Recently ABC television announced the cancellation of two soap operas, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” Since the final episode of “All My Children” is scheduled for September of 2011, I could remain in the closet about my secret. All I need to do is keep silent until September and then no one would ever know that I am a soap opera addict. After all, I’ve been hiding my addiction for 38 years.
Soap operas were on the “do not watch” list in my house growing up, along with Elvis. Elvis was too much “pelvis” and soap operas were an inane waste of time according to my father. My best friend’s mother, however, did not share the same beliefs as my father. I got my first glimpse of soaps at my friend’s house. I danced to “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” there also. Not only did my friend have every song Elvis recorded, her mother watched soap operas.
My friend’s mother did not get me hooked on soap operas, however. It wasn’t until college that I started experimenting with soaps. A couple of friends and I would spend about 15 minutes eating lunch and then rush to the lounge to watch 15 minutes of “Search for Tomorrow” before heading to our next class. I quickly passed through this phase once I was out in the real world and working full time.
“All My Children” (AMC) is one of the longest running soap operas. It began in 1970. In 1973, after the birth of my first child, I started watching “All My Children.” I was a stay-at-home mom and newborns eat often. To stave off boredom, I would sit in front of the television while feeding my daughter. It was at that time that I became acquainted with Erica Kane (aka Susan Lucci) and all the residents of Pine Valley, Pa. By the time my second daughter was born three years later, the characters of AMC had lured me in hook, line and sinker. I loved the clothes they wore; the modern lofts they occupied and their glamorous jobs; jobs that allowed them time for numerous love affairs and other nefarious activities.
I am not proud that I watch soaps. My husband, like my father, thinks they are a silly waste of time. He knows of my addiction and is tolerant, which means he keeps his eye-rolling to a minimum. I keep my habit a secret from friends and family, however, for fear they would think less of me. Research has been done on who watches soap operas. More women than men watch soaps (no surprise there), people with a lesser level of education (I beg to differ), and there are more younger (18-29 years old) and older ( over 50) viewers. I fit right in with those findings.
When my daughters were in their teens I reentered the working world and was able to quit AMC cold turkey. I would catch an episode here and there but didn’t get back into the habit seriously until I retired. The good thing about soaps is that you can leave them for years at a time and when you return not much has changed. Retirement made it easy to fall back into the habit. New technology allows me to record my soap and get my fix when I want.
So why come out of the closet now? There may be others out there who have low self esteem because of the shows they watch. I want you to know you aren’t alone. Does it bother me that “All My Children” is being canceled? No, I’m actually grateful for the extra time I will have now. There is always a new drug with which to experiment.
Source of “Who Watches Soap Operas” research: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/loader.cfm?url=/commonspot/security/getfile.cfm&PageID=13662