Is One Life To Live Writing Off the Gays Because They Decimated Ratings?

When ABC’s soap opera One Life To Live was enjoying a ratings resurgence and newfound buzz, producers were happy to credit the gay romance of Kyle and Fish as the reason why. But now that OLTL has seen its numbers dip? The soap’s brass are reportedly blaming it on their decision to go overboard with the gay stuff. Which is why Scott Evans and Brett Claywell’s characters are being written off the show.

We first learned OLTL would feature a gay romance last summer; when the pair’s first on-screen kiss arrived in August, the gays were agog. And middle American stay-at-home moms, too. But in October, when “Kish” got married, OLTL was trailing its soap competition, landing in sixth place (out of seven spots), when such an exciting plot development should have been reeling in the viewers.

Now showrunner Frank Valentini says, “We are concluding the story that we set out to tell with Kyle and Fish. We are very proud to have broken new ground with a same sex couple on daytime.”

Characters are usually written off shows for one of two reasons: Their actors demand unreasonable salary hikes, or viewers are turned off by them. If producers were utterly pleased with the Kish storyline and the response from audiences, undoubtedly they would keep their characters around. But that doesn’t appear to be happening, and so into the soap sunset they will ride. But they’ve had a good run, no? Kissing on camera. Sexing on camera. Marrying on camera. It’s been a pretty spectacular representation of gays on television, broke ground in the genre, and we can’t fault OLTL for giving it a go.

Let’s just hope they don’t get killed off.

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  • benlayvey

    Soap Operas stand as the last romantic Utopia for lonely straight women, same women who erect shrines to a cutout image of Fabio. The gay stuff just ruined it for them. LOL!

  • benlayvey

    *images of..*

  • Jaroslaw

    This is ridiculous. I understand probably the majority of the audience is indeed stay at home lonely straight women. But I can’t imagine the Gay story line occupied more than 1% of the total airtime.

    Ratings dropped for other reasons, but Gay anything is always a convenient scapegoat.

  • soapdude

    I have to say, as a longtime daytime viewer and openly gay man, the reason I’m losing interest in OLTL is because, fasten your seatbelts, Kyle and Fish are two extremely dull characters. Tuc Watkins, as gold-digging man whore David Vickers, is TEN TIMES more entertaining than those two alley cats. I guess we have fully arrived. After years of watching dull straight romances, now we have a dull gay one. Its a mistake to assume gay people are going to watch a show just because it features gay characters. The sad truth is, Kyle and Fish are very one-dimensional. They are dull as dishwater. To contrast, when David Vickers or Dorian Lord enter a room, you know SOMETHING is going to happen. They are REAL characters, they have a reality to them. THAT’S why we tune in, good characters. Sadly, daytime writers don’t seem capable of coming up with multi-dimensional characters anymore, gay or straight. I find all these new kids flat and trite. You may watch for a week for a new hunk in town but you won’t watch for a year if said hunk can’t act and has no motivation or depth of character. Actually, I’d love to see a gay soap villian, rather than these young goody-two-shoes.

  • ben doverr

    As the World Turns was recently cancelled due to dwindling ratings and rising production costs. Probably the same fate ahead for OLTL as well as Y&R.

    I doubt the gay plot lines are a major contributing factor.

    Still, I commend the editors for blogging this, rather than another “Which Closeted Actor Is Growing Radishes in Peru?” blind item.

  • dvlaries

    Gay or straight, happy marriage is death for any soap couple. If they stayed, the only thing left is for one to cheat on the other, and go through perpetual breakups to makeups. In this case, that would require at least bringing in another gay (or bi) character to threaten their happiness.

    These shows sink or survive on compelling conflict. Without conflict, there’s no story, the characters quickly lose vividness, and viewers soon move on. It goes, also, to the reason why these shows typically grow child characters from birth to late teenhood in sometimes as short a span as five years. If the characters are too young or too old for romantic conflicts of their own, they’re pushed to the periphery, and basically only trotted out for reunion or celebration scenes.

  • Manda

    I’m not so sure they are being written off cause they are gay. They are a great couple. Most soap fans love them. I think Fish might even get his baby and then leave but when they are a happy couple on a soap, they are boring and so often they are written off or broken up. And now with soaps losing money hand over fist, they have been writing off characters left and right including long running characters. I think that once again, ABC is getting rid of another loved couple for money reasons.

