There has been an explosion of excitement when it comes to programming on the internet. I remember one of the first times I heard about original content being produced on the internet, I thought the idea was absurd! I didn’t want to have to strain to watch a cheaply made show on the internet. A music video, yes; a clip of an old show on YouTube? Sure; but my initial opinion was that original programming was best kept on television. That was my crazy little brain not paying attention to not just where the internet was headed, but also the television itself. Now, there are smart TV’s that can be connected with internet, or the internet is pretty much built in. My love and respect for original internet programming was being reevaluated right around this time last year.
When ABC cancelled All My Children and One Life to Live on the same day in 2011, I was heartbroken. I was an odd little boy who would rather spend time with his grandmother watching the stories than playing outside. It may sound weird, but when my grandmother died, I quit the stories for a few years. She kept the dial to ABC all day long when she was alive. I couldn’t hear the theme music from General Hospital; every time I came across Erica Kane or Victoria Lord, I felt a heaviness in my heart. They reminded me of Momma. Eventually I started to watch again, but I noticed that the shows had lost something; the heart, the soul. Something was different. But I still watched much for the same way I stopped, Momma. When the shows were cancelled I felt like I lost her all over again. So many people who grew up like me felt the same way about their parents or grandparents who watched soaps.
I thought that there’s no chance that these shows will be saved. A few years before the cancellations of AMC and OLTL, the soap opera Passions had been cancelled by NBC. DirecTV picked up the show, airing it for thirty minutes for four days a week, with a recap day on Friday. It didn’t last long, so I figured once those shows went off the air that that’d be the end, no Passions treatment for these two old shows.
On April 29, 2013, All My Children and One Life to Live came back to life again on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes. It felt like the shows were a hit on their new platform. They were high up on ITunes’ and Hulu’s top shows. The story gets a little involved here, and while the details are quite dramatic and soapy, they are also a little boring to people who don’t give a crap about the soap genre. (For those who want a little more detail on all the craziness and Soap Opera Network would be good places to start. Just type in either show, and then have fun reading!) Long story short, the shows went on hiatus in September and haven’t been on the air since. For all the fans, the back and forth has become tiring, and, at this point, I think it’ll be best to keep both shows in the past. At some point, with soaps—and life—we have to know when to move on and create new memories, new friends, and new television (or internet) shows.
One of the shows that had a little more success being re-packaged on the internet aired on primetime. Arrested Development was a critical darling on the FOX network for three seasons. It racked up all kinds of awards and accolades. But, after three seasons of ratings that didn’t match the critical success, AD was cancelled in 2006. After almost ten years off the air, it returned in a new body, and a new format; it premiered on Netflix in May 2013. In the spirit of binge watching, all fifteen episodes of the fourth season were released at once. The show did not suffer the fate of its daytime counterparts; the chances are good that the show will have a fifth season.
The internet is shaping the way viewers get their entertainment. Dead television shows have been revived. Even if they don’t have a long shelf life (All My Children, One Life to Live), the internet is proving that it is trying to go where television used to go. I never thought I’d say this, but there is a heartbeat there. These shows don’t have the budgets of networks, but somehow, audiences are catching on to the provocative, cutting edge shows that are finding their way onto the internet. I think it’s here to stay!