Chuck Pratt was the head writer of “All My Children” from 2008 to January 2010. The prolific daytime and primetime writer is now the executive producer of ABC Family’s new series “The Lying Game,” which premieres August 15th. The show is definitely a soap opera. It’s about a teenage girl named Emma (Alexandra Chandro, “As the World Turns”) who discovers she has a long-lost twin sister and ends up impersonating her. At the TCA panel for “The Lying Game,” Pratt had a pragmatic take on the soap’s demise. “There’s always a little bit of love for every daytime show. There have been others that have gone down that I haven’t worked on. You feel for the actors and certainly the writers and producers. But also I’ve worked on plenty of primetime shows that have done 13 episodes [and gotten canceled]. They’ve had 28, 30 years. I look back and go, ‘That was a good run.’” For the record, “All My Children” has been on the air for 40 years.
It is a curious irony that while ABC is canceling its daytime soaps, the network is launching numerous primetime shows that can be classified as soap operas. ABC Family is enjoying its biggest audience ever with a line-up of youth oriented soap operas. Pratt theorizes that the success of nighttime soaps is partially due to them not being called soap operas. “It’s a kind of storytelling that if you contemporize it, which is what I always tried to do on ‘Melrose Place,’ you can, I think, take the stigma of soap opera off of it… Instead of soap writing, I call it epic storytelling, or whatever you want to call it where we have a story that continues [and] develops with real life.”
He also believes that it is easier to attract new viewers to primetime series, because younger people are more likely to sample new shows “[Daytime] has had to basically cater to an older audience for lack of a better word. It’s a very hard time to get new viewers. Here, we get new viewers who have maybe never even seen a soap opera.”