Movies + TV

Literally the Best Thing Ever: One Life to Live

One of the longest relationships of my life is with a TV show that just keeps on giving.

Blair Cramer and the real Todd Manning at their second wedding.

My friends Lila and Jackie got me hooked on One Life to Live the summer before my freshman year of high school. I’ve been watching it for more than half my life now, so I think I can safely say that One Life to Live (or OLTL as we fangirls call it) is literally the best thing ever.

Soaps get a bad rap because they’re sudsy, but that’s what makes them so fun! You gotta love the sheer ridiculousness of Blair Cramer and Todd Manning marrying and divorcing five times (and you also have to root for them every time because obviously they are star-crossed). No one in OLTL’s made-up town of Llanview, Pennsylvania, ever stays married, but no one seems to stay dead either, so you can hold out hope that that car crash that killed your favorite character was not what it seemed. These are all the reasons I need, but if you need more, read on.

One of the best things about OLTL is that it’s more self-aware than your average soap: the characters know how outlandish their situations are. Téa will openly refer to the time “when I was dead.” Kelly will tease her cousin Blair and aunt Dorian about their combined 17 marriages, and Dorian will deadpan that Kelly must be counting annulments. When these things happen I find myself laughing harder than I would during a sitcom.

One Life to Live also weaves in serious storylines that deal with very real issues. For example, I bawled my eyes out in June when Gigi died in her attempt to stop a group of boys from bullying her teenage son, Shane. Shane’s torment and Gigi’s devotion to the child she raised mostly as a single parent were as genuine as it gets. And while daytime TV isn’t known for being culturally progressive, OLTL was the first to show a gay sex scene. (Well, they showed as much as they show with any couple, which is basically people kissing and falling into bed together.)

It’s real life, comedy, romance, and drama rolled into one with characters suffering from amnesia and/or multiple personality disorder, baby switching, and serial killers (but don’t worry, the insanely hot detective John McBain is on the case!) as the icing on the cake. It’s the ultimate in escapist TV and it’s on five days a week, so you can record it and watch it to wind down from school or work like I’ve been doing for years—but sadly you only have until January 20th to do so.

Back in April when ABC announced the cancellation of One Life to Live, I freaked. It was like banning chocolate or canceling baseball. I actually called ABC’s hotline and wrote emails to the network president vowing that I would never watch the station again if they took my show away. OLTL was supposed to be the never-ending story. I always took great comfort in knowing that no matter where I was or what I was going through, I could spend an hour with the Buchanans, Lords, Cramers, and Mannings in Llanview, where divorce and even death never stopped true love and my problems seemed minuscule compared to the latest affair or murder cover-up.

Fortunately, a company called Prospect Park licensed the online rights to OLTL and will begin airing Internet-only episodes in the first quarter of 2012 (and is reportedly shopping the show around to cable networks). While I’m not sure if OLTL’s current cast and schedule will be maintained, I’m glad the show will get a second life, especially because it’s been soooo good lately. I mean, we just found out that Todd Manning was being impersonated by his long-lost, brainwashed twin brother, Victor, for the past eight years and now the real Todd (played by the also insanely hot Roger Howarth) is back, but he’s being accused of Victor’s murder! Seriously, just watch it. I swear it’s THE BEST THING EVER! And Prospect Park, if you’re reading this and need writers, let me know. The only thing that might be better than keeping up with the residents of Llanview would be getting to concoct the trouble that will befall them. ♦


  • annagracie September 21st, 2011 11:17 PM

    i know what i’m watching online when i’m procrastinating!

  • Liv September 21st, 2011 11:29 PM

    Literally cannot breathe. I’ve been watching OLTL since I was ten years old and, you’re right, it’d beyond fabulous.

    I’d say “OLTL Prom Night: The Musical” takes the cake as best episodes in Soap history. I own the soundtrack, and I feel zero shame when pretending I am Starr serenading Cole.

