All My Children, a soap that has been on the air since 1970, is coming to an end this summer, and with it goes one of the most famous female television characters of all time: Erica Kane. Erica, played by Susan Lucci, has been entertaining viewers with her escapades for over forty years, and in that time has been married 10 times and dated what can only be described as scores of men. Clearly, this woman knows her stuff.
As a little girl who was sometimes allowed to sneak a peek at All My Children during naptime (as long as I didn’t make a sound, lest my mother miss a word of dialogue), I got my first glimpses into the glamorous world of dating from this larger-than-life character. If I ever find I need to break a boyfriend out of prison, or seduce my husband’s identical twin brother, I would know what to do thanks to Erica’s shining example. But there are other, more practical lessons to be gleaned from her fantastic four decades of dating man, after man, after man…
I feel lucky to have had Erica as a role model for unapologetic confidence and ambition. Here are just 5 of the things Erica Kane has taught me about love, and life.
1. Don’t Let ANYONE Treat You Badly
One of the campiest (and most beloved!) moments in Erica Kane history is when she gets lost in the woods and literally scares away a brown bear by yelling “You may not do this! Do you understand me? You may not come near me! I am Erica Kane, and you are a disgusting bear!”
If this is how Erica behaves towards a bear who can eat her in two gulps, do you think she lets a man treat her poorly? If you’re the type of girl who maybe lets herself get pushed around from time to time, summon up all your courage and plainly say: “You may not do this! Do you understand me? You may NOT treat me like this!”
2. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number
Do you think Erica Kane ever, ever, ever gave a moment’s pause to worrying about getting older, or finding a man to settle down with, or a ticking biological clock? Of course not. She’s fiercely sexy and fiercely confident, something which is refreshing in a world saturated with “Why Am I Still Single?” op-eds.
In 2009, Erica, played by a then 62-year-old Susan Lucci, had a brief relationship with her daughter’s 39 year-old ex-husband. Complicated family politics aside, this plotline proved that Erica doesn’t give age a second thought. This isn’t an obnoxious “cougar” story, portraying Erica as sexual predator desperate for the attentions of younger men. She and Ryan were on a business trip and zing! Sparks flew. Why should something like a 20 year age difference even worry her for a moment?
3. There Are Plenty Of Fish In The Sea
Erica Kane has been married 10 times. So, sure, she isn’t a role model for marital stability, but man does the woman know how to bounce back after a break-up! And one thing’s for sure, Erica does not limit herself to a “type” — she’s dated politicians, movie stars, directors, billionaires, and even, hilariously, a celibate Buddhist monk. In her four decade long search for love, Erica has tried all sorts of men in order to find happiness. The takeaway? Be open to all kinds of people, and you’ll have one hell of a love life.
4. Erica Kane: Ultimate Seductress
“I do happen to know what men want and when they want it.” says a falsely-modest Erica. And it’s totally true: Erica was the first woman in soaps (and really, in TV) to prove that women can be just as sexually aggressive (and ambitious) as men. This woman is not afraid to put on some soft jazz and make the first move. And while her relationships may have lacked stability, one thing they have never lacked is passion. (Well. Except for that celibate Buddhist monk blip.)
5. You Should Try To Have It All
The reason Erica Kane is the most famous woman in soaps is because she so zealously goes after three things: love, independence, and fame. Her objective has been strong enough to carry her through four incredible decades of television. It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t yet been able to sustain all three at once (that would be boring to watch!). The point is, never once has she questioned her ability to be successful and happy in love at the same time. She’s never sacrificed her career for a man, or been too busy with work to have an active love life. If you were to ask her if she thinks it’s possible to have a fulfilling romantic life, exciting career, and happy family, she would no doubt answer: “Of course it is. I am Erica Kane, after all.”