Why One Life to Live Deserves to be The Last ABC Soap Standing



The best argument the soap opera genre can make in favor of its own survival airs at 2pm EST on ABC/ 9pm EST on  SOAPnet. Its name is One Life to Live.

OLTL's fictional town of Llanview, PA. is a town rich in history, overflowing with talent, boisterous in personality and uninhibited by an addiction to one or two characters.

Monday’s nod to Grey Gardens–acted out by the fantastic foursome of Robin Strasser, Kassie DePaiva, Trevor St. John and Florencia Lozano–and the seamlessness with which it was woven into the double wedding ceremony of Viki  to Charlie and Nora to Clint is one of many examples of why OLTL has surpassed The Young and the Restless as the genre’s most well-written soap opera. 

Unlike the majority of their competitors, Ron Carlivati and his team of writers are not bankrupt of fresh ideas. Guided by the steady hand of Executive Producer Frank Valentini, the team at OLTL is willing to think outside the box, put new twists on classic soap opera clichés and pull from their show’s storied past, even if it means confronting controversial topics, or the possibility that a storyline could bomb.

Critics have accused Valentini and Carlivati's version of OLTL of recycling old storylines, but in the words Eddie Cibrian's alleged temptress LeAnn Rimes “there is nothing new under the moon.” The difference is Ron & Co. turn what they recycle into fertilizer. Some of it may stink–i.e. the Morasco Fiasco– at times, but almost always something significantly better or beautiful grows up out of it.

The against-all-odds determination to make the best out of bad story ideas handed down from above, has given OLTL viewers innumerable episodic gems. This would not be possible without the genre’s most malleable stable of actors. No soap opera boasts a more well-rounded, diversified cast of veteran actors or legacy characters, twentysomethings, integrated new actors and characters, racial and sexual minorities, or as strong a stable of teen actors and characters.

OLTL is a true ensemble drama. Unlike network siblings General Hospital or All My Children, OLTL rotates its cast in A, B and C storylines. OLTL's storylines don't revolve around the same five characters over and over again.

No other soap currently on the air— save for Y&R— drives storyline by showcasing its veteran and/or legacy characters the way OLTL does. Erika Slezak as Viki, Robin Strasser as Dorian, Hillary B. Smith as Nora, Robert S. Woods as Bo, Kassie DePaiva as Blair, Florencia Lozano as Tea and Susan Haskell as Marty, Trevor St. John as Todd and Jerry Ver Dorn as Clint, are utilized day in and day out.
 
While Y&R may also embrace their vets, you could fly the Starship Enterprise through the gaping hole left by its under 20-cast. OLTL doesn't have that problem. OLTL features the best stable of teen/young adult actors and characters in daytime. Austin Williams (Jack), Brittany Underwood (Langston), Eddie Alderson (Matthew), Jason Tam (Markko), Kristen Alderson (Starr), Shenell Edmonds (Destiny) and  Brandon Buddy (Cole) outshine most of their industry peers five-days-a-week.

By comparison, All My Children, a soap opera obsessed with youth and beauty, unfortunately doesn't take the necessary steps to ensure their pretty, young faces actually know how to act. Perhaps Julie Hanan Caruthers can approach the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency about the possibility of merging the two shows? They could rename it All My Modeling Agencies and air it on NoSOAPsnet.

With the exception of Billy Miller (who is now on Y&R),  Adam Mayfield (Scott), Daniel Kennedy (Petey), Ambyr Childers (ex-Colby) and Lucy Merriam (Emma), AMC  hasn’t cast anyone who can act under 30— let alone 20— in at least three or four years.


Comments

Mardou's picture
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13 June 2009
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I don't watch OLTL regularly, but ICAM about the bankrupt storylines on GH and the painfully bad acting from the younger crowd on AMC. Just based on what I am reading/seeing briefly, OLTL has more genuinely involving storylines and lively, exciting writing.

My main problem with OLTL at the moment is the overly light touch being used with the Tea/Todd/Blair storyline. These characters are all very dark, IMHO, and while I appreciate their comedic talents, I find it difficult to REALLY believe that any of them really have strong (albeit twisted) feelings for each other.

My heart will always belong to GH, damn them, so I don't want GH to be cancelled before OLTL. But I have to reluctantly endorse this post. OLTL deserves to be the last ABC soap standing.

dkp's picture
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9 June 2009
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I agree, what a great post Luke. While the show isn't perfect and has some issues, overall it's a very enjoyable show. Like you said, one of the few soaps that does a decent job at using it's vets, but at the same time adding some new younger characters that I'm liking. Plus, it's rebuilding the minorities on the canvas, which is a great thing.

