Daytime TV was regarded "a money machine for the networks. They can sell advertising spots at high rates on programs that cost relatively little to produce." By 1983, 'The Washington Post' reported, daytime dramas attracted over 30 million loyal fans each day from housewives to bankers to businessmen on their lunch hour. Of the male viewers, Agnes Nixon remarked, "In the last five years (since 1979), there has been an increase because they found they were represented."

At the time, ABC was controlling 50% of all network daytime advertising money. 50% of ABC's profits were coming from daytime programming. In June 1983, 'Loving' was launched. Set in Corinth, a mythical Eastern college town, around the Philadelphia-area campus of Alden University, Agnes Nixon stated, "'Loving' is a direct descendant from 'One Life To Live' and 'All My Children'."

Associated Press reported although ABC was behind CBS in prime time in 1983, the network brought in "greater over-all profits because of its leadership in daytime television." Agnes Nixon continued, "The reason I chose a college campus for a setting is because it gives us a backdrop for today's world … And since we have so many students of college age who are fans of soaps, I wanted to give them more representation on daytime.

"It's not by chance that lots of soaps are set in hospitals. They're a wonderful meeting ground. Any soap is limited to the four walls of the studio. But I felt that a college campus could do that very well. It also affords us a microcosm of life today, from the oldest tenured professor to the youngest freshman. A campus has a lot of story potential because colleges around the country are such fans of soaps, especially 'All My Children'.

"I wanted to represent them, to say, 'Here you are.' So many college students are viewers that we wanted them to feel more represented. We'll be more contemporary, move faster and keep up with the times. No topics are forbidden. We did uterine cancer – I wouldn't want to do any form of cancer that was hopeless – teenage prostitution, child abuse and integrated blacks into stories.

"We try to slip the subject in slowly while the audience is hooked into another story and by the time we're where we're getting our message across, they have assimilated in a way that cannot be done in any other form of entertainment. I don't want to say what socially relevant issues we'll be addressing, because the public may be turned off and not want to watch it."

Videotaped at ABC Television Center in New York, 'Loving' was launched as a two-hour movie on prime time, "We hope they get viewers interested right away. It has a beginning, middle and end. There was a resolution to the one main story." Agnes Nixon was wooed by NBC and CBS but brought the project to ABC because the network guaranteed Agnes that 'Loving' would stay on the air for at least two years regardless of the audience ratings. Agnes would also have total control over the story and production of 'Loving'.

Agnes Nixon previously created 'Search For Tomorrow' and co-created 'As The World Turns' with Douglas Marland. She was also head writer for 'Guiding Light' and 'Another World'. Agnes Nixon continued, "A story that took two months 10 years ago (in 1973) takes only a month to tell today (in 1983). But the biggest change is in the messages we're able to convey to the audience.

"ABC dropped the ground rules 15 years ago (in 1968) with 'One Life To Live', when they allowed me to introduce a light-skinned black woman pretending to be white. Until then, Procter & Gamble owned most of the soaps and we couldn't even have black and white girls rooming together. I remember the first time I wanted to do a story about cancer. The network said, 'Cancer? We have public-affairs shows for that.'

"That was 17 years ago (in 1966) and I had to write out the scenes six months in advance so both Procter & Gamble and CBS could look at them. Uterine cancer is almost 100% curable if caught in time. The only story I would not do is about cancer that is hopeless. We've done stories on child abuse, incest, prostitution … there isn't any problem in society we haven't touched. But cancer that is hopeless is not the kind of message we want to give our viewers."

Douglas Marland also co-created 'Loving' recounted, "Agnes had been working on the show for some time (since 1981). She'd done the bible, the characters and relationships. I started out writing the two-hour movie and then the serial." Agnes mentioned, "'All My Children' has been in an hour-long format for six years (since 1978). I'm still involved with the show and I love it, but I yearned to get back into the half-hour format. I wanted that intensity of focus on fewer characters."

Douglas Marland continued, "An hour is inviting disaster because you need more characters. What you're aiming for is to get the audience involved with the characters. It's a lot easier to get them involved with 16 or 20 than it is 36." Producer Joseph Stuart told 'Post-Dispatch Staff', "'Loving' will deal with the many feelings among families, in contrast to the melodramatic stories that are laid on top of such relationships in other daytime dramas."

Speaking to a group of assembled TV critics from across the nation on the ABC leg of the June 1983 TV Editors' Tour in Hollywood, Agnes Nixon made the point, "Daytime has the ability for character growth. In daytime, we know why people are the way they are. The thing that most distinguishes daytime soap operas from nighttime soaps is the fact that in daytime we have time to develop our characters and the nighttime writers don't.

"All of us are not the same people we were 10 years ago. Every day we learn a little bit, change a little bit. On prime time there is not the opportunity to show this slow character growth. For instance, I would love to know why J.R. is such a bastard. I enjoy watching 'Dallas' sometimes. I think J.R. is a very good character. I enjoy him, and Larry Hagman is a wonderful actor, but they move so quickly that they have never said, 'This is what happened to J.R. This is what trauma he suffered when he was a young child that made him the way he is.'

"We do that on daytime. Everyone know why Erica is the way she is on 'All My Children'. And that's the difference. He is an excellent actor, but I want to know why he is the way he is, what happened in his life to make him so terrible. On daytime soap, we would explain why. Erica: she has a lot of problems. Her father deserted her and her mother when she was at a very impressionable age and she has very low self-esteem. She really needs a man to make her feel marvelous because she only sees herself reflected in a man's eyes. I understand her. My parents separated when I was three months old and I grew up in a very Catholic enclave. I had a very large extended family."

Agnes Nixon enrolled at Northwestern University to learn how to become an actress, "I was in lots of play there, but I was also in the same class as Charlton Heston and Cloris Leachman. My professor saw my acting and said, 'Agnes, you'd better write.' I said to myself, 'Agnes, you'd better forget about acting – you'd better write.' When I finished school (born in 1928), television was just starting. Nobody knew how to do it. We learned by doing it. Anyone who wanted to do it had a chance, really. Today (by 1983) I'm just amazed at all the books and courses being given. If I'd done that, I'd be so terrified. I'd never write another line."

Agnes studied playwriting under Walter Kerr at Catholic University in Washington, "I like the dramatic form. I don't want to write a novel. I need a deadline. I like the whole routine and discipline of it. I don't think I could write the more serious stuff." Of creating characters, "It's like novelists coming up with characters. Once you have a premise, you start with a core group and the characters become a natural extension of that group."

Agnes Nixon insisted, "We don't consciously make the plot move slowly. It's just that we have to have a number of plots moving at once to give the actors a break – they're the hardest working people in show business with 260 episodes a year and every one of them like opening night. We can't work these actors 260 days a year! You can't work the same actors five days a week, 52 weeks a year."

On prime time, "They do 23 to 26 original episodes a year. We do 260. We have no reruns and a new episode every day. This causes the viewers to empathize much more closely with daytime characters than nighttime soaps because the writers are so harassed for instant ratings. There's no time for character growth or explanation." Of 'Loving', "The show itself is the star. A big-name star needs star treatment which denigrates the rest of the cast. It can throw everything off-balance. Soap operas are an ensemble effort. When we see the faces of the characters the actors give them values we didn't know were there, that in turn gives us ideas."



Madeline David of NBC told Associated Press in 1977, "Essentially daytime is a habit medium, unlike prime time where you’re likely to experiment. In daytime if you become a viewer of a program, you're a pretty loyal viewer of that program. And no one wants to shake up those habit patterns once they're formed." Mike Ogiens of CBS observed, "The whole key whether it be a serial or a game show, is simply involvement for the viewer at home. If you look at the most successful game shows, for instance, all of them offer a very high degree of involvement to the person watching. You can participate, you can play along, you can participate in the decision-making process of the contestants."

