Ask any soap fan, and they’ll tell you today is a dark day.
Even those who didn’t regularly watch AS THE WORLD TURNS know that the 54-year-old soap will air its final episode today, coming only a year after GUIDING LIGHT — the longest-running drama in television history — came to a close.
Today, the first families of Oakdale — the ones who swam in the Snyder pond, ate at Al’s, partied at Metro (on the rare occasions it was actually open!) and trysted at the Lakeview — will join their neighbors from Springfield and Harmony, Monticello and Rosehill, Collinwood and Bay City, all of whom now reside in soap heaven.
For non-soap fans, it’s a loss that’s impossible to understand. But to put it in perspective, ATWT’s final episode will be its 13,858. (The longest-running primetime drama? GUNSMOKE… at 635 episodes.)
From Nancy Hughes first line — “Good morning, dear”, spoken to her husband, Chris — to today’s sad-yet-touchingly-symbolic final scene, fans have laughed with, cried over and occasionally been frustrated by the stories that unfolded in the small Illinois town with a shockingly-high rate of kidnappings, marriages and returns-from-the-dead… at least by real-world standards.
Soaps are known for being open-ended. We say that they have a beginning, a middle, but no end as one story dovetails into another, supposedly ad infinitum. But it turns out that like supposedly-immortal vampires who can be done in with something as simple as a wooden stake, daytime’s dramas are vulnerable, too.
So like all the proverbial good things, today, the world will stop turning. For non-soap viewers, it will be a day like any other. They won’t really understand why their suds-loving brethren is grieving. “Geez,” they’ll say, “It was just a television show.”
But those of us who were there for all of Lisa Miller Hughes Eldridge Shea Colman McColl Mitchell Grimaldi’s marriages will understand. Because we, too, will be mourning our loss.
The final episode of AS THE WORLD TURNS will air today at 2 p.m. ET on CBS. Once it airs, join us in sharing your thoughts below on the show’s final days.