General Hospital – Shattering the “soap ceiling”

GH Port Charles EveningNot a soap fan? Then you have probably been conditioned to view the genre as the product of melodramatic plots made even sillier by scene chewing acting.  If you watched daytime in its lean years (or lean decades), you wouldn’t be too far from wrong.  I say that as a soap fan who still hangs her head in shame while recalling some of daytime’s very worst efforts.

If you are unfortunate enough to have never watched a soap but somehow managed to catch yesterday’s General Hospital (#GeneralHospital #GH), what you witnessed was daytime breaking the “soap ceiling”.  The Luke’s Childhood reveal isn’t a “daytime plot”.  It’s prime time, big screen, the theater,  or all of the above.  It was so well crafted and so beautifully executed that the writers have set an impossibly high standard for any genre that wants to use this same storyline to a similar effect. It also sets an incredibly high standard for the show, beyond this storyline.  Where can you go after this reveal? I don’t know but if this storyline is the evidence for where daytime is headed, in general, and GH in particular, I am a happy viewer

Rarely have soap writers been as successful as  and crew in reminding us that soaps are about drama, not melodrama.  They are about human emotions and experiences, not special effects and outlandish plots.  When soaps are at their best, they make you forget that you are suspending disbelief and instead leave you feeling as if you are surreptitiously watching people you know.  You have become the nosy neighbor, peeking through your neighbors windows and learning far more than you ever believed was possible.  You have learned more than you want to know, and still less than you should.  It is the latter feeling that keeps you coming back.

General Hospital’s writers took all of daytime – past, present and future, along for a master class, yesterday.  Tony Geary, as Luke Spencer, breathed life into a powerfully written script that made fictional Luke’s pain as real as any emotion the viewer has felt. In one beautifully crafted episode which was supported by more than a year of plot twists and turns, we understood more about Luke Spencer than we’ve been able to understand in decades of viewing him in action. Fans only thought they knew Luke Spencer.  The Shakespearean act of Luke accidentally killing his mother, and intentionally killing his father on the same night, laid bare his soul:

Tragedy

Was it the boy who accidentally killed his helpless mother who:

— seemed unable to love his children in the way they needed to be loved? Luke has always taken a back seat to their daily care and was, at best, emotionally distant from his children.  Yet, he was also the first one on the scene when they were in danger.  He loved his children, but always seemed fearful of being too close to them. He was more friend than father. Was he afraid that a deeply emotional engagement would flip the switch and turn him into his father? Tim warned Luke that he would one day see his father’s face staring back at him in the mirror.  He warned Luke that they were the same person.  The horror!

— could not embrace Carly, long after Bobbie had forgiven her?   Is it that Carly reminded him too much of the mother he loved?  Was Carly’s behavior an affront to Lena’s memory, or had he wished that Lena was strong, like Carly, and able to fight back against a tyrant like Tim? Did Carly’s behavior make him wonder if his mother would be there with him, had she not been so afraid of her worthless husband?

— faulted Laura for  her “weakness” in the presence of the Cassadines?  Better than anyone else, Luke knew what it meant for a woman to be rendered powerless by a monster far less evil than the Cassadine clan.  Was he angry at Laura for fearing him (as Lena feared Tim) and not being able / willing to tell him the truth about Nikolas?  Did it remind him that he was, at least once in their shared history, the monster Tim said he would become?

Tim ScreamingWas it the boy who intentionally killed his abusive father that led Luke to:

— begin his relationship with Laura in a way that was nothing short of abusive and violent, resulting in him raping her?

— become an anti-hero who could never truly commit to standing on one side of the law because the circumstances of his parents’ deaths made it clear that he was neither hero nor villain? Luke has always had one foot on the right side of the law with the other far beyond the boundary.

— tolerate the likes of Sonny and other dark souls because he, at an unconscious level, knew his soul was darkened by this secret, as well?

— avoid romantic relationships all together?  How could Luke truly commit to any woman without the specter of the family’s abuse tainting every moment of happiness?  His relationship with Tracy has been the most serious relationship he has experienced since Laura.  Is it the thought of being in a committed relationship too much for him?  Was his happiness with Tracy the catalyst in triggering the D.I.D?

I am looking forward the writers addressing the impact of Luke’s secrets on how has lived his life.  This one episode, decades in the making, more than a year in revealing, and 60 minutes in playing out, as moved me in a way I have rarely been moved by any soap.  Today, this soap fan is hanging her head high!

All I want from the writers is MORE!  Please!

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General Hospital: What’s not to love about this show?

