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« Gasp! Moan! Oh My! | Main | Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column »

November 17, 2008

8 Simple Rules For Writing A Horrible Soap Opera Episode

Today's episode of General Hospital was pretty much a master class in how to produce an EPICALLY AWFUL hour of television. Bob Guza rarely exerts effort at anything but when he puts his mind to something, he does it full throttle, Charlie's Angels 2 style. Why he decides to put effort into crafting an episode of television that was really and truly and pretty much LITERALLY painful to watch in that I think it actually gave me an ulcer is a mystery for the ages.

But I am a conscientious pupil, one who pays diligent attention to any lesson, no matter how ludicrous, so I decided to pay attention to Guza's tutorial. After all, television has taught me lessons in the past: watching sitcoms in the 80s taught me many important things that I carry with me to this day, such as not hiding in abandoned refrigerators during games of hide and seek. Perhaps one day I, too, will feel the need to create a television show that has no real entertainment value and is produced for the sole purpose of driving the audience insane with a potent combination of rage and grief. Who knows?!

1. Have formerly level-headed characters go out of their minds

So...Diane. I have a complicated history with this character. For a supposed fashion buff, she's usually dressed like an extra from L.A. Law. A blind extra. But she and Alexis are so hilarious together! But she enables Sonny and Jason. But she also calls them out more often than anybody else on canvas does! But then she and Max take up a lot of airtime that could go to a number of other characters. But Carolyn Hennessy has such stellar delivery! I am often torn about her.

Today, I was not torn. Today was all about the pure, unadulterated hatred.

Diane: Oh, good. Oh, you finally [!!!--Ed.]decided to haul his gold-plated Aussie ass to the cleaners. Well, I'm right behind you.

Diane: You should thank your lucky stars that this woman is even willing to speak to you [!!!--Ed.], much less want to stay married to you. You have been a disastrous husband in every way [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!--Ed.]. And I can prove it.

Diane: You've pretty much done nothing but walk into and out of this marriage pretty much from the start. My client is a saint [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!--Ed.] for wanting to contest this divorce, whereas any other woman in her right mind would be hauling your butt to the cleaners.

I mean...for fucking real, show? SERIOUSLY? A SAINT?! Really. The way I see it, which is perhaps not the way the majority of GH watchers see it, is that if Jax were to come down with a case of violent thugism that so many on this show suffer from and decided to just kick Carly square in the head, I would rejoice. ESPECIALLY if she made this face at him one more time.


Why does Laura Wright do that? It is obnoxious on its own, let alone coupled with Carly's shrieking harridan shtick. Then I think it's a crime against humanity.

These tragic scenes did give me one of the episode's biggest, albeit unintentional, laughs:

Kate: Jasper Jacks really doesn't settle for second best.

Oh, Kate. What show are you watching?

2. Have your leading man, in addition to being a violently unbalanced murderer, be a whiny bitch.

I have made my peace with Sonny being a criminal inexplicably held up as the best person to grace Port Charles since Saint Carly, but I have absolutely no patience for his griping and moaning like a cranky toddler who is pissed that he had to miss Go, Diego, Go to go with his mother to the grocery store. Say what you will about Jason, and I have said a lot, but it speaks volumes about his inner strength that he hasn't just pulled out one of the guns he has on him at all times and shot Sonny in the leg.

Sonny: You should have known the truce wasn't going to last that long. You sat on your hands too long. Look what happened.

Sonny: I told you the Russians were just waiting to make a move. You wouldn't take action, and now you let everything get completely out of control.

What a winner!

I also liked how he was so flirtatious with Olivia, approximately six seconds after he broke up with her cousin. Who says romance is dead?!

Incidentally, his duh face is contagious.


"The square root of 49. I know this! I know this!"


"A route, like how to get somewhere? Let me think. I don't think there's a Route 49..."


"Don't ask me, I'm literally brain damaged."

3. When in doubt, make your leading ingenue a smug moron


Sorry, but nobody that stupid has any right to pout like that at anybody. Are we supposed to be impressed that Lulu had a breakthrough today, realizing that the Zaccharas are dangerous mobsters? Pat her on the head and congratulate her for figuring out what everybody else has known since September of last year?

4. Allow characters like Nadine onscreen

There are some people who annoy me so much that I tense up at the very sight of them. One such person is Chelsea Handler. Another is Claire Coffee, which I actually feel bad about because I am sure she is very sweet and she seems nice enough in interviews that I've read but Nadine is incredibly irksome.


She's also a fucking lunatic.

Nadine: Look, I know you feel awkward about this and -- look, I -- I don't blame you. I totally understand. And, technically, I'm not really for the situation because it's against the law and fraud, but look, there are real criminals out there and you are not one of them and you should not be deported.

