Guiding Light leading daytime’s echo chamber

Ellen Wheeler wants to Save Daytime (Thanks LizDC at the Official GL board for posting the link.  There are so many issues with this article, but this line in particular caught my eye:

The stereotypical soap viewer is the older housewife, but the shows have historically picked up a lot of fans on college campuses. With its face-lift, Guiding Light is banking on pulling in a whole new generation of viewers. “I do think if you were flipping through the channels you wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, this is a soap opera, I’m not going to stop,’ ” says Wheeler. “You wouldn’t know what it was.”

Here’s the problem… most of us STILL don’t seem to know what GL is.  The show bears little to no resemblance to the GL of even a decade ago.  It has little resemblance to a reality show. It feels more as if the show is a documentary about insane people blowing around some small town pretending they’re soap characters.  I miss daytime.  The REAL daytime.  I began watching daytime with my grandmother – anyone I’ve every spoken to about watching soaps began watching with one of those ‘stereotypically older viewers’ that daytime now laments and discounts.

Those S.O.V’s were daytime’s best kept secret – their most reliable recruiting tool.  I loved almost all daytime storylines, and didn’t care if there were hormonal teens or hot young adults on air.  I loved the family interactions interspersed with outrageous behavior (which did not include: demonic possession, time travel, cloned dead wives, space travel, alien life forms, witches, living dolls, or much of any of the other much which has creeped into daytime storytelling.  If daytime fans wanted that, Dark Shadows would still be on air.)

Outrageous behavior,  in the early days, was ‘stealing’ a husband or wife, or DAYS’ Julie stealing from department stores.  It’s hard to believe how the definition of outrageous has changed.

The interviewer goes on to add:

The actors generally approve of the reality-style shooting, which leads to a fresher kind of acting. “It’s less like shooting a play,” says Murray Bartlett, who plays Cyrus the Australian jewel thief. “Now you can lose yourself in the environment. It feels more intimate, and you can hopefully be more subtle.”

Could someone reconcile the writer’s (not the actor’s) comment with this:

Carolyn: Can you give me an example of what you’re talking about?

Actor: Getting changed in the backseat of a car without the windows tinted on a busy street while trying to run lines with the actor in the car with you, because you don’t have any other time to rehearse. Holding your own lights. Stuff that’s just laughable. And they want a good product from this? The system is there for a reason, so people are taken advantage of and exploited. We all need to have our jobs respected…  Read the full transcript HERE

How is it that the soap press can tell what a complete disaster filming in Peapack is but the author of this article sells the ‘new’ GL as inventive?  The author can’t be a fan of daytime.  I know daytime is considered fluff but I wish those outside the genre would ask some seriously tough quesions of soaps Executive Producers and Writers.  Doing a puff piece on it is a waste of time and leaves fans feeling even MORE frustrated.

Where is the discussion about RPG (Gus) and BE (Harley) and the others (like Laura Wright, ex-Cassie) who have jumped ship because of low morale after the Wheeler team took over?  Where are the comments about the actors who are afraid of speaking up out of fear or retaliation? Why haven’t there been any comments that the ratings keep sinking, and fast, even for the new format? 

Everything about daytime is superficial now.  That includes the articles written about daytime.  GL’s Bartlett may indeed enjoy the new filming setting, at least until the fall chill and winter months set in.  I’m waiting to see what the show does then.  If the soap press, who is presumably closer to the actors and actually talks to more of them, is to be believed, all is not well in the city and state of Peapack, New Jersey. 

The interviewer talked with Wheeler about the storylines she didn’t like and got rid of but you didn’t ask her about the GL history she knows, loves, and what has she done to try to build on what once worked, what she’d like to do to return to the style and level of writing that kept fans tuned in.  If Wheeler’s done so and I’ve missed it, someone let me know!  What I also find interesting is that daytime execs use to ‘blame OJ’ (or the OJ trial) for the decline of soap ratings.  Mechling’s article goes all the way back to the 1992 introduction of MTV’s ‘Real World’. 

Well hells bells, COPS was introduced in 1989, Springer took the air in 1991, what other ‘reality’ show dealing with human relationships can we blame?  Enough with the excuses.  The problem for daytime, in my opinion, is that writers and producers have spent more time focusing on gimmicks.  They’ve decided that the familial relationships developed with longtime favorite characters were ‘too old-fashioned’.  They’ve killed off both. 

Daytime is notorious for following bad leads (both inside and outside of the genre) – Marlena’s possession on DOOL and then the introduction of ‘Passions’ has turned into a host of ‘supernatural’ storylines across daytime for some time and has only recently seemingly ended.  Siblings and parents share lovers more intimately and often than ever before.  Misattributed paternities are the norm, not the exception, and with such, there’s no longer a stigma on dating someone who was once your father or brother (Ridge and Bridget, BnB). 

Oh.Snap!  Great!  Now I’m wondering why I’m still watching daytime.  I have to go and consider the point… I’ll see you next blog… maybe…

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