MichaelQ Sonny CarlyClearly, becoming a Quartermaine has made Michael SMARTER!  He has seen through Lord Larry in record time, dumped his duplicitous parents, and stopped accepting excuses from everyone who keeps claiming they want to love and protect him – while plotting to keep him in the dark about the “fundamental truth of his life”.  Sonny killed his father and was aided and abetted by  his mother. Taking a life is such an inhuman act, even on soaps.  To have it treated as a minor altercation was mind blowing, so I’m glad that the writers have finally stopped treating the violence on the show as commonplace and trivial.  Watching Michael turn his back on his parents was a thing of beauty (and I say this as someone who LONG ago supported Sonny and Carly protecting Michael from AJ).  Sonny and Carly were never innocents, and AJ was never all bad, but there was a point at which they were able to be parents and deserved to love Michael without the constant threat of losing him… then came the kidnappings, and presumed deaths, and the violence that was so outrageous it lead to Michael falling into a coma after a bullet meant for Sonny landed in his brain. That was followed up by Michael’s enforcer dreams, Michael taking a life, a prison sentence,  and sexual violation.  It became impossible for me to see how they could ever be considered anything other than an unmitigated disaster in that kid’s life.

If we were having this conversation out loud, you might be tempted to tell me that:  Franco was responsible for Michael’s rape (or more like Franco’s associate).  Faith Rosco kidnapped Michael.  Claudia was responsible for Michael’s coma and for the fact that he ended up taking her life.  Yeah, got all of that… and yet all of it is tied to the fact that these were people gunning for his father, aimed at hurting his father and mother, and Michael became “collateral damage” along the way.  At no point was Sonny ever allowed by the writers to show growth and put his family before lifestyle… yes, he tried to break free and couldn’t because of the power vacuum it created and the additional risk to his children… got it… the writers could have had Sonny leave his family and watch over them from a distance.  They didn’t.  In Sonny Corinthos they created a character who is loathsome, selfish, vain, and hateful despite his dimples (shame on Lucy and FCarly Is Arrestedelicia).  By the time he got around to daily threatening to kill a pregnant Ava once her child was born, he was done, in my book.

It felt good to watch AJ ‘s son walk away from the dark, unsalvageable, things his parents became. Carly faulted Franco for Michael’s rape… and then fell in love with him… and then threw the rape of her son in his face when he exposed her as a cheat and liar.  Was Michael’s pain never in her mind before that?  Every time that man touched her did she not feel sick thinking of what happened to her son?  Was Michael’s rape a weapon she was waiting to use any time they had a disagreement?  Franco becomes angry that she didn’t do the dishes so she tells him she’s still mad he was responsible for her son’s rape?  I’m guessing it would have also been a useful argument in getting him to mow the lawn, take down the Christmas tree, do laundry, etc.

Michael’s emotional upset at watching her get close to Franco was never the tipping point?  Carly’s “love” for Franco, and willingness to marry him, was more about protecting Sonny than making sure Michael did not have to re-live one of the worst times in his short life – and there have been so many awful times for that child.  She even allowed her son to be the best man at their failed wedding.  What kind of mother does that?  She continues to say that Franco blew her family apart, not Sonny’s depraved act of killing AJ.  It was Franco, not the fact that she lied and put herself between her son and the truth for Sonny’s sake.  Nope.  It’s all Franco.  Useless.  Carly’s lack of insight into the damage she’s caused to others is frightening.  It was entertaining when she was young.  It’s migraine inducing as she ages.  Ages is supposed to bring wisdom.  Instead, it only seems to bring gag inducing helpings of stupidity and cruelty for Carly.  She becomes more selfish in time, not less.

In a soap-to-soap mashup?  I would expect a “worst mother/daughter/sister” of the year face off between GH’s Carly, BnB’s Brooke Logan, and DAYS’ Sami Brady.  I think the title would be a fight to the finish between Brooke and Carly, or at least a tie.

Sonny is BookedOddly enough, only Sonny seems to be experiencing any true remorse.  Carly is still raging at the world and trying to force her son to love her and respect her again (a right I think she’s given up by protecting Sonny when even she should have been disgusted with him).  Sonny is willing to suffer the consequences of his betrayal of AJ’s son, the child he made a promise to love and protect, long ago, finally realizing that he allowed his hatred for AJ, disguised as love for Connie, mattered more than every day he ever spent raising and nurturing Michael.  At least the writers have allowed Sonny to show some insight into his behavior.  I don’t think they will ever allow Carly to grow up and learn that her actions have consequences.  I no longer care if they do.  I will simply cherish the moments of seeing handcuffs slapped on Carly and having her spend some time behind bars.  While I see zero hope for Carly, I do see hope for Sonny (if the constantly swirling rumors of Maurice Benard’s leaving aren’t true).  I don’t want Sonny in Michael’s life again, but I would love for the writers to take this opportunity to reinvent Sonny.  Let him be someone completely different from the man he has been all these years.  Benard is such a gifted actor with so many more stories he could help tell, I hope that happens, for the sake of the show and its fans.

