ABC announced today that it's canceling All My Children and One Life to Live, two of the network's three long-running soap operas. Children has been on the air for 41 years, and will end in September, while One Life has been on for 43 years, and will air its last episode in January.
It's been speculated that the network might make a move like this, but it's still a sad day for fans of the two shows (as well as their casts and crews, we imagine). James Poniewozik at Time points out that "soap operas are an all-or-nothing thing; if you don't watch, they may as well not exist, but if you do, they're like no other commitment on TV ... Everyone hates having a favorite show cancelled. But your soap? Damn: that's getting a solid chunk of your life cancelled."
Elsewhere, the cancellations have led critics to reflect on the state of television. The New York Times calls the news a harbinger of "the demise of one of broadcasting's oldest institutions, the daytime soap opera." Entertainment Weekly says it's "a crushing blow" to the genre, while The AV Club notes that "poor Soap Opera Digest just lost one-third of its coverage." Gawker's Brian Moylan offers the observation that "the only form of media more endangered than magazines is soap operas."