Sometimes it is difficult to be a veteran soap fan. To define it just for this blog entry, I'm referencing people who are fans of long term performers. I'm not referring to long time fans as someone can be interested in actors who've been on for decades and be newer to a program. For the record there are other fan issues long time fans have to deal with or fans of long term performers have to adjust to, but I'm just touching on one in this blog.
There was a meme on tumblr, which I thought touched upon what a lot of veteran fans go through, which I'm going to paraphrase. Sometimes loving a particular character is like going to a school play and watching for one of the children playing a tree. Since the person playing the tree is a loved one, of course they feel rapt attention to this minor character.
The irony is how does someone feel if they go from having a favorite be a major player to being just a tree even if they see it as the most wonderful one. This shuffling I believe is what causes a lot of strife within soap fandom. That cliche of there are no small parts only small actors comes to mind, but truthfully I think that's a bit of crap. I know that actors shouldn't be jerks, but if a character comes in on a monthly basis does the equivalent of a wave and leaves again they do have a small part. A small role shouldn't mean the character is insignificant. Nearly every character who has had enough time to develop a following has one, and if an actor has prior credits they may have fans even if they have nothing to do.
Realistically there is no way any soap can have an equal amount of airtime for each character and story. The TPTB don't have someone in the crew using a timer counting minutes per episode per story even if viewers may decide to do just that. Actually if a show did that to as a test to see how people perceive a character versus the reality of their airtime, I'd applaud them.
Every fan of long term characters knows that for the most part all of them were newbies once too. The only exemption are fans of original cast members of a soap, and only "The Bold and the Beautiful" viewers can make that claim. Many years ago certain soaps did reboot their shows dumping long term cast members for new, but at least in those cases there tended to be closure and those fans got to say goodbye to their favorites. By doing it in a stealth manner, these viewers leave gradually instead of quickly, which perhaps is part of why this method of deemphasizing comes into play. Of course, if a long term character or couple for that matter is ignored for too long their fans may leave or else get interested in other things on that show. If they lose interest in the program, and new fans aren't created for those performers the characters may be disappear for good.
To wrap this up, it isn't fun when you see someone who you know is talented fade into the woodwork. There is nothing wrong with being a background player, but when it is someone with known talent, it can be difficult. I wish there was an easy answer beyond love your faves, hope for the best and be aware that with a swap of a writer or show runner everything may fall to pieces.