What I love most?

There is one more Quartermaine in the world of Port Chuckles, and after losing Alan, Lila, Edward, and Tracy, I am happy to see Michael back in the fold.  What’s that?  Tracy hasn’t passed away?  She may as well be gone, given her repeated betrayal of her family and her willingness to put them all at risk for the sake of “love” for a man she clearly doesn’t know well enough to realize that something is wrong and that the man she married couldn’t stand her touch.  Even Liz and Sam are picking up the “NuJase is OldJase” vibes.  Eh, I’ll save all of that for another blog, another time.  Maybe I’ll be able to soon blog about the return of Jason Quartermaine, one day soon!

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: GH Sonny’s transformation

Finally!  FINALLY!  Someone gets to have a grown up conversation with Sonny Corinthos about why his “shoot first and ask questions later” policy is just a tad bit dangerous (like the plague, diving without a parachute, and flying a plane without refueling).   You’d think that shooting his pregnant wife in the head while she was  delivering their child would be a bit of motivation to become a little more reflective and not so blantantly self-indulgent in his rage.  That would mean that you a – live in known universe and adhere to the laws of phyics and reason, and b – you haven’t imagined Sonny as a living person who is totally so cool, and that he would totally be your best friend and play Xbox and Dungeons and Dragons with you  if he knew you.  I’m not sure the GH writers could claim either of the above.

While I expect to hate any moment that gives Patrick the right to utter the big, “I told you so” moment to Robin, I did savor this one just a bit!  I didn’t enjoy seeing Robin shot, it was awful.  I did enjoy the fallout once she was ok.  Patrick fearlessly snarling at Sonny to get out?  Thank you, writers.  Robin telling Sonny that he should have been more concerned for Emma’s emotional well being?  Awesome!  For little Emma to have to say to her father that “Mommy was shot” was excruciating.  What child should ever witness the violation of a parent or any loved one?  The short answer is none, but when Sonny is a part of your life, it’s evident that at some point your children will experience an event that most children won’t ever witness – and that’s scary when you realize that fact includes soap children was well.  Most soap children have never seen their parents shot in their own home:

That scene is devastating.  (And P.S. LOVE new little Emma. She could teach a few of her older colleagues in daytime how to convey emotion).  What that scene also tells us is that:

1.  Sonny’s disregard for Emma’s psychological pain is an indication of his inability to consider his own children’s psychological pain – given that he loves Robin as if she’s family.  His own expectations of becoming a victim of his lifestyle seems, as the writers convey it,  to mean that his stubborn and irascible egocentrism allows him to believe that everyone, children included, should be able to accept death, and anything that falls shorts of that is… WINNING!… Loser.  He is only lucky that the gun wasn’t aimed in Emma’s direction when Robin fought to stop him from killing Jax.  No one knew the child was in the room.  She could have just as easily been a victim of a stray bullet.  Just as he expects his children to recover from kidnapping, assault, and the constant threat of becoming victims of his enemies, he expects children who don’t live with daily violence to live happily with the consequences of violent outburts.

Further consider the Doomsday Don’s treatment of his firstborn, Dante (another shoot first/ask questions later victim) .  Sonny spents months on end trying to convince everyone of his great love for his son.  Then he assaults Dante in order to be able to get to Jax.  Killing Jax was more important to Sonny than the already fragile relationship he has with his first born.

His children, other people’s children, they’re all for show, and how little they count when they’re in the way of what Sonny wants.

2.  Sonny is blinded by his hatred.  DUH, right?   It’s not just the obvious things (like the fact that he DRIVES people away, not that they leave because they’ve been tricked by others or that they’ve misunderstood)… it’s the little things, too.  How was Robin supposed to live in that house, with her family, if Jax’s blood was spilled in her home?  For Sonny, replacing the carpets, drapes, and cleaning the walls would have been sufficient, for people who’ve chosen to save lives – not take them, it’s not that easy.  They wouldn’t find comfort in new drapes knowing that unseen traces of a good man’s life were left in their hardwood floors, the pores of their walls, and  in their memories.  They would remember Jax in that room and  remember what Sonny did to him. 

While Jax’s death would haunt the Scorpio-Drakes, it would have given Sonny endless satisfaction.  As Carly pointed out, Sonny does not care that he killed her father and has taken every possible father-daughter moment away from her.  Yeah, Carly, who cheered Sonny on when he set Jax up to lose custody.  At least there is some point at which she says NO… too bad that point is death (or least death as far as they know it).

