Is this goodbye, Erica Kane?

It’s the end of an era. After 41 years of daytime television, the final episode of ABC’s daytime drama “All My Children” aired last week.

Susan Lucci as original character Erica Kane (1970)

Goodbye, Erica Kane, and your six (or was it eight?) husbands.

But wait! As with all great soap opera characters, the end is never really the end. In classic soap opera style, the show’s producers left fans hanging on Friday, Sept. 23 (supposedly the final episode) with a cliffhanger. Then announced Monday that in January 2012, new episodes of AMC will begin airing in a new online format.

I loved soaps in my teens and early 20s, despite my mother’s dire warnings that soap operas would make me neurotic. (I was neurotic before I ever saw a soap opera. Maybe that’s why I liked them so much.) When my parents (finally) bought a VCR, I started recording “General Hospital” to watch after school or in marathon format on the weekend.

After marriage and children, Frisco and Felicia were replaced by ginormous purple dinosaurs on Ecstasy; a Poltergeist-ish clown doll that lived in the couch, spoke to dust bunnies, and had this “10-second tidy” song I thought was great and my kids ignored; a really nerdy dude in a striped rugby shirt having delusions about a blue dog and talking salt and pepper shakers; and Geordi from Star Trek: The Next Generation reading children’s books without his signature banana clip glasses.

Even though I don’t watch them anymore, for the sake of cheap thrills, ridiculous story lines and absurdly unbelievable plot gimmicks, I’m relieved that AMC isn’t really over.

I mean, in what other venue can you return from the dead as your own evil twin to torture your in-laws, have amnesia and marry your husband’s brother, expect your one true love to crash the wedding of the century just before you say your vows to the wrong dude, and lie in a coma for weeks in a hospital bed in full make-up with gorgeous hair? Those kinds of cliches don’t even pass muster in category romance novels anymore.

Escapism? Of course it is. But I’d rather watch Erica Kane and her pretend husbands than watch the Bachelorette date 12 men at the same time. Call me old-fashioned.

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