I've struggled to get this week's column off the ground. With the whispers... and the intimations... and the lack of denials, it's been a really rough week. I feel as though this week, more than ever, this column needs to be something monumental.
In the event that you've not been listening to the radio, watching the television, reading the newspaper, or surfing the Internet since my last column, mainstream culture was inundated with reports last week that ABC was about to pull the plug on All My Children. There were websites that did everything short of posting one of those doomsday clocks.
By midweek, ABC hadn't said anything to allay anyone's fears. There was no "That's silly! All My Children isn't going anywhere!" Rather, fans got a noncommittal "this is just another story in a long line of stories about this same topic again and again."
To be fair, it was a no-win situation for ABC. Deny it like crazy and there would be the "thou doth protest too much" response. Say nothing because it's not true and then it looks like you've got something to hide.
Then there was a meeting -- after which some of the stars took to Twitter to assure fans that the show was not being canceled. In the same tweet-breath, though, they urged fans to dial up ABC and leave a message on the network's hotline urging the suits not to cancel All My Children.
And that's where we are as of the time I am writing this column. My stomach is twisted up in knots just like yours. It's a horrible feeling to think that a show that you've watched for so long might soon be going away.
There is a great deal of irony in all of this -- at least for me. The same week the media was reporting on the end of All My Children was the same week that Soap Central marked its 16th anniversary. I'm sure you already know this, but this website started out as an All My Children-only fan site. Had it not been for my affection for AMC (and the girl I went to high school with who was on the show), there probably wouldn't be a Soap Central.
I was even more saddened by the response fans have had to the cancellation rumors. Whereas some rallied behind All My Children, there was a surprisingly vocal group of soap fans -- some who don't even watched AMC -- who were cheering for ABC to pull the plug.
First, for those soap fans who don't watch AMC and who want to see All My Children canceled, here's a bit of a warning. With each soap that gets canceled, it becomes easier and easier for networks to justify the cancellation of others. So while your favorite soap may not be the talk of cancellation rumors -- or maybe it was recently renewed -- where the numbers start to dwindle, it's not a good thing.
For those All My Children fans who are unhappy with the show, whether it be complaints about the show in its entirety or just bits and pieces, there is also a cautionary tale. I'd bet that there are many former Guiding Light and As the World Turns viewers who would be happy to have a show on the air that they could find something to grumble about. Once a show goes away... it's gone. And if betwork executives are reading the comments and they see things that are negative, they may question why it's even worth saving a show that people don't seem to care about.
I write this column every week (mostly because I tried to drop back to every other week and you guys revolted!) and of course there are things that drive me crazy about All My Children. I don't want to come off as hypocritical or have you thinking that I prance around tossing sunshine and lollipops from my rainbow basket of love. To me, if you love something, you want it to be the best that it can be. It's like how your grandmother squawks about how you shouldn't have dropped out of law school or how you need to do something with your hair. It's not because she hates you -- at least I hope not -- it's because she cares.
So do you care about All My Children? There's an interesting paradox taking place here: in order for the show to get better it needs to stay on the air, but the show needs to get better to stay on the air. Ugh, that hurts my brain. It's like trying to hear the sound of one hand clapping.
There is an assortment of phone numbers and "snail mail" address that fans can use to help voice their support for All My Children. I've taken the liberty of posting them over in the AMC News section. I've been told by various industry folks that old school handwritten letters are weighed for more heavily than emails. Phone calls are also up there pretty high on the "taken notice" list.
Speaking of taking notice of things, I don't want you to think that I didn't pay attention to what happened on-screen last week. It was hard to do because I was working the phones to try to find out what was going on with AMC, but I do have some comments to share.
I truly believe that Jacob Young (JR Chandler) is the new David Canary -- in more ways than one. No one could ever truly take David's place, but Jacob seems to have come into his own over the past year. I used to say that David Canary could bring out the best in anyone with whom he shared screentime. I now feel the same way about Jacob Young.
I thought the ultimatum scenes Jacob shared with Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery) were impressive. I was a bit stunned by the gall that Ryan had to tell JR not to cut off all contact with Annie, but hey -- we are talking about Ryan Lavery here. I totally understand that AMC is trying to erase all traces of Annie now that Melissa Claire Egan has left the show. They certainly don't want to have to pull a One Life to Live and show a fan-favorite character with a hospital monitor blocking her face.
It's a well-known fact that I dislike the cutesy kids that are often portrayed on television and movies. Back when Kathy/Kate was a little hellion and trying to kill Krystal, I was loving every minute of it. I'm not sure how I feel about Emma and her new sassy attitude. It's totally justified and completely believable to me. It's also nice to think that Ryan and Greenlee might have a storyline that is somewhat more meaningful than they've had in the past. Even their conversations have changed to be more real. However, I loved little Lucy Merriam when she played Emma, and I don't think I have come to terms with the fact that there's a new actress playing the role.
It took me a long time to get used to seeing Jamie Luner as Liza Colby. Her introduction was the pits, and then it didn't seem like Liza ever really had a place in Pine Valley. Now, though, I've gotten over my longing for Marcy Walker, and I've come to accept Jamie (but I still don't think the writers know what to do with the character).
There was a time when I would never have believed that Liza and David could be linked romantically. Now, I am not so sure. No one likes David. No one likes Liza. Heck, at least people track David down to tell him how much they hate him. No one even mentions Liza's name -- except for maybe Colby. It's kind of sad that that's a whole void of 40something people to mix and mingle. Maybe it's time for Liza and David to keep each other warm. They even have some cute smooshed nicknames -- Livid (Liza + David) and Lizard (Liza + Hayward).
The bachelor auction was a little something different. It would have been nice to see it involve a mix of people who we don't know... but I guess that wasn't really an option. Remember that bossy staffer at Pine Valley Hospital who gave Kendall a hard time during her community service stint? It might have been entertaining to see her enter a winning bid on Tad or Ricky. I thought bachelor auctions were supposed to be fun. Everyone who went on one of the dates ended up miserable or with someone other than their bidder! I actually yelled "Ouch!" out loud when Griffin told Kendall that he really didn't want to be on a non-date with her and tried everything in his power to get out of it. Meanwhile, Scott ditched Marissa to be with Madison. I am becoming more and more fond of Madison and Scott... it will be interesting to see what happens when Ryan learns that he is not legally married to Greenlee.
For something different, the show could have even allowed fans to make donations to a charity for a chance to win a walk-on role during the auction. Right now, I think that charity might have been the Save All My Children Fund.