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.
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…..