Jackie Smith of ABC remembered, "Most of the serials repeat the same kind of stories with slightly different veneers. And obviously the women (viewers) have a passion for what is … That doesn't mean you don't change it (daytime line up) or offer something different, but I think I would want to be careful about tampering with material that is giving people enormous emotional rewards. The second week I was here (in March 1977), I said, 'Everything is dull. Change the schedule, throw it all out.' But by the sixth week I said, 'Hey, I've got to find out, why do people love this so much. They really do love it. And far be it for me to say, 'Hey, you're not supposed to watch this.'" 

At the time, some 26 million households watched a soap opera each day. About 71% of soaps audience comprised women in the 18-24 and 50-plus age brackets and roughly 20% men of all ages. Victoria Wyndham played Rachel on 'Another World' told 'The New York Times' in 1975, "The majority of letters I get are from women whose lives are simple to the point of dreariness. They are lonely. They want to see beautiful clothes and houses, the story of a girl who has nothing and gets everything, not a bunch of Archies Bunkers." 

In 1977, Dr. Judith Waters and Sherry D. Finz at the Brooklyn College watched 'The Guiding Light', 'The Doctors' and 'General Hospital' for 2 months on a once-a-week basis to study the effect soaps had on the average woman. To analyze, the professor and her psychology student broke down the dialog. Speaking to 'Newsday', they stated, "Men on the soaps are more directive and are usually found in office settings while female characters are mainly homemakers, interested chiefly in domestic affairs ... She is fond of babies and devoted to her children's success. 

"The study focused on the personalities exhibited on the soaps. The intention was to observe how the roles of men and women are depicted in an era in which some members of society are making an effort to achieve egalitarian treatment of the sexes. As to whether or not soap operas can change attitudes and norms, no concrete evidence is available to answer such a question. 

"Logic will tell us that those same characters who hold audiences captive for any length of time are indeed capable of suggesting modes of action or behavior. Soaps are a long way from accepting or even seeking a new morality. There are never situations which illustrate how the housework gets done, who cares for the children and what the financial arrangement is between the professional wife and her husband. 

"In many instances, when you find a successful business woman on a soap opera she is usually single, generally extremely attractive, a prude in the business world, who is just waiting to entice susceptible, unsuspecting husbands. Soapland for its viewers generally satisfies the desire for art, culture and gives alternative solutions to everyday problems in the real world. Many viewers' mysterious fascination for soaps results from the desire to get involved with the lives and emotions of people close to their own age and outlook … without having responsibility for them." 

Suzanne Pingree taught Soap Operas and Social Change at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1980 believed, "There's potential for soap operas to say relevant things to women about changing society. And men, too. There's an analogy between soaps and the women's or lifestyle pages of newspapers. They both provide a forum for presentation of women's issues rarely treated elsewhere in the media. There are many strong role models on soaps, strong competent women who don't need to rely on men. I really don't think people should watch TV. But if they watch, they should watch soap operas rather than prime time. Soaps are a refreshing island in the wasteland of television."

Eric Braedan was one of the premiere stars of daytime television. Speaking to 'The Beacon Journal' in 1987, Eric preferred to talk about international politics than about playing Victor Newman on 'The Young and the Restless', "As far as I’m concerned, the stigma (of doing soap operas) is based on not looking at it realistically. As an actor, you can have no greater fun than doing daytime."

Eric Braedan came to the US in 1959. Of the bad-guy roles he played, Eric said by 1980, "I was totally fed up with it because I'd reached the point of being totally empty creatively. I had played everything from, obviously, German bad guys to Russian bad guys, French, American, English, Italian ... No, no black bad guys, although I used to work out at the Hoover Street Gym in downtown L.A., which is a black section, and I used to love to listen to the old fighters meet and reminisce. It was absolutely wonderful." 

Eric argued, "There is an absolutely extraordinary prejudice against and total caricature of anything German. That infamous 12-year period – the 'Thousand Year Reich' that lasted 12 years (1933-1945) – is almost exclusively what Germany has become synonymous with. And it's tragic, it's criminal and, historically, vastly inaccurate. I don't think any German should make excuses or pretend it didn't happen. It did happen. However, I was born in 1941. I had nothing to do with any of it. To constantly and repeatedly and perennially point to that era and say, 'That is synonymous with anything German,' quite frankly is becoming a consummate pain in the ass." 

By 1986, American teen life story lines had become commonplace on daytime dramas. Bill Bell told the 'Los Angeles Daily News', "I knew we had a younger audience during the summer for 15 or more years now. I've always done a very powerful storyline aimed at young people from which they could learn, where they are exposed to things they might very well be exposed to in their personal lives."

By 1994, many college students became hooked on the Aaron Spelling's soap on Fox, 'Melrose Place'. For some, it was the place to hang out. One student told 'The Times', "You can relate to what's happening." Another added, "Except for Michael and his wife, I have friends pretty much like the rest of them." Confessed one, "I like the evil characters. I'm not too fond of the innocent ones." Admitted another, "I like Amanda. She's got everything under control – she's in control." 

It was understood some of the issues on the show also appealed to baby boomers. Declared one homemaker, "It's an escape. It makes me feel young. I think the twentysomething crowd (also known as Generation X'ers) has a whole different set of rules than we did. Some seem overeducated and some have a hard time getting careers going. I just like it because it's a realistic picture, like the unwed mother, the child abuse thing coming up, climbing the corporate ladder." 

Thomas Skill had studied the effects of soap operas since 1978. 'In Sick and In Health' with Mary Cassata, his faculty adviser at State University of New York College, Buffalo, was published in the 1979 edition of the 'Journal of Communication' and later cited in the 'New England Journal of Medicine'. In 1985 he was assistant professor of communication arts, at the University of Dayton as well as a consultant working for Proctor & Gamble Productions Inc. 

Thomas Skill spoke to 'United Press International' about why he conducted the research and how informative were soaps in portraying health issues, presentation of family life as well as other subjects, "We're also interested in what the audience thinks and does with the programs and why they're so loyal, because they must be getting some kind of reward from participating. We think it's because it's good drama, and we like good stories. That's a part of human nature." 

It was mentioned the majority of college students watched soaps as a social activity but 8% watched seeking relationships answers. However "you can't really say soaps present real answers." At the same time, "it's much more sophisticated drama than people are willing to give it credit for being. It's a popular art form, so it has a lot of the common problems that people identify with popular arts. It tends to repeat itself occasionally, it tends not to offer a lot of wisdom and subtlety and a great understanding of beauty all the time." 

In 1986, 'The Young and the Restless' explored the issues of premarital sex and teenage pregnancy. 'Soap Opera Digest' reported at the time, "The birth rate for teens 15 to 19 stands at 96 per 1000 in the United States, which leads the industrialized nations in teenage births and abortions. According to a study commissioned by the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, the United States can expect one million teens will have unwanted pregnancies in the foreseeable future. Four hundred thousand will have abortions and five hundred thousand will give birth."

Marcy Kelly told 'Soap Opera Digest', "Society and young people in particular are asking for some guidelines. In the '50s, there were rules in dating and having a relationship. They were very defined, strict, social rules. But when we cut out those rules in the '60s and '70s we created problems for our young people, because, let's face it, today (in 1987) there are no rules. Young people have been pushed to behave as adults, and it's become evident that they cannot handle that."

Al Rabin stressed, "Television is not a miracle woker and 'Days of our Lives' is not a documentary or a public service show. We're entertainment. But if we can do a story that can be responsible without tarnishing the dramatic impact of the subject then we'll do it … I like the term 'responsible intimacy.' The friction for most romantic story lines is 'Will they or won't they.'"

