Adieu to Genoa City

By Sarah Lang

Days Of Our Lives is finally being laid to rest. Photo / Supplied
Days Of Our Lives is finally being laid to rest. Photo / Supplied

Some are bracing themselves for withdrawal symptoms; others are just plain upset that their appointment-viewing soaps are about to vanish from our screens.

Canned by TVNZ, which has decided it's time for something "fresh" to lift ratings, The Young and the Restless finishes on Friday and Days Of Our Lives will end in April/May next year.

The broadcaster didn't expect such a backlash. From stay-at-home mums to shift workers, rest-home residents and professionals who pop home at lunchtime, die-hards have done more than just wring their hands.

TVNZ has been bombarded, a Trade Me message board has been inundated, and blogs have been boiling over with wrath. Demanding the soaps' reinstatement, so-called "addicts" have attacked the ratings method, started save-our-soaps Facebook groups, approached Sky Television, solicited the support of the broadcasting minister, and even written to Prime Minister John Key.

Starting off myriad missives on a Herald blog, Lizzy from Auckland puts it best. "Stupid call TVNZ. Listen 2 ur viewes! You axe Days of our lives. I will die. Been part of my life. I'm an addict. How can u be so cruel?"

But with TVNZ refusing to capitulate, it's time to farewell the soaps' power-hungry families, their friends, associates, feuds, love triangles, blackmail, amnesia and who's-the-daddy dilemmas.

Once considered revolutionary for their frank approach to sexuality and social issues, Days of Our Lives premiered in the United States in 1965 and The Young and the Restless followed in 1973, capturing countless fans.

Not even ridiculous recasting – when one actor was swapped for another – dented their popularity.

Generations of kids pulling sickies witnessed such priceless YATR moments as the undercover black detective being outed as a white guy by his horrified bride (she'd spotted his charcoal torso); and the plastic surgeon who, forced to give a serial-killer a new face, carved "Killer" on his forehead.

And we'll never see what happens to Days of Our Lives' stalwart Marlena, currently possessed by the Devil. It's all ridiculously melodramatic, but psychologists reckon the daily dose of escapism is akin to burying yourself in a gossip magazine. The more blunt say soaps are a virtual social world for people who don't get out much.

Counsellors even reckon viewers going cold turkey will go through a grieving process – prompting Close Up's Mark Sainsbury to remark that perhaps a cereal counsellor could be provided if your cornflakes are taken off the shelves.

But should the soaps ever return, odds are we won't have missed much. I remember watching episodes years after my last day off school to find the storylines had barely inched forward. Sometimes they even seemed to be having the same conversations. It's more like watching a glacier melt than sand trickling through the hourglass, but that's what fans love.

One YATR fan blogged: "I love how slowly it moves, and how it repeats itself. I love how everything always goes wrong. And I love how insane it is." A

uckland viewer-of-35-years Shirley Brewer, a receptionist who tapes the soaps, is disappointed in TVNZ. "Who knows, with enough comments they might change their minds. Or pigs may have wings and fly."

There is some salve for the wounds. Over on Prime, The Bold & Beautiful is still pitting Brooke against Taylor for Ridge's affections; on TV3 Home & Away has hung on to the pre-news slot, and over on TV2, Shortland Street and Neighbours still hold court.

And they don't dare muck with Coronation Street ... lest the peasants really get their pitchforks out.

The final episode of The Young & The Restless is on TV One, Friday (November 6) at 1pm. Days of Our Lives screens on TV2, weekdays at 2pm.

- Herald on Sunday

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