‘As the World Turns’ and ‘The Edge of Night’ Changed Soap Operas Forever

Soap operas today aren’t the rating mines that they used to be, primarily because of the high number of films and movies and people working during the day. Nowadays, soap operas feel like an archaic form of tv drama, but the TV shows never fail to find an audience. People these days care about reality shows more than they care about soap operas. However, back in the day when radio soap operas debuted, viewers, tuned in religiously.

During these times, soap operas used to air for 15 minutes only, which meant that the storyline dragged out longer and viewers got to tune in more. However, when shows like As the World Turns and The Edge of Night premiered, they changed the soap operas landscape. These two shows started airing 30-minute episodes and further deepened their audience’s love for the plotlines and shows in general.

(L-R) Frank Runyeon, Meg Ryan, and Scott Bryce looking at the camera
(L-R) Frank Runyeon, Meg Ryan, and Scott Bryce | CBS via Getty Images


Why was ‘As the World Turns’ Canceled?

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On April 2, 1956, when As the World Turns debuted on television, actor Helen Wagner spoke the show’s first words. Wagner’s character Nancy Hughes said ‘Good Morning Dear’ marking the show’s 56-season run until its final cancellation in 2009. Irma Philips created As the World Turns and was among the first radio soap operas creators. She valued psychological realism and character development more than melodrama. Her previous creations, such as Guiding Light, were famous for focusing on professionals like doctors, lawyers, and clergy members.

The show followed doctors’ and lawyers’ professional and personal lives and delivered a slow-moving psychological character study. Every time the show made another cast addition, the showrunners ensured that the new addition was added gradually and added as a contact with the Hughes family. The show earned a reputation for its conservatism but still introduced a gay character in 1988. The show’s conservatism perception might have come about due to its sponsor, Procter & Gamble’s content-related policies. The show was eventually canceled in 2010 due to low ratings.

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How long was ‘The Edge of Night’ on TV?

The Edge of The Night started with an announcer who enthusiastically announced the show’s title. The first announcer in 1956 was Bob Dixon, followed by Herbert Duncan. Unlike other soap operas that focused more on romantic entanglements, scandals, and financial affairs, The Edge of Night focused on artistic levels. The soap opera focused on crime rather than romantic and domestic matters.

The law enforcement officers and medical examiners of the fictional city, Monticello dealt with a steady ambush of drug dealers, gangsters, corrupt politicians, and cultists while remaining faithful to the general soap operas plotline of divorces, courtship, marriage, and custody battles. The show also featured genuine humor to balance out the complexities of its storylines.

The series frequently showed the backdrops of Cincinnati’s downtown skyline, where the show’s sponsor, Procter & Gamble, was located. In later seasons, the Cincinnati skyline was replaced by Los Angeles’s skyline. The skyline intro was eventually removed from the show in the final two years of the show’s run, as well as the word ‘The’ in the title.

The soap operas changed daytime TV forever

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TV Line reports that before As The World Turns and The Edge Of Night premiered, daytime soap operas ran for only 15 minutes. Most of the soap operas airing at that time were radio soap operas which meant that the shows had only 15 minutes to air.

However, The Edge of Night and As the World Turns changed the television landscape with the expanded 30-minute format, which became standard for many soap operas such as The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless which are two of the longest-running daytime soaps. The new design enabled showrunners to create new characters that fit into the show’s family saga framework. As The World Turns also became the first CBS soap opera to run for an hour in 1975.