"In the beginning was the word. You have to have a good story – that's where I start," Judy Lewis of 'Texas' explained. Frances Reid of 'Days of our Lives' added, "Since the time of Charles Dickens, the same thing holds true. People want good continuing story." By 1983, more and more daytime dramas expanded to encompass social issues. Nerissa Radell reported, "Sometimes, depending on the show, contemporary subjects become major parts of the pilot, in other programs, social issues are merely backdrops. Implanting a social issue in a major plotline can be a calculated risk." Maggie DePriest clarified, "50% of the public will like it, and 50% won't."
In July 1983, the limited-run new series, 'The Hamptons' made its TV debut during the summer rerun period. Gloria Monty made known, "Fortunately, I happened to know quite a few people there before I even conceived the series. I don't think we're all that unflattering in portraying them even though some of the old guard might not like it." On daytime, Jacqueline Babbin of 'All My Children' told 'Soap Opera Digest', "I think any well-told story, told within the framework of the times in which we live has to, in some way, reflect social issues.
"'All My Children' really is – all my children. We have different walks of life, different stratas of society, different problems. The characters reflect the times, and that’s what makes for social issues. It would be pretty damn boring if we just kept telling the same story over and over again, and it in no way reflected what was going on around us! You can't please everyone all the time – believe me! But we can't be wagged by the tail. We tell stories because they're good stories, hopefully entertaining stories, and because they work within the framework of who these characters are."
Joanna Lee of 'Search For Tomorrow' believed, "I think the perception among many soap opera networks and sponsors is that the daytime audience is different from the nighttime audience. I can only think that the same people who watch nighttime watch daytime television too. After watching 'Search For Tomorrow', I saw several things I’d like to see happen and one of them was a very romantic story of a blind person.
"From the very beginning, I proposed the story in all forms: a blind artist played by a blind artist. I believe it’s very important to employ disabled actors. We have a world of citizens, some of whom have been disenfranchised because of their handicaps, and I think that’s wrong. You do worry. You have a budget. You worry about a blind performer – whether there would be problems getting around the stage, learning lines. After all, it’s a terrifically tension-filled medium. But Procter and Gamble responded very positively to all of this."
John Saffron of 'All My Children' insisted, "We’re very aware of the impact daytime television can have on its viewers. We don’t set out to preach or to educate as a main priority. We simply want to tell a story the audience connects to and one they can care about. The form of soap opera bears a lot of resemblance to real life … It’s only logical to deal with social issues."
Jacqueline Babbin continued, "I think the idea of 'All My Children' with people from all facets of life, in a little fictional town (Pine Valley), is appealing. In daytime the producer has a very big say in story. I have my finger in every aspect of this show. Women are a large part of our audience. I don’t think soaps need as much recap as they offer. The audience is pretty hip, they’re more intelligent than given credit for. If you’re going to recap, then do it dramatically. Make every scene have a reason to stand on its own.
"I don’t know what restrictions are placed on various shows. To me, the ABC-owned shows have a lot of sparkle the others don’t have. Friends have told me that story conferences at P&G shows amount to 15-20 people getting together … you can’t have a story conference with that many people! Decisions made that way get you the lowest common denominator of creativity. I think ours is superior. The acting is getting better, the directing, we still need better music.
"I work with Jackie Smith, but more with Jozie Emmerich. We meet every Thursday, and very often Wisner Washam, Agnes Nixon and some of the story editors are there. We discuss the 5 outlines I get each week. They tell me what they haven’t liked production-wise, and I tell them the problems we are having. We do discuss 6-month projections every 3 months, then 3 months later, review what we’ve done."
Tony Goldstein made the comment, "Anyone watching soap operas in 1982 who used to watch them in 1962 can testify the extent to which daytime drama has matured." Bill Corrington of 'Capitol' made the point, "Whether soap operas should try to keep up with current events in their storylines is another unresolved issue. In my mind, you feel the issue, you probe it, you touch it and find out if it will have a conclusion that – I hate to use the word 'uplifting' – but there are any number of unhappy events and I don’t think anybody looks forward to seeing them every day for an hour."
Jacqueline Babbin maintained a successful soap opera must feature "stories that people can relate to or dream about. Just look at the magazines people read today (in 1983). There's 'People', 'Us'. People are interested in people. And as long as you are telling stories people can relate to, they care. We're not into science fiction or fantasy here. I think 'All My Children' is slow and steady."