By Lynette Rice
Updated March 30, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Somebody book the Elks Lodge for the retirement party to end all retirement parties: It appears The Guiding Light, TV’s longest-running daytime drama, is on the verge of cancellation. An insider close to the sudser confirmed a report that the low-rated series (a mere 2.17 million) will likely be dropped from the eye’s daytime schedule once its contract expires in September. CBS will have to make a decision within the next few weeks to give the show time to craft a goodbye for fans — but it also needs time to hunt for a replacement. A game show or a Tyra Banks-like chatfest are the most obvious candidates, because it seems all but certain that CBS won’t follow Light with another daytime drama — why dump more cash into a dying genre? — which is why all fans of daytime dramas should be crestfallen (not to mention scared as hell) about this latest development.

I’ve never watched Guiding Light — I’m a Jack-Abbott-loving, why-can’t-Victor-stick-with-women-his-own-age fan of Young and the Restless myself — but I will mourn its loss, regardless. The death of any daytime soap is a major blow to the genre as a whole. Daytime sudsers have taken a beating for many years now (their prime-time counterparts are stealing all the thunder, man!) but stalwarts like General Hospital and Restless have managed to hang on because there are still women (and men) out there who can’t go a day without them. But those numbers are dwindling, as evidenced by the networks’ desperate attempts to keep their soaps relevant (more telenovela-like, short story arcs! More young stars! More multi-platform gimmicks!) Light thought it came up with a clever way to keep the gals engaged by going gonzo with its low-cost, hand-held camera work (see the clip below), but the tactic only managed to alienate its already anemic fan base (it’s now the least-watched soap in daytime). It’s no wonder that CBS has finally decided to turn out the Light for good.

What do you think? Will you miss Guiding Light? Do you think the genre’s days are numbered?