By Marlena De Lacroix
aka Connie Passalacqua Hayman
I just finished watching the last episode of One Life to Live and I am feeling depressed and betrayed. Not by the last second gonzo surprise that Victor is alive, but by the show’s cancellation itself.
Compared to soaps that were mostly played out (like Guiding Light and my once beloved All My Children) OLTL was vital and vibrant with active, watchable stories. Families and entire generations were fully intact; it was a show you could really look forward to seeing on a lonely afternoon. But OLTL was cancelled unfairly in a package deal with AMC last April — despite the fact that it was fully alive! Not to be melodramatic, (who moi? Marlena?) but in soap world terms, OLTL was murdered by ABC.
The episodes leading up to the finale were finely crafted, as was befitting a show no longer limited by the short sight of the network’s longtime daytime president, Mr. Meddler. On Thursday’s episode, everyone in Llanview, from Roxy to Viki, sat around in groups watching the show’s soap within a soap, Fraternity Row. It was a gem. Everything was tongue in cheek and replete with inside jokes, as when Bo remarked, “The soap press says when I produced the show it was in its Golden Age.” (Et tu, Paul?) Viki’s speech in which she related soaps to family and fans being as attached to their characters as they are to their families was beautifully wrought and delivered. As if we soap journalists hadn’t been writing this for centuries!
Disappointingly, however, the show’s finale episode was severely compromised because when it was written and performed, the widely held belief was that OLTL would likely be continued by our friends (?) at Prospect Park. Alison Perkins narrating was a bit too Desperate Housewives for moi, but at least some plots were resolved. Naming Matthew and Destiny’s new baby Drew after his dead brother was so sweet. And did Todd really have gray chest hair (as seen in his bed scene with the reunited Blair)? I feel so old!
But then again, I’ve been watching OLTL since 1969 when it followed Another World and came before Dark Shadows. There was a different Viki then, (Gillian Spencer) and the show was a lot more sharply drawn between the rich (the Lords) and the poor (the Woleks and Siegels.) What a long strange trip it’s been since then. Only yesterday (1992) I was the only reporter at the AIDS quilt episode in New Vernon, New Jersey and a young Ryan Phillippe was kissing me on the cheek, thanking me for naming him one of the best new actors of the year. I remember when I first started editing soap mags how gaga the women execs at ABC were about Bob Woods when he was younger, and he indeed turned out to be a doll. Tres charmant! I loved David and Dorian and I consider it one of my big accomplishments that the first words written about them as a couple (by me) hung in the make-up room at the studio for a time. Wasn’t Victor’s “murder” a big slap in the face not that long ago? I always felt really entertained by OLTL, whether or not I was writing about it over all these decades. I never once turned away in boredom or disappointment as I did with other soaps from time to time. I even named my dog Nigel!
I’ll miss One Life as I am missing the rest of my soaps. I feel bereft. They don’t take baseball and football away from men, do they? I just don’t know what to do with my afternoons anymore! Now you, I and all the fans of One Life to Live have big holes in their life.
Please write and commiserate. There are so many good things about OLTL to remember!