Bay City Confidential

According to We Love Soaps, yesterday was the anniversary of the launch of Another World.

I’ve had AW in my head lately, because I just re-read Harding Lemay’s memoir of his time as AW’s head writer, Eight Years In Another World. After many years of being out of print, I learned a few weeks ago that Eight Years had been published on Kindle. (As much as I’d love the hardcover, ten bucks trumps a hundred bucks – the price of some of the rare used copies!)

AW is, in fact, probably most responsible for the initial formation my soap watching habit.

My mother was a fan of DAYS and AW, so I watched both shows with her on those sick days and rainy days, and would often make a point to catch the shows during summer break. While DAYS served up high drama with Doug and Julie, something about AW felt so real.

AWIt felt like we were eavesdropping when we’d see Rachel and Iris and Mac, or when Ada and her omnipresent dishtowel were dispensing advice (or scolding the hell out of someone who was being an ass).

We laughed at Vivian’s mishaps and escapades, and some of Iris’ odd friends.

There are many different species of soap, and when the media covers soap operas, they usually talk about the hair-tossing, oft-wedded, no-one-ever-dies garden variety.

Every show, of course, has been guilty of that kind of trick from time to time – some more often than others.

But AW was the first show that felt like watching real people. It was like watching a theater performance every day. I’d feel that way about later iterations of ATWT (during the Marland years) and about GL. 

As I get older, I find the reminders of the passage of time increasingly rude. So the realization that AW has been off the air for sixteen years is one I find hard to believe.

But AW is still accessible, with a number of clips on YouTube. It continued as text-only for several years.

I mentioned that a big reason for rebooting this blog was the clicks my older entries have been getting, and the amount of chatter over the P&G soaps I was seeing online.

I cracked up when I saw someone on a message board identify themselves as “Ada Hobson’s Dishtowel.” (Lemay said in his book that Constance Ford loved using props during a performance.)

When AW was cancelled, many of us thought it was a sad ending for a show that had just suffered too many changes in producers, writers and cast in its last fifteen years.

What we didn’t realize was that it had been a cautionary tale and a harbinger of things to come.

As we start seeing more web soaps and more shows on new platforms like Amazon and Netflix, I hope that they’ll study AW and remember that the characters and their lives are the glue that kept things together and kept us in our seats — not mobsters, guns, doppelgangers and forensics.

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2 thoughts on “Bay City Confidential

  1. Great to see you back! Just noticed the date and thought of Doug Marland.

    Oh wow – I hadn’t even realized today was Doug’s birthday!

  2. Patrick! So good to have you back writing about soaps! Your ideas and insights have been sorely missed in the last five years.

    Very weird that you just reread Eight Years in Another World. I just go through rereading it too! Last week I was on vacation and that is the book I was reading poolside. So well written. And of course, reading it again 34 years later, I have greater understanding about many of the issues Lemay was discussing thanks to 34 extra years of life experience that I didn’t have in 1981 when I first read it. And of course, all his talk about 1970s AW plots is stirring all my childhood soap memories.

    I’ve book marked your website and will check in regularly. Keep on writing!

    Thank you James! Glad to be back!

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