There is WAY more yum where that came from:

3.  It’s likely that in the take down of Sonny Corinthos, this one vile act that FINALLY turns everyone against Sonny may also be connected to Jason’s storyline and may be the final nail in the coffin.  Everyone hating Sonny so quickly makes me wonder if these scenes are re-shoots and are tied into Jason’s eventual recovery.  IF Jason wakes up and becomes a new person, as has been hinted in GH promos, what will he become? WHO will he become?  Assuming he has no memory of being Jason Morgan, he can become anything and anyone he wants to.  Let’s assume he wakes up remembering what he’s done, but it’s as if someone else commited those acts.  He dissociates, disgusted by the acts committed by the man with face.  After a period of self-loathing, he moves away from the mob life and rejoins the Qs (rebuilding the family).

Suddenly, Sonny is totally and utterly alone. The only true friend he’s every had is gone.  Carly finally sees Sonny for what he is and she’s done with him (whoda thunk that would ever happen!?!)  Brenda has escaped his clutches.  His children are angry at him.  Robin won’t speak to him.  His world is shattered.  Given the sudden onset of the Sonny disgust, I’m not sure if the storyline is meant to garner sympathy for the character or serve as the lead in to character growth:

  • Will Sonny change and permanently put the mob behind him, becoming a legitimate business leader?  If so, that new role should come  with a less Valdermort worthy wardrobe.  There’s no shade of black and gray the lollipop mob boss hasn’t worn.  It’s time to let it go.
  • Will he be “redeemed”, GH style, when it’s revealed that Anthony Zacharra really is a bigger monster than Sonny?  That Anthony has successfully killed before our eyes, and that Sonny’s kills are offscreen is not redepemtion.  The writers should know that.
  • Will he assume that saying he’s sorry is enough, or will we see true remorse from Sonny who works to make amends with those he’s wronged?  Sonny will eventually be forgiven, I have no doubt about that, but it’s a process that should take time, and maybe not have forgiveness be given from everyone.  Robin will forgive, of course.  Even after her shot her in front of her daughter, she didn’t want to have the police called.  She put her license on the line, and that of her husband’s, by treating a gun shot wound without reporting it.

What can’t happen is having the writers “save” Sonny by having him fall into a bout of depression and blame his recent actions on his bipolar condition (they’ve gone to that well far too many times).   It works about as well as having him continue to fault his stepfather for the fact that he continues to kill others for a living and puts his children at risk.

What also won’t work is for Sonny to become all goodness and light.  Who would buy it?

What would/might work is making Sonny the new Luke in the sense that he becomes the show’s new anti-hero, the anti-hero Luke once was, at least.  Sonny could spend his days not worrying about other people’s problems (like now) but get involved when he has to protect those he loves, or others, from bad guys by working with Dante to bring them down.  Luke Spencer and Robert Scorpio become Sonny Corinthos and Dante Falconeri. Luke and Lucky become Sonny and Dante.  It takes a while to get use to the thought of it, I know, but give it some time.  Wouldn’t anything be better than the doom and gloom Sonny brings to the show, now?

Are ABC’s low ratings well deserved?

Thanks to the folks at SON for posting the ratings, please visit SON for the full ratings report so that you can see where your favorite soaps landed this week and check the daily ratings:

Week of June 14 – 18, 2010.

HH
1. Y&R 3.5/11 (-.1/+.1)
2. B&B 2.2/7 (-.1/-.1)
3. DAYS 1.9/6 (same/-.1)
4. AMC 1.8/6 (same/same)
4. OLTL 1.8/6 (same/same)
6. GH 1.7/5 (-.1/-.1) <- ties low (Last time: July 6-10, 2009)
7. ATWT 1.6/5 (-.1/same) <- ties low (Last time: May 31 – June 4, 2010)

Women 18-49 Rating
1. Y&R 1.6/10 (same/+.1)
2. GH 1.1/7 (-.1/same) <- ties low (Last time: May 24-28, 2010)
3. DAYS 1.0/7 (same/-.1)
3. OLTL 1.0/6 (same/-.1)
5. AMC 0.9/6 (same/-.1)
5. B&B 0.9/6 (same/-.1) <- ties low (Last time: June 7-11, 2010)
7. ATWT 0.7/5 (same/-.1) <- ties low (Last time: June 7-11, 2010)

Are ABC’s low ratings well deserved?

For AMC?  A teeny bit.  It’s rebounding from a long and painful period in its history.  Given the three ABC soaps,  AMC has the most potential for a return to creative grandeur.  The show has done a much better job of focusing on legacy character and its core (although that’s easier to do when your core is smaller than in the past).   The pacing is good, the storyline telling is stronger, and the show has been more visually appealing lately.  I’m rooting for this show.

