Why you should be watching General Hospital

…if you’re not already a fan!  If you think this blog reads like a love letter to #GH, you’re damned right it is!  This show is not just good, it is the best it has been in a very long time!  Why should you watch?  I could give you as many reasons as there are cast members, but here are my big four:

1 – Balance, balance, and more balance.  

When I last walked away from General Hospital as a consistent viewer, lead and supporting characters were one of three types: Mobsters, Mob Molls, or Mob affiliated. Having more than 35 years invested in this soap, I can remember when the show was about family drama and intrigue, romance and mystery.  I see so much more of that now than before the mob takeover.  Ric Lansing is back and he’s sworn off his former mob ties.  At least for now, the story is that he has come back  to reconnect with the only woman who ever truly loved him and who wasn’t looking for a life on the edge.  Hell, he WAS the edge the last time he and Elizabeth were together.  In scenes that I love like sunshine, we also see him back and reconnecting with his daughter Molly, whose only father figure has been  her uncle and Ric’s brother, Sonny Corinthos.  Keep in mind that Sonny was also her mother’s former lover, the father of one of her sisters, and the former lover of another sister.  The mob was so well integrated into the show that even family members were sleeping with and having children with the same mob boss (yeah, yeah, Sam didn’t know that Alexis was her mother, at the time).  Bigger twist?  Sam’s  child with Sonny is delivered stillborn and provides the stem cells that Kristina, his daughter with Alexis, needs to survive.

You need a truckload of Advil and at least 12 of your 14 vacation days to pull apart the twisted family tree GH writers created in order to sell the mob storyline.

The mob had become so important that even Justus Ward, whose family was made up of  prominent social activists in the Port Chuckles community, became another mob mouthpiece.  He eventually lost his life and was stuffed in the trunk of a car, as a result of his affiliation with Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan (Jason being a cousin to Justus).  It lacked dignity and was shockingly bad given the history of the Ward family.   The Ward family was part of the extended Quartermaine family but respected in their own right before the Q connection.  Prior to the writers’ belief that “mob magic” was so potent that fans would root for almost all characters to fall under the spell of Sonny and the various mob kingpins, I had hope that Justus, as the remaining onscreen Ward family member, would be spared.

The ultimate betrayal of fan trust came, for me, when Jasper “Jax” Jacks was deconstructed, transitioning from an educated ruthless billionaire corporate raider, to a man on the run from both Sonny’s empire of aggression and from the law for daring to protect his and Carly’s duaghter, Josslyn.  From what you ask?  From living her life in the path of a stray bullet that was almost as likely to take her life, as the bullet that put big brother Michael Corinthos in a coma – stealing his childhood and most of his adolescence. Michael spent years, after waking up, dealing with recovering from that stray bullet.  The bullet and resulting coma pushed his childhood kidnapping out of contention as the worst thing to ever happen to him.  Damn that Jasper Jacks for not realizing that kidnapping and bullets to the head can be character builders for children, not just childhood trauma!

Now? That sort of storytelling appears to be long gone!  Even the introduction of Parry Shen’s “Brad” is not a celebration of mob life.  Brad Cooper is the son, and grandson, of 80’s Asian Quarter mob kingpins.  Brad enters as a (mostly) upstanding citizen, barely shadier than the rest of Port Chuckles’ residents.  For now he has sworn off his mob family history and is a GH physician.  It was touch and go at the beginning of his introduction, but he is currently in the same hot mess so many of our PC citizens find themselves in.  Instead of mob molls and mob affiliated characters, we’re back to honest business leaders, police officers who aren’t on the take, as well as (and this will surprise you) drama at General Hospital that is about the hospital, nurses, and the doctors! Shocking, I know.

Even more shocking? I find myself liking Sonny, more, now that the GH universe is no longer centered around canonizing GH’s resident mob boss.  There are many stories to be told in Port Charles and the writers are making sure they tell as many of them as they can.

F’Love

2.  Diversity is a real thing on GH and not just something the cool kids are trying.

From the Asian Quarter, to Tom and Simone Hardy, to the introduction of the Ward family followed by Miguel/Lily/Sonny, GH has struggled with integrating diverse characters into the show in a way that is neither stereotypical nor exaggerated.  The Ward family marks, for me, GH’s first real, and nearly successful, attempt at getting it right, including the Jason/Keisha/AJ triangle:

Now?  Diversity on GH is not about check boxes and clunky integration. Diversity just IS on this show, it’s organic. Characters aren’t remarkable/ good/ evil/frontburner, because they can be used to show that daytime is finally catching up with the rest of the world.  Diverse characters and their families on GH aren’t getting airtime for the publicity they bring a show.  They are seamlessly integrated into the show and their time spent on air is character driven, not storyline driven!  Their lives are about the characters themselves and not about the reaction of others around them.