Then there's my favorite story and main reason for watching, Kyle and Fish. Show's doing a great job with these two, beating out ATWT and Y&R (who would have thought that?), just needs a tad bit more airitme and would be even better.

I think OLTL deserves to be the last ABC soap standing as well.

INeedAHugandMedication's picture
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17 February 2009
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I'll drink to this!I mean,I would if I was legally able to.

INeedAHugandMedication's picture
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17 February 2009
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4 years 15 weeks

I'll drink to this!I mean,I would if I was legally able to.

daisyclover1938's picture
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Was this written by J Bernard??

Member since:
22 January 2008
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LOL No Daisy Clover it was written by our Fearless Leader himself, Mr. Luke Kerr!

troymcclure's picture
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25 December 2008
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Great post Luke. Even though I don't currently watch OLTL (GL is taking up all my time) I always thought it was the best out of the ABC soaps and that is why I was so happy about Gina Tognoni and Daniel Cosgrove going there. What the hell happened with that?? According to DC and every other soap press they were both pretty much a done deal and then nothing??

DC, you haven't reported on this, any news?? Was OLTL lowballing them, was the reports phony??? What happened????

daisyclover1938's picture
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14 November 2007
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LOL!

Great piece Commander Luke! I agree w/ a lot of what you wrote. Though I tend to be more critical of Campivati - oops, Carlivati - and Valentini, I do think they do A LOT of things right.

Of course, my hope is that no more soaps get cancelled, but...

Member since:
14 January 2009
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I couldn't agree with this statement more. I have always kept my eye on OLTL, even if not faithfully until I came to the conclusion that "the soap of luke and laura" had indeed died and appears never to return.

OLTL knows how to reinvent the wheel, it knows how to take once popular and already told storylines and use them again by expanding on them and enriching them for the better. OLTL rarely destroys it's legacy characters, instead, lets their aura live on even when they have long moved on.

ABC daytime, as far as soaps are concerned, aren't exactly responsible leaders and managers for the jobs they must fulfill day in and day out. If I performed my duties at work the way they do, I'd have been fired and blacklisted long-long ago! You just watch and see, they will kill off daytime as we know it, which has been their goal and if save only one soap, it'll be the "branded" soap. The soap that brought us luke and laura and then destroyed them with the likes of an affair riddled marriage that spawned the likes of Teethan (what a god aweful reinvention of history)!! General Hospital can rot in it's in own sewage, but thats what the TPTB swim in it seems!!

Llanview76's picture
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I would like for more current characters to be rooted to the past, make more of OLTL's history come full circle. I think Mimi King being the mother of Gigi and Stacey would be fun! Also, Herb Callision coming back would be nice too...Dorian needs one of her greatest loves of all to come back to her.
Erik

Llanview76's picture
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I would like for more current characters to be rooted to the past, make more of OLTL's history come full circle. I think Mimi King being the mother of Gigi and Stacey would be fun! Also, Herb Callision coming back would be nice too...Dorian needs one of her greatest loves of all to come back to her.
Erik

SoCalLiasonite's picture
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29 October 2008
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Here, Here Luke!!! Because of all this and the DC staffs high praise I deserted GH at the beginning of this year and fell immediately in love with OLTL. I admit sometimes there are things I do not like but I can still stand to sit and suffer through it as opposed to the garbage on GH that had me fast forwarding through most of the main story lines. I really love most of the casts and even the ones that have smaller parts in the B and C story lines don't disappoint. But I have to say it is the writing and the creative forces that keep me with this show. They love to tell stories and that's the great thing about it, not much feels contrived. I've become a loyal fan because TBTP are loyal to fans (as loyal as they can be with their network exec in charge) and as long as the remain so they will keep my viewership.

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I used to love GH and would have fought for it's survival, but the show's not really recognizable to me anymore. If it got cancelled, I wouldn't care.

As for OLTL, I was never a fan growing up, but have dabbled in it off and on for years. Lately, it's been the one ABC show that I watch consistently... not just cause I recognize the characters, but also appreciate the diversity and the gay storylines. I do think the cast skews a little young for me, but I can't complain, as long as Viki, Dorian, David, Tea, Roxy, Lindsay and Todd are around. I would get rid of stacy, re-cast Blair with an Asian and bring back Evangeline, but those are small things.

Member since:
21 May 2008
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I 100% agree. OLTL should be the last soap standing. However, I think GH will be the last soap standing, even if it's in last place. It's ABC's "flagship" soap. Barf. GH doesn't listen to their fans and they deserve to go off the air right after GL!

March 2010!

