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John Paschal/JPI (2)

Friday the 13th was truly unlucky in January of 2012 — it marked the end of the soap’s run on network television. At least for now.

In retrospect, Agnes Nixon should probably have called it Two, Maybe Three Lives to Live. But as it was, in 1968 she launched just One Life to Live on ABC. And it was, in a word, magnificent.

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Per Christopher Schemering’s The Soap Opera Encyclopedia, All My Children’s future mother was asked by the network — impressed by her success at Another World — to create a new soap. But Nixon was tired of the same-old, same-old — in other words, white folks with white-folk problems. So she laid out the Philadelphia suburb of Llanview as a true melting pot, where characters of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds could and would mix and mingle.

We know: By the time we typed “socioeconomic backgrounds,” your eyes had glazed over. But the fact of the matter is that the writer’s tapestry of haves and have-nots, wannabes and already-ares, served as a backdrop for approximately a cajillion compelling stories of love and loss, revenge and redemption. (You can relive a few of them via the video below, from the soap’s last episode on ABC before the noble experiment that was The Online Network.)

Life Goes On… or Could, Anyway

The end of One Life to Live on ABC and then its web counterpart doesn’t have to be the capital-T capital-E The End. Look at what’s going on with All My Children, which is being remixed and rebooted as a primetime series by married alums Kelly Ripa (Hayley) and Mark Consuelos (Matéo). Any freaking thing is possible in 2021.

We’d relaunch One Life to Live as a primetime drama, too — one which owes a debt to Aaron Sorkin’s spectacular 2012-14 HBO series, The Newsroom. In our version, Erika Slezak’s Viki would still serve as publisher of The Banner, but daughters Jessica and Natalie would be co-editors-in-chief. In those roles, they’d clash over how best to cover the madness that is our present day.

Sibling Rivals

Jessica, as you’d expect, would want to take the high road, leading readers toward kindness and compassion by eschewing the seedier side of politics and Llanview’s day-to-day. Natalie, on the other hand, would want to turn heads and attract eyeballs with whatever story was the most salacious on any given day.

If it corrupted the soul of Llanview, so be it. She wasn’t the town’s mama, after all!

viki ONE LIFE TO LIVE, Erika Slezak, (ca. late 1960s/early 1970s), 1968-. © ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

“I’m withholding judgment… but just barely.”

In the background, obviously, the series would address the sibs’ relationships with the men in their lives, their mother and one another. And their staff could be made up of characters of so many different backgrounds that you’d just know that somewhere, Nixon was nodding in approval.

Your Call

What do you think, One Life to Live fans? Would you be keen on a primetime soap focused on Jessica and Natalie, with Viki as the angel on both of their shoulders and perhaps Dorian as the devil whispering in their ears? On your way to the comments, stop off at the photo gallery below, which revisits the show’s entire run on ABC.