  • jill

    what a bunch of bs…just cause you watch a soap does not mean you are a lonely stay at home mom… I’m offended and anyone who thinks this can [email protected] off.. I happen to watch Kyle and Fish and am not turned off..I thought is was a great storyline and want to see how things turn out..It was the stupid stacey storyline that brought ratings down.

  • Eva Young

    I’m a longtime OLTL viewer, and am frustrated that this couple are being blamed for the ratings decline. This was a cowardly decision by ABC to kowtow to a vocal minority of bigots, who contacted the network because they don’t want to see gays on screen.

    It’s also important to point out that many of the members of the Kish fan board, Kishmet are straight women, so it’s not really a niche storyline.

  • alan brickman

    they’re definately being scapegoated..women love to watch guys getting it explains why “that guy” isn’t interested in them..

  • alan brickman

    ABC hating gays again? big surprise…

  • jason

    Middle America’s females see these soaps as an escape from their mundane existences and ordinary husbands. They live their lives vicariously through the romances in the shows. When it’s two men together, it’s OK to play to these women’s sense of pity but it doesn’t ultimately fulfil them romantically.

    What these women really want is for the man to turn away from the other man and devote his love to the scrubber, instead.

  • Aidan

    Fish and Kyle were never married, and OLTL took a dive in the ratings for bad writing, not because of a secondary pairing which just happened to be gay. Fish and Kyle were barely onscreen. Further, I know many gay men and women who watch soaps. Dismissing soap fans as “bored, lonely housewives” is degrading and pathetic.

  • Tylertime

    As a fan of OLTL for more than 25 years and a gay man for 19 years I’m glad they are gone. They were boring and I would rather have the airtime given to characters like the Cramer girls the Buchanans. Maybe if the gays had been tied to core families on the show they would have integrated more and been a more interesting part of the show.

  • IMHO

    Maybe if they had one ounce of believability as a gay couple they would have had a chance. They should have made one of them really effeminate or flaming, just to help everybody buy into it.

  • noway

    @alan brickman: I have never talked to a single straight person who isn’t completely uncomfortable (if not horrified) watching two guys making out. Two girls together doesn’t have the same effect, because a lot of girls are really affectionate and kiss their friends. But guys, we just don’t want to imagine the backstage pass.


    I think some people are taking the news of their demise too hysterically. The actors who played “Kish” are two of about five or six actors who’ve been recently fired. They’re cutting the budget at OLTL.

  • Dean

    I have already stopped watching OLTL. Decisions like these will not increase the show’s ratings. The ridiculous Mitch and Jessica storylines going on now are more than enough to bring cancellation. Kish were hardly on and to blame them for the ratings decline is ridiculous. Bye bye OLTL. Nice knowing you.

  • KEN

    Have one of the guys being effeminate and flaming to make it believable? Hello! That is just so old and boring. The younger generation of young gay men are focused on masculinity. They seek other masculine men. They laugh at “the old queens”
    Guess you don’t get out much.

  • Keri

    First of all, they did not get married in October…get your facts straight. Secondly, stating that the majority of people watching soaps are lonely stay at home moms is insulting. As a working woman, I watch soaps all the time and so do all my working women friends and colleagues. This isn’t the 1950s. It is 2010 where people don’t watch TV the same way they used to (YouTube, Hulu, DVR, TiVO), women actually work for a living, and gays are as much a part of our community as blacks, latinos, straights, etc. There are characters I don’t like on OLTL but I am apparently smart enough to use my FF button. I’m grossed out by Todd the unrepentent rapist who does little more than stalk his victim, and my FF button can’t move fast enough to get Ford off my screen. That’s the beauty of a soap opera…there’s a little something for everyone. I personally loved the KISH storyline and am extremely disappointed with this decision.

  • robert in nyc

    Couldn’t be the horribly violent storyline or the STUPID baby daddy story line. This was the show Judith Light started on and now it’s a piece of crap. This isn’t a gay thing, it’s a quality thing.

  • David

    @noway: These days almost all the STRAIGHT people I know have no problem watching two men making out. I guess you never heard of the show Queer as Folk. The series was a huge hit on Showtime when it aired from 2000 to 2005. Most of the viewers of QAF viewers were straight.

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