Is ‘The Chew’ Devouring ABC’s Surviving Soaps?

Daphne Oz, Mario Batali and Carla Hall on The Chew (ABC)

Daphne Oz, Mario Batali and Carla Hall on The Chew (ABC)

Is “The Chew” Sinking Its Teeth Into Soap Ratings?

People are watching the rebooted “Days of Our Lives.”  The week of the October 3rd, “Days” was tied with “The Young & the Restless” for number one among  Women 18-34 (0.6/4), and was the number two show among Women 18-49 (1.0/7). That is a quick turnaround for a show that was languishing near the bottom of the ratings for much of the year. The “Days” reboot is working both because the show is really and truly 100 times better than it was a month ago and because the launch of the new and improved “Days” was timed to coincide with the end of the ABC run of “All My Children.”

AMC fans can savor (get it?!) the failure of “The Chew.” The food show’s ratings have steadily eroded since its strong premiere on September 26th. The week of October 10th, it garnered a 0.6 rating in W 18-49, 0.8 among W25-54 and 1.4 in Households.  For comparison, the lowest rated soaps in W 18-49 (a three way tie between “The Bold & the Beautiful,” “One Life To Live” and “General Hospital”) earned a 0.9 rating. “The Chew” declined  -23% in W18-49, -21% in W25-54 and -15% in HH from its premiere week.

After two weeks, “The Chew” is underperforming AMC’s average in the time period a year ago by -24% in W18-49, -32% in W25-54 and -17% in Households. Remember, that was the barely watchable AMC of September 2010, not the spectacular AMC of summer 2011. Yes, ABC is saving a lot of money, but it appears that a lot of people sampled the show and found it lacking. However, “The Chew” appears to be taking down OLTL with it. Suddenly, the soap that was posting six figure year-to-year viewership gains is dropping like a stone without the show that has been its lead-in for decades. Granted, OLTL’s decision to revisit the Stacy Morasco Fiasco and kill off Victor certainly play a role in the show’s decline. OLTL could also be losing some viewers to “Days”  because it airs at the same time as “Days”  in many markets, including Los Angeles. But Occam’s Razor suggests that some viewers whose favorite soap was AMC, but also watched OLTL, are not bothering to watch ABC anymore. “General Hospital” also performed poorly, ranking dead last in HH and W18-34. Getting rid of AMC is killing the two remaining ABC soaps. If this trend continues, I suppose “The Chew” will succeed on two counts: getting OLTL’s ratings to drop so much that the network’s decision to cancel the show will seem justified, and dragging down GH’s ratings to cancellation levels.

Watch The Latest Episode Of “Days of Our Lives”:

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Mature People Having Mature Conversations

Two of my favorite sets of scenes last week involved characters who could qualify to join the AARP discussing what it means to be in a relationship when you are no longer demographically desirable. Ex-spouses “One Life To Live’s” Clint (Jerry VerDorn) and Viki (Erika Slezak) found themselves alone at Llanfair for the evening. Viki began by good naturedly teasing him about Kim’s very unlikely story about needing money for a friend’s medical bills (okay, it’s true, but it sounds so, so bogus). Clint responded to Viki’s snark about his continued lust for a woman young enough to be his daughter with sarcasm, “I want to sit in front of the fire in a rocking chair and start whittling and giving out peppermint candies to the grandkids,” before asking, “Now come on Viki, don’t you want to spend your time with someone?”

Viki, protesting a little too much because she still is in love with Clint, professed to be content with the life that she had. Given the number of times that she has loved and lost, her challenging job and her large extended family, she is hardly a spinster. Viki claimed that she had not met anyone she liked since Charlie left town. Given that the only men in Llanview in her age range right now are Clint and Bo, that’s believable. Viki is not interested in chasing after, say, Cutter. Of course, Clint was really trying to get Viki to admit that she wants to be more than his court appointed caretaker. Viki, who can’t help being a little insecure that her competition is a twentysomething stripper, was not about to make herself that vulnerable. So she decided to punish him by making him endure “Cowboys and Aliens” with her. The scenes were so rich, satisfying  and romantic because of their decades-long history.

Similarly “The Bold & the Beautiful’s” Eric (John McCook) and Stephanie (Susan Flannery) were a welcome antidote to the show’s relentless focus on a nineteen year old virgin. Eric surprised Stephanie with a romantic dinner to celebrate her healthy check up, and because this is B&B, gave her lingerie. Stephanie refused to wear it because she has felt unattractive since undergoing aggressive treatment for lung cancer. Then she admitted that she no longer had any interest in sex. It was a frank discussion of a subject that is rarely explored on television: the impact on cancer on sexuality.

With television’s relentless pursuit of the 18-49 year -old demographic, older characters often get short shift. B&B and OLTL showed how many interesting stories there are to be told about characters with a little grey in their hair.

Watch The Latest Episode Of “One Life to Live”:

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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