they’re going to make their decisions based on money not emotional attachments. What makes me mad is the way the whole thing has been handled.
Rumors of the impending cancellations have been really loud for the past several weeks (All My Children is going off the air in September). According to what I’m hearing the decision to cancel AMC was made weeks ago while the final decision to cut OLTL was made last week. The network knew about these decisions. And yet, rather than responding to the rumors with the truth they threw out red herrings; AMC was getting a new, great head writer. Roger Howarth (original Todd) would be returning to OLTL. Granted, many fans were skeptical and saw these announcements as confirmation of the end rather than denial. But that wasn’t how ABC tried to spin it.
Okay, fine, ABC wanted to control the story and announce when they were ready. I think they should have done it sooner, but whatever. I can handle their desire to issue the release in their own time. Except they didn’t. Instead they buried the news in a press release announcing the new shows which will be bumping the soaps out of their timeslots. After four decades the alphabet network didn’t even think the ends of these shows deserved top billing in their own announcement. Bastards. Cat Hickland (former Lindsey, OLTL) tweeted that it was like your husband coming to you and saying he didn’t want to stay married, “But you’re going to love my new girlfriend.” It’s actually more like your husband coming home one day and gushing about this new woman he’s in love with then saying, “By the way—obviously this means we’re over.” Bastards.
And if I’m pissed about how the audience was told I’m even more pissed about how those who worked on the shows were told. Robin Strasser who’s played Dorian on OLTL for the better part of four decades found out from a reporter; best I can tell she wasn’t at work the day the news broke so she didn’t get told with the rest of the cast. I’ve heard the rest of the cast found out only shortly before the announcement was officially made. I realize that the network was probably concerned that if they told the cast and crew someone would leak it before the official announcement. What the fuck ever. It was already being leaked all over the place; act like human beings for about twenty seconds, that’s all I ask.
But what’s really, really pissing me off is Brian Frons, head of ABC Daytime. In the midst of talking up his new shows and how they’re exactly what the audience wants (more on those shows in a minute) he’s been cavalier. He’s been making jokes about the cancellations. Yes, Brian. Hundreds of people just lost their jobs because of a decision you made. That’s hysterical! Imagine someone who ran any sort of manufacturing business announcing the closing of a major plant resulting in major layoffs and joking about it. ABC needs to get this man away from the media stat. He joked about preemptively joining the witness protection program. Oh Brian, soap fans don’t want you dead. They want you to live long enough to see your new shows fail and your network run into the ground by your decisions. They want to see the day you find out from a reporter that you have lost your job. And they want to laugh.
They may also want to saran wrap your car on a very hot day, but that’s another story. (Please note: It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter does not advocate vandalism of anyone’s property. Not even the property of rat sucking asswipes like Brian Frons.)
Then there are the condescending comments from Mr. Frons. There isn’t interest in the shows anymore. But One Life to Live trended on Twitter worldwide all day Thursday and into the wee hours of Friday morning. There isn’t an audience for soaps. Coming on the heels of Univision announcing a 24 hour telenovela network, that sounds a bit idiotic. I think the problem, Brian, is there is not an audience for your soaps. Because you did everything possible to drive them into the ground.
Then he tells us that the new shows are exactly what his audience wants. Let’s consider them briefly. AMC will be replaced by The Chew. No, I didn’t make that name up. And strangely, the show is apparently not about tobacco, no matter what the name suggests. It’s like The View but it’s all about food. I love food, I even like a couple of the cast members, and I still think it’s the most idiotic idea for a knock off show since I found out Animal Planet had a Ghost Hunters knock off which was basically, “People who live in haunted houses and have pets.” Well if that idea’s stupid (and the name downright revolting) OLTL’s replacement is downright offensive. It will be The Revolution a show about health and lifestyle transformations by the same people who brought us The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover: Weight loss Edition. Translation: It’s a weight loss show. Each week will show one woman’s five month weight loss journey. Translation: they are replacing a long running show targeted at women with one that will prey on women’s insecurities and tell us everything that’s wrong with our bodies. Gee Brian, I didn’t know you were such an advocate for eating disorders. Why don’t you just call the show “Your friend Ana.”
You know, I think I’d be less mad if he’d just be upfront and say, “We realize these new shows won’t get great ratings, or make for good television, but they’ll be so cheap to produce we don’t care.”
And in one final asinine comment, when asked what message General Hospital fans should take from their show being the last ABC soap left, Brian said that as long as GH had good ratings it was safe. Last week OLTL had better ratings than GH. Translation: GH cast should invest in current headshots.
In my day I’ve seen a lot of beloved shows canceled before their time, but I’ve never seen in handled this badly. I have never in my life campaigned for anyone to be fired, but starting in January I will boycott all ABC shows until I hear that Brian Frons has lost his job.