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SoapsGiving: 5 things soap-opera fans have to be thankful for

Soap-opera fans are not exactly a shy and retiring bunch. When something pisses them off, they complain, promptly and loudly (just check out some of these classic fan campaigns). Unfortunately, all of the ear-splitting bitching and moaning tends to drown out the positive. So, in the spirit of the season, we take a look at five things soap opera fans have to be thankful for this year:

1) There are four soaps still on the air
This century has not been a good one for soap operas. Another World‘s cancellation after a 35-year run in 1999 heralded the end of the golden age of television soaps. Between then and now, we also lost Sunset Beach, Passions (the show that replaced AW), Port Charles, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, All My Children and One Life to Live. That’s the bad news. The good news is that The Bold & the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Young & the Restless are still airing five days a week, 52 weeks a year, no summers off, no newfangled “mid-season finales.” That’s something to be grateful for, always.

2) Ratings are up
When the aforementioned AW was taken off the air in 1999, it had a 2.4 rating. In 2012, when GH was the lone surviving ABC soap after the cancellation of AMC and OLTL, it had a rating of 2.0 (as did DOOL). The second-rated soap that year, B&B, was matching AW‘s 2.4. But that was then, and this is now. For 2014, ratings for the latest week available show B&B at 2.7 and GH at 2.3, while leader Y&R hit its highest numbers since March at almost 5 million viewers. Small gains, granted, but up is always a better trend than down. (On the other hand, soap opera producers patting themselves on the back that the increases are due to their “cutting edge” storytelling should consider the possibility that numbers are up over previous years simply because there is less competition, and that soap fans from canceled shows are migrating to theirs. In the immortal words of Han Solo, they should not get cocky.)

3) Reruns
Reruns do not usually get TV fans’ hearts thumping. As a rule, we want new content, and as much of it as possible. But, when it comes to classic shows we might not have gotten a chance to watch the first time around, reruns can be a soap junkie’s gold mine. For a while, the cable station SOAPNet filled the bill, airing same-day reruns of ABC’s lineup (later Y&R and DOOL, too) along with classic episodes of Ryan’s Hope and AW.

P&G tried something similar online, putting up reruns of AW, The Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, Texas, ATWT and GL on platforms like AOL, Hulu, and YouTube. That ended when the soap giant decided to get out of the soap (opera) business with the cancellation of their last surviving show, ATWT, in 2010. But hope springs eternal! This past September, Retro TV began airing reruns of The Doctors, giving viewers a chance to catch early glimpses of future stars like Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner, and Ted Danson, and a chance to catch up on stories they’d previously only heard about. If The Doctors does well in the ratings, Retro TV has publicly stated it may air more soap reruns, including clamored-for fan favorites like Santa Barbara, Loving, Capitol, and more.

4) Non-network soaps

When the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) were the only game in town, soaps had to air on network TV to have any chance of finding an audience. But that isn’t true anymore. Actors, writers, and producers who cut their eye-teeth on traditional channels are taking what they learned there to a multitude of platforms, including the web, to create original works. Crystal Chappell, for instance, cultivated the fan following she’d gotten on GL as part of the super-hot ‘Otalia’ pairing and directed it toward her websoap, Venice, also starring Daytime Emmy winners Hillary B. Smith, Jordan Clarke, Lesli Kay, and Gina Tognoni. Martha Byrne invited former ATWT costars Michael Park, Kin Shriner, Paolo Seganti and Anne Sayre to star in her online project, Gotham (directed by Byrne’s ATWT mom, Lisa Brown). Both shows were nominated for Daytime Emmys in the category of Outstanding Special Class Short Format. But who needs the Emmys? Indie soaps have an awards show of their very own, proving just how much soapy goodness is out there for people willing to look beyond standard network TV.

5) The Internet
Let’s face it, complaining about soaps wouldn’t be nearly as fun without likeminded people to agree with you wholeheartedly and/or tear you to shreds. Thanks to the Internet, soap fans have hundreds of sites where they can get the latest news about their favorite shows, read recaps of what they missed, find out who’s been hired and who’s been fired (and read insane speculation about the true motives behind both), and throw regular tantrums threatening to never watch again right before coming back for more. In this case, the negative truly is the positive, and for all of these may we be truly grateful.


Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, too!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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