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« Two Episodes in One! | Main | This Is How a Heart Breaks: Slowly, From Sadness and (Mostly) Frustration »

January 29, 2012

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

Our thoughts on General Hospital and The Bold & the Beautiful were featured in the January 31st issue of Soap Opera Digest.

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My Take
by Mallory Harlen 

GENERAL HOSPITAL’s disinterest in telling love stories is nothing new—I think we all know that if given the choice between a sweeping romance and a slow-motion shootout, GH will always choose the shootout — but it’s especially noticeable when therest of the world readies itself for Valentine’s Day. Love songs on the radio, pink and red decorations as far as the eye can see and then there’s Port Charles; poor, romantically bankrupt Port Charles.

Perhaps that’s overstating things a bit, because there are some truly happy couples. Lulu and Dante were finally married in a delightful, very them ceremony where the only negative was the complete lack of guests on the bride’s side; I know that the wedding coincided with Jonathan Jackson’s exit and that scheduling must have been tight, but it would have been nice to even see Lucky extend even the briefest of well-wishes to his sister over the phone. Steve and Olivia, too, can be classified as a happy couple—they can’t be classified as a couple in which both parties have two distinct personality traits (sorry, show, but “Memphis” is not a personality trait) , but happy? Sure.

The rest of the show is where love takes a backseat to misery. There are the couplings with serious stalker undertones (watching Anthony court Tracy is basically like sitting through a sexual harassment seminar. Bruce Weitz and Jane Elliott should sue) and the couples who are allowed approximately four seconds of happiness. Robin and Patrick have shared some incredibly sweet scenes recently that were almost impossible to enjoyas the omnipresent “Something BAD is going to happen to ROBIN! BAD! And SAD!” foreshadowing was practically suffocating. Jason and Sam were finally married aftera long and often-turbulent courtship (it’s not every couple that can move past one half witnessing the kidnapping of the other half’s son, and also one partner making veiled threats to kill the other, so more power them, I guess) and barely had the chance to behappy before disaster struck, in the form of Franco drugging them both and possibly raping the bride on their honeymoon. I know that the saying goes that happy couples automatically become boring couples, but soap writers, I assure you: the happiest of couples can still be must-see TV if the writing is good.


Not even former couples can escape the show’s distaste for romance and nowhere is that more evident than in GH’s attitude towards Luke and Laura. If you’ve been remembering them as a legendary pairing and a happy, exciting couple, you’re remembering wrong and GH has a whole host of characters who will tell you just how wrong you are. See, it turns out that Luke and Laura are actually an example of how horrible love is and how emasculating a family can be. This has actually been said multiple times, by multiple characters, and it baffles me (and, fine, enrages me) every time: the show won’t give us heart in 2012, but they have to take away the romance we enjoyed in the 80s and 90s? That just seems needlessly cruel.

 

My Take, Too
by Louise Schwarz

2012 has started very bittersweet for soap viewing. The most fun and exciting show as 2011 ended was the one we’re saying goodbye to. The others? Well, GENERAL HOSPITAL ended the year with an image of two unconscious people bleeding in the snow. THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL ended with a tedious on-location love quad that consisted mostly of shots lingering on somewhat vacant faces with pretty scenery in the background (they probably should have mentioned tequila a little less because it only served to remind the audience how much more fun the Steffy/Liam/Hope/Thomas quad would be after a few margaritas). Let’s just say the outlook is grim. A commiserating friend suggested I might lift all our spirits by suggesting some New Year’s resolutions to the characters we know and…well, sometimes love. On a really good day.

Let’s start with B&B: Liam Spencer, please resolve to make a decision and stick to it. Once. Ever. Brooke, Ridge, and Taylor, please resolve to suppress your interest in the sex lives of your offspring. It’s icky. Bill, please resolve to stop lying to your wife and lusting after your daughter-in-law, it doesn’t make you as hot as you clearly think you are. Amber, please resolve to find a storyline that doesn’t involve getting knocked up, and bring your mother back to the show! Owen and Oliver, resolve to show up? Hope, please resolve to loosen up a bit. Live a little! Nick, please resolve not to be some sort of mugging comic relief and get your very capable self a real story! Deacon, resolve to take some of your newly minted downtime and visit. Thomas, pleaseresolve not to propose marriage to someone who hasn’t even agreed to date you. And Steffy, oh Steffy. Please resolve to find a little self-respect and lose your abandonment issues with your father since he never abandoned you. And for heaven’s sake, eat a french fry.

