Will ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ Ever Come Back to TV?

Soap operas are notorious for bringing characters back from the dead. But could defunct soaps pull a similar trick and rise from the ashes of cancellation? Some think so.

The past few years haven’t been great ones for soap opera fans. In the 1970s, daytime TV was crowded with a dozen or more soaps like The Guiding Light, As the World Turns, All My Children, and Another World. But changing lifestyles meant that by 2009, there were just eight daytime soaps airing on daily on TV. Now, a decade later, the number of soaps is down to a mere four: The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives.

Susan Lucci says she’s open to an All My Children reboot

Susan Lucci
Susan Lucci as Erica Kane in a 2011 episode of All My Children| Carol Kaelson/ABC via Getty Images

For more than 40 years, Susan Lucci played the conniving Erica Kane on ABC’s All My Children. From 1970 until 2011, when the show was canceled, Lucci’s character schemed her way through Pine Valley, with the actress finally earning a Daytime Emmy for her efforts in 1999, after 18 consecutive nominations.

Now, Lucci says that she’d be interested in returning to the role that made her famous. She wasn’t happy about All My Children’s cancellation, and says she thinks there’s a chance the show could be revived.

“There is some conversation about a way to do it,” she recently told Yahoo! “We’ll see. I mean, we don’t know.” The show was briefly revived in 2013 and aired on The Online Network, but Lucci was not involved in that project.

Why the time might be right for a soap opera revival

Lucci isn’t the only one talking about soaps making a comeback. Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment, recently made some comments that suggest the network could be seriously considering bringing back both All My Children and One Life to Live, which was canceled in 2012.

While at a Television Critics Association event in February, someone asked about the possibility of reviving the canceled daytime dramas. “There might be some conversation about that. There might be,” Burke said, according to a report from Soap Opera Network.

Burke also added that she is a fan of the network’s one remaining soap, General Hospital.

General Hospital is going strong, and I hope that show continues long after I don’t have this job anymore. I’m a fan,” she said.

Soap Opera Network also pointed out that should ABC decide to cancel Strahan & Sara and shake up its daytime lineup, a return to soaps could follow. The site also noted that Disney (which is ABC’s parent company), owns 60% of Hulu, meaning a streaming reboot could be a possibility.

What would the shows look like if they came back?

One Life to Live
Melissa Archer and Michael Easton in a scene from a 2012 episode of One Life to Live | Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

Soap operas fans are undoubtedly excited about the rumors that All My Children and One Life to Live could come back to TV. But at this point, nothing is guaranteed, and there are still many unknowns. On the Soaps in Depth podcast, hosts Richard and Charlie discussed whether the shows would return to broadcast TV or possibly air on a streaming service, arguing that it makes more sense to give fans a gift by having them air on TV rather than making them pay for streaming.

The hosts also suggested a 30-minute format, which they argued makes the most sense for today’s audience, which has a limited attention span. Another big issue: How to handle the storylines in a way that appeals to today’s viewers as well as long-time fans.

If old soaps were to return, they’d also face the problem of competing for viewers in an age when there are seemingly endless entertainment options available at anytime with a click of a remote. Plus, soaps can be expensive to produce. Still, in an era when almost every old show seems to get a reboot, it doesn’t seem crazy to think that some classic soaps could get a second chance at life.

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