Today, “All My Children” leaves the air after 41 years. It’s the third soap opera to close up shop in as many years. Its sister show, “One Life to Live,” will end in January 2012. Susan Lucci is the well known star of “AMC,” from day one until today, roughly from the age of 24 to 65. (She certainly doesn’t look it.) Susan’s been kicked around a little bit recently because she hasn’t just succumbed to the entreaties of Prospect Park, the company that wants to take the two soaps online. It’s a negotiating ploy. But Prospect Park knows you can’t have “AMC’ without Susan Lucci, so they will –they’d better– make that deal.
As for Susan herself, here’s a story. A couple of years a friend of mine fretted over her adult daughter over Christmas. The daughter, whom she’d named for Erica, was in the hospital and quite down. I literally heard this on December 23rd. A quick call was put in to Lucci’s office–could she call this real Erica, a woman she didn’t know, on Christmas eve, and give her some support? And don’t you know, she did it alright. That’s Susan Lucci. And she’s fun, she’s the total opposite of Erica. And the total opposite of Sally Field’s character from “Soap Dish,” which people mistakenly thought was modeled on Lucci. Alas, it was modeled on Erica herself.
And what of Erica? In today’s final episode, after 41 years, ten husbands, countless lovers and careers, she has to choose between her family and her fame. What Erica always wanted was to be a movie star. Now a Hollywood producer has shown up and offered to turn her memoir into a major motion picture. To do so, Erica has to choose between home in sleepy Pine Valley with ex husband/perpetual fiance Jack, or the glamorous life. In Thursday’s episode she exploded to her daughters: “What, and stay home and bring Jack his slippers?” If the show’s legendary and brilliant creator Agnes Nixon, who dreamed up Erica in the first place, is true to form, this Tasmanian devil will dump Jack, head west, and never look back. She’s the Scarlett O’Hara of soaps.
And ABC? On Monday, the 1pm slot goes to “The Chew,” a mundanity about cooking. It’s cheaper to producer than “All My Children.” And has no nutritional value.