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Why is ATWT so underappreciated?


Max

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During its final weeks on television, AMC has gotten much deserved praise for its rich legacy and status as a national institution. What strikes me as very odd was that ATWT got little such kudos (for its rich legacy and status as a national institution) during its final weeks. (While you can call me "bitter" if you want, keep in mind that I just said that AMC deserves all the praise it is currently getting.) Please note that the question posed in this thread applies only to ATWT--and not the other P&G soaps--because, quite frankly, ATWT was the only P&G soap to become a national phenomenon (in the same way that GH, DOOL, AMC, and Y&R would later become).

I assume the main reason why ATWT remains so underappreciated (by both the soap media and the mainstream media) is because--despite being the first soap to become wildly popular--it was perceived as an old person's soap (and our ageist society likes to ignore things that old people enjoy). A secondary reason was that because P&G was just so desperate to get out of the soap business, that they didn't even bother to celebrate the soap's rich heritage. Aside from these two reasons, I can think of no other explanations.

Despite what most people think, I'm not at all upset with GL's cancellation, because quite frankly that show was dead (both creatively and given the 1.3-1.4 ratings it was receiving). Yet, ATWT's ratings were essentially the same as those of OLTL (on the date of cancellation; it's impressive ratings rise would come later) or AMC. Despite this, there was virtually no outcry, let alone any proclamations regarding that ATWT's demise represented the darkest day in daytime history up to that point. I can understand why AMC and OLTL fans were silent (because, quite frankly, we are all selfish and only care about the soaps we watch), but it is totally unacceptable that the supposedly "objective" soap press was so willing to let ATWT just wither away (whereas the soap press encouraged AMC and OLTL fans to do all they could to save their shows).

Before I conclude, I just wanted to make clear even the soap press is not the main party to blame for why ATWT never moved online (although that is no excuse for the soap press having little problem with ATWT's demise). The biggest blame has to lie with P&G, who was hellbent on exiting the industry (for some bizarre, unknown reason) and would never allow ATWT to continue online under any circumstances.

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I think the problem with ATWT during it's last years was P&G itself as you stated Max. The show was basically eviscerated and there simply wasn't anything left to talk about. It was horribly produced and terribly written. I hated to see it go off the air, but I barely tuned in at the end because there was nothing there that made me want to watch. When Goutman started producing ATWT like episodic primetime TV, that killed it for me. I just didn't care.

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I assume the main reason why ATWT remains so underappreciated (by both the soap media and the mainstream media) is because--despite being the first soap to become wildly popular--it was perceived as an old person's soap (and our ageist society likes to ignore things that old people enjoy).

It *is* unfortunate and unfair, but you've answered yourself right there: ATWT was watched by an older generation. A generation that doesn't congregate on the internet and band together in protest. They'll be sad, yes, but will do little to nothing to try to stop the inevitable from happening. It's not surprising that shows targeting the coveted demographic will have tributes to AMC, because a larger amount of demo-desired people watch AMC than they did ATWT. Prospect Park likes the idea of attracting viewers in their 30's and 40's... but who wants to attract viewers in their 60's and up? Not to sound rude or ageist, but that's just the sad truth.

While I do wish that more attention had been given to ATWT and GL's demises (GL didn't even get a special Digest magazine on newsstands like ATWT did and AMC is now getting), I'm not surprised given their pop culture status nowadays.

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I'll give you the other reason---ATWT never had that "breakthrough" personality who became the face of the show. What makes AMC more "newsworthy" is Susan Lucci. Everyone knows who Susan Lucci is. (Even if IMO, it's as an annoying gnat-like actress) She made herself mainstream, and AMC has always reaped the rewards. It's the same way for DOOL with Dee Hall.

It's the same reason OLTL is getting lost in the shuffle. Yes, the soap viewers know who Erica Slezak is, but she's not a personality outside the industry. The same way Eileen Fulton or Kim Zimmer were the faces of ATWT and GL, but really not known in the mainstream.

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I think part of why ATWT didn’t get as much due also was based on the location of its fans. Supposedly CBS soaps do best in the south and rural areas when it comes to viewership. ABC tends to have a stronger urban presence with their shows. Magazines tend to be published from big cities like NY. Terri Conn talked about how she never got recognized for ATWT, but within the first month she was airing on OLTL, a viewer stopped her about Aubrey.

The difference I think too is that the soap press wasn’t praising ATWT for being all that wonderful when it was cancelled. Some people were all OLTL is awesome, but the ratings need help before the news came.

