First Black-Led Daytime Soap in 35 Years Officially Ordered at CBS

First Black-Led Daytime Soap in 35 Years Officially Ordered at CBS

By Chuck Arnold | MSN

Growing up watching the “love in the afternoon” triumvirate of ABC daytime soaps — “All My Children,” “One Life To Live” and “General Hospital” by my mother’s side in the ’80s — it was all about Cliff (Peter Bergman) and Nina (Taylor Miller) on “AMC,” Viki (Erika Slezak) and Clint (Clint Ritchie) on “OLTL” and, of course, Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) on “GH.”

But when Jesse (Darnell Williams) and Angie (Debbi Morgan) came along on “AMC,” it was the first time I ever saw a Black supercouple sudsing up our TV screen — likely in VHS recordings that my mom would make, so I could watch after school.

While I would forever stay loyal to my ABC soaps — although when we went down to Grandma’s house, it was all about “The Young and the Restless,” “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” on CBS — I couldn’t help but feel like progress had been made when the groundbreaking soap “Generations” premiered on NBC in March 1989 with a predominantly Black cast.

Flash forward 35 years — and 33 years after “Generations” was canceled in 1991 — and there is a new Black soap coming to daytime just when the genre had seemed to be on its last suds.

On Monday, CBS announced a series order for “The Gates” — which “follows the lives of a wealthy Black family in a posh, gated community” — that is set to premiere in January 2025.

The new soap on the block — which will have Michele Val Jean (“The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital”), a Black multiple Daytime Emmy winner, as writer, showrunner and executive producer — was developed in a joint venture between CBS and the NAACP.

Look how far we’ve come, Jesse and Angie.

But in addition to seeing Black folks go through all that drama that makes us escape our own lives for just a bit, “The Gates” also marks the return of daytime soaps that were all but obliterated from network TV in the bloodbath of the late aughts and early ’10s. That was when “Guiding Light,” then “As the World Turns,” then “All My Children,” then “One Life To Live” left us with a whole lot less love in the afternoon amid the talk-show boom.

Only “General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Days of Our Lives” (which has since been relegated to streaming on Peacock) were left.

For someone who had basically not known a world without Erica Kane — the divine “AMC” diva played by the iconic Susan Lucci, who finally won that Daytime Emmy on her 19th nomination in 1999 — it was as if I was saying goodbye to some old friends. Make that, family.

In fact, in the most isolating days of the pandemic in 2020, it was my “GH” fam who provided a source of comfort and company — as daytime soaps have done for generations.

Thank you, Sonny (Maurice Benard). Thank you, Anna (Finola Hughes). Thank you, Laura (yes, Francis is still reigning over Port Charles, even without her Luke).

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