And then there were four

It has been a few weeks since the end of One Life to Live, and my feelings are still too disjointed to write a proper send-off.  I’ll try anyway, though, because I want to say goodbye here on this blog, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll do it so long after the fact that there will be no denying that I take these things too hard and it takes me too long to get over them.  I like to leave myself some room for denial.

Let’s start with the timing.  OLTL was my late grandmother’s show.  She loved all the ABC soaps (gee, who does that sound like?) but she loved Viki the best.  OLTL‘s final episode aired on the 14 year anniversary of my grandmother’s death.  It was a fitting, if totally depressing, coincidence.  I mean it when I say I’m glad she isn’t around to see her beloved stories killed off one-by-one.

It is entirely possible that what my grandmother loved most about Viki was one of her husbands, Joe Riley.  Joe was before my time, and I’ve never really considered whether or not I like Viki.  She just is—er, was.  The show and Viki are interchangeable in my mind.  There isn’t one without the other.  In much the same way that Erica Kane was All My Children, Viki held up OLTL.  The difference of course is that Erica’s stature extended so far beyond AMC that she became the face of the soap opera genre whereas Viki and OLTL never garnered that kind of visibility.

I’ve long thought of OLTL as the neglected step-child of ABC daytime.  Even though intellectually, I considered AMC to be a superior show to OLTL, emotionally I always liked OLTL better.  Because GH was always my show, comparison between these two other ABC soaps became inevitable as if they were in constant competition for second place in my heart.

“Constant competition for second place.”  There’s a metaphor for the genre at-large in there somewhere.

I think part of my inability to get my head around the end of OLTL is that I just did this.  In September, I was all mournful about AMC‘s final days.  I watched and tweeted and blogged.  My reserve of emotional investment was still all tapped out by the time January’s OLTL finale rolled around.  I don’t think it was just me, either.  The View‘s tribute to OLTL felt flat compared to its tribute to AMC, but that difference could have also been due to the OLTL‘s aforementioned failure to become part of pop culture at-large the way that AMC did.

Still, I had a good time with The View.  These tributes are hands-down the best thing about soaps ending.  OLTL‘s episode was a lot about Bo and Nora so that might have been why I liked it so much.  Bo and Nora are my favorite OLTL characters, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  First I want to talk about Judith Light.  Because I am sort of an advocate for the soaps, out in the world making sure that people don’t ignore or marginalize the genre, I am always glad to see actors who have “made it” acknowledge their soap roots.  And if you read my post about Who’s The Boss? you know that I have a soft spot for Angela Bower/Judith Light.  I knew that Light started her TV career on OLTL but I didn’t know much about it because it was way before my time.  (Since GH is my show, I spend my time researching its past and that doesn’t leave much room for other shows.)  The View gave me a nice history lesson about how Light played a doctor’s wife who moonlighted as a hooker.  The clips of her anguish were pretty gripping.  It made me nostalgic for a OLTL I’d never known.

Now let’s talk about Nora Hanen Gannon Buchanan.  When I first started watching OLTL on a regular basis, it was because of Antonio.  I can’t even pretend about that.  Everybody knows that my VCR schedule got pretty clogged when he came back to the show.

But it was Nora who stuck with me when Antonio kept leaving town.  Nora is basically a zanier Alexis Davis.  This makes sense especially when you consider that OLTL was altogether zanier than GH is.  (Do I need to mention the Old West?  And surely you noticed that all of Nora’s last names rhyme.)  I can’t quite explain what it is about Bo and Nora together that spoke to me.  Part of it is chemistry, for sure.  Bob Woods (we are casual with each other; he calls me Katie) and Hillary B. Smith really like each other, and it shows.  Every time they are on screen together, it looks like they’re having a good time.

The end of OLTL didn’t feel as grand as the end of AMC.  There wasn’t a parade of old faces gathered for a party.  Instead, crazy Allison wrote a book called One Life to Live and read it aloud to—spoiler alert!—Victor (formerly Cute Todd).  I know, I know.  Victor is alive.  What a cliff-hanger.  Except that there isn’t a cliff here from which to hang.  It’s just over.  Neither AMC nor OLTL was able to put together a decent finale because their dreams of going online weren’t crushed until after the final episodes had been shot.  Some of the OLTL characters are coming to GH this month to try to wrap up some loose ends, and I certainly hope they are successful.  I’m looking forward to seeing them—especially Blair—in my beloved Port Chuck.  After all this time and investment, I think at the very least we all deserve some closure.