Things are a little more dire over at GH. Fingers crossed that the new showrunners bring some light to the show, literally and figuratively! Diane, please resolve to go back to lawyering so we can watch you snark on your clients. Spinelli, please resolve to never again revert to Jackal, P.I.,and to try to find some better way to relate to human beings without being such a sad sack about it. Michael, please resolve to stop being so insufferable and actually try to grow up a little – the “Daddy won’t give me a job!” temper tantrums aren’t any more appealing than your constant self-righteous lectures to everyone in town. Franco, please resolve to never return. Jason, please resolve to randomly sprout the apparently tremendous amount of insight it takes to realize that the way to support your traumatized wife is not to take off to parts unknown to murder someone. Alexis, please resolve to find a romance that is worthy of you. Sonny and Kate, please shut up about Bensonhurst forever. Luke, please shut up about everything forever. No one thinks you’re cool. And Elizabeth, oh Elizabeth. Resolution of the Year: birth control. Get down and dirty with whoever you want to, but for the sake of all our sanity. Birth control! 

Comments

how about carly birth control or alexis they both have the same amount of children with the same amount of fathers and carly, whose firstborn had a possible 3 dads and then could have been preganant again by her then husband or from limo sex w/her ex, is actually trying to whore herself out to a guy who is young enough to be her kid, liz has had sex in at least 2yrs and doesn't look to be chasing anyone. or how about sonny put on a raincoat, how many kids does the man have by how many women. or sam the chick who threatened to abort her baby unless she got what she wanted and there were 2 daddy's for that poor kid. i'm really sick of people bringing up her kids when there are others on screen that are in the same situation, except liz has in the 14+ yrs on screen only slept with 5 guys and 4 out of them she slept with after knowing them for years, can you say that about any of the other people on this show, no not even the young adults. so please if you are going to criticise a character please don't forget to bring up the other characters who are in the same situation or worse.

RH was pregnant twice in real life which resulted in lazy azz Guza writing two stupid WTD story lines that resulted in Cam and Aiden. Realistically, Liz should only have one child on the show and that would have been Jake if TIIC hadn't killed the four year off by having his drunk bum of a grandfather who was never arrested as the hit and run driver.

Besides, as noted above, Liz has only been with five men over the course of 14 1/2 years on the show and isn't trying to whore herself out like Carly is doing with Johnny or using sex as a weapon a la Sam with every man that she meets (Jax, Sonny, Jason, Ric, Lucky, and back to Jason), plus Nico who showed up with Sam back in 2004 and of course, the five men that Sam married and ripped off! The only reason Sam has not been in a lot of WTD story lines is because the character spends most of her time sitting on Jason's couch or bungling some adventure story.

One last thing, I don't understand why Sam could ask Dr. Lee for a paternity test and not admit she had "maybe rape sex" and needed to be checked out for HIV or STD! Why hasn't Jason gone to the doctor to see if his wife gave him a STD? Seriously. Sam and Jason are both totally irresponsible when it comes to their sexual health! Blech.

Michael and the mob... I hope that ends with the new regime. I think we could all appreciate Michael putting this obsession to rest and to stop asking people to join the mob, since this story arc has been done to death with the character.

That's pretty much been what Michael has tried to do since he awoke from his coma, and even his childhood was spent acting like a little mini-mobster, ordering Jason to murder people simply because he didn't like him.

Y'all, I had a word count maximum!

Regarding Louise's post on GH, I don't understand the Liz slam at the end. There's enough of that nonsense uttered on the show. I'd rather Liz get a romance that's worthy of her than 'down and dirty.'