The story on 'The Young and the Restless' showed viewers the dilemma of "two young girls who found themselves alone, desperate and pregnant and the subsequent selling of one girl's baby on the black market. The storyline culminated in a rock concert whose theme was 'It's okay to say no to sex.'"

Bill Bell told 'Soap Opera Digest', "I think the concert has to be one of my proudest moments in daytime. We've had so many people write in for copies of it. I didn't know, frankly, if the young audience would buy into the cold hard reality of this kind of story or whether they'd go for escapism. They went for what we offered and they went for it in a big way."

Ellen Wheeler told Associated Press in 2009, "What we call soap operas is actually serial storytelling and it existed way before the term 'soap opera'. Serial storytelling will go on. And I consider that to be what soap operas are. I don't think they'll ever die."



Set against the political and social power struggles in Washington D.C., the daytime soap opera 'Capitol' followed the public lives and private ambitions of two warring Washington families since the days of the Depression. Carolyn Jones played Myrna Clegg, a power-driven mom. Since 1977, Carolyn Jones had called Los Angeles home. 

In 1982, Carolyn spoke to 'New York Daily News', "I was married to a man (her third husband) for nine years (1968-1977) who didn't want me to work ... only support him. He moved me out to Palm Springs. He was so bright. I thought he knew. And he told me I was too old to work (she was around 35 at the time). We wrote two books together, and I went crazy. I couldn't take one minute more of Palm Springs or the marriage, and got a divorce in 1977. I paid him alimony for a year." 

Of 'Capitol', Carolyn told 'Miami News', "There's a bit of Myrna in myself. I say what I think. I can be acerbic. Myrna is a terror, but then there's a little of Myrna in all of us. At least you know where you stand with such malicious types. All these power struggles in Washington, these maneuvers by Myrna, why, they're almost an aphrodisiac." 

In creating 'Capitol', Elinor Karpf told Associated Press, "I think the soap opera's time has come. It is the true realization of the novel, and we're happy to be in it. This is a true American art form. We have a very strong story to tell in 'Capitol'. It didn't become a feature film. It didn't become a mini-series. It didn't become a novel. It became a soap opera because it needs the time to unfold and you have a more responsive audience out there during the day than you do at night. To me, the McCandlesses have that uplifting American ethic. The Cleggs are the bad family. I idolize Frank Capra and believe in the triumph of goodness. This is about the right way to live." 

Constance Towers described Clarissa McCandless, "She is a widow with six children, and she has raised them to be fair and honest and caring and loving. She tries to solve her problems in a fair and honest way. The character is a lady I can respect and love and enjoy playing. It's the kind of role one would like to be identified with." Of Myrna, "I wouldn't have taken it. I couldn't do a part like that every day." Of 'Capitol', "It has nothing to do with what's going on in Washington today (in 1982). It's totally a fictional story about two families who live in Washington and their involvements." 

Speaking to 'Gannett News Service', 'United Press International' and 'Newhouse News Service', Carolyn Jones made the point, "The growing legitimacy of the soaps has made it attractive for actors to appear on them regularly. Where once producers of motion pictures and prime time television used to hold it against a performer, just like they used to look down on a performer doing commercials, they don't any longer. There was a tendency where actors felt producers would think less of them for taking a soap. There was a time when we couldn't do commercials for the same reason. Now, everybody does commercials. The same thing is happening with soaps." 

Ed Nelson added, "The regular paycheck does help, particularly since the money you get for prime-time series guest roles is ridiculous. You're lucky to go home with $900 from one of those. You can't help thinking about that when the guy sitting opposite you is getting maybe $20,000 for the same amount of work because he's the star of the series. We're working actors and we enjoy working. It was a very hard show not to do. The industry has changed so much in the last few years (up until 1982). There's less work and more actors. When something really good comes along of a sustaining nature, well, it’s hard to turn down." 

At the time, Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Burnett had made guest appearances on daytime soap operas. Carolyn Jones continued, "It's the only place where they can work as people. I guess we live in an age where people think cars and computers are more interesting than people. Too bad. I'm tired of looking at cars. I don't want to put 'Dukes of Hazzard' down because they're in the business too, but I would never do a 'Dukes' guest appearance because there's nothing to be done. 

"I'm not an automobile. I'm not a stunt. I'm a professional actress! There are a lot of actors around who are not working who are very good. Either we're not 18 years old or we're not associated with automobiles. People like Carol Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor, who have worked as many years as we all have, want to work. We want to do something ... and scripts (for soap operas) are very good. They really are." 

The early 1980s marked the era of the soap opera. Greg Nathanson of Showtime enthused, "It has never been more popular on television or in publishing, where the success of romantic novels is an international phenomenon." By the end of 1981, soap opera was regarded a social phenomenon attracting different demographics from men, women, children, college students, blue collar to white collar. 

J.R. Minsinger worked in the advertising industry told the 'Detroit Free Press', "In industrial, three-shift towns like Pittsburg and Detroit, you're going to develop a male audience. There's one men's club here in Pittsburgh that, if you walk in at lunch time, all the young managerial types are watching soap operas. And you'd better not disturb them." 

On daytime TV in the summer (in August) of 1981, the top four programs all attracted 10% or more households ratings points. 'General Hospital' attracted 12.9% (as Mikos Cassadine planned to rule the world); the rerun of 'Three's Company' attracted 10.4%; 'All My Children' 10.2% and 'One Life To Live' 10.0%. Maureen Christopher expressed, "They're almost like grown-up fairy tales. If your life doesn't have a great deal of drama, tune in a soap opera. Certainly, the plots deliberately titillate but that's show business." 

In the 1980s, the 'Austin American-Statesman' reported, "programming trends (from soaps 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' to comedy 'The Cosby Show') reflected the Reagan era of wealth and glamor while 'Hill Street Blues' took viewers into the darker side of life, with sophisticated writing, realistic situations, hard-hitting storytelling and unforgettable characters." By the end of the 1989-1990 season, the 'St. Petersburg Times' noted, "Soaps, daytime and prime time, are showing more scene changes. They're no longer like one-act plays. Action is becoming as important as dialog."  

Ruth Warrick played Phoebe Tyler on 'All My Children' told 'News America Syndicate', "I love live theater the most of anything – and I admit that but to make a living in theater these days (by 1985) is a very difficult thing and soap is the nearest thing to theater. We do an hour every day – and when that red light goes on, it's like the curtain going up. I'm an actress who likes to work regularly. 

"When I got the part in 1970, Phoebe was a very snobbish, arrogant, narrow-minded person. She was abrasive and unpleasant. Then, oddly enough, after I'd played the character for several years, some humor began to come into the role. Now (in 1985) Phoebe has become a warmer person – more human, more open, more knowledgeable. Some people complain: they want me to get drunk more often and have one of my wingdings and tear into people. So these days (back in 1985), you get the lady sometimes and you get the tiger sometimes." 

Al Rabin of 'Days of our Lives' remarked, "In soap operas, the characters indicate how they are feeling. On prime-time shows, you only see what the characters are doing. We don't do car chases in soap operas … The characters may lie to each other, but when they're alone, they never lie to the audience. The serialized format is the ultimate in character development. The soap operas have also always reflected social change sooner. They bring what you hear about at cocktail parties right into your home … But the character development is what hooks everyone. It provides a family to relate to."

Al insisted, "Distorted values? Absolutely not. We get letters from people who tell us about strange things in their lives that we could never put on the air. In terms of acting, directing and writing, I think we're pretty good. You've got to remember we're doing 100 scenes a week. At least 15 to 20 of those are excellent. And there are a lot of other very good ones." 

Bob Getz of 'Search For Tomorrow' conceded, "I guess soap operas do mirror life for some people but the more realistic and intelligent approach is that they are strictly entertainment, a form of escape. It's heightened drama. What makes theater is conflict, so you're going to have more romance, sex and divorces." 