For OLTL?  OH HELL YES!  Here’s a word of advice, writers.  I don’t know if you feel that you’ve been sold out by the  ‘house of mouse’ knowing that feeder network Soapnet is going to be shuttered for a ‘Disney Jr.’ channel, but come on!  I can’t tell if your  current storylines are a reaction meant to  save OLTL by creating a new ‘DeGrassi’  (and a far less interesting version at that) to shift over to teen Disney or if you want to thumb your noses at your bosses by mocking their youth entertainment obsession.  If I see Starr, the two new guys that I can’t tell apart unless they’re in scene with their respective Manning sister, Cole, Matthew, Hannah, and anyone else under the age of 21, I’m going to need a bag to catch my lunch on its way back out — sorry, the reference clearly shows that I’m regressing in maturity along with the storylines on OLTL.

GH? Hell yes, and OH HELL YES those ratings are deserved.  Is there anything on GH that isn’t tied to the mob storyline any more?  I roll my eyes so much on the rare occasions I watch that I can’t tell.   Dante has to ‘pay’ for being a good cop and doing the right thing.  Tough as nails Claire is now a mob apologist who sees the difference between criminals like Franco and criminals like Jason/Sonny.   Nikolas is creepy, stalkerish, and trying to force a pregnant Liz to accept his lust-called-love for her.  Every other chance at romance on this show is shuttered in favor or more whining by pampered ill tempered mobsters and the children they’ve ruined.  The one potential for growth and the writers have ruined even that:

Speaking of ruined, I’ve defended Patrick in the past.  He’s the motherless son of an alcoholic father who watched his family slowly fall apart.  To say he has issues is an understatement.  The problem is that Patrick’s ‘jealousy’ over Lisa and Steven, and his constant whining about Robin’s need for helping others is just wearing thin.  Have I lost my passion for Scrubs?  No, I’ve lost my passion for GH because of their treatment of Scrubs.  With clever writing, Lisa could be an interesting double crossing villain, the actress could easily carry it off, and I would have loved watching Robin rip her a new one.  Without clever writing, the character is just annoying.  The idea that Patrick, who has spent every day before Lisa’s arrival telling Robin how much he loves his life and that he wouldn’t trade it for the world, now cries (boo friggin’ hoo) over driving a mini van and being home at night.  He cries to Luke of all people — the man who has betrayed every moment he’s ever spent with a family who loved and idolized him (when GH writers destroy fans’ fond memories of GH couples, they go big!  I feel for you Luke and Laura fans.)

REALLY writers?  REALLY?  We’re supposed to want to see Patrick moon over a woman who feeds him what he wants to hear and sticks a knife in his back when he turns around? We’re supposed to feel for him because his wife and child just aren’t enough?   GH has missed it’s calling.  If the mouse network decides to finally pull the plug and put all of us out of our misery, they could consider shopping this show over at Spike TV – “the network for men”.  This show is such a rancid male fantasy that I can’t believe that women on the show are actually permitted to wear clothing.

The only surprise in GH’s ratings, for me,  is that they’re not lower.

General Hospital: Dialogue vs. Plot

It’s not mystery that I’m no fan of GH’s Scooby Doo gang:  Sonny, Jason, Carly, and their hangers on.  Let’s not forget the air-head apparent, Michael Corinthos.  While the plots are lousy, the dialogue has been as rich as Creosus!

Lucky to Nikolas (adding such a new complex layer to the stench of the relationship between the brothers, and between Lucky and Liz.  Their betrayal of Lucky was about so much more than the sex):

Lucky: Take a look around, Nikolas. This is an underground dungeon. Your grandmother grabbed my dad and Tracy and tossed them down here like bags of garbage. Who the hell does that? Do you have any idea how sick and insane this is?

Nikolas: Yes, of course I do. But Helena’s not playing this game by herself. Luke’s playing right along. Come on, you know, they get off on this madness.

Lucky: Well, I didn’t. I was just going about my life. It was a good life, by the way. Then Helena took me out of it one day and made everyone think I was dead. She locked me up and messed with my head and my soul. She tried to break me down into something that she could control and then she sent me back to the people who loved me the most like a ticking time bomb.

Nikolas: I know that.

Lucky: There are pieces of me I never got back. And all this time, since your affair with Elizabeth blew up in our faces, did you ever ask yourself why I held on to her so tightly? Why I tried so hard to recreate a time when the love that we shared was real and pure, unmauled by someone who’s as cruel and sadistic as Helena? It’s because Elizabeth represented everything that was taken from me. And our past was the only thing that kept me grounded in our present. And then you came along… and you ruined it without a thought, other than your own self-gratification. So tell me, how can I look at you, knowing all of that… and not see an enemy?

