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Blog: One Life To Live Sorely Missed, Part 1

(originally written 3/10/12)

Let me get this out of the way first: I wear my soap fandom proudly. Over the last twenty years, I've taken a lot of grief from friends--and others--for choosing to invest my tube time in serials, rather than more popular, "manly" programming like The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Wire, 24, Prison Break, etc. (for the record, I have watched a combined zero episodes of those shows in my life, and other than James Gandolfini and Kiefer Sutherland, couldn't name or identify a single star).

As for the question of how a guy could watch a soap and still call himself a guy, let it be known that the person who got me into my first soap, One Life To Live, was my uncle William. He was not weak, effeminate, gay, or any of the stereotypes associated with male soap fans—just the opposite. He'd served in the Army, was quite masculine, and he regularly dated beautiful women until the day he died. Knowing a man like William (and later on a man like my good friend Cav) endorsed a "story" was all the validation I needed then and now.

I tell you this: the storyline that hooked William, and later myself, to OLTL would have gripped any and all of you reading this note. The story of Margaret "Marty" Saybrooke's gang rape at the hands of three frat brothers, and the subsequent trial and fallout was simply fictional entertainment at its' best.

(No, I'm not saying rape itself is entertaining and you know it, SO DON'T GO THERE.)

Every element of this story, from the camera angles to the music to the relationships between the characters to the social cues and lessons expressed both openly and subliminally was masterfully told. Could a human being be as truly evil as Todd Manning, the rape mastermind? Did Marty—known as "Marty The Party" for her wild, drunken, promiscuous lifestyle—bring the attack on herself? Does a lawyer have an obligation to continue defending her lying client upon being hit with proof he is guilty?

Again, it was gripping TV, and save for a 2006 excursion when the writing stunk so badly I honestly could smell it through the screen, I never tuned out. My ex-roommate in Stockton can vouch for that—our DVR contents were 90% OLTL, much to his dismay.

And now it's gone, cancelled on January 13th of this year in favor of cheaper, unscripted TV. 44 years of Llanview, PA gone, just like that. The place I went to escape for more than half my life suddenly didn't exist anymore. While I'm not despondent to the point of suicide like those two John Lennon fans, it does feel like a part of me is gone too. Like a good, loyal friend has died. (Yes, two Lennon fans killed themselves in despair over his murder, but I am not here to talk about the past.)


Click here for Part 2.

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