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The Daytime Emmys: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

by Kim Potts, posted Apr 18th 2011 1:00PM
EmmysYou know that old cliché about throwing a party and no one showing up? What if you threw an elaborate awards show and no one showed up?

In other words, enjoy this year's Daytime Emmys telecast in June -- because after this season, there will be just four soap operas left to contend for a slew of prizes. Which begs the question: Will there -- and should there -- continue to be a separate Daytime Emmy ceremony? And, if so, will it (and should it) continue to be televised in primetime?

The question arises, of course, because of ABC's decision to cancel two of its long-running daytime dramas, 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live.' The soap landscape was already a diminished one -- only six scripted dramas currently air in daytime -- but with ABC throwing in the towel on two more, the future of the soaps and their offshoots are in serious danger.

Almost immediately after ABC's cancellation of 'AMC' and 'OLTL,' for example, the publisher of Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly magazines announced staff cuts were imminent and turned operations of the mags over to another publisher (American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer and Shape).

Obviously, the soap cancellations will mean more job losses, not just for actors on the shows, but also for crew, office staff, costumers, writers, directors and the dozens of other people who get the shows on the air each day, as well as the up-and-coming talent who often rely on soap opportunities to help them break into the business.

And then there's the Daytime Emmy celebration. Nevermind that "celebration" seems like an odd word to use in connection with an industry that, in 1971, aired 18 daytime soaps on three networks and is now being reduced to less than half a dozen shows, when there are literally hundreds more programming outlets.

The bigger issue is whether or not a genre that will span four shows in total -- meaning there will be fewer soap operas than there are casts of 'Real Housewives' -- warrants its own awards ceremony. Sure, the Daytime Emmys also honor daytime talk shows, game shows and children's programming like 'Sesame Street,' and those folks certainly deserve to be honored. But viewers have tuned in for the Daytime Emmys (when they tuned in; ratings for the kudosfest have been on the decline for years) to see their favorite soap stars. To see if Susan Lucci would finally nab herself a statue. To see which long-running soap would see its cast flood the stage when the show was named Outstanding Drama Series.


We all have our favorite daytime talk show host and our favorite courtroom series and our favorite game show host, but is anyone going to tune in for a whole awards show just to see those statues doled out? Would you have tuned in to last year's Daytime Emmys just to see 'The Doctors' win the Outstanding Informative Talk Show award, for instance? Us neither.

And that's no daytime-specific knock ... it's great to see shows like 'The Daily Show' win at the primetime Emmys, but would you tune in to a primetime Emmy show that didn't offer the chance to see all the stars from your favorite comedies and dramas? The primetime Emmys also honor the best reality show and reality host ... would you tune in to see a whole awards show devoted only to reality series? (Actually, the Fox Reality Channel aired just such an awards show ... the show, and the cable network, no longer exist).

The sad fact is, soaps have been in decline with viewers for years. A lot of us grew up with the shows as an integral part of our pop culture experience, watching 'As the World Turns' or 'Guiding Light' with our moms and grandmas, spending summers glued to the angsty teen romances of Bo and Hope, Beth and Phillip and Jenny and Greg, and carrying our love for the sudsy dramas into college, where we may or may not have scheduled classes around 'Days of Our Lives.' But when the O.J. Simpson trial pre-empted the daytime dramas for much of 1995, a lot of viewers kicked their soap habits, and slowly, the shows started to fall.

Susan LucciDaytime legends like Deidre Hall were sent packing because of budget cuts; reality TV and the real-life bad behavior of celebrities made truth more shocking than the fiction of any came-back-from-the-dead, was-possessed-by-the-devil, married-three-members-of-the-same-family (Brooke Logan!) plots the soaps ever cooked up; and now, unthinkably, even soap queen La Lucci will be unemployed unless another soap smartly snaps her up for a juicy new role.

So with few shows remaining and the genre whittled down to a niche -- ABC's axing of 'AMC' and 'OLTL' came after parent company Disney had already decided to pull the plug on the devoted-to-all-things-soapy cable network SoapNet -- it seems pretty clear the Daytime Emmys will have to be downsized, or maybe altogether excised, in the near future, too.

Maybe they can be folded into the primetime awards show? Nah, that would make for one bloated, unwatchably long affair. Maybe the show doesn't support being televised at all? Or maybe the Daytime Emmy telecast belongs in daytime, where at least it would be in the good company of the (few remaining) shows it was created to celebrate.

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August 07 2011 at 10:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
June Jerrie

Okay for starters, you can't blame OJ for the decline of soaps. Soaps are in decline for a lot of reasons most of which are fairly recent (aka post OJ). Soaps will continue to die as long as people make excuses for their decline.

Secondly, if you watched last year's Daytime Emmys ceremony they were a humiliating spectacle that bombarded you with ads about Africa, ads about hunger, and the ceremony itself was just one giant ad for Las Vegas.

They should merge the award ceremonies because you can knockout the daytime awards in just 30 minutes if you tack that onto the primetime emmys ceremony.

Its more cost effective and makes more rational sense.

May 14 2011 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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April 22 2011 at 9:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ohhs74

I can only hope that if any of the hosts from "The Talk" on CBS (the pathetic blabfest replacement to Emmy-awarding winning "As the World Turns") are presenters this year at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards (to be shown on CBS) they will be greeted by stone-cold silence and no applause. ABC soap fans: cheap-to-produce replacements like "The Talk" which now fills "As the World Turns" old time slot (as well as a remake of "Let's Make a Deal" which replaced "Guiding Light") are why AMC and OLTL are slated for cancellation. I think that ABC execs took a look at the CBS model and saw that they also could unload a genre they just didn't want to invest in and replace it on the cheap. I would love to see pickets, protesting, and widespread support of the soaps at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards this year - just to let ABC, CBS, NBC, and advertisers know that soap fans may not be their ideal demographic, but we are committed to preserving our sopas and are more than and willing to switch channels, turn off the TV, or take our buying power elsewhere.

April 20 2011 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
asssvvvvxc

I absolutely loved when Susan Lucci won her first Daytime Emmy! One of the best Daytime Emmy moments ever!

April 19 2011 at 6:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wendy K. Rasmussen

Expand the late night/variety categories and combine them with the current Daytime Emmys :)

April 18 2011 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

Why not just roll them into the creative arts Emmys and not have a separate show. I mean, in another year there will be only 4 soaps for all those acting categories.

April 18 2011 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KarenC

My poor soaps! And poor ME, too! I'm really going to miss them, and I think the TV industry is making such a shortsighted mistake. There's no other TV genre in which you can watch the trials & tribulations of families over GENERATIONS, day by day. That absolutely enormous bank of back-story for every character; those simmering plots and interpersonal issues that the writers can allow to play out for DECADE LONG time spans, in every possible permutation - that's a length and width and breadth of character development and storytelling that just can't be rebuilt, if the network suits change their minds 2 years from now. Nothing gives you 40 years of on-air history but FORTY YEARS. Once these characters are gone they are irretrievably gone. I think the suits are making a terrible mistake tearing down a structure they have no ability to ever rebuild.

April 18 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Est

How nice to mention that other people willbe out of work. By all the press this is getting you would think Susan Lucci is the only one affected by this. There are at least 20 or 30 CAST members on OLTL can you maybe give them a nod?

April 18 2011 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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