Last week, I did something I haven’t done in many, many years: Watched the “Guiding Light.” The soap opera had been on television since 1952, but the changing world did it in. Not so many people are home during the day anymore trying to get their fix of hot doctors hooking up when they’re not performing brain surgery … and besides, they can get that in more risque fashion at night anyway.
There’s been an overall decline in soap opera viewership, and the wrecked economy has hurt all those shows.”GL,” though, was deemed no longer viable. So after 15,762 episodes, it ended Sept. 18.
I wanted to watch the conclusion only for nostalgia reasons. A long time ago, I was addicted to “GL.” It feels ridiculous to say such a thing now, but it’s true. From about 1979 to 1983, in particular, it was utterly absurd. Whatever was going on in fictional “Springfield” was more important than anything actually going on in my life.
Thanks to my mom, everyone in my immediate family had been raised watching her favorite soap, “As The World Turns.” Even my dad, when he retired in 1980, got caught up in that show. He’d greet us after the school day saying things like, “Well, you won’t BELIEVE what happened to Tom and Margo today.”
“ATWT” was my family’s soap, and while I loved it, “GL” was more mine because I broke off and started watching it on my own. Or should I say, one lazy summer day in 1979, I didn’t get up from the couch quickly enough to turn off the television after “ATWT” was over. I caught sight of the lovely damsel in distress Holly on “GL” … and that was that. Another hour of my weekdays was gone.
I didn’t know how long Holly was going to be wrongly imprisoned for “killing” the dastardly Roger Thorpe, who in fact wasn’t even dead. Summer ended, I was forced to go back to school and knew I wouldn’t see “GL” until Thanksgiving break. (Some folks had VCRs that early, I guess, but nobody that I knew).
It was agony. I’d sit distracted and fidgeting in class as the clock passed from 2 to 3 p.m. each day, worried over what was happening to poor Holly in jail. It’s no wonder that I barely passed freshman algebra.
It got worse as I continued in high school. Like any addict, I needed a new fix, especially when Holly left “GL” in 1980 … and so I branched out into “The Young and the Restless.” Added to the ridiculous amounts of sports – anything and everything, but especially baseball, football, hoops and tennis _ I watched, and I reached new depths in teen-aged unproductivity.
When I went to college, I couldn’t manage to completely avoid taking classes during the soaps, since they took up half the day, of course. I still didn’t have a VCR. So … I started to wean myself. Eventually, I purged all the soaps from my life, but can’t really remember just when I was officially free of them. They just became less and less important, to the point where I stopped watching altogether sometime in the early 1990s.
I guess I got addicted to women’s basketball instead, which is just a little more realistic than the soaps ever were. Although Pat and Geno definitely would make good daytime drama rivals.
Anyway, since “GL” was in its last week, I was interested enough to DVR the final five episodes. And it also reminded me of when I was so hooked to these dumb, glacially plotted shows that I would also devour the soap-opera update that ran every Sunday in the paper. For reasons I can’t explain, I would read the whole thing – even the updates on the ABC and NBC shows like, “All My Children,” “One Life to Live,” “Ryan’s Hope,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Another World,” “The Doctors,” etc. that I had never watched for a second.
(I did switch over to “General Hospital” a few times during “GL” commercials in the midst of that whole “General Hospital” craziness of the early 1980s, just to see what the fuss was about. Other than that curiosity, I was strictly a CBS soaps person. In fact, when my younger sister got married in 1990, I think my whole family was relieved her husband had also been raised on “As the World Turns.”)
Anyway, to bring this all back to sports, which is what I usually write about here …
In honor of “GL,” here’s a recap of the first round of the WNBA playoffs, written in the goofy style of the old soap-opera updates I used to read.
Indiana Fever def. Washington Mystics, 2-0
Tamika says she’s never “feared a turtle” in her life, and she’s not going to start now. Christina, still peeved that Marissa went for 42 points on her team in March, vows revenge. Marissa and Crystal feel at home. Alana is not herself, while Briann takes a big step forward … but then stumbles a bit. Back home, Tammy and Tully help Tamika clear the glass. Lindsey and friends make plans for next year, while Katie prepares for the Shock.
Detroit Shock def. Atlanta Dream 2-0
Ouch! Deanna sees stars but continues on. Chamique gives it the old college try, but it doesn’t work. Katie and Plenette excel at their supportive roles. Shalee can only sit and watch. Alexis and Shavonte make their presence felt, and Taj takes a back seat to no one in experience. Sancho and Erika feel some heat inside; Izi is here one day, gone the next. Nikki says, “I dreamed a dream we beat the Dream.”
Los Angeles Sparks def. Seattle Storm 2-1
Candace steals the show, but Lisa doesn’t mind at all because it keeps the curtain from going down. Swin looks like her old self, while Lauren is anything but. Sue at first seems out of sorts, but Camille’s big play makes everyone in green feel momentum is on their side. Noelle makes up for a mistake. Betty jacks up a few shots. And a few more. Tina takes another step toward Titletown – again.
Phoenix Mercury def. San Antonio Silver Stars, 2-1
The Mercury has Diana _ and no one else does. Becky puts up a good battle, as Sophia tries her best to help. DeWanna fits right in, and that’s a big lift. Cappie’s hair might be a little hard to understand, but Corey’s “get to it” philosophy isn’t. Penny fulfills expectations, and Dan wishes she were still on his team. Vickie says a fond farewell.