Nikolas: Once again, you've completely lost me.

Nadine: Don't worry about it. And I will marry you.


Nadine: Oh, you should see the list of errands I have to do. I mean, just because this is a marriage of convenience doesn't mean that it's not going to be done right.

Nikolas was, a mere few months ago, having sex with the ghost of his dead fiancee (or something--I've tried to repress it) and yet he is, by far, the more rational person in this equation.

5. Take a character that, against all odds, you managed to redeem and start systematically stripping her of all her great qualities

Today was not a good day for Maxie. Over the course of one episode, she managed to...

  • exhibit the blistering hatred of Liz that made her so hateable back in the day

Maxie: I have been watching her operate for years. Trust me, ok? I mean, I got all the blame for breaking up her and Lucky and I wasn't innocent, but I wasn't alone in the situation either.

Totally! You weren't alone! Liz screwed up, too! With all the...stuff she did by...being...there... 

  • randomly decide that Sam and Jason are the greatest couple of all time which is stupid because I really feel like the writers need to decide who Jason is going to be with instead of waffling with Liz for so long and deciding out of freaking nowhere to start bringing Sam into it and also FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS DATE HIRED KILLERS
  • said the words "Jason is a stud"

Again, it was not a good day for Maxie. I'd like to think that she'll go back to the adorably sassy Maxie that I love so much, but with these writers at the helm, I don't have faith in anything anymore. Jason is a stud! I ask you.

6. Don't make the dashing, devoted, doting doctor the leading man of the show!

Whenever Patrick is onscreen being all hot and charming and adorable and hot, I always get sad that he is merely a bit player in the mafia story that this show has become. There is no way that anybody can look at Sonny and Jason and Patrick and declare that Patrick isn't the dreamiest, most wonderful person of all.

The crazy, overprotective father thing has probably been done before in every television show and movie featuring a father with a newborn daughter but that doesn't make it any less sweet and hilarious.

Robin: You could go a little faster.

Patrick: No, you're -- you're all right.

Elizabeth: Do you want me to take Robin down to the garage? You can bring the car around?

Patrick: No, no, no, too many fumes in the garage.

Elizabeth: You guys can just wait in the lobby.

Patrick: You kidding? There's too many sick people in the lobby.


Robin: I hope we can get her out of this thing. It would be a shame if our little girl had to grow up strapped to a car seat in the back of a -- a van. I can't believe you're driving a van.

Patrick: Yeah, yeah. I bought it the day you stabilized. I thought it would be a little bit of a, you know, surprise.

Robin: I'm definitely surprised.

Patrick: Yep, safest car on the road.

Robin: Um, honey?

Patrick: Mm-hmm?

Robin: I think the speed limit here is 35.

Patrick: Yeah, I know. I'm not -- I'm not speeding.

Robin: I know you're not speeding. You're going 15, maybe 18 --

Patrick: Ok, well, Robin, I just don't want to jostle you and the baby.

Robin: Ok, well, Emma and I appreciate that very much, but we'd also like to get home today.

Patrick: Ok, 21, here we come.

I'm sorry, but that's adorable. The word "jostle" cracks me up in and of itself, and the entire thing made me squeal a little bit with delight. That's cuuuuute! But who wants to see adorability like this routinely when we can watch hitmen and murderous weebles instead?

7. Try your hardest to make the aforementioned dashing, devoted, doting doctor look a little bit foolish

Not to be all conspiracy theory on you, but this sweater was a blatant attempt to make Patrick look silly, right?


I am reasonably sure that it is a woman's sweater, possibly from the junior's department. I'm just saying.

8. Instead of going out of your way to help viewers forget one of the single most gratuitous and ill-advised instances of murder in this show's history, which, considering the show in question is saying something and that something is bad, make sure to have the sister of the character you killed off for no good reason be found unconscious in the exact same position and the exact same spot as her dead sister because what the hell, right? Violence around the holidays is how we roll here and what do viewers love more than women dead and/or in jeopardy? Nothing!


This effing show.


This post is right on. Carly no words at all. This character has gotten more propping than any character on a soap and she's all goodness and light. Someone please blow her to bits.

Uh Nadine. Can't stand her. She's not fun and cute(and I am sure she is supposed to be) she is annoying as hell. And Nikolas has now become another bland boring love interest. I find nothing endearing or remotely cute or interesting about her, just plain annoying

And the Maxie scene. Bob Guza has zero sensitivity when it comes to women. Zero is all I can say. Georgie RIP you are still missed.

What happened to the writers from a few weeks ago that brought us the scrubs wedding and the birth of baby Emma? Clearly the same people are not writing this show.

