Llanview’s tipping point?

By now, most soap blogosphere readers know that One Life to Live has announced their intention to end the “Kish” storyline between two gay characters, Kyle and Oliver Fish.

It’s unfortunate that the Kish story is ending. It’s a wonderful story that featured a slow, romantic build and no boneheaded story moves thus far like the ones that derailed All My Children’s Bianca and Reese (or Bianca and Zarf, or Bianca and Maggie…..) or Guiding Light’s Otalia.

It’s very troubling that one reason for the story’s end might be increased network skittishness over LGBT content. There’s great analysis of this at Superhero Lunchbox, We Love Soaps, and TV Guide Canada’s Suds Report. These fabulous folks all make great points and I don’t disagree with them a bit.

But for some reason, I’ve had a gut feeling since this news hit. And that feeling is this: Much of the fuss over Kish ending was not only expected but planned – all as bread and circuses to distract fans (and nosy bloggers) from realizing that OLTL is seriously thinning its ranks – a sure sign of financial trouble. And financial trouble, as we well know, is a very thin layer of ice for soaps to walk on these days.

The ratings are the same or higher as last year, though the now-canceled ATWT has beaten OLTL during several periods over the last few months.

Cast changes can be so.....well, up and down!

But we don’t know if the move to a new studio is cheaper, or whether it was a big cash outlay for ABC.

Even if we assume that Roscoe Born’s stay as Mitch was meant to be a short one, there’s been a lot of characters axed recently. And interestingly enough, almost all of them – Rachel, Stacy, Schuyler, Oliver and Kyle – are in a younger demographic.

I realize that several of the actors in those roles are or were recurring, and may continue to appear on screen from time to time. But it’s alarming that we’re losing so many young, engaging performers. (Especially when the show is still overwhelmingly dominated by Toddzilla.)

The major point of worry is that if OLTL – a network-owned soap with a home on SoapNet – is showing serious signs of trouble, then we really are nearing the end time of daytime. It may not be time to pray for salvation just yet, but it will be incredibly telling to see how OLTL proceeds with story and cast changes over the next few months.

EDITED TO ADD: Interesting to note that ABC has announced plans for a new midday newscast….will this affect OLTL? Curiouser and curiouser…..

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2 thoughts on “Llanview’s tipping point?

  1. I don’t watch OLTL, but I think it’s a dead duck. Shedding cast members and ditching storylines aren’t good signs. ABC re-arranging its daytime lineup is also not a good sign.

    My guess, and it is just a guess mind you, is that when the reshuffling is finished, ABC will have canceled OLTL and moved GH up one hour to 2:00, where it will have no soap competition, unless DAYS airs at that time in some markets.

  2. I’ve never believed that it was a financial move…the actors were INITIALLY told the KISH storyline was being cut because they weren’t getting good scores with the main audience (whatever that is…they asked 20 housewives in Utah or something?) Correction: Brett Claywell (Kyle) was told in person…Scott Evans (Fish) found out when fans contacted him via Twitter that TPTB let the info get out to the media. That’s just wrong, OLTL
    Then TPTB said changed their story and said that the KISH story was “coming to its planned end.” just as it’s at a place where it could be one of the most groundbreaking stories on daytime: 2 men raising a baby? I only started watching in January–never watched a soap before– and I’m the exact viewer you described…middle class gay male working during the day who catches the show via Soapnet, DVR or YouTube.

    Everything about this is wrong, wrong, wrong….

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