Rumor has it we’ve tired of trash. That people who watch soap operas — women between 18 and 49, married, at all levels of income — have become more sophisticated and are therefore less interested in melodramatic plot lines that revolve around tawdry love affairs and characters who disappear and reappear with little explanation. The soap opera is dying, some say, because court, talk, and game shows are cheaper to make; you can also syndicate and rerun these shows, which makes them even more profitable. The soap opera is dying because the influx of Spanish-speakers in America prefer Spanish-language telenovelas. So it makes sense that CBS has canceled Guiding Light, 72 years into its run; the last episode airs in September. And the bell surely tolls for others — All My Children, As the World Turns, General Hospital. The day of the soap is done.

Guiding Light first aired as… More…