One Year: 1995

Season 2: Episode 4

Hitting the Spot

In 1995, an online soap opera revealed the internet’s potential as a venue for creative expression—and a tool for destruction.

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Episode Notes

In 1995, aspiring filmmakers created the first ever soap opera on the Web. Hollywood saw it as the future of entertainment. But a fan-led revolt showed that interactivity sometimes has a price. This week, Evan Chung explains the rise and fall of The Spot.

One Year is produced by Evan Chung, Josh Levin, and Madeline Ducharme. Additional production help from Cheyna Roth. Mixing by Merritt Jacob.

Sources for This Episode

Books:

Campbell, W. Joseph. 1995: The Year the Future Began, University of California Press, 2015.

Christian, Aymar Jean. Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television, New York University Press, 2018. 

Collins, Russell, ed. The Spot: The Book, Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Geirland, John, and Eva Sonesh-Kedar. Digital Babylon, Arcade Publishing, 1999.

Articles:

AMCY on The Spot, Files for Chapter 11,” Wired, Jan. 16, 1997.

Bayers, Chip. “The Great Web Wipeout,” Wired, April 1, 1996.

Brown, Janelle. “Angry Fans Wash Their Hands of The Spot,” Wired, Nov. 25, 1996.

Brown, Janelle. “AOL Lays Off Content Staff With Lightspeed,” Wired, Feb. 2, 1998.

Brown, Janelle. “AOL Nabs Lightspeed,” Wired, March 10, 1997.

Brown, Janelle. “As the Paradigm Turns, Cybersoaps Solicit Funding,” Wired, Dec. 10, 1996.

Brown, Janelle. “Eon4 Fans, Employees Protest AMCY,” Wired, Nov. 27, 1996.

Brown, Janelle. “Fans Mourn Death of The Spot,” Wired, July 2, 1997.

Brown, Janelle. “Financial Trauma Spurs Drama of AMCY Plea,” Wired, Jan. 7, 1997.

Brown, Janelle. “Hollywood Snares,” Salon, Sept. 17, 1999.

Clark, Don. “Net Storytellers, Beware: This Audience Talks Back,” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 1997.

Cole, Patrick E. “Look. Look. See the Spot Run. Look. Look. See the Spot Grow. Look. Look. See the Future of Soaps,” Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1996.

Copilevitz, Todd. “Hot on The Spot: You Could Call It an Episodic Internet Site. Or a Soap Opera,” Dallas Morning News, Sept. 24, 1995.

Death Marks The Spot,” CNET, July 1, 1997.

Dunn, Ashley. “The Spot: A Thin Soap Opera Draws Crowds to the Mother of All ‘Cyberentertainment,’ ” New York Times, Jan. 10, 1996.

Edelstein, Andy. “As the Web Turns,” Newsday, July 23, 1995.

Edwards, Phil. “The Hippest Internet Cafe of 1995,” Vox, Aug. 24, 2016.

Flores, Michele Matassa. “MSN To Cancel ‘Shows,’ Lay Off 50 Workers,” Seattle Times, Feb. 26, 1998.

Fox, Susannah and Lee Rainie. “Part 1: How the Internet Has Woven Itself Into American Life,” Pew Research Center, Feb. 27, 2014.

Garvey, Megan. “Gen-X Marks the Spot,” Washington Post, June 29, 1995.

Gray, Dan. “Hit The Spot!,” Wwwiz, September 1995.

Gray, Matthew. “Internet Statistics: Growth and Usage of the Web and the Internet,” 1996.

Hall, Peter. “Log on Tomorrow,” Print, May-June 1997.

Haring, Bruce. “Soap Fans Hitting Net’s Hot Spot,” USA Today, Sept. 26, 1995.

“Hitting the Spot,” the Economist, Aug. 26, 1995.

Hoffmann, Jay. “I Read the Web’s Greatest Soap Opera So You Don’t Have To,” the History of the Web, March 30, 2020.

Internet Upstages Techie TV,” Variety, July 31, 1995.

Johnson, Tracy. “Hot ‘Spot’ Is Cyber-Place to Be,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 6, 1995.

Kaplan, Karen. “Ex Marks ‘The Spot’ for Upset Devotees,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 9, 1996.

Kaplan, Karen. “Firm Takes a Bath With Soap Opera on Web,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 13, 1997.

Kotkin, Joel. “The Business of Entertainment: Unknown Moguls Who May Rule the Future,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 24, 1995.

Krieger, Todd. “Love and Money,” Wired, Sept. 1, 1995.

Levy, Steven. “This Changes…Everything,” Newsweek, Dec. 24, 1995.

Meldan, Steve. “Http 90210,” Wired, Nov. 1, 1995.

Richter, Erin. “The Gaze of Our Lives,” Entertainment Weekly, Aug. 4, 1995.

Stoll, Clifford. “The Internet? Bah!”, Newsweek, Feb. 26, 1995.

The Spot’s Stain Spreads,” CNET, Jan. 14, 1997.

Weiner, Rex. “Cyberspace Sitcom Hits ‘The Spot,’ ” Variety, June 12-18, 1995.

Whittel, Giles. “Soap Opera in Cyberspace,” the Times, Aug. 21, 1995.

Wian, Casey. “Cyberdramas delight Web surfers,” CNN, Sept. 2, 1996.

Zakarin, Scott. “Web Show: The 1st Generation,” Silicon Alley Reporter, Feb. 5, 1997.

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About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City, America went online, and the Macarena took over nightclubs.


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  • Evan Chung is a senior producer, working on Slate’s One Year.