We’re not even going to front, we’ve never ever seen a single episode of Guiding Light. Growing up, our household always tended to migrate towards ABC’s holy trifecta of All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital, and as anyone who grew up with a family member who was even the least bit into soaps will attest, viewers tend to be fiercely loyal to their stories. So when we read TV Week’s report that CBS is considering pulling the plug on Guiding Light, a.k.a. the longest-running daytime drama on television, we didn’t exactly break down and start sobbing. However, we are very interested in seeing how the Tiffany Network decides to handle this delicate transition and what they’ll possibly fill the slot with.
We say “delicate” because, as we have already mentioned, viewers of soap operas are among the most loyal and passionate fan bases that exist in the entertainment world: They make Twilight fans look positively fair-weather by comparison! So it’s no surprise that when TV Week began speculating that CBS might cancel Guiding Light after 70-plus years on radio and television, angry commenters immediately began threatening to boycott Proctor & Gamble products.* And now that Entertainment Weekly has confirmed that the show will almost certainly leave the schedule when its contract with the network expires in September, fans of soap operas — not just GL fans — are concerned about the future of the entire genre.
Because, you see, the reality epidemic has had as much effect on the way networks program their daytime schedules as it has with their primetime lineups. Even though daytime programs tend to have lower budgets than their prime-time brethren, scripted dramas like GL tend to be twice as expensive to produce as reality-driven fare like talk shows or game shows. And with audiences dwindling and big-ticket sponsors cutting back their marketing budgets (when they’re not going bankrupt), networks have begun programming to the margins rather than ratings, leaving the genre of soap operas in a precarious position.
So what will CBS and P&G do? Representatives from both entities refused to comment, but whatever they do, we encourage them to be bold with their decision. After all, we’re not programmers by any stretch of the imagination, but doesn’t the time seem like it’s right to launch a brand-new soap that caters to a younger, more Internet-savvy audience? You know, something that will drum up some action on Twitter and the Tumblrs, something controversial and off-kilter, like Passions. Unfortunately, though, we’ll probably get stuck with another judge show.
*P&G is both a producer and a sponsor of the show.
CBS Shopping for ‘Light’ Replacement [TV Week]