After years of romance, mystery and cliff-hangers, two legendary soaps have reached milestone anniversaries. "General Hospital" celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 1, while "The Young and the Restless" capped off its 40th year on March 26.
Even after decades on the air, and the genre in jeopardy of collapsing right before our eyes after the loss of several other soaps over the past few years, these two award-winning dramas attract millions of weekly viewers.
What gives these serialized shows such timelessness? Why have they survived and thrived throughout the years, while modern shows -- especially in primetime -- generally crumble after two or three seasons? The answer lies with the loyal fans, who value the twists and turns more than a destination.
Never Ending Plot Twists
Fans of these classic shows know what they want. "General Hospital" and "The Young and the Restless" deliver. Primetime shows often tell complex stories, and viewers demand equally complex resolutions. Take ABC's hit show "Lost," for example. J.J. Abrams captivated millions with the breathtaking island, intricate story and fascinating characters. It was the most expensive pilot in history, according to Brokensecrets.com. By the end of its run, however, "Lost" had alienated millions of fans who demanded answers. Although producers tied off many more of the plot points than viewers gave credit for, many still consider "Lost" a failure because of unanswered questions.
I'll bet many "General Hospital" and "The Young and the Restless" fans appreciated "Lost." Rather than critiquing plot consistency or balance, these fans appreciate the emotions and suspense that great dramas arouse. Whether its Daniel kissing Lucy on "The Young and the Restless" or Monica throwing Tracy out of the house on "General Hospital," these shows continually entertain viewers with unexpected twists and unforgettable moments.
Most TV dramas give viewers a once-a-week dose of their favorite characters. Soap operas, on the other, offer daily episodes. It's a simple concept: the one time you spend with someone, the more connected you'll feel. The same is true for these two legendary soaps. As viewers spend time with "General Hospitals" Dr. Britta Westbourne and Margaret Wurth, they develop connections to these characters. Both shows have high character turnover rates, so fans are used to seeing their virtual companions go, but the promise of a new connection every weekday afternoon is too good for many to pass up.
Photo of nurse Marge Brown (Mae Clark) and Doctor Steve Hardy (John Bernadino) from "General Hospital" in 1963. (c) ABC
Keep it Coming
With 40 and 50 seasons under their belts, respectively, "The Young and the Restless" and "General Hospital" don't appear to be slowing down any time soon. Loyal fans can catch episodes online (69 percent of the 72.2 million viewers who watch TV online say they do so to catch up on missed episodes. As long as these two iconic classics keep introducing stunning revelations and scintillating characters, fans will tune in.
Soapdom congratulates both soap operas on these amazing milestones. Here's to another 40 and 50 years for both!
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