The soaps industry and fandom generally agree that alongside dwindling ratings has come a deterioration in quality. However, the lowest rated soap still draws higher ratings than many cable television hits, and DVR viewing, SOAPnet replays, online episodes, and shared video clips prove that these shows are still relevant. As primetime series borrow increasingly from the soap opera model, why should scholars remain interested in daytime dramas? This As the World Turns scene, in which farm family matriarch Emma Snyder shares a diner table with executive powerhouse Lucinda Walsh, helps illustrate one of the U.S. soap model's unique capabilities.Kathleen Widdoes has portrayed Emma for more than 20 years; Elizabeth Hubbard has played the role of Lucinda for even longer. In the 1980s, the two were often set against each other, Emma's simplistic and sometimes narrow-minded pragmatism offset by Lucinda's ambitious energy that too often bordered on ruthlessness. Both Lucinda and Emma have been consistently depicted as strong women, left to raise children alone. We've seen them, despite their differences, come not only to tolerate but even share a friendship through their shared tribulations.This scene includes both overt and subtle moments that reflect on their relationship. Lucinda's slightly embarrassed to be seen in a greasy spoon; she's surprised to see Emma here because she's "supposed" to cook her own food, a stereotype the show has often forwarded but which Emma reveals she's sick of. There's awkwardness and tension yet relief and comfort in their rapport. Despite their differences, they've found themselves in the same place, both literally and figuratively, as supporting characters in their children's lives and the narrative, doling out unheeded advice.
Note that "nothing happens," but we do learn new information about these characters which simultaneously gives us deeper perspective on the show's recent events . We've come to know Emma and Lucinda through their appearances on thousands of episodes a year for multiple decades. These little moments seem like rare finds these days, but they are the differentiators that set soaps' unique storytelling abilities apart; on this scale of frequency and longevity, this is a moment only a soap can provide.