The Death of One Life
My name is Tom Misuraca, and I have a deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years: I watch a soap opera. Or should I say, I watched a soap opera. Today, the last episode of One Life to Live airs. And with it, ends my guilty pleasure that spanned (on and off) four decades. And I admit, I’m sad to see it go.
I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes in disgust. How can an intelligent, literate man like myself watch such garbage? (You think that about me? How flattering!) Granted, it’s no Shakespeare (Dickensian perhaps), and most of the time it was just brain candy, but for a soap, it was well-written, often breaking the fourth wall.
For instance, two re-cast characters (Todd & Blaire) were talking about their past and bad choices they made, Blair said: “I was a different person back then.” And Todd replies: “We both were.” The same Blair was originally cast as an Asian woman, but recast as white. After flashing back to Asian Blaire’s wedding with Asa, they return to a confused looking white Blaire, who takes out her compact and examines herself in the mirror.
Fans of Firefly and Castle probably know Nathan Fillion got his start on the show playing Joey Buchanan. They later recast Joey, and when his girlfriend was waiting in a bookstore for new Joey, she pics up a copy of a Richard Castle book and show’s the clerk the picture on the back cover. “Does this guy look familiar to you?”
And one of my favorite lines is when mob boss Carlo Hesser forces his daughter to marry a king of a fictional country. To get out of it, she drugs her father and husband and has them caught in bed together by the press. Carlo is hurt, thinking he did the best for his daughter. “But I made you queen,” he tells her. She replies, “And I returned the favor.”
The show caught my attention in the 80s with it’s many sci-fi plots. Viki going to heaven in a space ship (you read that right), a time travel story (yes, Dark Shadows did it first, but we hadn’t seen it in a while), and then there was the underground futuristic city of Eterna. Best… storyline… EVER!!!
And they were always socially aware, taking on daring stories such as interracial marriage, gay teens (way back in the 90s with Ryan Phillippe) and gay marriage (with Chris Evan’s brother, Scott, who I drunkenly called by his character name “Fish” when I crossed the street with him in West Hollywood.)
Speaking of The Fantastic Four (kind of), how surprised was I a few years back when the Mannings dressed up as the Fantastic Four for Halloween (and this was before Disney/ABC owned Marvel). Granted Todd #2 (who was actually Victor Manning, long story…) was no Mr. Fantastic, but Blaire was a better Invisible Woman than Jessica Alba. And if that weren’t enough to push my geek buttons: Rex, Shane and Gigi dressed as Batman, Robin and Catwoman.
And when the real Todd returned (again, long story), he dressed up as Spider-Man to sneak into a party.
What great memories! I doubt it’s replacement, The Revolution, will trigger such memories years down the road.
In a world of Jersey Shore and whatever the Kardashian’s are doing this week, watching a soap opera at lunch time does not seem so bad. Though many of those hours kept me on the edge of my seat, made me laugh and (yes I admit) made me cry.
Yes, there are other soaps (and Todd & Blaire are moving to General Hospital), but it’s not the same. One Life to Live was what I did when I couldn’t find the rainbow’s end… this time.*
*Reference to the theme song the show once had. Yup, I’m a soap opera geek as well. And proud of it!