|80s era Luke and Laura try to keep warm while the world freezes on General Hospital|
|The cast of The Big Valley|
|The cast of Dallas|
|Krystal (Linda Evans, left) and Alexis (Joan Collins) just working out some issues on Dynasty|
|The cast of Dynasty|
|The cast of Falcon Crest|
|Jane Wyman as Angela Channing|
|David Selby as Richard Channing|
The one thing these primetime soaps had in common were that the stars were adults. Hagman, the character that Dallas revolved around, was 47 when Dallas debuted in 1978. Over at Dynasty, stars Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins ranged in age from mid 40s to mid 60s respectively. Falcon Crest was pretty much the same thing. Of course, this had always been the case almost from the inception of television. Throughout the 60s, 70s and early 80s, TV stars were older adults. If you were a teenager on television then you were either the good son or daughter of the star or you were a pot smoking, hippie giving the cops trouble.
|The cast of Beverly Hills 90210|
Times and tastes and audience demographics change and eventually all of the prime time soaps that began in the early 80s had lost their appeal by the end of the decade. By 1993, Dallas, Falcon Crest, Dynasty and the Dynasty spin off The Colby’s had ended. In 1991, NBC tried to revive the gothic soap Dark Shadows but unfortunately the timing couldn’t have been worse. Primetime soaps that focused on big business and older, wealthy white adults (and vampires) were on their way out. But primetime television, like nature, abhors a vacuum and almost immediately the adult oriented soaps of primetime were replaced by a new breed of soaps that focused on the young. The 1990s were all about young, good looking teens and twenty-somethings. Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Dawsons Creek dominated television all through the 90s and the old folks were relegated to minimal screen time in roles like the wise old boss or the worrying parents. Old folks were no longer the bad asses. This phenomena wasn’t just happening on television either. It carried over to big screen films as well.
|Hayden Panettiere(left), Connie Britton(right) and a generation gap(middle).|
|The cast of Downton Abbey|
|Maggie Smith as the Countess of Grantham|
The medium has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings on Radio and Television as small little dramas funded by advertisers such as Dial and Palmolive and other soap companies (hence the term “Soap Opera“) and yet in many ways it’s still the same. Still focused on family drama, professions, wealth and people good and bad. It’s also nice to see older actors once again getting a much higher profile. I'm happy to see these night time soap operas return with a vengeance. They’ve always been my favorite part of television when I was growing up. Well, except for things like Doctor Who and Rockford Files and Six Million Dollar Man, but that’s a whole other article.