I don't just think that Elizabeth is the character that needs to have a candid talk about birth control. Damn near ALL of the characters need to have a discussion on good birth control. Men included. Sonny has 4(known) biological kids by 4 different women. Jason and Elizabeth had an illegit kid, thanks to faulty condoms. Which gives them a pass. Tracy wasn't expecting Dillon. Luke was gifted with Ethan. Lulu got knocked up(and did you know that SHE HAD AN ABORTION?) by Dillon. Alexis has had 3 kids that she didn't plan on having. Carly had 3 potential daddies for Michael and actually Jocelyn's paternity was sort of up in the air. Since Carly had sex with both Sonny and Jax. Robin and Patrick weren't planning on Emma, but a faulty condom was at work again. Sam got knocked up with Lila. Monica had her daughter years ago out of wedlock. Edward too. A teen(or preteen)Olivia was knocked up with Dante.

Would it kill the writers have the cast have a sincere talk about birth control? How about having tween Molly ask someone at the hospital? Someone like Elizabeth. It has been established that Elizabeth can't use regular birth control due to her adverse reaction when Rick was dousing her with bc during the Carly locked up saga. Elizabeth is a nurse and damn it, she should know some stuff. Have her start the conversation and then have Molly draw in her sister(s) and Mom. Hell, perhaps even have Sonny and Carly sucked into the storyline.

I wasn't slamming Liz. I'm just tired of the writers being unable to come up with new storylines for her, and hoping 2012 gives her stories other than pregnancy since that always seems to be the go-to.

I agree with Louise. It's not that Liz is the only one who needs a birth control lesson, but other characters are in dire need of other lessons more important than birth control (ex. support your traumatized wife!). I see Louise's resolution for Liz as a compliment!

Wow. My eyes must have slipped right past the part where Louise called Liz a dirty McSlutWhore, because I could have sworn that all she did was make a little joke about the writers' tiresome inability to write stories for her that don't revolve around her uterus lately.

Which, um... is true? And as a Liz fan, I'm pretty tired of it too? Thanks, Louise.

I know that I don't think that Louise is bad mouthing Elizabeth. For me, it is just annoying that Elizabeth was the only character called out on their poor control of contraception.

I don't know why the writers have had this distain for writing about Liz for sometime now. I'm having a hard time remembering the last big storyline that was actually about her, not focusing on her being pregnant, getting pregnant or her children being in danger. Even her being hospitalized for being thrown overboard by a crazied killer ended up being about Lucky and a sick Aiden. I'm not sure about holding out for a Matt or Ewen storyline. Those storylines could spin into different directions.

stlbf, I don't think it's the same situation, though. It's true that both Carly and Alexis have the same number of kids (and don't even get me started on Sonny), but all of them also get other stories, and their various WTD plots were all years ago. Whereas Liz's are much more recent and also, as you say, inform every single major story she's gotten in the last few years. That's why she (i.e. the writers) needs the resolution more than they do.

"Regarding Louise's post on GH, I don't understand the Liz slam at the end. There's enough of that nonsense uttered on the show. I'd rather Liz get a romance that's worthy of her than 'down and dirty.'"

It was a joke, not a slam, but it raised a valid point that Liz's uterus is used way too much as a plot point for her character. There are so many more interesting facets for the writers to delve into where Liz is concerned and they always fall back on this one. It's a weakness that I hope will be addressed. Almost felt like it was when Ethan said that there was so much more to her than being Lucky's first love and a good mother. Tweaking by RC, I hope.

Thanks to the weirdness of SORASing, TFGH has thrown the new generation of PC legacy kids into chaos. Kristina and Morgan were born in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Molly was born in 2005. Spencer in 2006. Youngest kids now? Cameron--born 2004(and Jake was born in 2007), Emma(2008) and Jocelyn(2009).

I'm just saying that you can't claim that all of these unplanned pregnancies happened ages ago. These have happened in the last decade. All of these people have made this same mistake. In the not so distant past.

Still think that GH should have a very frank on screen discussion on different forms of birth control.

And yes, Liz does need a freaking real storyline. Her being a mom has been her only take on any plot. The writers write for Carly. They sort of remember to write for Alexis and Robin.

I really didn't mean to rant about Liz, but I am so tired of the character in these lame WTD stories just because RH was pregnant in real life.

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