“Frankly Erica, I don’t give a damn about what you need.” With those words from Jackson Montgomery (Walt Willey) to Erica Kane (Susan Lucci)–a twist on Rhett Butler’s (Clark Gable) iconic kiss off to Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) in Gone With the Wind–All My Children marked the end a its network television era.
Much like the recent finales of Guiding Light and As the World Turns, the broadcast finale of All My Children provided fans with wonderful memories, special cameos by favorite stars, a cliffhanger or two and the increasingly familiar question “What did (insert cancelled soap name of choice here) mean to me?”
What does All My Children mean to me and how has it impacted my life? More than I could have ever imagined it would the summer of 1998, when it first hooked me.
I had just graduated from academy and moved to Nebraska for college in the fall. During my time at boarding school I had continued to follow the plots of the two soaps I was first introduced to by my mother and grandmother, Another World and Days of Our Lives, by reading recaps online. Unfortunately for me that first summer in Nebraska, my all-in-one TV/VCR–with its little bunny ears–didn’t pick up the local NBC station and I soon found myself watching All My Children and General Hospital.
Today it’s hard to imagine a world without a computer or Internet, but I didn’t have one back then. Each night when I got home, I’d spend an hour in Pine Valley and an hour in Port Charles. While it was the Cassadines and Quartermaines that hooked me on GH, it was the Chandlers ( led by David Canary's Adam), Erica Kane (Susan Lucci), Dimitri Marick (Michael Nader), Brooke English (Julia Barr), Palmer (James Mitchell) and Opal Cortland (Jill Larson) who enticed me to keep tuning into AMC.
On Daytime Confidential we’ve discussed TV network’s obsession with young beautiful stars, believing they would draw in younger viewers, but as an 18 year old at the time, I could have cared less for stories involving characters my age. It wasn’t until 1999, when my beloved Greenlee (Rebecca Budig) arrived in town to shake things up (Editor's Note: Jesus Take The Wheel), that I was truly hooked by one of its young adult storylines.
It was also the year that Linda Dano, who I’d loved on Another World as Felicia Gallant, returned to One Life to Live as Rae Cummings and later crossed over to AMC where she found out Myrtle (Eileen Herlie) was her mother. Later she would learn one of my favorite female ABC soap characters, Skye Chandler (Robin Christopher), was her daughter, further hooking me to the ABC soap landscape.
That fall, when I finally had a computer and high speed Internet access in my dorm room, I went online looking for other people to talk about my favorite soaps with. However, classes, studies and a bit of occasional partying didn’t leave much time to really dive into that aspect of the World Wide Web. I dropped out of college the second semester of my sophomore year in order to work for six to twelve months to afford to go back to school.
My time away from school was a great time to be an AMC viewer. Leo (Josh Duhamel) and Greenlee were my couple. Eden Riegel was the fresh face of Bianca Montgomery. Her poignant coming out story and her revelation’s repercussions were unfolding before our eyes. Back then I also loved Ryan (Cameron Mathison) and Gillian (Esta TerBlanche). They were almost as magical as Leo and Greenlee. Hayley (Kelly Ripa) and Mateo (Mark Consuelos) were still in town. Hayley’s scheming mother Arlene Vaughan (Olivia Birkelund) had found a special place in my heart and Robin Mattson portrayed Janet From Another Planet.
In 2001, All My Children and General Hospital continued to provide an escape from the realities of life. I loved watching the rich and powerful Adam Chandler go toe-to-toe with Palmer Cortlandt, but it infuriates me to this day when Tad (Michael E. Knight) wins over Adam. Erica vs. Brooke was classic, but Greenlee vs. Erica never got old.
Time flies when you’re having fun. Until you’re not.
In 2003, under Megan McTavish, Michael Cambias (William deVry) raped Bianca; setting in motion a series of storylines leading up to Pine Valley newcomer Babe (Alexa Havins) switching her baby with Bianca’s in 2004. While I look back at those storylines and realize they were infinitely better than the ones to immediately follow—Erica as a Las Vegas Showgirl, Erica’s unabortion, Dixie (Cady McClain) killed off by pancakes, Chuck Pratt’s CGI Tornado, Stuart’s murder and Erica’s doppelganger, etc.—at the time, my anger over the baby switch found me online voicing my anger.
I re-enrolled in college in 2004 and soaps continued to provide a five-day-a-week escape. I found myself reading online ABC soap commentary and spoilers on such fan sites as Wubs.net and Eye On Soaps. I was addicted. I needed each and every scrap of information I could get on all three ABC soaps. I was obsessed with finding out what would happen next.
It was that obsession–combined with growing frustration–that led to me writing a weekly AMC column for a soap site, now long defunct. For almost two years that column was my All My Children therapy. Despite all the bad storylines I mentioned earlier, I managed to find good stories to rave about occasionally. Jackson and Erica’s wedding, Phoebe’s funeral, anything Greenlee related, the Fusion girls making the first lipstick, the fantastic Leven Rambin as Lily Montgomery and JR (Jacob Young) vs. Jamie (Justin Bruening), all come to mind.
Probably the best thing to come out of that column, other than my continued soap sanity, was that it is also where I met Jamey Giddens and several of the other early Daytime Confidential contributors. While my column ended in 2006, the biggest moment that year was my finally graduating from college.
It was time to face a fork in the road about my future. Should I pursue the safest path and find a “normal” job, like my college friends who’d graduated years before me? Or, should I use the flexibility of the job that put me through college, my hard earned degree and my computer knowledge to work on building a website covering the show and industry that had come to mean so much to me? I chose the latter.
Five years ago this coming November, the website that would become Daytime Confidential and the Daytime Confidential podcast were born. A lot of hard work and quite a few “teachable moments” have gone into Daytime Confidential and its sister site Pop Confidential since then. I also had to do more than a little arm twisting to convince Jamey Giddens–now my business partner–to even appear as a guest on the podcast almost four years ago (Editor's Note: He sure did!).
All My Children's final week on network television, more than any other soap milestone we've covered here at Daytime Confidential, really brings it all full circle for me. Had it not been for my love initial love for Agnes Nixon's amazing soap opera, this fansite-turned-wildly successful blog and its companion podcast likely never would have existed.
Speaking of Nixon, she and Lorraine Broderick should be commended. They gave Pine Valley a well-deserved send off and helped to correct many wrongs. Seeing so many of the characters and stories that hooked me back in '98 return—Adam and Brooke, visions of Leo and Gillian and yes, even Babe, whom I loved to hate—really caused me to take a moment to reflect on how this show had changed my life for the better, and ultimately set me on a career path.
Although we've been some of All My Children’s toughest critics, and have been accused of having an anti-All My Children agenda, I know with absolute certainty, no site has ever been more ready to cheer All My Children’s triumphs than Daytime Confidential. It broke our hearts to see people like Megan McTavish and Chuck Pratt lead it astray, but the very origin of Daytime Confidential is tied to this show's rich legacy, which I guess makes us one of Agnes' children as well.