I can’t even remember what event this is. I just saw the photo of Susan Lucci looking so very Susan Lucci — she has a phenomenal surgeon or dermatologist, and I throw no shade there; the woman is 70, so the only way she can have had the same face for so many years is through great work, and hers is arguably the best — and it made me appreciate her and miss her all at once. And so I thought I’d nudge y’all down memory lane with me.
Soaps are the best. At one time or another, I have watched nearly every one of the ones on the air from the 1980s onward. In college, I’d sample all four of the CBS shows if I was in my room between classes, because the rabbit ears on our tiny TV liked CBS’s signal the best. Another World? You were my way, baby. I watched a bit of Loving because one of the women had awesome curly hair (Laura Wright, who has since ironed it out and is on GH now as Carly), and I had an opening at 12:30. My grandparents were hooked on One Life To Live (Viki’s many personalities! Fraternity Row, the soap within the soap! Megan’s lupus! The million Joey Buchanans!) and General Hospital, which is how I came to know about Frisco and Felicia, and how Frisco had been presumed dead but really wasn’t, and Frisco’s blind brother just sensed that his brother was still alive and lurking nearby and HE WAS and OH THE JOY, and THEN THEY HUGGED. I obviously then moved onto All My Children, because it led into OLTL and it had the big red book, and Tad and Dixie, and the inimitable Susan Lucci (and eventually, Sarah Michelle Gellar). And when we moved back to the States, I picked up Days of our Lives one day when I was home sick because Shawn-Douglas was stuck in a mine shaft and came out deaf. Oh, and obviously I picked up Sunset Beach when that started, because it was an Aaron Spelling show — I remember when Virginia used the infamous turkey baster to impregnate Vanessa with some other dude’s sperm, so that Virginia could end up with Vanessa’s boyfriend — and then there is Passions. I’ve just always loved the way soaps mixed outlandish stuff with great romantic arcs. Even the really cringeworthy days on a soap were a joy in their own way. Reva’s clones on Guiding Light? Marlena being possessed by the devil, and later being a serial killer but not really, and Stefano keeping John Black in his French catacombs and threatening him with the guillotine? Terrible. By which I mean terribly GREAT.
All My Children and General Hospital were the ones I stuck with the most consistently. I actually screamed when Shemar Moore opened that Emmy envelope and said, “The streak is over! Susan Lucci!” — in fact I just got chills AGAIN remembering that — and I am really galled that daytime TV has dwindled to near-death. It employed so many people and, for all the teasing about soap acting, it kick-started a boatload of careers (hi, SMG, Brad Pitt, Demi Moore, Meg Ryan, Julianne Moore, Justin Hartley, Nathan Fillion, Tommy Lee Jones, Laurence Fishburne, Alec Baldwin, Anne Heche, Taye Diggs and Matt Bomer sort of because they were on Guiding Light but only for like an hour each, Hayden Panettiere…), besides which it’s made a pretty awesome living for the ones who’ve stuck it out at what I always thought looked like the most fun job in the world. Susan Lucci is the queen of it all, though. I’m sad Devious Maids has been cancelled, but hopeful that someone somewhere will realize there should ALWAYS be a place for La Lucci on the airwaves. If soaps themselves can’t stay forever, she at least should.