By the start of the 1985-86 season, viewers found themselves in a world of ever increasing choice as the three networks and public television began competing with video cassette recorders, remote controls, cable channels, independent stations, the "fourth network" Fox Broadcasting and advances in technology. In the ratings race, Bob Igiel maintained, "I think it's an anachronism and meaningless to compute who finishes first in an artificial environment of 30 weeks (a season started in mid-September one year and finished around May the next year). Advertisers are in this thing for 52 weeks." 

Most deals were still based on advertisers reaching the young-adult (18-49) viewers when buying time on network TV. It was understood this age group had more spending power. At the time, Harvey Shephard of CBS begged to differ, "All the consumer brand studies look at the total picture. You can't say that 18-34 is more important than 50-64." 

Brandon Tartikoff believed, "It's a hypothetical question, but I'd have to say households (over demographics) I like to win. I want the Super Bowl. Grant Tinker (network chairman) would probably say demographics because that's where you make the most money. But a more interesting question is if you asked me whose cards would I rather be holding next season (1985-86), I'd rather be holding NBC's." 

In 1984, Geraldine A. Ferraro became the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, a role traditionally reserved for men. On TV there was a breakthough for women on prime time. Harvey Shephard of CBS told 'The New York Times', "Traditionally, if you used women in prominent roles, well, you could get away with it in comedy or the woman could be a sex symbol, but ultimately they had to be in non-threatening roles. But there is really a sociological change going on. We are finding that there is a growing acceptance of the more liberated role of women. Our schedule reflects that." 

Dr George Gerbner, the then dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, declared, "Now instead of lagging 30 years behind the times, the networks may be only 20 or 15 years behind." 

Studies conducted by CBS in 1984 indicated women between 25 and 54 in households with incomes of over $30,000 (in those days) liked to see women in major roles such as on 'Cagney & Lacey' and 'Kate & Allie'. The studies further showed that some viewers, generally from lower-income households, both male and female, did not like seeing women in those positions. However upper-income women viewers revealed their favorite characters on TV were the major characters on 'Dynasty', 'Kate & Allie', 'Cagney & Lacey', 'Hotel', 'Hill Street Blues' and 'Cheers'. David F. Poltrack of CBS concluded, "Our research tells us that if there are characters that affluent women can relate to, they will watch." 

Philip Burrell worked in the advertising industry pointed out, "There have always been women in television (dating back to Lucille Ball in 1951) but I think that as programmers have been looking for ways to attract women viewers recently (by 1985) they've had to change many of the rules." In one episode of 'Paper Dolls', between Morgan Fairchild and Don Bowron, the following scene was played out:

Racine: Well, where are you from? How old are you? Is Christopher York your real name? 

Chris York: Is Racine yours? 

Racine: It's enough for you to know that my name is the one over the doors to this agency. Those doors to which you are about to vanish. 

Chris York: Yep, it's my real name. I'm 22 years old. And I'm from Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Racine: Well, we all have to be from somewhere, don't we?  

At the American Public Health Association's annual meeting held in November 1984, Lawrence Wallack, director of the federally funded alcohol research organization The Prevention Research Center in Berkeley (at the University of California) told the press that soap operas presented "a terrific opportunity to provide good (educational) information" about alcoholism. 

Alcohol was a major health problem in those days and a leading cause of death. Hence alcohol would be "the perfect issue for the soaps. Their producers and sponsors search for the kind of extended conflict, suspense and human drama that continues for month and years – just what is found in the life of every real-life alcoholic." Since 98% of American households had TV sets, "We need to provide resources to the television industry in general, and the soap operas in particular, to keep them up to date on the best way to deal with alcohol-related problems.They (the viewers) won't know the difference. It can increase the dramatic potential. We're not trying to take anybody's fun away. It (TV) reinforces social norms and contributes to the way we behave. There's a lot of room for improvement (on dealing with alcoholism)." 

"Casting a soap is different from other series in some respects but not in others," John Conboy of 'The Young and the Restless' made known in 1980. "We play on the fantasies of our viewers … so we have to find young actors and actresses who are 'hot' to look at, exciting, sexy. You've got to provide fantasy if you expect viewers to tune in. I look for the fantasy quality, and it's not easy to find.

"There must be thousands of young actors in the 18-25 age bracket. Because they haven't any track record, I depend on a trick to cast young, inexperienced people. I study their off-screen personalities. If they really turn on, light a fire, express themselves well and excitingly in my office, then I know they'll do the same thing on camera. The success of 'The Young and the Restless' is due to the fact that the kids in the series don't know how to be dishonest in front of the cameras. And they've discovered how much hard work goes into a soap opera.

"If viewers are going to be looking at them five days a week, they'd better be good looking as well as talented. And I expect them to be good listeners, too. There are certain types that follow a pattern, especially with women. If I'm casting a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she must have a big bosom because women with big chests are made to appear to be more salacious than other women. You rarely see a flat-chested actress playing bawdy roles. It just seems to be one of the unwritten rules of theater, movies and television. On the other hand, uptight, puritanical women are almost always flat-chested.

"Facial beauty is an enormously important part of casting a soap opera because we shoot tight, close-in one shots of performers which show every pore of their skins. The point is to see what is going on in their eyes. In the final analysis, people who tune in soaps like to watch attractive young people. If I were looking for experienced performers, the casting job would be a great deal easier. Established actors have done enough things to give you a pretty good idea of what they can do. Young people absorb bad habits from their theatrical coaches. They accumulate theatricality from teachers. Their techniques are unnatural."

One network executive told 'Detroit Free Press' in 1979, "I can’t say this for the record because I don't want to get other producers mad at me, but there is no producer going – with the possible exception of Garry (Marshall) - who understands the inner workings of a hit show as well as Ed Weinberger. He can take them apart and explain them the way your grade school grammar teacher diagramed a sentence.”



By the end of 1981, soap operas watching reached an all-time high. On ABC daytime, 4-hour bloc of soaps were scheduled from 12.30pm to 4.30pm. Anthony Thomopoulos spoke to 'United Press International', "In the old days when the other networks led the daytime ratings the soap operas appealed mostly to older women. Younger women are attracted to our shows because the contemporary issues we deal with in marriage, divorce, sex, drugs, abortion and infidelity are issues to which they can relate. 

"Our shows (such as 'General Hospital', 'All My Children' and 'One Life To Live') reflect contemporary American society in stories that a high percentage of younger viewers, men as well as women, know and understand because they share the problems or see evidence of the issues around them. All our daytime shows are faster paced than soaps used to be. We've opened them up, brought in new characters and taken them on locations. 

"New developments with tape and video facilities have made a lot of things possible. Another reason for accelerated interest in soaps is the change in the national work force with more flexible hours, especially for working women. There are more retired people in our population, too, and they are tuning in. Our younger casts have induced college and high school kids to tune into the shows as well. 

"The demographics are just what advertisers are looking for. Among women 18-49, ABC is delivering more than a million more viewers than our nearest competition. 72% of our women viewers fall into that age bracket. Daytime audiences are more loyal than prime-time viewers. It takes longer to develop a faithful following, but they stick by a show for many, many years. The popularity of daytime shows fluctuates, but each show has a core loyalty. 

"A new situation or a new character can propel a sinking show to new heights of popularity. You know how fans in bars gather around the TV set to watch 'Monday Night Football'? Well, we're beginning to see people watching 'General Hospital' on sets in restaurants and other public places. It's evidence that soap operas have come of age." 

Jeff Ryder of NBC told 'Knight-Ridder Newspapers', "A soap viewer has such a vested loyalty he will stay even when the story is bad. They'll say, 'It will get better.' Back when I was just a viewer, it took me two years before I gave up on 'Another World'. The rule of thumb is that daytime (shows) pay for everything else. It's considered the profit center of every network and always has been. Daytime programming is cheap to produce and lucrative." 