Member since:
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For years, I was an ATWT fan, but the utter silliness the show has become in the past few years turned me off; Y&R was strong earlier this year but has descended into an unwatchable mess. Now, I've been watching OLTL since the beginning of the summer and I have to agree, it is far and away the best-written and best-acted soap on the air.

It isn't perfect--I, personally, can't stand Destiny and her shenanigans--but nearly everything else--Téa/Todd/Blair, Kyle/Fish/Layla/Cris, Clint/Nora/Bo--is absolutely aces and has me glued to the set. The Kish storyline, in particular, has, from the beginning, thoroughly outclassed the attempts by ATWT and Y&R with their gay romances by creating real, believable characters, acted by two terrific actors with genuine chemistry. Bravo, OLTL!

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12 hours 12 min

OLTL is the best soap on TV & Should Not be Canceled

Mike Jubinville's picture
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9 October 2007
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When GL goes, I am considering replacing it with OLTL, just to see if y'all are right! Wink

Member since:
4 August 2009
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Luke Kerr, this post was absolutely, positively true in every way. This column actually prompted me to email Brian Frons of ABC Daytime to save OLTL !

Member since:
11 April 2009
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Luke,

Great post! I agree with you entirely.

BTW,

Carmen LoPorto has played Jack Manning most successfully.

Shenell Edmonds plays Destiny.

Member since:
19 November 2008
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AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

Wow, frankly I thought DC was full of it with this AMC and OLTL news (before today) but now that DC has been proven correct, it also means OLTL will be the next ABC soap cancelled- which I always knew would be the case, despite it being profitable and underbudget- and AMC and GH are both OVER budget. Which is very interesting considering OLTL being excellent looking, compared to AMC and GH looking completely CHEAP.

With that being said, OLTL"s reputation as the red headed stepchild of ABC soaps is complete and utter BULL.

OLTL has given its fans so many wonderful memories- and has been the mosty UNDERRATED soap on the air for many years.

I pray that OLTL becomes ABC's top rated soap by a mile, so Frons will have no choice but to respect the show- which he does not.

OLTL is by far ABC's best soap, and defintely in the top 2 soaps left on the air in terms of quality- from production values to writing.

I love you OLTL, and I pray you can hit a 2.0 or something to save the show.

And the recent few weeks have been very well balanced with a great family dynamic- which has been wonderful.

I could give a rat's ass about the "legacy soap" AMC and that garbage dumb known as GH.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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9 September 2008
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7 hours 51 min

 Luke,

What a fantastic post! Bravo!!

Member since:
4 August 2009
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Super great post!

I have watched soaps off and on my entire life (I was named after Rachel Corey from AW) and it's very disheartening to read that they are going by the wayside; however, the blame for this rests solely on the writers, EP's, and show runners who have run these once great gems into the ground. They consistently ignore fans, denigrate veterans, skew too young, shove any kind of minority to the backburner, and are generally really lazy. And it doesn't help that Emmy voters reward this laziness by being lazy themselves in both nominating actors (let's nominate Geary for the 800th time even though he hasn't done anything) and rewarding CG and 5 episode explosions over subtle, long-lasting, great storytelling. "Brand" used to be associated with something you couldn’t live w/out. I'm sorry but a soap that is averaging a 2.0 and is the most expensive one in your daytime lineup doesn't constitute a brand, or at least a good one, and it certainly doesn't deserve all of the accolades it gets. Just b/c ppl die and things blow up doesn't mean it's the Sopranos.

I don't think soap fans mind most recycled plot lines but they need to be done well and they need to be good lines to begin with! And they need to pay attention to the fans and understand that we're living in 2009. So many of these stories and the way they treat characters is degrading and embarrassing. GH keeps digging into the mob well but this story so painfully and obviously turns off fans--enough already! ATWT continually makes its female leads the butt of jokes and desperate shrews. Y&R brought on way too many new faces, without explaining who they were, and then expected fans to be happy about not seeing their veteran faves. AMC has one of the youngest casts on television but they can't act their way out of a paper bag.

I started watching soaps full-time again when Luke/Noah started on ATWT but that has turned into one of the biggest boondoggles I've ever seen! Two ball-less eunuchs who are gay in name only and apparently don't even warrant a scene of them in bed together. Too edgy for the CBS dowdy? I guess. It wasn't just the complete lack of guts in telling that story that made me leave either. It was the way the characters, especially the female veterans, are written as hags who are forced to make impossible choices so they become the bitch, the shrew, or the wimpy pushover. So many great female actors but yet they are left with nothing to work with. So bon voyage!

