Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GUIDING LIGHT Changed the Face of Broadcasting

Jonathan Reiner has published a wonderful article on the impact of GUIDING LIGHT at

Much ink has been spilled about the soap’s demise (timely or untimely, take your pick), including blood, sweat and tears from fans, journalists, actors and analysts. But most of the articles, blogs, obituaries and letters, awash in blame and/or rose-colored nostalgia, fail to completely capture the fact that this show -- which began life as a crudely produced radio drama created to sell soap and preach family values -- changed the face of broadcasting and the very fabric of this country.

This is a show that was created by women for women -- long before modern showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Tina Fey.

Sure, the groundwork laid by pioneering writers Irna Phillips and Agnes Nixon, and producers Lucy Rittenberg and Gail Kobe (among hundreds of others) changed the way the American public viewed female characters, but their immeasurable contributions also paved the way for real-life execs like Disney/ABC’s Anne Sweeney, CBS’s Nancy Tellem and Nina Tassler, and NBC/Universal’s Lauren Zalaznick, to name a few.

He goes on to discuss the universal themes of loves and acceptance featured on the show.

GL taught us how to be more loving, more accepting, more confident, more creative and more hopeful. And in a town like Hollywood in a year like 2009, that is something we should all celebrate.

Read the entire article at


  1. Thanks for bringing this one to our attention!!

  2. Thanks for this link....I'm in the middle of writing a piece about the overt sexism that surrounds the lack of respect soap opera receives as a genre. I'm so glad that there are people out there writing about the historical significance of GL, and who remember to mention Irna Phillips. She was no less important in the grand scheme of television than Norman Lear. And, frankly, her shows have proven to have more staying power.

  3. Excellent point. I have tried to dig up as many Irna articles and essays as I can. It is amazing what she accomplished and how her impact is still felt nearly 40 years after her death. I look forward to reading your article.

  4. I love how he says GL is at heart about an immigrant family. And I love how he subtly points out CBS's Nancy Tellem and Nina Tassler for canceling the very show they benefited from!