the story of soaps special abc
Credit: Image: ABC

Exploring the deep roots into cultural consciousness and serialized storytelling.

ABC and People magazine are offering soap opera fans a whole new way to appreciate their favorite TV stories: With an upcoming primetime special in May called The Story of Soaps. has the details for the two-hour television event, which is set to highlight the ongoing impact of soap operas through the years – and will include authors, show creators, producers and lots of favorite stars from shows like All My Children, Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, General Hospital, One Life to Live, Young and the Restless and more.

The Story of Soaps explores how no genre of television has laid deeper roots into our cultural consciousness and serialized storytelling than the soap opera,” ABC said in a news release. “In today’s shifting television landscape, The Story of Soaps traces how female creators migrated from radio to television to become the dominant force in daytime for more than three decades. … The Story of Soaps takes an extensive look at this iconic, impactful genre and the cultural phenomenon its massive impact has had on the world at large.”

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Over the two hours, expect to hear stories about/and from All My Children creator the late Agnes Nixon and Susan Lucci (Erica); Bold and Beautiful’s Brad Bell (head writer), Denise Richards (Shauna) and John McCook (Eric); Days of our Lives’ Deidre Hall (Marlena), Drake Hogestyn (John), Greg Vaughan (Eric) and John Aniston (Victor); General Hospital’s Chris Van Etten (co-head writer), Shelly Altman (former co-head writer), Mark Teschner (casting director), Chandra Wilson (Sydney/Dr. Massey/Tina), Donna Mills (Madison), Finola Hughes (Anna), Genie Francis (Laura), John Stamos (Blackie), Laura Wright (Carly), Marc Samuel (Felix) and Maurice Benard (Sonny); One Life to Live’s Erika Slezak (Viki); and Young and the Restless’ Eileen Davidson (Ashley), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), Vivica A. Fox (Stephanie), Erika Jayne (Farrah), and Jill Farren Phelps (former executive producer of multiple soaps).

In addition, several actors who moved on from soaps into other TV and film roles are set to appear: Alec Baldwin (The Doctors, Billy; Knots Landing, Joshua); Bryan Cranston (Loving, Douglas); Eddie Mills (Dawson’s Creek, Tyson); and Mary Crosby (Knots Landing and Dallas, Kristin), and Susan Sullivan (Another World, Lenore; Falcon Crest, Maggie).

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And if that wasn’t enough, soap creators, and expert fans have also stepped up to be heard, including author Abigail De Kosnik; Allan Sugarman and Joyce Becker (co-founders of Soap Opera Festivals Inc.); Andy Cohen; Carol Burnett (who created her own “soap” on The Carol Burnett Show, called As the Stomach Turns, in the 1970s); David Jacobs (creator/writer on shows like Dallas and Knots Landing); James H. Brown (writer on shows like All My Children, Guiding Light) and The Young and the Restless; producer Jonathan Murray; Kate Coyne (editorial director, entertainment at People); producer Ken Olin; consultant Krista Smith; Marc Cherry (creator of Desperate Housewives) and Yhane Smith (creator, Harlem Queen).

Soaps have been important to generations of viewers, but thanks to the surge of new digital soaps putting fresh spins on the stories and the more recent stay-at-home orders during quarantine, soap ratings are booming. In the past several weeks, the four major soaps on broadcast have all seen big boosts in viewership, and a new appreciation for the series is clearly being felt. Plus, long production lead times for some soaps means that the soaps are still running daily original content. However, B&B and Y&R will begin airing classic episodes next week.

That makes The Story of Soaps a pretty smart move to put into primetime. The special airs on Tuesday May 19 from 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM on ABC.

Video: ABC/YouTube

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