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.
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!