Alexis to Sonny (note that Sonny is completely unaware, as usual.  He’s heard this song before, he just keeps blocking it out… he’s suddenly clueless that he’s emotionally abusive):

Alexis: Okay, here we go. See, that’s kind of what I was talking about yesterday, that we need to keep the focus on Kristina, and it might be counterproductive if you get angry and defensive and make it about you.

Sonny: I’m going to this therapy session to support Kristina.

Alexis: Good. Thank you. And I am very sensitive to the fact that this abuse issue is a hot-button issue.

Sonny: And you know that, you know, my mother and I were, you know, abused, and that’s why I know a little bit of what Kristina’s goin’ through.

Alexis: Right. And you know we have to figure out why Kristina stayed in an abusive relationship, and, you know, through that process, you might hear some things about yourself that–

Sonny: No. No, no. No. Listen. Johnny lied on the stand. Kristina believed him. So that’s what we’re gonna work through.

Alexis: Well, actually no one really cares what Johnny said or didn’t say. I think what you might work through is that she’s seen your temper, and it’s been very disturbing.

Sonny: Do I have to tell you again that I don’t hit women?

Alexis: Well, but you do call them bitches and whores, and that kind of verbal abuse might–

Sonny: You’re either physically violent, or you’re not.

Alexis: Really? See, this is why it’s a good idea that you work this out with her in therapy.

Sonny: No, you know what needs to be done here? No, I don’t– all I know is that I’ve never abused a woman. We don’t have to talk about that anymore.

Alexis: Okay, let’s not.

Carly to Sonny: This one shocks me! Carly’s history has been bowing before Sonny’s imagined greatness and accepting responsibility for everything that’s gone wrong in their lives together.  She seems to have remembered those things the rest of us remembered:

Carly: We are so much alike. I guess that’s what attracted us to each other. We’re impulsive, you know? We don’t realize the damage we’ve caused till it’s already done.

Sonny: You’re dodging the question. Do you honestly think that I abused you?

Carly: Kristina asked me that question.

Sonny: What do you mean Kristina? When?

Carly: After your outburst in court.

Sonny: What’d you say?

Carly: I told her the technical truth.

Sonny: I’m afraid to hear what that means.

Carly: I was as honest with Kristina as I felt was appropriate, Sonny. I’m not Kristina’s parent. There are questions that only you and Alexis should answer. But I did think she deserved the truth as much as I could give it. So I told her that, you know, our relationship was dysfunctional and volatile, that we genuinely loved each other, but we were toxic together. And that no, you never hit me.

Sonny: Thank God for that.

Carly: I mean, you shot me in the head once, but accidents happen. Can you…can you still hear us? I mean, I can. I can hear the yelling and things breaking. I can hear you calling me a faithless whore. Screaming at the top of your lungs that I’m worthless. I’ve never seen anyone get as angry as you. And your rage, Sonny, your rage is overwhelming. You zero in on what’s weak in someone, and you hammer away. You dismantle it piece by piece. And I look back, and I’m horrified at myself. I’m horrified that I put up with it, that I rationalized it, and I participated in it. But that was my illness. I stayed with you, and I let it happen over and over again. The vicious cycle. And you know what, Sonny? It’s called abuse.

Nah… Sonny’s not abusive… no sirree (at least not in his head)!  Doesn’t every man repeatedly refer to his wife as a whore?

Olivia to Sonny:

Sonny: I kinda expected you to understand the situation a little better, but…

Olivia: I do understand, Sonny. And I’m telling you right now, as someone who’s known you for a very long time, you need to change the way that you deal with women, okay? And there’s no shame in that. Talk to somebody. That’s what therapy’s for!

Sonny: But you’re acting like I’m some kind of animal like Kiefer. Yeah, I got a lot of rage inside of me. But I haven’t been that way with all the women I’ve been with. Just the ones that push me and push me. But I’ve never crossed the line. I love my daughter. I love her with everything I got. And I want to help her through this, but there’s no way that I’m going to say I’m an abuser when I’m not.

Olivia: I’m not saying you’re like Kiefer, Sonny. I know that you would never hit a woman. But there’s a lot of other ways to be abusive. Right?

Sonny: Okay.

Olivia: Okay. See, I know what you want through. I know what Deke did to you and your ma, and I can only imagine the things that you suffered through. And you were a little kid. I get that. But you survived, right?

Sonny: Mm-hmm.

Olivia: And you turned yourself into the kind of man that you wanted to be. You’re powerful, you’re successful, you got kids that mean the world to you. I mean, no one else would look at you and know what’s going on right under the surface.

Sonny: What’s the point?

Olivia: My point is, my point is, don’t believe your own hype. Sonny, okay, you can put one over on the whole rest of the world, but don’t put one over on yourself. Okay, don’t get caught up in believing that, because you made something out of your life, that that abuse didn’t have an effect on every part of you, okay? It directly affects everything, especially the way that you treat other people.

