How Soap Opera Cancellations May Affect The Muppets

In The Muppet Mindset’s effort to provide daily content we have agreed to showcase a somewhat-different article from D.W. McKim today about soap operas and what could become a ripple effect to the Muppets. D.W.’s comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Muppet Mindset as a whole, nor are the ideas of how it might effect the Muppets founded in anything other than speculation–but it is good speculation to perhaps consider.

D.W. McKim – Today’s article is a bit different since it concerns a subject one wouldn’t normally expect to see on The Muppet Mindset. However, as a devoted fan of both Muppets and One Life to Live, I have a unique perspective on how the two franchise’s fates intertwine and why Muppet fans should be concerned with recent developments surrounding the other.

When Disney acquired the Muppets in 2004, it took them down a long road to win over the acceptance, confidence, trust, and even love of Muppet fans. Though it’s been a slow process, the general feeling among the fan community is that the sale may very well have been the best thing that ever happened to the Muppets, especially with Disney’s full support and marketing muscle with the upcoming The Muppets movie. Lots of ill will, skepticism, and fears have been pacified.

However when the Muppets were acquired by Disney, they became part of a vast corporate “ecosystem”.  And like all ecosystems in nature, when one part is endangered, it eventually affects everything else. I’m talking about ABC’s recent cancellation announcement of not one, but TWO of its iconic daytime dramas, All My Children and One Life to Live. On the surface, this would seem to be something that has nothing to do with the Muppets, but there are many reasons why Muppet fans should keep an eye on this situation.

Now of course, everyone reading this wants to know about the Muppets. As I’ve been gathering and disseminating info from and to several places, it’s been a very sobering reminder of how many divisions of and executives within Disney are not as competent, understanding, or responsive to their fan-base as The Muppets Studio branch has been.

Since I had been spending a good month or so answering the exact same questions and typing up the same advice in different places, once the news came, I immediately set up a Save One Life to Live website so all the various forums and fan groups could get essential info in one place and be on the same page. My site of course was just one of several resources that quickly sprung up.

This has put me in a very odd and unique position as of late. Most everyone in the Muppet fandom community knows that I am a Muppet Freak of the highest order. But one of my major non-Henson fandoms has been One Life to Live. I started watching in 1992 to see the homophobia story they were doing and without expecting it, quickly became hooked for life. For the last several years, I found it amusing how two of my biggest loves were Disney properties.

This is a large movement that is determined to make a difference and not accept the destruction of these American Institutions. Much has already happened in under two weeks and things are only going to grow exponentially until something positive occurs. Unfortunately, several very reliable insiders soon reported that while ABC is feeling lots of heat, Disney has been largely unmoved and fans need to strike more at the heart to have any effect.

My own personal loyalty lies with the Muppets, as I’ve been a devoted fan practically since birth long before they became a Disney property. But it is still difficult when two fandoms collide like this.

I’d like to invite all Muppet fans to support these programs and the movement to rescue them. A good way to start would be to tune in to watch One Life to Live on Wednesday April 27 as they air a special episode paying tribute to six-time Emmy winner Erika Slezak’s 40th anniversary in the role of Victoria Lord Banks. But I caution you, watch at your own risk–you may end up getting captivated enough to become as addicted as I did back in 1992!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

7 thoughts on “How Soap Opera Cancellations May Affect The Muppets

  1. I believe you that there's a large movement to save these soaps, but the problem is that those die-hards are just about the only people watching anymore (and the shows are expensive to make). This TV Guide article lays out some of the numbers –

    Most startling – “In 1993, All My Children had more than 2 million female viewers in the 18-to-34 age group. In the current season, that number is down to 178,000.”

    In just 18 years, that's an incredibly steep drop in viewership among young females. Soap fans are dying out, and no one new is coming in to replace them. People are watching reality shows or other things instead.

    D.W., you're a soap fan, so I'm sure you don't need me to tell you all this. But even these shows don't get cancelled, new fans aren't going to suddenly appear. Certainly boycotting Disney isn't going to create them.

    The only way to solve a problem like this is to create new fans. So that's what Muppet fans should be doing – showing Muppet movies and shows to their friends, their children, their friends' children.

    That's how you save a franchise.

  2. I understand where you're coming from, but Oprah recently shared her thoughts on the subject after being asked to save the soaps and I pretty much agree with her. This has to do with a lack of viewers and advertisers. These programs have die-hard fans, but there's little that can be done for this dying format. Television is a changing beast. Everything is being catered to the next generation and they don't watch the same types of entertainment that have been popular in the past. It would be great if they found a way to keep the show alive through specials. I think that's the best bet here. The Muppets, however, will always be represented with Disney in one form or another. I doubt that they'll easily get a television program in this climate either and that makes me sad. I do understand why that is. It's still cold comfort.

  3. D.W. I just read the full article on your blog, and I got one question…

    What the heck is “The Chew?” Canceling a long running show due to a small slant in viewership and revenues is one thing, but replacing it with something that no one in their right mind would ever watch is quite another.

    So, is this Daytime guy the same guy who says the Saturday Morning Line Up has to be the same 5 episodes of The Replacements and Emperor's new Groove over and over for 5 years? Really… easiest job in the world, that.

  4. I watched a soap opera once…or as I called it, Singing in the Shower. (Get it? Soap? Opera? Hahahahahahahahahahahah!)


  5. DW and all the rest wanting to make a difference regarding crappy network produced shows,

    Try contacting your local network affiliates instead with phone calls, emails, letters, petitions, whatever. Let them know what you are interested in seeing and, more importantly as in this case, NOT interested in seeing (“The Chew” and “Revolution”).

    Most network affiliates have locally produced programming that can be put on in place of these new unwanted shows. Even if the new shows end up airing in a different time slot than originally intended, the message sent may be just as effective.

    This sort of thing also applies to Sesame Street on PBS. Local PBS affiliates bump Sesame to ridiculous hours of the night when kids aren't up to watch it.

    So try contacting local affiliates instead of (or at least in addition to) boycotting Disney altogether. Let them know what you want to see.

    It's the rating systems that are of a bygone era. Not the shows or lack of viewers.

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