Gail Kobe told 'The Tampa Tribune', "All the devices, the exotic locales, the bizarre plots and the guest stars are secondary to the character relationships. That interest has to be there or the viewer won't. We are a more mobile society today (in 1982) and a mother and daughter who are separated by hundred of miles may not have that much in common. 

"But if they watch the same soap, they can talk about what is happening to their favorite characters. To the soap fan, the characters become real. Whenever they get together, they discuss soap plots as though they are talking about real people. And it's seldom the exotic things or the guest stars that they talk about. It's more like 'Did you see what she did to him?' The human angle." 

David Feldman added, "They're about emotions that people have to confront with every day. They give people a way to experience an outlet for their feeling. Life isn't simple anymore. In the '50s, everyone could agree on the difference between good and evil. These days (by 1982), it's all more complicated. That complication is reflected in soap operas." 

Inspired by Ronald Reagan's first inauguration, John Conboy came up with the idea for the daytime soap opera, 'Capitol' (about a town that began in 1800) which he co-created with Stephen and Elinor Karpf, "About a year ago (in 1981), I took a meeting with the network (CBS) and said that I had a really terrific idea and they loved it. I have a personal kind of feeling that America is a nation of hero worshipers. But we really get off on what happens in Washington. I think the only people we have to look up to anymore – I mean truly look up to – are politicians." 

John Conboy told the 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette', "We brought the network in and said, 'This is what we want to do.' They loved the idea, and then it took us about 18 months to put it all together." 'Capitol' would replace 'Search For Tomorrow' which moved to NBC. To attract the largest possible number of viewers to the program daily run, CBS shown the premiere episode on prime time in the 'Falcon Crest' time slot. 

Of 'Falcon Crest', John Conboy said of Jane Wyman, "She's the reason that show works. She's real and interesting in that part. I love to watch her. Everything is right, including her good shoes, skirts and no-nonsense look. You know if she needs to be at the winery she'll be there. She plays a dressed-down bad girl, not a broad one like Jessica Walters did in 'Bare Essence' with her phony Southern accent." 

'Capitol' was the first daytime drama to be launched on prime time in TV soap history and the highest rated in the history of daytime TV. The special prime-time preview of 'Capitol' ranked 29 that week against 'Strike Force' which ranked 32 and the second hour of the movie 'Magic' which ranked 68. John Conboy also spoke to 'Gannett News Service', 'The Baltimore Sun', The 'Los Angeles Times/The Washington Post Service' and Associated Press. 

"I think the public wants to know what goes on behind the marble curtain in Washington, the corridors of power. I love doing them (soaps) because, No. 1, it's a constant challenge … And, secondly, I think we're all in this business because we're dealing with new material on a daily basis. I have a very low threshold for boredom. And trust me, I never get bored on this job. 

"I maintained that I wanted total attention from the audience – that if you put a show on the air they have watched (daily), hopefully they'll watch it. You have to watch 'Capitol'. You can't sit back and hope you'll catch up next week. Yes (it's risky), and if I find it isn't working, I'll slow it down. But I think the audience is sharp – and they're bright. They're also fairly selective about what they see. 

"It's not a show about politicians set in smoke-filled rooms. It takes place in an upwardly mobile city. We have taken the most talented and beautiful cast we could find to entertain the viewers. With them, we will create our own politicians, not depend on real people or real situations ... although a lot of people are saying, 'Ah Ha!' thinking they recognize some of the characters. 

"We don't deal with current political issues either but I hope it's topical in so far as what the characters are talking about and what it means to them – that it shows the stakes are as high as they are. I'm trying to show Washington to be the kind of glitter palace that it is – as far as the up front kind of stuff that we can see. What I want to do is take the fantasy that I know the American people have about that city and go behind the marble curtain to find out what Washingtonians really talking about – how they feel before they open their front door and a microphone is stuck in their face. 

"We are telling a little of 'Mission: Impossible', with glamor and intrigue and love and romance and sex throw in. There's a lot of that in Washington. I originally conceived 'Capitol' as an hour show. I'd produced 'The Young and the Restless' for nine years (1973-1981). When we expanded that to an hour it meant enormous changes. We had to create new families and new story lines. So I conceived of 'Capitol' as an hour show from the beginning. 

"The fantasy about Washington is wondering what goes on behind those closed doors. We haven't been allowed, even with the scandals, to enter the private world of the people involved. We see only the public image. But I'm opening the secret doors to examine what happens when all that ambition and passion meet. (However) that's legislated by the network. 

"When we started we did a lot of work in Washington. But we were constantly told by CBS to stay away from Washington. We were told to stay away from politics. We were told the audience didn't care about politics and that people weren't interested in politicians. Once, we had a story about a chase with the Washington Monument in the background. The very day we aired some guy holed up in the Washington Monument and threatened to blow it up. 

"It'd awfully difficult for us to use actual sites, especially since we work weeks ahead and can't predict events. We would have loved to have gotten our hands dirty. The closest we could come to a real Washington story was a few scandals. That's the only thing we were allowed to touch. If we are able to move the show to cable we can take a much sharper storyline.

"The most we see of politicians is the public image. I want to find the private pain. I have the luxury to dramatize why the bad guys are bad, get behind the marble curtain. This is a town of ambition, drive, grabbing the brass ring. This is a love story, but the stakes are bigger The decisions made affect millions of people. That kind of pressure is interesting. We're talking big stuff here." 

It was reported 'Capitol' was a hit on prime time TV in Italy and France and before it went off air in 1987, 'Capitol' was sold to Spain, "It takes $2 million or more just to start a show. That's in addition to what it costs to run the show on a day-to-day basis. We have finally (in 1987) paid off our start-up costs." 

Carolyn Jones was best known as Morticia on 'The Addams Family' (1964-66). Then 49, Carolyn played Myrna Clegg, the manipulative, socially prominent matriarch of the wealthy and prestigious Clegg family. Myrna was determined to get her son Trey elected president. Carolyn spoke to 'United Press International' and 'New York Daily News'.

"Myrna is meaner than J.R. She and J.R. are a matched set. Between them they could carve up the world. I based Myrna on three women I know, and they'd kill me if I used their names. I'm stunned the ratings are so good but I was also shocked at how low all daytime ratings are compared to prime time. When I was doing 'The Addams Family', we had a 35 share. If you get 21% in daytime, they think it's great. We're beating established shows like 'The Guiding Light', 'The Edge of Night' and 'Search For Tomorrow'.

"Washington is the glamor and scandal capital of the world. Every single day there's some scandal or off-beat news out of Washington where there's more room for it. In Hollywood we have to work hard. Politicians don't. People would be surprised to learn how many stars go to bed alone. I don't think many senators do. They don't have to be up at 5 o’clock in the morning with bags under their eyes to report to work.

"There are more big parties in Washington. Most of them aren't just social like they are in Hollywood. And the politicians have more outspoken wives. I'm a Democrat, so I don't have any inside sources in this (Reagan) administration but I'll never forget walking into the White House and shaking hands with President Lyndon Johnson. He said, 'Welcome, Carolyn. It's good to see you.' And I said, 'Hello, Senator.' I almost died later when I realized how I addressed him. 

"Every actress dreams of playing a classic character, something she will always be remembered by. I had no idea that's what would happen with Morticia, but I couldn’t be happier that it worked out that way. I love Morticia. I brought up a whole generation of kids. It makes you feel like you did the right thing when you're still getting money and they're still playing it. 

"Soaps basically have become the summer stock of the film business. They are the only place that young performers can learn their craft and gain experience by working with veteran actors. Politics – particularly politics in Washington, the center of world power – has suddenly become glamorous in just the way the glitter and show business of Hollywood used to be glamorous to the public. Shakespeare wrote some of the best soap operas I've read."



