Since June 1952, network daytime dramas had become part of the American culture. In those days, programs such as 'Search For Tomorrow' normally attracted some 4.6 million TV households each day. At its peak in the 1969-1970 season, there were at least 19 daytime soap operas on the air from 10:00am to 4.30pm. Agnes Nixon told Associated Press in 1982, "It's the form of entertainment closest to real life. It keeps going on. Sure we have a mandate to entertain. 

"If we didn't entertain, we wouldn't get good ratings and we wouldn't stay on the air. But within the framework of that, we're able to disseminate information of a public service nature … I know we're helping. We're making people more aware, showing them how to get help and how to cope. I treat a subject in the context of offering a solution. You have to get it across in such a way that a viewer says, 'There but for the grace of God go I.' We try to stay very contemporary. The aim of the show is to make people more aware. A soap opera can deal with these things in a way that isn't a turn-off." 

CBS ('The Young and the Restless') usually sticked to the tried-and-true soap opera formulas. ABC ('General Hospital') often crossed the line between formula and fantasy (such as the 'Ice Princess' story) and NBC ('Days of our Lives') had been known to embrace the bizarre (such as when Dr Marlena Evans was being possessed by the devil requiring a priest to perform an exorcism to rid Salem's respected citizen of her demons). The unwritten soap opera law decreed that evil-doers must be punished. 

Between March and August 1998, James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten introduced the "Cloning Reva" storyline on 'Guiding Light'. Kim Zimmer played Reva Shayne since 1983 supposedly died in a plane crash somewhere in the Florida Keys. Robert Newman played the grief-stricken Joshua Lewis agreed to let a local scientist, Dr. Michael Burke created a cloned Reva from embryos Reva supposedly had kept frozen. 

Similar to the 1976 movie, 'Embryo' starring Rock Hudson and Barbara Carrera, Dr. Michael Burke delivered Josh with a newborn baby. Through medicine he had developed, the cloned Reva's growth rate accelerated whenever she drank the aging serum. The cloned Reva gradually grow from infant to an adult in a few short weeks. A castaway named Sean McCullough rescued the supposedly dead Reva and nursed her back to life on a godforsaken island. Together they left on his boat for the mainland. The real Reva showed up in Springfield, the town the soap was set, very much alive. The story ended with the cloned Reva died in the real Reva's arms due to old age after taking more aging serum. Jill Larson of 'All My Children' observed, "One of the best things about daytime is that a story can take as long as it needs to take to unfold." 

2011 - Allen Pierleoni of 'McClatchy Newspapers':   What are some things fans don't know about soap operas? 

Kim Zimmer: That they’re not real. That the love scenes aren't romantic, they're very technical, and the guys do wear underwear under the sheets. That it's hard work, not just fun and games. I’ve watched theater-trained actors and movie people do guest spots, and by the end of the day they were bowing to us. 

Although it could take years for a soap opera to build an audience, daytime soaps viewers were said to be loyal and would watch the same afternoon soap opera for decades. However the loyal soap fans found change harder to accept. Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin had worked in daytime television since 1977. She told Gail Pennington in 2002, "There are still large numbers watching soap operas, and regular viewers who consider the characters their best friends. 

"But everyone has so many choices in their lives these days, and so many demands on their time, that they're not always able to watch as frequently as we'd like them to. Longtime viewers know these people, and they know what they did (and) when, Lord help us if we’re not true to that. When daughters watched with their mothers and grandmothers, they learned all the history of the shows. It's hard to start watching without that mentoring, and, in a way, the soap magazines and internet groups are stepping in to fill that need."

Since 1988, 'The Young and the Restless' had been television's No. 1 daytime drama. However its Nielsen ratings had fallen from a 30 share during the 1991-92 season (about 10.3 million viewers) to a 19 share in 2002. "Soaps are a dying art form, and they have to find ways to revitalize the genre and appeal to young people (especially women ages 18 to 49)," historian Tom O’Neil remarked. "There's still the impression that soaps are for old ladies living in trailers in middle America." 

Soap opera audience comprised 85% females. Tina Sloan said of 'Guiding Light', "We are the history of so many people. They watched it for so long (first broadcast on radio in 1937)." Kim Zimmer added, "I honestly never believed that 'Guiding Light' would ever be gone (in 2009). I really believed the networks would keep that block of time from noon to 3:00 for daytime soaps. I was blindsided. I was devastated." Of her favorite role, Kim told Emily Minor in 2011, "I think it has to be the whole 7-husband thing."

Starting from January 2000, some soap operas started showing story arcs that ran 13 weeks and involved both regular and short term characters. John Conboy revolutionized the soap opera industry in 1973 with 'The Young and the Restless' by being the first program to feature low-light romantic look. In 1982, John Conboy chose Washington as the setting for 'Capitol' because "there are only two power centers our audience fantasizes about – Washington and Hollywood. We've let them in the back door of Hollywood pretty well, but fantasy is untouched in Washington. The entertainment business goes along with the economy of the country. Gershwin got us through World War II. 'Capitol' will get us through the recession (in 1982)."

It was said to cost around $50 million to produce the 260 episodes of one soap opera every year. An hourlong prime-time show like 'The A-Team' costed at least $800,000 in 1983 to produce an episode including 7 minutes of commercial time. Robert Butler of NBC told the press 5 hours including 12 minutes of commercial time for each hour of an afternoon soap opera costed only $550,000 to produce. The average production cost of one 30-minute sitcom on prime time was said to cost around $400,000.

Jeff Ryder of NBC told 'Knight Newspapers' in 1982, "The rule of thumb is that daytime (shows) pay for everything else. It’s considered the profit center of every network and always has been. Daytime programming is cheap to produce and lucrative. I don’t think you’re ever going to get network people to divulge profits and advertising revenues. You’ll get a lot of generalities." Network analyst Anthony Hoffman believed, "It's not unusual for an hour soap to make an $80,000 profit every day." Jeff Ryder maintained, "It’s very possible you’re netting $1 million a week. Yes, it’s very plausible to net $52 million a year off a daytime show. Unfortunately, we don’t have that right now at NBC."

Agnes Nixon reiterated in 1988, "This is the form of entertainment closest to real life, because it's open-ended and every day is a new episode. We do 260 a year, with no repeats; the night-time soaps do 26 originals and then go into reruns. Having 260 episodes, we are able to do many more stories and have a diversification that's interesting to the viewers. The continuity is appealing. It's very intimate; it's like very close friends – one's family, almost."

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