Sonny: You’re talking like I think I’m perfect, and I’m nowhere near perfect.

Olivia: Look, okay, you got Carly claiming that you abused her.

Sonny: Right.

Olivia: Okay, maybe not physically, but in other ways. You’re gonna sit here and you’re gonna tell me that she’s lying, or she’s wrong, or what? What that bastard Deke did to you and your ma had a direct effect on your relationships with women. Okay? You need to admit that, and you need to get help.

Sonny: What Kiefer did to Kristina, I have not done to any woman. It’s not a fair comparison.

Olivia: I agree. I agree. And I know how much it must hurt you to know that your daughter thinks she saw the real you that night that you went off on Claudia. Okay. Or that she would ever compare you to anybody like Kiefer. But, Sonny, Kristina is confused right now. And that’s why you gotta get in there with her right now. You gotta show her that you’re willing to change, and that you can change. You gotta find a way to separate who you really are from all those ugly patterns that you grew up with.

Johnny to Kristina (just as you’re sitting there thinking ‘What kind of low life uses a girl who’s been traumatized by an abusive boyfriend?”… Johnny says THIS):

Kristina: Dad was so horrible brutal to Claudia, he shouldn’t you use me to do the same thing to him? It’s part of justice.

Johnny: Kristina, first of all, the idea of using you in any capacity for anything has no

Kristina: But I’m a willing participant. More than that, it was my idea. Come on, Johnny. The way to make it happen.

Johnny: And er of sonny Corinthos. This playing out, beyond sonny’s pain, of course?

Kristina: Does it matter?

Johnny: It does if I’m dead in the end, yeah.

Kristina: You won’t let my dad kill you, and if he tries, he’ll go to prison like he deserves.

Johnny: Ok. Kristina, I actually know where you’re coming from. I do. I know what it’s like to have a monster as a father. You lay in b late at night thinking of ways to bring the bastard to his knees while you stare at the ceiling. When what you should be doing in actuality is channeling that energy into something positive. I know I’m no shining example as to how that works, believe me, but maybe you can look at me and then use me as an example as to what you should avoid. At the end of the day, Kristina, the answer’s no. As much as I want to bring grief to your father, I’m not about to use you in order to get that.

Johnny: It’s because you’ve been through a very traumatic experience and you need time to heal. See, that–right there is even more of a reason for you not to put yourself in a situation that could backfire or hurt you.

Kristina: But I feel safe with you.

Johnny: Why?

Kristina: I don’t know. I just do. It’s not sexual, please don’t misunderstand.

Johnny: Oh, believe me, there’s no misunderstanding here. Uh, hey…I suppose maybe at the end of the day, we’re kindred spirits. We both have the same immediate goal. But your hatred for sonny is not as black and white as mine. It’s wrapped up in all sorts of shades of gray and emotions of sonny being your father. Your issues with sonny go much deeper than just wanting to see him twist. This is like a bomb waiting to go off, in my face and yours, and I’m not willing to risk that.

Kristina: I figured it out. You’re noble. My father wouldn’t be. If someone went to him with an offer that could destroy you, he’d take it and not think twice. So never say you’re just like sonny. It’s not true. Well, if you change your mind, the offer’s still open.

As much as I hate the plot, the dialogue helped sell it and make sense of it… the children of mob monsters clinging to reclaiming their power by taking away (at least one of) their father’s power.  It’s stupid and careless on their part, but it makes sense.

Soapnet/The Holidays/The Death of Daytime

You’ve read a million death of daytime articles already, I’m sure.  They’re painful both because of the sheer number of them and the truth they’ve imparted about why daytime has continued to fall apart.  Most of them weren’t written by the venerable soap press.  The soap press continued to cheer on the inane and asinine storyline telling as ‘innovative’ and ‘original’.   No holding a mirror to the naked emperor for the soap press, no sirree.  Now that it’s been revealed that Soapnet goes off the air in 2012, fans, it seems, have given up hope that the rest of daytime  can be saved, and with good reason, but more on that later.

The one network that was supposed to be fully dedicated to soaps gave up on the genre long ago as it cut back the daytime schedule and boasted about its acquisition of primetime shows.  Now?  Soaps will be replaced with more preschool friendly  programming.   Symbolic, don’t you think?  The juvenile writing plaguing daytime over the last several years has worked wonders in driving away much of the adult audience but did little to attract the ever elusive 12 to 17 year olds TIIC of daytime couldn’t wait to bring on board – the same 12 to 17 year olds who didn’t give a damn about daytime.  Now Disney can give the kids what they really want.