Finally Robin and Patrick got their wedding and Baby Emma...Guza said the pregnancy would be in real time and how long did it take? almost a year...the last few weeks have been sooooo good...and yesterday was really sweet too...Patrick handling Robin and Baby like precious cargo....and a van? Patrick? traded his race car in for a van....now wouldn't it be nice to see how they handle life as Doctors with a new family, instead of Carly, carly, and more carly..and her drama..trying to justify why she heads back to Sonny every chance she gets when she already has a great husband who puts up with so much crap....it would serve her right if Jax did start spending time with Kate...
We get 10 minutes a day of Robin and Patrick if we are lucky and 40 minutes of Carly and the stupid things she does and her ignorant reasoning for what she does..and she thinks Jax doesn't love Michael and Morgan...she is never with them....
I wonder if TPTB realize that if they dump Robin, Patrick and Emma they will lose a lot of fans...They go I go and I'm sure a lot of other people will leave too...
They are so worried about losong fans but they don't have any idea how many they will lose if they get rid of scrubs..

"I think the writers and Producers need to take a month and study Y&R....maybe it would help them understnad how a real soap should be written and produced. They haven't been #1 for decades for nothing !!!"

The misogyny and propping of self-centered, incomprehensible jerks on that show these days would make Guza weep with envy.

Look up, Mallory. See that giant magnifying glass? Guza didn't manage to completely fry you with Georgie's death, so he's baaack with Maxie! GH's drop in ratings is Guza frying viewers one by one. (You just know he was one of those boys with a magnifying lens incinerating ants for fun...)

Your pix of the Duh Boys made me howl with laughter. Thank you for the GH stress relief.

It may be a first but I have to disagree about the whole Diane/Carly/Jax scene. It seemed pretty blatant to me that Diane did a 180 re the divorce as soon as Carly told her she was a) on the clock; b) would keep the boutique open for Di; and c) would give Di a 20% discount on anything and everything she wanted. After that Diane basically BS'd the entire thing. The "saint" line was over the top but that's what Diane does when she's fighting for her clients. She says and does whatever is necessary (not necessarily what she thinks is true).

Have to agree with the Nadine comments though -- CC is so cute and I dislike her SO MUCH now. Hard to believe Guza could bring out that level of dislike for what should be such a likeable character. Of course, I adore Liz and even my Liz love is stretched thin. Free Liz.

As a Diane lover/Carolyn Hennessy fangirl, I have to pipe up in Diane's defense that she doesn't believe those things... she's proven time and again that she thinks Carly is totally ridiculous. Howevs, Carly is a) paying her, and if I recall correctly she gets paid something like triple for every minute she spends with Carly, b) preparing for her court case, in which she will have to somehow defend Carlybabes, and c) thinking about the shoes Carly will let her have access to.

I got physically ill when I saw Maxie lying on those stairs... *shudders*

Those of you who pointed out Diane's probable thought process are likely right indeed! That makes sense. I think something in my brain snapped when I heard that Carly is a saint, so all of my comprehension skills went out the window. I do wish she looked a little sick to her stomach while waxing rhapsodic about Carly, if only to give a shoutout to the audience...

Actually, I think that it is perfect that they laid Maxie in the same way b/c it makes the story that I made up in my head all the more plausible (and the new head writer can use it when Guza get's fired... I don't mind).

So, basically Georgie is not dead.

The Russians had been following Georgie for some time and actually switched the real Georgie for a fake one... so when the TMK came upon "Georgie" in the park, and she was like "oh, it's you" (as opposed to, you know, screaming her head off at the dead-man-walking), b/c this "Georgie" had only read about Georgie's life in reports, and Deigo only came up as the guy that helped Lulu break up Georgie's marriage.
So yeah, the TMK killed "Georgie" NOT Georgie.

Now, I know you may be wondering why would the Russian's do this? It is simple: Frisco. Like I said, they had been following Georgie for awhile... and Maxie. But of course they found out that Maxie was the "bad seed" and Georgie was the "good one" that EVERYONE loved. So, if you are needing some help with keeping a super-spy in line, which daughter are you going to take? The good one that is soft and kind and wears her heart on her sleeve (& would therefore be easy to keep in line) or the bad one that's trouble (who goes around faking pregnancies and keeps cops' hopped-up on stolen drugs)? Exactly; they chose Georgie. But they didn't want her other dad Mac and the rest of her family/friends getting involved in trying to find their missing Jones' girl, so they switched her with a double. Unfortunately (for her), but still fortunate (for them) b/c their plan remained intact (and also, less likely to be discovered-- i.e. the impostor); "Georgie" was murdered by the TMK.