"Soaps aren't designed for viewers to watch all five episodes a week. You can miss one or two and still know what's going on. Nor do you have to watch every minute. You can leave the room and come back and not lose much. People also like the continuing stories. They're not like shows that are complete stories. Soaps give viewers something to think about all day and allow them to second guess the next episode," Michael Young of 'Soap World' advised. 

By 1982, 'The Young and the Restless' attracted an average of 6.3 million viewers a week. Bill Bell revealed, "The secret is to involve viewers emotionally so that they're back day after day. We have a commitment to story, to characters and to our audience." At that time, there were 18 soap operas on television - including four on prime time - attracting a total of around 79 million viewers every week and syndicated in 85 markets. 

Ten of the daytime dramas were produced in New York: 'The Doctors' (12pm Eastern Time, NBC); 'Search For Tomorrow' (12.30, NBC); 'Ryan's Hope' (12.30, ABC); 'All My Children' (1pm, ABC); 'As The World Turns' (1.30pm, CBS); 'Another World (2pm, NBC); 'One Life To Live' (2pm, ABC); 'Texas' (3pm, NBC); 'Guiding Light' (3pm, CBS); 'Edge of Night' (4pm, ABC). The remaining four daytime soaps were produced in Hollywood: 'The Young and the Restless' (12.30pm, CBS); 'Days of our Lives' (1pm, NBC), 'Capitol' (2.30pm CBS) and 'General Hospital' (3pm ABC). 

It was noted soap operas were difficult to establish because viewers were reluctant to break their viewing habits. For example, fans watching 'The Young and the Restless' at 12.30pm would not watch the first halves of 'Days of our Lives' and 'All My Children' (1pm start). The three soaps were scheduled at similar time. Hence when 'The Bold And The Beautiful' replaced 'Capitol' in 1987, Bill Bell told 'New York Daily News', "We have a better time slot (1.30pm) and I believe whether a show is a half hour or not doesn't really matter. If people like it, they will find it." 

Bill Bell also told 'The Beacon Journal', "Historically, soaps don't become big hits right away. Everybody knows that. Now I've created a few soaps in my day, and I think we have the answer. I think you'll be hooked right away. If you watch the first episode, you'll be wrapped up with the stories and the characters. It's dangerous to make predictions. They can come back to haunt you, but I'll go out on a limb and say it's going to be the fastest-growing soap opera ever. (Eight years later, some 125 million viewers around the world watched.)

"I'd rather go head-to-head against other shows ('One Life To Live' and 'Another World' if shown at 2.30pm, 'Capitol' time slot). I feel more confident about that. But I have to be overjoyed about following 'The Young and the Restless'. It definitely has a strong youth appeal but it's a traditional soap opera story. Subconsciously, we're trying to do something different. The look and the style are different. It's a new approach using the glamor, mystique and sensuality of the fashion world."

Bradley Bell was 22 years old when he started writing for 'The Bold And The Beautiful' in 1987. Some years later on 'Days of our Lives', the story about Marlena being possessed by satan proved especially appealing to young viewers. Vanderbilt sociology professor Richard Peterson told 'Gannett News Service' in 1995, "So maybe it's a generational thing. It's like what happens in a form of music when a new generation of artists comes along with an aesthetic drawn from another musical form. Over the last 10 years or so (1985-1995), a lot of rock musicians have come into country music. They bring a whole new audience into country music. A lot of the traditionalists say it isn't country music, but the music moves forward because the youth drive it."

In April 1982, ABC commissioned local professors who were specialized in mass-communications to conduct the first national telephone survey ever of daytime soaps viewing by college students. Of the 1,836 students across 11 campuses surveyed, 1,023 admitted to watching daytime soaps. Of those college students watching daytime soaps, 71% were women; 69% watched in groups of two to five; 56% watched ABC soaps at least once a week; 73% of those 56% watched 'General Hospital' at least once a week and 58% watched 'All My Children'. Only 29% watched 'The Young and the Restless'.

'Newhouse News Service' reported, "The campuses were selected to give a representative cross-section of the nation's more than 7 million college students (in 1982), whose television preferences are not recorded by A.C. Nielsen Co." Barry Sherman at the University of Georgia conducted the social research study remarked, "We realized college students were watching when we tried to schedule afternoon classes."

Fifteen years later, 'The New York Times' reported, "Since 1985 soap ratings have averaged a 31% drop among the key demographic, women ages 18 to 49." In 1997, 'The Young and the Restless' averaged 6.7% households ratings down from 8.0% ten years earlier; 'Days of our Lives' averaged 5.4% down from 7.0% ten years earlier and 'General Hospital' averaged 4.2% down from 8.3% ten years earlier.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 1988, Bill Bell said of 'The Young and the Restless', "I think we brought a new approach to daytime programming (in 1973) because we featured young people. It's a very contemporary show and we make good use of music and close-ups in ways that hadn't been used before. Our stories are provocative. I won't say sensual because that would give the wrong impression, but sometimes they are. It took the show a year and a half to get established. When you have a long-running show the audience grows older with the show. 'The Young and the Restless' was the first show to turn that around and attract a young audience for CBS."

John Conboy, one time executive producer of 'The Young and the Restless' and 'Capitol', spoke to 'New York Daily News' in 1983, "Daytime television is a reality form and nighttime television is fantasy – superheroes. Take a series like 'Dallas'. It would never go in the daytime. The cast is too small and we don't know enough about what motivates J.R. Ewing.

"If we were doing that show in the afternoon, we'd have to let our audience know how J.R. became such a bad guy. What was J.R.'s childhood like? Also, in 'Dallas' you're dealing with rich, powerful people. Nobody is struggling to get it; they have it. But why are they out to get one another? That's important to a daytime audience. Rich people trying to take over one another's companies is not enough because the reality is that few viewers actually own a company.

"'Dynasty' is another case in point. Again, the cast is too small for daytime television, provided you surround the cast with other types, but you can never be rich and happy. That's out. You must give the rich people problems so the audience can say, 'See – money isn't everything.' I have a very rich woman in 'The Young and the Restless'. She's Kay Chancellor, the richest woman in Genoa City.

"But she has to drink to get through the day because she has so many problems. Then, on 'Capitol', I have a rich industrial family, the Cleggs, but they're into dirty tricks, manipulating politicians, and always into terrible trouble. That's when rich works. You can have that token rich family on daytime television that the audience looks forward to seeing. But don't make them happy. Rich and happy is threatening."

However John Conboy believed 'Knots Landing' fitted the daytime soap formula. He reasoned, "For one thing, it has a large cast so you can rely on daily participation. And there are at least five or six women you can hang a plot on. Abby is a great character. When she was introduced, the series really took off. She's the kind of character the audience loves to hate. They're rooting for her to get something she wants so badly. They can identify with this struggle." It was noted many episodes of 'Knots Landing' frequently used close-ups, similar to a daytime soap.

In short, "characters and their relationship to one another" would make a successful soap opera. John Conboy pointed out, "If characters tell the story rather than the story pulling the characters, you have a successful show. It takes six months to introduce characters to an audience so they can get to care about them. Only then can you begin telling a major story about them. When you bring someone on and begin pushing a story about him before that familiarity takes hold, the audience won't care about him and won't watch. Generally, it's best to have a fictional locale. You save yourself a lot of trouble."



"I think soap operas are the form of entertainment closest to real life. Everyone's life is a soap opera. Some are more interesting than others, and of course there are no new stories. But everyone's life is a journey. Each time something dramatic happens for the first time, in a way, the story is new because it's never happened to that person before," Agnes Nixon made the point to the 'Los Angeles Times' in 1991. 

