ATWT (As the World Turns), aired on CBS from 2nd April 1956 to 17th September 2010, is an American television soap opera. The show was created by Irna Phillips and written by Lloyd Gold and Jean Passanante. This show remained successful in capturing the heart of the audience for 54 years. This makes ATWT the fourth-longest continuous run of any daytime network soap, which is a massive achievement on its own.
It was surpassed only by Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light, and General Hospital. In the first 43 years, the production took place in Manhattan, and from 2000 till 2010, it took place in Brooklyn.
The show, set in the fictional town of Oakdale, debuted on 2nd April 1956 as a thirty-minute serial. ATWT used to air at 1:30 p.m. EST. All the dramas before ATWT were 15 minutes in length. The Edge of Night and As the World Turns is the first two serials of 30 minutes. Moreover, both of them premiered on the same day.
In the beginning, the audience was indifferent to the new length, but the serial soon became successful in picking the ratings in its second year. Moreover, the show became popular and reached the top spot in the daytime Nielsen ratings by 1958. Moreover, As The World Turns also started a streak of weekly ratings wins in 1959. And for the show, it went uninterrupted for over 12 years.
On 21st August 1967, the show switched to color and expanded its length from thirty minutes to one hour daily. The new duration started on 1st December 1975. As the World Turns was the most-watched drama in terms of year-to-date ratings. It had over ten million viewers tuning to the show each day.
At this height, core actors, such as Don MacLaughlin, Eileen Fulton, Helen Wagner, and Don Hastings, became nationally known. Three of these actors – Fulton, Hastings, and Wagner – have their names marked in the history of American soap operas as the three longest-serving actors. On 12th May 1995, As the World Turns passed its 10,000th episode.
Furthermore, on 2nd April 2006, the show celebrated its 50th Anniversary. After Guiding Light aired its final episode, As the World Turns became the last remaining Procter & Gamble-produced soap opera on 18th September 2009 on CBS. And due to the low ratings, CBS announced the cancelation of ATWT on 8th December 2009. In that year, ATWT completed its 54 years. Hence, we can say that this was one of the longest-running Soaps in American TV History.
On 23rd June 2010, As the World Turns taped its final scenes for CBS. The finale has a dramatic storyline and aired on the network on 17th September 2010. Between 20th September and 15th October 2010, reruns of The Young and the Restless, Let’s Make a Deal, and The Price is Right took over the slot of As the World Turns for four weeks.
A new talk show, The Talk, replaced As the World Turns on 18th October 2010.
The Edge of Night and As the World Turns Changed Soap Operas Forever
Unlike before, soap operas are not all about rating in the current time. Mainly it can be due to the high number of movies and films and individuals working during the daytime. The TV shows never fail to get an audience, while soap operas are an archaic TV drama form. The shift is clear; people do not care about soap operas as they do about reality shows.
However, when radio soap operas debuted, people followed and tuned in religiously. During those times, the duration of the soap operas episodes was 15 minutes only. They used to drag the storyline longer. But, when shows like The Edge of Night and As the World Turns arrived, they completely changed the soap opera’s outlook.
These shows deepened the audience’s love for the serials and plotlines and started airing thirty minutes episodes. The show was also the first soap opera that used a two-family setup. ATWT was about a middle-class family, and the story was slow still emotionally intense.
Notable History and Accomplishments
The show premiered on the network on 2nd April 1956 and was one of the first daytime dramas with thirty minutes in length and changed the outlook of soap operas. All the previous television daytime dramas were half of their duration. Moreover, ATWT was also one of the first expands of CBS. CBS expanded the running to one hour in 1975.
As the World Turns was the top known daytime drama by 1958 in the United States, and it kept this position until 1978. Moreover, As the World Turns is the winner of the Daytime Emmy for the years 1987, 1991, 2001, and 2003. It won the category of Outstanding Daytime Drama Series.
ATWT won Writers Guild of America Awards for Best Daytime Serial in 2007 written by Leah Laiman, Courtney Simon, Lisa Connor, Hogan Sheffer, Bettina Bradbury, Susan Dansby, Josh Griffith, Melissa Salmons, Jean Passanante, Christopher Whitesell, Anna Cascio, Paula Cwikly, Judy Tate, Richard Culliton, Judith Donato, Elizabeth Page, and Charlotte Gibson.
Moreover, in total, As the World Turns won a total of 43 Daytime Emmys. In 1999, it had a tie with General Hospital for the category of Outstanding Original Song. As the World Turns, in 2010, got nominated as Outstanding Daily Drama for a GLAAD Media Award during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.
Why As the World Turns Got Canceled?
The real cause behind the cancelation of the soap opera ‘As the World Turns’ was a steady decline in its rating. The main target of these short afternoon dramas was women who would be at home while their husbands work. But this changed over the decades, and women started working and building their careers. Therefore, this led to a decline in the viewership for ATWT and caused its cancellation in 2010. Moreover, because of the cultural shift, only a few daytime soap times remained. For several soap operas, the viewership was affected by the changing culture of women going to work.
The future of daytime soap operas has a lot to accomplish, but if General Hospital, B&B, and Y&R want to keep up, they need to be more creative and give importance to the viewer’s advice and reviews. The final scene included Kathryn Hays (Kim Hughes) and Don Hastings (Bob Hughes). Kim told Bob to take the time he needed and put his nameplate in his briefcase.
The last line of the drama ‘Good night’ was said by Bob, and after that, he left the Oakdale Memorial Hospital for the last time. At that point, the globe began spinning before the final disappear.
Crew at Cancelation
Producing Team: Carole Shure, Vivian Gundaker, Sonia Blangiardo, Christopher Goutman, Jennifer Schacor, Sarah Shaker
Casting Director: Mary Clay Boland
Writing Team: Lloyd Gold, Cheryl Davis, David A. Levinson, Dan Mooney, Janet Iacobuzio, Jean Passanante, Leah Laiman, Susan Dansby, Gordon Rayfield, Gigi Swift, Josh Griffith
Directing Team: John O’Connell, Matthew Griffin Maria Wagner, Sonia Blangiardo, Christopher Goutman, Carol Sedwick, James Kowal, Jennifer Blood, Alexandra Roalsvig, Michael Eilbaum, Jennifer Pepperman, Habib Azar, Ian Toporoff, Michael Kerner, Janet Andrews, Brian Lydell, Nancy Barron, Brett Hellman
As the World Turns was one of the most successful and loved soap operas of its time. It managed to keep its audience engaged for more than fifty years. It would not be wrong to say that ATWT changed the perspective of soap operas by introducing an extended length and deepened storyline.