Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ageism in daytime television

Let's start with an easy one. I watch a soap. I admit it, it is a guilty pleasure. I have watched One Life to Live for 20 years. Over time, a trend has emerged that is purely predjudicial against actresses over 35. Many soap viewers are loyal fans who have watched for many years, carrying on the tradition of watching with family members and friends, visiting message boards and attending fan functions. Many of us are over 35.

The recent attitude at ABC seems to be "flood the scene with new, young talentless actors with no connections to anyone currently on canvas. Shove them down viewers throats and push them into every major story arc. By giving them the majority of screentime, let's just toss the established core families aside. No one cares about anyone over 40 anyway." Well, Mr. Valentini, Mr. Frons, and Ms. Higley, you are dead wrong.

I participate in a number of message boards and am a columnist at The Llanview Banner. Most fans seem disgusted with the current landscape in Llanview. Die hard fans are shutting off their tv sets. Fans in general are tired of stunt casting (did anyone really need an American Idol reject cast as a Buchanan?). But I digress. The point is: ABC is purposely underusing major, talented actresses in favor of younger, useless newbies.

Brian Frons went so far recently as to say that viewers “will be trained” to accept the fact that our beloved veteran actors/actresses will be used to support the newer, younger cast additions. Frons also referred to a returning cast favorite as "a fat, middle-aged woman" and said that no one would want to see her in front-burner story. Interesting statement, considering that he engineered her return during November sweeps and spent untold amounts marketing this guest appearance.

At any rate, ABC is alienating the foundation of its fan base. Someone should wake them up, give them a cup of whatever beverage is paying the most advertising dollars, and show them how to win us back. Here's a hint: Never refer to any woman as fat and middle aged; Never assume that by pushing the over 40 actresses aside, fans will lose interest in them; Never piss off the Women on the Verge.

Coming soon: Thoughts on NYS Testing in our public schools



Anonymous said...

Its everywhere, not just the soaps. I lost my job after ten years, I'm over 35, at job interviews they tell me they are looking for a mature person and turn around and hire a 19 year old who's only claim to fame is that her skirt is half way up her butt, and she's reached level five on the computer games. If that 19 year old is mature then I guess I tip the scales at vintage.

Women on the Verge said...

Whoa! 19 is mature? That's scary. I think maybe I prefer the word "experienced" to mature... although in the wrong context it sounds like an adult escort...