These days, I really only watch OLTL in its entirety, although I keep up on all of them to see if there's anything worth checking out. So far? Nada. I watch GH to see hunky guys w/out their shirts on but that isn't going to make me watch everyday. I watch Y&R to see the vets snarl and twist but they're not getting great storylines so it doesn't make me watch everyday. I watch AMC to see Kendall and...well, that's about it but that's not going to make me watch everyday. And I don't watch ATWT at all anymore because I don't like to throw up.

OLTL has its moments of WTF but, for the most part, it’s become a rarity on daytime television. It’s a fantastic soap that deserves kudos and deserves to survive before AMC and GH. Great writing, great acting, great character driven storylines, great use of veterans, a young cast that can act, and a fearlessness (I hope) in presenting a truly great gay love story. OLTL for the win!

eightiesaddict's picture
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28 November 2008
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I could not agree more. I have given up on all my other soaps (except Y&R). OLTL in day in, day out the best soap on air.

They may have made some mistake, but the acting and use of long term vets keeps me tuned in daily. I am even starting to think Crystal Hunt is improving.

I have been watching One Life since Karen Woleck took the stand, and I love the fact that Vikki and Dorian are still featured on a regular basis. From what I have heard Vikki will be driving a lot of story this fall, and it is about time.

I also love the additions of the Kyle/Fish and Layla/Christian stories. These two couples have so much chemistry and I hope they are heavily featured for the rest of the year.

coolblue's picture
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7 July 2009
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I agree about OLTL, it is the best soap on ABC. I like the use of vets, the teens can act, and the ages between these two demographics are enjoyable to watch (most of the time). The storylines are well written even if once in a while we get the classic soap cliche. The talented cast delivers day in and day out.
I hated hearing that Guiding Light was being cancelled after 72 years of broadcasts. I wanted all the show runners of ALL the remaing soaps to sit up and take notice. Unfortunately I have yet to see that happen on GH. The majority of viewers of GH have voiced their opinions, and were not listened to by TPTB so they turned their tvs off. The ratings don't lie. Give viewers what they want.
OLTL produces a show that true soap fans would enjoy watching. Yes, the ratings are not great for OLTL but it is no reflection of the quality of the show. I tell everyone that will listen how great OLTL is on a daily basis. I hope when GL airs its final episode, that those true soap fans give OLTL a chance. ABC should not cancel OLTL.

Member since:
12 February 2008
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4 years 36 weeks

I totally agree. Out of the three OLTL delivers more so on a daily basis. They don't have the "shocking" murders or "shoot outs", but they still have the actual concepts of what daytime is. It's about relationships and slowly building up. I don't love the the Stacy/Gigi/Rex thing (and no one does), but for the most part, it's still better than the other two. They come in under budget, they've been doing better in the ratings over time and they've got a talented group.

Soap_Stud's picture
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28 November 2008
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3 weeks 5 days

OLTL has been on my must see list since Viki was a waitress in Paris, Texas. I had watched the show regularly back when Marty was raped as well. I agree that the stories are strong and actors are talented. I hope OLTL lives its life for many decades to come!

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1 July 2009
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Luke, you are on the money honey!!!! Though I only see bits and pieces of OLTL, even I can see it is the best written of all three ABC soaps (except for the Stacy/Rex/Gigi triangle) for the reasons you've said. They have younger actors who can all act, use their veterans in major story lines, embrace the history of the soap and use ethnic and culturally diverse cast in great storylines. I hope it is not the next soap let alone the first ABC soap to be cancelled if so the people at ABC are a bunch of fools.

Member since:
4 August 2009
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4 years 36 weeks

OLTL, warts and all, is the only ABC soap that is watchable right now.

I cannot be bothered with the horrid writing at AMC, and GH, which was once my favorite soap was overrun with Guza who kicked the vets to the curb.

Part of the mass appeal of OLTL is that it is one of the very few soaps that uses its vets along with the teens.

The headwriter is great. Now Frons has got to keep his dirty hands off this soap. He and Guza did everything in their power to destroy GH................and it has worked.

Member since:
10 January 2009
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2 years 13 weeks

Great article. OLTL is the last soap standing for me. While there are some serious problems with the show (Stacey-Rex-Gigi), it can be incredibly entertaining like the amazing Grey Gardens fantasy. I loved Blair and Dorian crashing the wedding today. Todd's cell phone was, also, amusing. I'm interested in the Fish-Kyle story. OLTL has great potential and often meets that potential.

I hope ABC sees the incredible work the actors, writers and producers have put into this show.

liason4real's picture
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10 May 2008
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7 hours 46 min

Great story Luke! Yes, OLTL is on fire and deserves to be getting kudo's. Is it perfect? Nope, but, it's great soapy drama...