Another issue is that with ATWT (and GL for that matter even more so) is that a lot of the fans who were on-line that watched those shows gave up years before cancellation. They were in a place of it is inevitable, they’ve changed the shows too much etc. Once GL went, ATWT was thought to be going soon too, and they knew nothing they could do would change P&G’s minds.

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This may sound harsh, but AMC became popular at a point in time when soaps were deemed cool. The early 80s is when AMC was at its peak of fame, and this was the era of GH and the growing fame of Susan Lucci, and when the mainstream media and pop culture became truly aware of soaps and the whole college kids watching angle that made for interesting stories, and athletes, and celebrities queuing up to appear. That period, as we saw from Oprah's salute to AMC and so many other articles and covers that reference Greg and Jenny and Nina and Cliff, is the only period that matters to the media. ATWT was not riding high then, but these people remember AMC was and therefore is important. You will see the same cries of anguish when GH goes off the air, but I can almost guarantee you won't see it for Y&R and B&B. These people writing for the NY Times and various outlets don't even know what B&B is. You will see it for DOOL though.

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This may sound harsh, but AMC became popular at a point in time when soaps were deemed cool. The early 80s is when AMC was at its peak of fame, and this was the era of GH and the growing fame of Susan Lucci, and when the mainstream media and pop culture became truly aware of soaps and the whole college kids watching angle that made for interesting stories, and athletes, and celebrities queuing up to appear. That period, as we saw from Oprah's salute to AMC and so many other articles and covers that reference Greg and Jenny and Nina and Cliff, is the only period that matters to the media. ATWT was not riding high then, but these people remember AMC was and therefore is important. You will see the same cries of anguish when GH goes off the air, but I can almost guarantee you won't see it for Y&R and B&B. These people writing for the NY Times and various outlets don't even know what B&B is. You will see it for DOOL though.

It *is* unfortunate and unfair, but you've answered yourself right there: ATWT was watched by an older generation. A generation that doesn't congregate on the internet and band together in protest. They'll be sad, yes, but will do little to nothing to try to stop the inevitable from happening. It's not surprising that shows targeting the coveted demographic will have tributes to AMC, because a larger amount of demo-desired people watch AMC than they did ATWT. Prospect Park likes the idea of attracting viewers in their 30's and 40's... but who wants to attract viewers in their 60's and up? Not to sound rude or ageist, but that's just the sad truth.

Exactly. This is why nobody bothered to save them but saved AMC/OLTL. IMO, they have a larger online presence and are more known amongst the 30/40's generation.

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During its final weeks on television, AMC has gotten much deserved praise for its rich legacy and status as a national institution. What strikes me as very odd was that ATWT got little such kudos (for its rich legacy and status as a national institution) during its final weeks. .

Two words.........Susan Lucci.

Because of SL, AMC became a national phenomenon, it had lunch boxes, boardgames, etc., etc.. ATWT never had a star reach that type of crossover fame to ride on imo.

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It's a shame, really. OLTL is twice the show AMC is, in terms of quality, but it really is getting lost in the shuffle. I tried watching AMC for a period, but I had to stop. I've always watched ATWT, so I was spoiled by the excellent acting, and just assumed that all soaps were the same. Boy, was I wrong. Except for a few exceptions (David Canary, Julia Barr, etc), the acting on AMC was atrocious. I found myself thinking "This is the reasons soaps are mocked", what with all the hair-tossing and scenery-chewing. And the show's main attraction, Susan Lucci, is Exhibit A. ATWT may have tanked in bad writing at the end, but the acting was never in question.

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Quent, I respectfully have to disagree about ATWT's acting never being in question. I loved Colleen Zenk but her performances last summer were filled with scenery chewing at times. Ditto Roger Howarth's. And Jake Silbermann? One of the most stilted performances ever in daytime television.

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rcsnj, okay ...point taken. But Zenk has also delivered the goods most of the time. Remember when Jennifer died? She and Ben H. were beyond good. I won't argue Howarth, who I think had two methods of acting....the blank stare , and the spitting, sputtering explosion. (Why they replaced Scott Holroyd is beyond me.) As for Silberman, the lowest moment in daytime acting had to be when he tried to dance at Cyndi Lauper's concert.

Still, if you took ATWT as a whole, people tended to be hired more for talent than looks. Jennifer Landon and Martha Byrne, while attractive, would never be hired at other soaps, because they lacked that "hot" look.

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