If you're a fellow '90s kid or perhaps even older, you probably remember every weekday afternoon being filled with a relative watching soap operas.
These days, however, Days of Our Lives is one of only four remaining daytime soaps.
Now, it appears that its Days are numbered, as the network has released the entire cast from their contracts. Is it the end of an era?
Soap operas have a long history, with some starting out on radio. Days of Our Lives dates back more than 50 years.
Now, showrunners for the legendary daytime drama have released every single member of the cast from their contracts.
This means that they are all free to seek new acting jobs without risking a breach of contract.
And while it technically doesn't mean that the show is coming to a permanent end, things are not looking good for the beloved series.
Season 55 of Days of Our Lives is about to begin airing.
However, the entire production is now on indefinite hiatus, meaning that no one knows when or if it will return.
Viewers will not be immediately impacted, however.
Soap operas film at a breakneck pace and always in advance. They have eight months of episodes to air before they run out.
Hiatus is of course not the same as cancelation, even though the former can become the latter.
In early 2020, NBC will have to make the difficult decision.
Will the network bring back all or part of the cast and crew, possibly for a decrease in pay, to write and film Season 56?
Or will they let the series die, not with a bang, but with a whimper?
(By the way, was anyone going to tell me that Paul Telfer is on Days of Our Lives, or was I just supposed to learn that while writing this article?)
Days of Our Lives will halt production at the end of November.
It will be Summer of 2020, at the absolute earliest, when the new episodes run out.
Some fans have been watching since the premiere in 1965. NBC must know that there are a lot of sentimental attachments from fans to the show.
Soap operas were once an indomitable cultural force. Who among us does not know Susan Lucci's name?
Hayden Panettiere, Eva Longoria, Sarah Michelle Gellar -- these actresses were all daytime stars before they were household names.
A number of factors have contributed to their decline. DVR and streaming both mean that people can watch any show at any time, not simply what's on.
Social media, video games, and economic realitities have also prevented many younger people from having the time to even try watching soaps.
But on top of how exhausting the idea of watching five episodes of anything per week, every week, forever is, there's another factor.
During the '90s, the OJ Simpson trial saw a massive drop in viewership on all other afternoon programming, particularly soaps.
A solid chunk of those viewers simply never returned to the soap operas once that trial reached its awful conclusion.
Soap operas keep viewers hanging. Missing months at a time means new characters and storylines, and it's hard for old viewers to reinvest.
To emphasize, Days of Our Lives has not been canceled -- simply placed on indefinite hiatus. Next year, NBC will decide the show's fate.
In the mean time, the show has decided to incorporate everyone's least favorite TV trope, a time skip, which they note that no other soap has done.
Jumping ahead one year, the show will tease viewers with what has changed in so little time and what took place among the characters.
Perhaps it will be enough to keep ratings from dipping too low.