Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #712: Downside/Upside

The ABC network has cancelled venerable soap operas All My Children and One Life To Live, to replace them with cheaper talk/lifestyle shows. If you don't know your TV/pop culture history, soap operas go back to the days of radio, and they were essentially daily melodramas created for the express purpose of entertaining housewives while they did their cooking and cleaning. They got their name because of their overwrought, melodramatic, even operatic, story-lines, and almost all of the original soap operas were either sponsored or produced directly by rival soap companies.

The soap opera's been having a bit of a rough time lately, network's see them as overly expensive because of their large casts and crews, and audiences just aren't as eager or able to indulge in this guilty pleasure as much as they used to. So one by one, or in this case, two at a time, they are being cast into the dustbin of television history.

So let's look at the downside of this decision, and then try to end on an optimistic note by trying to think up an upside.


1. A lot of people are out of work. Soap operas have large casts, large crews, and provide a lot of employment. All of the on-camera jobs, and the majority of the behind the camera jobs will not be picked up by the new "lifestyle" shows because they use much smaller crews, way fewer writers, and almost no actors.

2. Soaps are the gateway gig for a lot of young actors. Look at a lot of people in movies and TV, and quite a few of them got their first jobs doing small parts on soap operas. Some spent time as soap regulars, and it taught them how to work hard and to be prepared, lessons a few members of the so-called "A-List" could use.

3. I'll be willing to bet dollars to donuts that the shows replacing the soaps will make their soapiest silliest story-lines look like an episode of
Firing Line, featuring John Maynard Keynes debating economic price systems with F.A. Hayek.


1. It's an upside for filmmakers because people with lots of soap experience can be worked like rented mules, and think it's a vacation. Soap schedules are brutal, and they instill a pretty solid work ethic in actors, writers, and crew. Many who move to working in movies or prime-time television usually find that work a hell of a lot easier. So if you're a producer looking for reasonably priced actors and crews willing and able to work fast, you're in luck, some will soon be available.

As you can see the downsides badly outnumber the upsides. Personally, I wish the casts and crews of the two cancelled shows good luck finding new work. They're going to need it in today's entertainment market.

No comments:

Post a Comment