Their plan is basically all about using Georgie to keep Frisco doing what they want him to do. They have poisoned her and everyday she must get an antidote or she will die and if Frisco tries to rescue her or doesn't do what they want, she won't get the antidote. Does this sound (read) familiar? It should b/c that is what James Craig did to Nik (Craig had to get the drugs from somewhere!!)... the only difference is that Georgie's poisoning has caused her to lose her memory (Nik didn't lose his b/c of his tumor), so she believes that the Russian ppl assigned to "watch her" are her adoptive parents-- and so she lives a relatively normal life.

Now, this 'Maxie in the same position as "Georgie"' comes from the guy who was told to drug/dump Maxie as a warning to Sam/Jason/Sonny. This guy was at "Georgie's" crime scene and knows where her body was left... he also knows the real Georgie very well, and has fallen in love with her (b/c well, who wouldn't, it's freakin' Georgie Jones!). He doesn't like what his employers are doing to her and he doesn't want her to suffer anymore (remember the torture that Nik went through? Georgie is going through it as well, the only difference here is that Georgie believes it is b/c she has an illness and the "medicine" that she must take everyday as treatment for her disease is actually the antidote).... so he thought that drugging Maxie and leaving her in the same place that "Georgie" was found would somehow lead to ppl questioning and looking into Georgie's death. He knows that her family (Jones', Scorpio's) are super-smart and may actually be capable of putting 2 & 2 together. However, he cannot out-in-out say anything, b/c his employers are too powerful and he is too scared... so he has to be a bit covert: hence the super ridiculous coincidence of Maxie being left EXACTLY how Georgie was.

This would open up a whole slew of stories... of course I have a few mapped out: ...beginning with Dillon going location-scouting for a movie that he is working on with Ned, and he comes across Georgie (who because of the poison doesn't know of him or her previous life)... Dillon does a little sleuthing (remember that trip he went on with Lulu and Robin in the Jungle looking for Luke and Holly and Robert... so yeah, he is capable), figures out that Georgie is not quite right, and pretends that he is just an interested boy so that he can gain access to Georgie's home/life to get more information. When he realizes who he is dealing with (he's not THAT capable) he goes back to PC and enlists super-spies Robert and Anna ...and with the help of Frisco (recast his ass!) & Flea and of course some assistance from Mac and Sean, they bring down the Russian mob together and they bring Georgie back home (and Robin & Patrick cure her like they did Nik). With Kevin's help, Georgie regains her memory/life (& deals with the fact that she is no longer dying from an imaginary disease).
And of course, with Georgie back in PC, there is another viable ingenue for all of these young men in their 20's that they keep bringing onto my screen (they all can't and SHOULDN'T fall in love with Lulu!!!!!). Also, there should ALWAYS be a Maxie and Georgie love/sisterly-hate/rivalry. They are legacy children and are the future of GH.

I'm waiting for Patrick and Robin to be ruined. :( seriously. It's a matter of time before they too are destroyed somehow.

I CRINGE at Nadine's scenes. What in the hell? She acts like a jack ass and it's getting worse by the episode. Even Nikolas gives her the wtf look.

Yep, holidays are around the corner, which means it's time to increase the violence.

I FF through the Carly, Sonny, Jax, Kate, Olivia scenes.

Olivia and Sonny together, are more stomach turning than Carly and Sonny together. sigh.

I never comment on blogs, but I have to say I laugh my ass off reading yours. You have the best insight as to why this show sucks so bad!! I actually have no idea what the hell is going on with the mob crap. I fast forward everything except Scrubs. Makes the show about 15 minutes long which is great for my schedule. Once Scrubs is gone I can finally be free of this flipping show!!!

It is almost like GH wants to tank in the ratings. ANOTHER Mob War. Really? Seriously?

Put Robin, Patrick, Nikolas, even Lucky front and center. The gold of this show is in the Scorpio, Cassidine, Drake, Spencer potential. Give THIS foursome an adventure. Geez ole pete...more characters coming for Sonny and Zacharras?

No problem, just ff through it all. Takes me 10 minutes to watch a week of GH. Sad really. Just sad.

TAAAS is all that need be said really. Everyone else covered the rest.

Krist, Luza is such an effin hack. Just cancel all soaps minus Y & R and maybe OLTL and put us outta our misery really now...

I don't watch soaps anymore and I don't mind. Good job TV exes. You got the total destruction of TV. Dominoes are falling. Prime time and daytime sucks. Just wow...

If Jax really didn't settle for second best he'd never have divorced Alexis, and they'd be the cute "grown-up" version of Scrubs.

Nadine makes my eye twitch violently. She's one of those people that the very sight of makes me want to haul off with a 2X4 and bitchslap her back under the cow she crawled out from in the first place.

I have issues. Can you tell?

general hospital is not a good soap. it will be cancelled like guiding light.

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