Associated Press observed, "More than any other TV form, successful serials create intense loyalty among their viewers." Of the 79 TV series on prime time in the 1985-86 season, the four most popular soap operas were 'Dynasty' (shown on Wednesday night), 'Dallas' (Friday night), 'Knots Landing' (Thursday night) and 'Falcon Crest' (also Friday night but up against the 'Miami Vice' phenomenon). 

John Sisk from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency pointed out at the time in a typical four-week period, only 8% of the viewers of a non-serial would watch all four episodes, while 25% would be faithful to their soap. His point: "They're (the soaps) not dying; they're just declining. They're still powerful TV entertainment, particularly for women 18 to 49, who are the principal target for many advertisers. For reaching that group, the four soaps have 35% higher ratings than the average TV program. These shows always take time to build audiences. We forget that 'Dallas' struggled on Saturday and Sunday before it finally clicked on Friday night." 

Len Berkman was a theater professor at Smith College told 'The New York Times' in 1991, "It's just as valid a form of theater as any you're going to see. There are areas of internal and interpersonal character exploration that are remarkable. Like Shakespeare, soaps must appeal to a spectrum of audiences from the intelligent to the least intelligent."

In the days before the Internet of Things (IoT) on TV, if something went down (such as soap operas), something else went up (such as sitcoms). At the time 'The Cosby Show' was a runaway hit. At the same time, prime-time soaps did well during its first run but poorly in reruns and in repeat syndication. By 1991, Dennis Swanson of ABC noted, "But this isn't 1981 (when 81% of the total daytime television audience were soaps viewers). We weren't sharing the screen then with other viewing alternatives as we do now, like cable. And network daytimes share of the total television audience has eroded just as much as nighttime, weekend and sports (to 61% in 1991)."

Jack Smith started writing for 'The Young and the Restless' in 1979. Speaking to 'The Honolulu Advertiser' in 1988, Jack Smith made the comment, "Every single episode has got to stand out on its own. You can't be building towards something and say, 'OK, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we'll fill in the scenes – and Friday will be the big splash.' It doesn't work that way. Each show has to be self-contained.

"The other daytime shows are owned by the network – or Proctor and Gamble – and there are tight controls. 'The Young and the Restless' and 'The Bold And The Beautiful' are owned by an individual, William Bell, and he's just an incredibly wonderful person to work for – handing over artistic freedom to me, pretty much. I write as I please. I don't have the problems that are so common in regular television – the problem with artistic control.

"And I can go and do it wherever I want – which is why I write from Hawaii. My usual schedule – when there's no strike – is writing every day and sending scripts via courier service to Los Angeles (for production). I started writing 'The Bold And The Beautifiul' last year (in 1987) and one of the reasons I moved here to Hawaii is to get away … I can't afford distractions – or I don't get my work done … I write early in the morning, and early in the afternoon ... I write half of the shows for that series.

"A lot of my friends in L.A. always asked me – don't you feel removed from everything? Of course I do – but I love it. On Mondays, I have a conference call with my other writers with 'The Young and the Restless' talking about stories, about where we're going to go in the next couple of weeks. When I get off the phone, my co-head writer and I split up the next week's shows, and either outline them or write them ourselves.

"Both shows ('The Young and the Restless' and 'The Bold And The Beautiful') are very highly relationship-oriented shows. Some of the daytime shows – like 'All My Children', 'General Hospital' and 'Days of our Lives' – are campier. They go in for a lighter approach. Our shows are dealing with what we call the human equation. Relationships between family members, relationships between people. I think that, along with some of the glamor, is what people watching our shows are looking for.

"The soaps don't go off the air – not like nighttime shows but you have to be able to really get inside characters. That's the key of daytime soaps. That's probably the biggest weakness of American movies – character development. In most movies, you usually see a lot of action – but not much character development. And you become a real expert on deft and subtle re-establishing techniques, without sounding repetitious.

"You have to respect the person who watches it every day, repetition would get them bored. At the same time, you have to realize that most people don't watch every day; that if they watch only once a week, they can still pick up on what's going on. And there's no such thing as writer's block in this business. People ask me, what happens if you wake up and are not motivated? You wake up and you start to write; it’s like action first, and then motivation.

"You write, and then you're motivated to write more. You never start out a day by asking yourself, 'Gee, will I write today?' Never. One day, almost verbatim, one of our (Jack and wife Norma) arguments wound up on one of the shows. If I didn't use what happens to me in my everyday life, I wouldn't get my work done. Thus, if I have a particularly good day, I end up with a particularly loving script. The rule of thumb on soaps is never kill off anyone (any characters) and you stay away from recasts – audiences don't like it. Killing is too final. If someone (the stars) decides they want to go off and make movies, you stay prepared. He may come back one day, so you keep the options open."

Bill Bell told 'The New York Times', "Issues work in daytime because it's a way to show characters exist in today's world. They're not off in some never-never land." Agnes Nixon maintained, "Daytime is the only place where we have the time to most fully explore these problems." At the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications for the 'A Summer of Soaps' in 1991, Agnes Nixon told the crowd, "Soap operas have come of age. Today men as well as women are involved in watching them, people from the ages of 8 to 80. We are more sophisticated than ever before. We inform as well as entertain."

Ruth Warrick, 68 in 1985, remarked, "Agnes Nixon, who created 'All My Children', wants it to be a multi-generational show and I think it's paid off, because we never lose viewers. If the real audience ratings were taken, 'All My Children' would always be No. 1. Millions of our viewers are never polled because Nielsen only goes into homes. Being on in the middle of the day, our show is watched by so many people who don't get surveyed – college students, people at offices, cafes, bars, what-have-you … We are the Cadillac of soap operas."

Wally Knight worked full-time at Brown County Veterans Service in 1979. He made the confession, "I have a one hour lunch break from 12 to 1. I hurry home to let the dogs out and watch the soap, but I only get 15 minutes." The other 45 minutes Wally said he talked about what went on with his daughter who could fill him in. Wally insisted, "I am involved in it. Sometimes I can't wait to get home. But I really don't take it to heart." 

Victoria Mallory played a pianist on 'The Young and the Restless'. She spoke to 'Copley News Service' in 1980, "There are some people in the Middle West who think our show is 'risque'. That may or may not be. But we do have a reputation of being the most glamorous soap opera with lots of romance. We have a young cast and they have chosen some beautiful people – the men are all good-looking and the women are glamorous, and everyone seems always to be involved with someone. It's that kind of show. 

"Seven years ago (in 1973) when 'The Young and the Restless' first came on the air, the producer wanted a distinctive appearance, a 'look', and he got it with lighting effects. A scene is usually quite dim except that a light focuses on the face and, particularly, on the eyes. We have an awful lot of close-ups so that viewers know every freckle. It’s practically all close-ups! 

"Close-ups demands so much concentration because they always go to the eyes. The eyes don't lie. If you don't mean it, the eyes will give you away. The character I play not only has amnesia, she's also heading for another nervous breakdown. Absolutely. Before she got amnesia, she was married to the brother (Lucas) of the man (Lance) who got her pregnant but who was married to her (half) sister (Lauralee). And before that, she was married to a psychiatrist (Brad Eliot) who went blind. She divorced him and fell in love with Lance. You might say she's quite, uh, vulnerable. 

"I get recognized on the street and in the supermarket and the people call me 'Leslie'. They know that what's happening on the screen isn't real but they like to pretend that it is, in a way. They know your character's most intimate feelings. They say things like, 'Please don't tell Lance about the baby!' They warn you about what other characters on the show may be plotting. And they do all this because they seem to care about you. They regard Leslie Brooks Prentiss as a victim of circumstances. They think of her as the kind of good person that bad things happen to, which is fairly typical of the soaps."



