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Greatest Soap of All Time?

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Can anyone quantify something so subjective as taste?  If we look at something like Oscar wins and box office, it's still open for debate what would rate as the greatest film. 

Star Wars most certainly did higher numbers than Citizen Kane at the box office, yet Star Wars'  awards are likely limited to the technical categories. 


Some of the best heralded pieces of art are not always rated as the best.  For this reason, I'd have a difficult time answering this question in any serious way.  So much goes into the calculus of how a TV show or a film (including timing) performs.  

Also, when it all comes down to it, isn't taste a highly individual metric anyway?

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It’s a very broad topic with tons of variables, but I’ll play:


Greatest Soap (US)

As the World Turns: It was the first half hour soap and really set the tone for a modern TV soap opera. The cultural impact goes beyond JFK’s assassination. At one point, people discussed Bob, Lisa, Nancy, Penny, et al as if they were real, breathing people. Moreover, its twenty-ish year run as TV’s number one soap was something that had never been done before. The show was co-created by Irna Phillips, Ted Corday, and Agnes Nixon. Their impact on the industry alone came to a head on TV after years spent working together on radio soaps. Bill Bell also served as a writer on the show, and, with Irna, co-created TV’s first super bitch, Lisa (who, I’ll always hold was the real springboard for Rachel, Erica, Jill, etc.). It was also the first soap (in my eyes) which finally cast off the traditions to radio and fully embraced TV. Yes, ATWT lost its way (which soap hasn’t), but it truly set the bar by which all other soaps were measured. If you watch an episode of ATWT from its first 20 years, they always grab you and remain relatively fresh today. 


Greatest Soap (UK)

Coronation Street. I really don’t like it, but I will fully admit that it is the greatest soap to come out of the UK and it remains a ratings & awards champ to this day. 

Ha! I was writing my answer when you posted yours.

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If we just look at cultural impact and ratings it is hard to not get down to GH, ATWT, and Y&R, the three that lead the ratings books longest.


AW should belong there, but it had so many more years where it was not at a creative high than the years where it was.


The problem is that this is very hard to quantify, and it’s hard not to be swayed by “your” show.  Which is why I would pick GH every time over Y&R, even though I think Bell’s writing is more nuanced and singular, and GH is more an EP’s show than a HW driven show.


If we were talking about the people that made these shows though, I have no issue picking Bill Bell as head and shoulders above folks like Monty, Nixon, the Dobson’s, Marland, Falken-Smith, Labine, Curlee, Reilly, etc.  I’ve loved so many of the work by those creating the shows, but I can’t deny the work of Bill Bell, even if his show wasn’t always a favorite of mine.

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