It’s no surprise daytime soaps get a bad rap. They’re on the air seemingly forever, and over the course of several decades, tackle everything from break-ups, hook-ups, and make-ups to out-of-body experiences, espionage, and even time travel.
Yet One Life to Live, which has included all of the above as plot points, has survived with a loyal following since premiering in 1968. Of course, the show has navigated some tricky daytime soap terrain in recent years: First, ABC canceled it (along with fellow long-running soap All My Children) in 2011. Then, it almost landed online as a web series with production company Prospect Park, but the deal fell through, and most of the cast left to join General Hospital. Finally, in January 2013, Prospect Park brought the show back as a half-hour daily series on Hulu and iTunes until the Oprah Winfrey Network picked it up in July.
In Llanview in the Afternoon: An Oral History of One Life to Live, entertainment writer Jeff Giles (not to be confused with EW’s deputy editor of the same name) spent 18 months talking to the show’s writers, producers, and cast and crew members about the stigma of soap operas and how OLTL managed to produce five hours of scripted content every week. Through his more than 50 interviews, including ones with Erika Slezak, Judith Light, and Nathan Fillion, Giles uncovered anecdotes from behind the scenes, as well as tales about the production’s challenges as a show struggling to survive on a medium actively rejecting daytime soaps.
Giles talked to EW about his writing process, the time he ate quiche with Slezak, and why he thinks Breaking Bad is a soap. And don’t worry, Llanview lovers: He doesn’t leave this interview on a cliffhanger.
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