At its peak, about 60 million viewers watched daytime soap operas each week. In February 1990, the one-and-a-half hour between 12.30pm and 2pm attracted 30.8% households ratings. Daytime TV usually started at 10 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. "In daytime programming the size and frequency of audiences are important. If we can get the viewer who turns in once or twice a week to watch three times a week, we will be successful," Michael Brockman of CBS made known. 

Agnes Nixon recalled, "When we started 'One Life To Live' (in 1968) and 'All My Children' (in 1970), ABC didn't do any special publicity about them. They just slid onto the air and caught on with viewers by word-of-mouth. But these days (in 1983), soap operas have become so much more popular that the networks now realize their financial importance." 

Soap operas earned an average of 15% ($1.21 billion in 1990) of the networks' total revenues ($10.1 billion in 1990). About 27% of TV households (some 25 millions in total) watched television during daytime. Daytime programming was also less expensive to produce with soap operas costing around $1 million for 5 shows. At the height of its popularity, 'General Hospital' could gross up to $150 million a year in net profit (after expenses). The Luke and Laura wedding in November 1981 attracted 12.7% households ratings. 

Susan Beckley taught the course 'Soap Operas: What They Are And How We View Them' at the University of Alabama in 1979 told 'Knight-Ridder News Service' soap operas were valuable because they relied on human relationships for subject matter. "People relate to the situations and the characters. So watching soaps can provide viewers – from people with doctorates to high school dropouts – with alternate solutions to their problems. Because they spend every day with these characters, living with them in the most intimate part of their lives, some people think the actors are real people. They're good entertainment and they offer some valuable lessons besides." 

Landon Owen of the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry added, "I really think soap operas deal with a lot of basic emotional things that go on with people's lives. They tap into very personal struggles that people encounter in every day living. It's vicarious identification with people on the boob tube in some ways. It's a kind of psychological relief – a measure of how they are compared to these people." 

However putting a soap on the air before noon was a gamble. George Keramidas of ABC told 'United Press International' in 1983, "Sure it's a risk. The truth is, we're not really going to know until fall. But we've done surveys that indicate women (18-49 years old) do want to watch this kind of program and they are available in the morning." It was explained in the summer when school was out, "kids dominate the set." On daytime soap operas, the focus would be on youth-oriented story lines. 

Gloria Monty pointed out, "You have to plan for the future. We have to build long-term characters and relationships. We can't just bring in an actor for 13 weeks and expect it to work. You use realistic actors who play very real people (characters) who are caught in these larger-than-life situations. Our stories have some fantasy in them, but they're not that different from some of the movies. We have a style of playing that's like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. I don't think we'll ever reach the viewer level we had during the wedding (of Luke and Laura). I don't know if all of television will ever reach that level again. All the ratings have gone soft."

Meredith Brown of 'Soap Opera Digest' remarked, "It's basically a business decision. It's a tradition that in the summertime, you have many more kids watching the soaps – and the networks want to cater to these kids. Those young viewers want to see story lines involving people their own age, and the soap producers are hopeful that when the kids go back to school in September, they'll still remain loyal to the soaps they got hooked on in the summer. I'm 31 years old (in 1987), and most people my age started watching the soaps during the summer when they were teens. We've built lifelong habits from those days." 

Gary Warner told 'News American Syndicate', "The networks are aware that if they can grab 'em when they're 16, 17 and 18, they're gonna have 'em, still when they're 25, 26 and 27. They'll continue watching as they grow older, and they'll become the backbone of a program's popularity. So it's pretty crucial for a soap to appeal to that young audience. 

"The audience for the soaps really blossoms in the summertime, even though the nighttime programs are all suffering from low viewing and the main reason for the summer upsurge in the daytime is the college and high school kids – and kids even younger than that. So you can hardly blame the soaps for giving the young characters the storyline and letting them run with it for a couple of months." 

George Keramidas continued, "We knew initially it would be a slow build. This form rarely, if ever, catches on right away. 'The Young and the Restless' (started in 1973) took two to three years to catch on. There's no formula for what will repeat well (programs in reruns) and what won't. 'Dynasty' and 'Dallas' have the highest ratings but they don't repeat well." 

All soap operas regularly introduced new characters, brought in new writers, changed its opening credits and theme music and quickened the pace of its stories to attract viewers. Actor Alan Dysert played Sean Cudahy on 'All My Children' taught five acting classes in Nashville in 1995 observed, "There are always going to be two or three characters that producers want to be melodramatic, and they'll ask those actors to push it beyond what most actors want to do. Most are doing the same acting they'd be doing if they were doing a movie. But when you add the soap opera music and the way they set up the scenes, it looks soapy. Viewers want it to look soapy. They don't want it to look like 'E.R.'" 

Judy McGinley: "I started watching them (her favorite 'The Young and the Restless') when I was first married. We had just moved to Antigo (Wisconsin). My mother-in-law lived there and would call me up and say turn on such and such. It gave us something to talk about. I feel my problems are so small when I watch them. They take my mind off my own problems and worries and it's fun to see what entanglements evolve." 

Mike Sowinski: "My wife had been watching them long before I started. That’s how I started watching them (his favorite 'Days of our Lives') – I got married." 

Jane Lukens: "The reason is timing. It's on when my little boy takes his nap. So I'll watch it when I scrub the floor or do some needlepoint. Once you get started, they are very contagious. That's the reason why I don't watch more (other than 'The Guiding Light'). I would get too involved." 

In the 5 years since 1988, 'Entertainment Weekly' reported in 1993, the total ratings of soap operas had fallen to 14%. Lucy Johnson of CBS told Associated Press, "Because we're on day in, day out, 52 weeks a year, there's a familiarity and intimacy with the product. It's like reading a novel that never ends. The rule of thumb, which is much different than a prime-time psychology, is that we've got a loyal core audience for our shows. 

"That means we do everything we can to retool and rebuild the franchise of a particular show, rather than saying, 'Well, it's slipped a little in the ratings, so we'll put on a new show in its place.' You can't assume the audience will be there for that new show. Daytime is glacial. Something takes a long time to fail, and also a long time to catch on, because people don't automatically sample. Audiences may graze through a syndicated talk show, but not through soaps. Loyalty is a big factor. The daytime soap is the original appointment television, the original habit-forming medium. Its audience is more of a clientele." 

Sharon Frost told 'The Tennessean' in 1995 when 'Days of our Lives' introduced the story about Marlena being possessed by satan, "I always ask people what they think of that story. I'd say 90% of the time, they just roll their eyes and say it's ridiculous. But whenever I've been on the air, and said, 'There's no place for this in daytime television,' I get letters like you wouldn't believe. 

"I think they were so loyal they were defending their soap even if they didn't like the storyline. There are a lot of people who have gotten hooked by having a grandparent or someone at their house watching it. And they've kept up with it for years. They may tape only one or two a week, but they're not able to just cut themselves off of it. If I have one complaint it's that a lot of the time they take movies that have been successful and craft similar story lines for soaps." 

By 1995, 'The Bold And The Beautiful' was the No. 2 soap opera on the CBS network and the most-watched television drama worldwide with an estimated 125 million viewers. Bill Bell, then 68, told 'Orange County Register', "The only reason 'The Bold And The Beautiful' is on the air is because of my family. I had been asked to do another show, and I talked to the kids just to see how interested they were in creating a serial together – and they all said yes. It started with a blank sheet of paper. I certainly was the thrust of it, but everyone factored show." 

Bradley Bell was given free reign on 'The Bold And The Beautiful' stated, "I always learn something whenever I tune into 'The Young and the Restless'. He really gives the characters time to develop. In a scene that you think could be over and done with quickly, he'll give it time. When you give it that time, the subtleties really come out – like the aging of wine. He understands that the human equation is not going from point A to point B, that's it's really invisible."

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