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« General Hospital: Killing Machine | Main | Robin-athon! »

February 05, 2008

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

For those who didn't get a chance to pick up the 2/8 issue of Soap Opera Digest, fear not, you can check out our columns after the jump.  Becca tells the GH writers to take off their well-worn Bad Idea Jeans, because the murders of Emily and Georgie were some seriously awful storytelling.  Meanwhile, Mallory is willing -- nay, eager! -- to suspend disbelief when it comes to soaps, but thinks there has to be a line somewhere, and the line is a dot to AMC and Y&R lately.  It's a tragic day in soapdom when GH looks ethically consistent by comparison.

My Take
By Becca Thomas

Lately, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s wardrobe department has been much improved—I haven’t recoiled in horror at an outfit on GH in at least a month. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those behind the scenes; the people who created some of GH’s current front-burner storylines seem to be wearing their Bad Idea Jeans.

First, there’s Emily and Nikolas. I was just starting to like this couple again when GH capped off its awful Black And White Ball story with Emily’s murder. Then, just as suddenly as she was gone, she was back. As a really happy ghost who has access to a great stylist and makeup artist in the afterlife. Or, as we have now learned, a really happy figment of Nikolas’s tumor-addled brain (still with the great hair and makeup, though, so there’s that). In what alternate universe did this seem like a good idea? Since she was strangled and then her corpse was seen and moved around by half of Port Charles, Emily seems to be truly dead (GH isn’t DAYS OF OUR LIVES, after all). Is an ill Nikolas making out with his imaginary fiancée for several months supposed to be romantic? Unless "poor Natalia Livingston" was what the writers wanted running through my mind during these scenes, this whole story was incredibly off the mark.

Lest you think those Bad Idea Jeans were an isolated incident, consider the murder of Georgie Jones. We don’t yet know whether the same killer is responsible for her death and Emily’s, but the same poor storytelling is certainly at work. Maxie and Georgie could have been GH’s future -- sisters, legacy kids that viewers grew up with. Imagine the two of them as the show’s leading ladies a few years down the road, scheming-but-charming Maxie vs. studious-but-unlucky-in-love Georgie. Instead, viewers were treated to Georgie’s senseless and gratuitous murder, complete with a shot of the coroner closing the body bag around her. Lovely Kirsten Storms has been amazing portraying Maxie’s grief, and John J. York shined as Mac (one of the few times we’ve seen him in recent years as something other than a bumbling cop being outsmarted by the glorious mob). But a few weeks of great performances aren’t worth the loss of a character tied to the show’s history who could have been a star in its future. The one possible good thing to come out of this horrible mess of a multi-month arc is that Lindze Leatherman is freed up to be, say, a recast Abby on DAYS. I can totally see her as Matthew Ashford’s daughter and the Max/Stephanie romance (which I’ve finally come around to thanks to the actors’ chemistry, pseudo-related characters be darned) will need a meddling ingénue.

So take off those Bad Idea Jeans, GH bigwigs, and put these idiotic death tales in the past. I hear a rumor that you can actually tell soapy stories without killing off a main character once a month. If I promise you a new wardrobe, will you give it a try?

My Take, Too
By Mallory Harlen

The most important lesson I learned when I started watching soaps was that sometimes, a healthy suspension of disbelief is a necessity. Like how a day on a soap can stretch for weeks in real world time (this lesson served me well when PASSIONS debuted and the first day in Harmony went on for eight months). You just have to shrug your shoulders and go with it.

The same goes for ethics in the soap world: Most of what we see on soaps would lead to jail time in the real world, meaning that we’d either get a show taking place solely in prison or an hour of television filled with the show’s most squeaky clean characters. Neither option sounds appealing, so I’m grateful that soaps have a lax moral compass. However, would it kill the writers to be consistent in the morality on their own show? It’s baffling to see the unsavory actions of some characters explained away while other characters do the exact same things and are held up as the show’s villains. For all of my complaining about the skewed moral code on GENERAL HOSPITAL, it, at least, is consistent: Whatever Jason says is right (for a cold-blooded killer, he’s a very good judge of character). But if we’re holding GH up as something to aspire to, we’ve entered a very dark era.

The Adam/Krystal/Tad triangle on ALL MY CHILDREN is made up of three people who have all broken the law to suit their own needs, yet only Adam is written as evil. Tad doesn’t want Adam around Jenny because he tried to sell her (fair enough), but while he and Krystal repeatedly wait that Adam was horrible, they did everything in their power to keep a baby away from her mother when they lied and falsified paternity tests so that Babe could keep Miranda. Krystal was even going to keep Jenny away from Tad and pretend Adam was her father, and only came clean when someone else spilled the beans. Yet Adam is the only bad guy. It’s not like he’s the one who buried someone alive, Tad.

YOUNG AND RESTLESS has a similar sliding scale when it comes to morals. Jack Abbott is the show pariah, denigrated for his law-breaking. Which is fine, except that the people calling him out are criminals themselves. Brad likes to self-righteously denounce Jack for lying, but I’m pretty sure we all sat through an endless story about Brad lying about his past for decades that culminated with Brad killing someone with his thighs. Jack’s other nemesis, Gloria, delights in seeing him get his just desserts all the while spending another year without getting caught for tainting the Jabot cream. Or for her and Kevin repeatedly hacking into the Jabot computer system. Or drugging Jill and Ji Min. (To say nothing of her myriad crimes against fashion.) A little consistency, people!


Lindze Leatherman as Abby Deveraux is probably the best idea ever. At least at Days we know if they kill her off eventually she'll be found on some island!

I'm finished with The Young and The Restless, but I'll continue reading your columns because I love the way you give 'em hell!

There's no longer an consistency with the characters. For instance, Kevin showed no interest whatsoever in the computer when he was first on the show, then all of a sudden, he became a computer expert. Gloria, knew nothing of fashion, didn't even have a job and suddenly she thinks she's qualified to run Jabot! And now we have Daniel. Daniel, who has never shown ANY interest in photography is suddenly pimping his "camera skills" out to seasoned photographers. Puhleeze.

I didn't see this sooner, but Amen. I could go on and on and on about the complete hypocrisy of Tad vs. Adam. Tad was once my most favorite character of all times. In my head I fanwanked everything he did. I could make up excuses from now until Tuesday for Tad, but the minute he no longer owned any of his past deeds and became holier than thou to just about everyone, but mostly Adam & JR, that's when I dropped any and all Tad love and quit with the excuses. If Tad showed one ounce of remorse or reflection for his past behavior while he was berating Adam or revelling in JR "doing the right thing" taking responsibility for hitting Zach while he was drunk, maybe a slight look in his eyes to acknowledge that HE never did take full responsibility (any for that matter)for burying Madden and torturing him until his ultimate demise and then let Zach take the fall for it. TAD, Jr knows you did it. It wasn't confirmed one way or another on screen, but Jamie knew and they implied it to JR in Tad's office. Don't be such a schmuck Tad, it hurts me to hate you as much as I do. It is reaching Lavery proportions and that's not good.

TPTB should just give these people hats that discern what they are story be damned, either they do heinous things and are "good" and we just accept is as such and know there will never be any character growth or developement from their actions, or they do many acceptable and kind things for their loved ones or even their enemies, and they are "bad" so we just breathe a sigh of relief that the good people finally got one over on that bastard and he did something good not because he (I'm thinking Adam, but it could be anyone)is changing or is truly good deep down, but because the good people got to win this time.

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