The genre of the soap opera is facing an inevitable death. Soap operas that have run for decades are being cancelled. ABC recently announced the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live. Guiding Light, my favorite soap opera, was slashed in 2009. (Notice the date, it's important.) As the World Turns was killed by CBS last Fall. There are rumors that even General Hospital is about to be replaced with a Katie Couric show.
If you look at the time-frame of these massive cancellations of soap operas, you will see that they are very obviously linked to the economic crisis that hit this country in 2008. The crisis hit industries that have traditionally been dominated by men the hardest. As a result, men who can afford a full-time housewife have become few and far between. I blogged before about the fact that, paradoxically, this crisis might end up being a positive development in terms of women's rights. Historically, the greatest pushes towards women's liberation came during moments of crisis. World War I brought women into the workplace and led them to demand the right to vote even more insistently than before. The turbulent sixties in the US inspired the women's liberation movement to fight against the patriarchy and finally defeat it an many important aspects. The collapse of the Soviet Union made Soviet women discover the word feminism and generate an interest towards it.
As the demise of the soap genre demonstrates, women who can be sure of always being at home in the afternoon with little enough to do but watch soaps are disappearing. More and more women are finally getting outside of their kitchens and into the workforce. While one might want to dismiss the cancellation of the soaps as a trivial event, it is evidence of profound transformations that are taking place in our society. Žižek loves quoting Mao Zedong's words: "There is great chaos under heaven – the situation is excellent." As traumatic as this crisis have been, it has done a lot to push women towards freedom.