Brad/Felix/Lucas.  Like any triangle, there are winners and losers.  Both Felix and Lucas have been betrayed by Brad, so watching them grow closer feels right.  The writers have handled this one perfectly.  I want Felix and Lucas to become a real couple, but like any couple brought together out of betrayal and hurt feelings, I have to wonder if either (or both) will end up waking up one morning wanting Brad back.  While that would crush my love for Felix and Lucas – which I will survive, I know that I can accept it because it is no different than what takes place with any other triangle.  I am thrilled that their storyline  isn’t about helping any of the three overcome bigotry-inflicted shame, and that it’s not about being closeted and fearful.  There is a time and place for that type of storytelling, but there is also room for the stories of others -those whose sexuality is not about morbid fascination from the outside.  Brad/Felix/Lucas are telling a story about conflict, love, anger and forgiveness. I am impressed.

Jordan/Shawn. I’ll admit it.  I’m on record stating that the glow Jordan gives is not a halo but hellfire.  I thought that Shawn would have been smart to run in the opposite direction whenever he saw Jordan coming.  I was wrong.  I was SO VERY wrong.  What I love most about Jordan and Shawn, is that their storyline is almost 30 years in the making.  Do they remind you of anyone else?  For me Jordan/Shawn/TJ are the 2000s version of Anna/Robert/Robin.  It’s not an exact retelling, but it’s close enough.  I have been longing for a return to the WSB and it’s glory days and GH is giving it to me by the bucket full… it’s just a little more understated.  Jordan/Anna comes to town with a shady past and possibly sketchier future.  Instead Jordan/Anna is DEA/WSB and the other big issue she has on her plate, one that fills her time when she’s not bringing down bad guys, is dealing with a child (TJ/Robin) whose life has been shrouded by a huge secret.

The focus isn’t on what they bring to the table as “people of color”, it’s what they bring to the table as people.  Each individual is layered and nuanced and the minute you think you know any of the members of this family, a new layer is peeled away.  At her introduction, the audience asked:  Was Jordan back to seduce Shawn and force him to take her in as he’d taken in TJ?  Was she back to reclaim her beloved son?  Was she using her son to cover her shady connection to the Jeromes?  Just when we couldn’t figure out her game, she’s revealed as a DEA agent, in town to clean up PC and find the real drug kingpin.  STOP NOW!

If this storyline and this show gets any better, I’ll be looping it all day long and ignoring all other entertainment.  Jordan’s story now makes me question Shawn, in particular, and now I wonder what the rest of his story is.  Jordan, the DEA agent, would surely never have entrusted the care of her beloved son to a man who was a killer.  What does she know about Shawn that either he is hiding or that doesn’t know about himself because someone else is hiding the truth from him?

I can’t wait to find out.

3.  Women as diversity? Yes.  Women who are strong?  Hell yes!

Tracy Q., Carly, and Alexis are, for the moment, in a downward shame spiral, in my opinion.  I can accept that more easily, at this time, because they are the exception, no longer the rule.  The women of GH have become strong, smart, and capable of standing on their own.  Are they perfect?  No, but they’re so far ahead of where the women of this show were just a few short years ago.

They’ve transitioned from being either dedicated mob molls (Carly, Robin, Kate/Connie, Olivia) or paid mob mouthpieces (Alexis, Diane).  In some cases, they were both (again, Alexis and Diane).

No matter which side of morality/decency/the law we find them, I am thrilled to see Anna, Jordan, Ava, Lucy, Felicia, Britt, Obrecht, Lulu, and others being treated as women with hearts AND brains!  There will be a time, I’m sure, when the currently weak GH women, and, yeah – I’m looking at YOU Tracy Quartermaine, will step up to the plate and become strong again, but the balance of women in distress with women taking charge is refreshing.

There have been times when women on GH have felt more like window dressing than people.  This is not one of those times.

4. There are almost no weak links on this show, currently.

I’m just not crazy about Sabrina and Patrick. I can’t see a situation that would cause me to root for them as a couple.  They simply fall flat for me.  Even still, I don’t see them as a “weak link”.  I can see what the show’s fans like about them.  I just don’t feel it.  Sabrina and Carlos, I get.  Sabrina with Patrick feels more ike “Flowers in the Attic’ or “Petals in the Wind” than a romantic couple ,for me.

I truly despise Carly and Franco. I cannot understand the writers’ thinking in trying to reform Franco and in making him a frontburner character.  Somehow, it feels to me as if Franco should still be a character in the shadows or, more importantly, not a viable character at all.  I will accept the very few things I dislike about this show and continue to enjoy those things I love most.  GH is currently the only show on the air that I can say that about – a show whose positives far outweigh its negatives.

If you haven’t been watching GH, you’re missing a lot!  It’s that good.

 

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Posted on May 25, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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