ABC Daytime head honcho Brian Frons was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal in a piece that ran on Friday.
But in an unusual move, the Journal didn’t talk to Frons about any of his own shows.
They specifically interviewed him about Guiding Light, a show Frons hasn’t been a part of since the early 80s.
And to paraphrase the fabulous Daytime Confidential response to Corday’s comments, “Fronsie, this is SO not your lesson to teach!”
And yet, what Frons says in the article is fairly on the mark. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my elegy for Springfield, the rock solid support that GL had from CBS changed right around the era Frons mentions as the last time GL won the 18-49 female demographic.
Their lack of support – and the cancellation rumors that have haunted GL since 1995 – can be traced back to the basics: it wasn’t winning the important demographics.
We get it – soaps are a business, and our TV screens are a marketing channel, not a museum.
The thing is, though, I believe that you can feed the moneymaking beast and still respect creativity. I just think most shows are missing the fact that we still want our fictional universe to be familiar and recognizable.
With the exception of One Life to Live, ABC soaps haven’t spoken to me in years. All My Children’s plots have been a mess for years, damaged by the ongoing creative train wreck of writers (Megan McTavish, Esensten/Brown, and now Chuck “By the power of Grayskull!” Pratt).
AMC is harder to watch, in my eyes, than any Peapack scene I’ve ever seen from GL, because it looks like it was edited on a sepia-toned Wild West photo booth machine from Six Flags. (Either that, or somebody poured a whole gallon of butterscotch on the film.)
General Hospital has been largely unwatchable for me since THAT show’s McTavish writing reign, and Guza 2.0 (or 3.0? I’ve lost track) has all of the shoot-’em-up, no-consequences misogyny we’ve come to expect (now with lingering bad aftertaste).
In my eyes, the problem is that daytime, and Frons, are still adhering to the old 1950s broadcasting standards. They’re pitching a message at a mainstream that’s no longer there, while ignoring the niche audiences (soap lovers, gays and lesbians, and people of color) who provide 90% of the soap viewing audience right now.
They’re looking solely at 18-49 women as the only viable market, because their 1970s era marketing studies showed that young women were most likely to change brands because of a marketing message. Meanwhile, they’re almost completely ignored new marketing methods, new messages, new media and new ideas. They forget that, for example, gay and lesbian consumers are MUCH more likely to be “early adopters” of new products and trends.
Frons and his team may have given GH three million reasons to be beautiful, and I commend ABC for keeping AMC and OLTL on the air. But so far, all the work has been on tangible things: the stage, the lighting, the film, the appearance. The “quality” Frons speaks of is nothing – NOTHING – unless the story is compelling and engaging.
Right now, unfortunately, many of the stories that have come to life under Brian Frons and his watchful eye are repelling and enraging.