August 11, 2014 5:47 PM EDT

Considering that successful soaps tend to outlast stars, viewers, and nearly everything except giant tortoises and redwoods, it makes more sense to assess them by their individual eras rather than as overall series. In the Luke and Laura Era, during the late ’70s and early ’80s under producer Gloria Monty, GH had the greatest cultural reach of any daytime soap ever. It dominated the ratings—nearly 30 million people watched the star-crossed couple wed—and paved the way for primetime soaps like Dynasty, with its over-the-top stories and characters like the Quartermaine Family. The glitzy, garish, ga-ga golden era of GH defined a TV genre in which too much was barely enough.

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