  • Brige September 21st, 2011 11:29 PM

    SO. MUCH. LOL. I looove this blog/site/mag. :)

  • Angie Bitchface September 21st, 2011 11:29 PM

    this sounds like the best show ever!

  • EveyMarrie September 21st, 2011 11:39 PM

    Lmao, I’m typically not a soap type of person. I latch onto a series and I’ll follow it for the first few 10 episodes or so and then I forget about them and then I don’t care. That type of forgetfulness would never make me a good soap fan, however, it’s nice to see the type of happiness it provides to others.

    I was raised on Spanish soaps at my grandma’s (“POR QUE?!” -intense close up on a woman’s face, contorted into shame and sadness as a single lone tear drop falls onto her cheek onto her red stained lips-)

  • Pyxie Gwynne September 22nd, 2011 6:42 AM

    This show raised me. My mom has been watching this show since she immigrated to the United States in the 70s. I think it’s where she got a lot of her “american” style from. I was born in the 90s and know all about Blair and Todd Manning like they’re my next-door neighbors! I’ve been on the phone with my mom asking her all about the real Todd’s return/wanna-be Todd. It’s all sorts of twisted and it’s amazing!!! (Blair + “real” Todd 4eva!)

  • Emma S. September 22nd, 2011 9:20 AM

    Long Live Original Todd.

  • erin September 22nd, 2011 10:45 AM

    I love One Life to Live! I didn’t know it was being canceled… and it was so intense with the whole two Todds thing! My mom and I always watch it after school/work and another soap called General Hospital, which is also good. My friends always make fun of me for watching soaps, but I don’t care! Rookie is pretty much my soulmate website by now!

  • LiddyMal September 22nd, 2011 11:47 AM

    Original Todd! I just started watching again when I found out he was back. I remember watching the Marty/Todd storyline with my Mom in the 1990s!

  • Pashupati September 22nd, 2011 11:51 AM

    That show looks awesome and really kitsch in the cool way/cool in the kitsch way. I’ll watch it next time I feel bad. (Really, usually I watch the Addams Family and look at [rather than read] The World of Charles Addams and watch the movies and listen to the musical and play the video games, but then it’s more like I remember some memories I had with these weird people who hanged me for my last birthday and stuff, and with which I built a killer/cleaning/staining bot and stuff, and it doesn’t feel like an escape anymore, more like nostalgia of things I really lived, like that time when we burnt the fireman. That’s really weird, also this OLTL show you have seems less real to me than a bunch of people that don’t die when you throw explosives at them and find that funny and throw another one at you and it’s your turn if you aren’t dead. Yes, I also dreamed I lived with them. One time we even watched a TV show about a family just like ours, who lived next door.)
    “[...] where divorce and even death never stopped true love [...]”
    And cancellation never stopped the series! Right?

  • Pixie September 22nd, 2011 3:11 PM

    Oh man! My friend and I used to immediately call each other after school in 7th grade and watch this together over the phone. Many screams about Todd and/or Viki were exchanged.

  • Stephanie September 22nd, 2011 5:48 PM

    WOOT! So glad that I am not alone in my OLTL obsession/love. It really is fun to watch and a great way to unwind. I hope the online version of it works out well.

  • back2thepast September 22nd, 2011 6:14 PM

    My favorite part of Michael Keaton’s Mr. Mom is when he sees the soap opera and is like, “what is this crap?” then he can’t stop watching and kids are explaining to him what happened on the last episode! Ha! Fun stuff

  • Bee September 23rd, 2011 1:23 PM

    Nothing is better than All My Children! Last day today!

  • AineFey September 30th, 2011 8:44 PM

    I was addicted to OLTL when I was young. Young as in a lot younger than I should have been. I watched all the ABC soaps with my grandma every weekend.

    The earliest memory I have of watching a soap is when Marty was gang raped. I was only ten, but I had discussed with my mom what it meant. It had a huge impact on my thinking about the world. I can still picture some of the scenes from the trial.

    Nora and Luna were always my favorites.