Unfortunately for daytime viewers, the network’s effort to stem to tide of revenue loss may have actually contributed to hastening the death of daytime.   When the writing was bad on your favorite soap, you still had other choices.  You could move on to something else – but that was before the network hacks decided that it was easier to systematically kill off daytime serials than support them and take them back to basics.   When my once favorite  Bold and Beautiful drove me absolutely nuts (as it does now with the whining non-“Forrester” women CONSTANTLY attacking the Logan women), I could always find another soap to watch that didn’t drive me batty.  Now? The writing is so horrendous across the board and there are so few soaps, there is no where to go but cable and watching ‘primetime in the daytime’.  (Which is oddly enough what Soapnet was trying to do, unsuccessfully).  By killing off  ‘lineups’, TPTB of daytime gave fans fewer and fewer reasons to tune in.   Ah, but there were/are other problems:

1 – The soaperatti (on and off screen) is incestuous and keeps claiming that it’s such a ‘specialty’ field that no one outside of daytime can understand it — that’s because they’re so “speshul”, doncha know?  And have I mentioned t they’re special?  Somehow primetime and cable are surviving with infusing new blood and new ideas.  Daytime only, it seems, needs specialists  (because they’re special) and yet those specialists  (who are special) still can’t figure out how to hang on to an audience.   As a result, the same few burned out writers and executive producers are shifted from show to show. You can’t get away from them, as they keep trying to shove the same tired ideas at what they think is a ‘new’ audience every time they ‘quantum leap’ from show to show.

Daytimers typically watch multiple shows, so if you didn’t like a mother and daughter sleeping with the same man and beating each other up on one show, you sure as hell weren’t  going to root for the hack writer and producers to bring that storyline to another show you’re watching. When there were more soaps (and more writers) there were also more ideas. and more places to escape to within the genre.  That’s gone and the soaperatti have nothing left but false self-praise and  careers on a downward slide. Does anyone know if any of the currently unemployed daytime writers have found work on any successful projects?  I’d love to know, dear readers.  I can’t think of any, and  I can’t imagine there are producers out there lining up to grab any of the ‘elite’ in daytime.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I just don’t know where they are.  Who’d want to submit an e-portfolio of the worst of daytime as evidence of what you’re capable of offering?

2 – While probably not a popular opinion, I also think a huge problem in daytime is that TIIC are have extended the ideology of the “super special” to hiring actors. The ‘newer’  daytime actors have been  treated as ‘speshul’ too. Instead of relying on tried and true and highly skilled vets, daytime PTB decided that a small group of select newbies were the future of genre. I won’t name names, but I think we can all list at least a half dozen actors who are shifted from show to show along with tired/burned out writers and executive producers.

The problem is that the pretty but pointless actors aren’t skilled enough to add new dimensions to their characters from show to show.  The actors’  mannerisms and inflections are the same.  On top of the same tired storylines, fans were cursed with the same actors, sporting new character names, but providing nothing that differentiated them.  The ‘look’ of each show may differ, but the ‘content’ and ‘feel’ of all soaps is similar. thanks to the small cohort of shifting writers, producers, and actors.  ABC and CBS could blend what’s left of their lineups and I don’t know that fans would notice the difference.  ABC could offer “All My Children born at General Hospital embracing our One Life To Live” and CBS could offer the “Bold and Beautifully Young and Restless”.  NBC, would of course, give us the “Days of Our Lives”.  It’s all they have left to give having killed off so many daytime shows, already.

The warning signs of impending doom have been sounded for years by fans who’ve wanted nothing more than to save the genre.  Unfortunately, it fell on hubristic and intentionally tone deaf ears.  How tone deaf have TIIC been?   Memorial Day would have been a keen opportunity for TIIC to remind soap fans that daytime is still around and  that there’s potential to return to the formula that made the genre work.  What did TPTB of GH offer?

Link that with THIS gem that oringally aired a week after the above clip:

On a day when we honor our war dead, and others who have valiantly served and protected this country, we were ‘treated’ to a repeat of an episode in which the soap world is proven to be turned upside down.  Jason and Spinelli bleat on and on about how heartless cold and unfeeling OFFICER Dante  Falconeri is to turn in his brother for killing a woman.  Dante, of course, has no honor.  Dante is an evil person.  He’s too dense to understand why the mob covered up a woman’s death.  It’s Dante’s fault for not understanding why what would have been a simple self-defense charge, which would have been cleared had  Michael first told the truth, ended up with Michael looking guilty of murder, a cover up, and obstruction.

WHAT?  You would be suspicious of a claim of self-defense if the people involved ‘disposed of’ the body, burned down the cabin where it happened – on a rainy night, no less – to get rid of evidence, and then lied on the stand and to the police for months at a time?  I hear ya’!  It’s just that TIIC don’t hear you.  On a day when many of us are remembering our loved one who gave their lives – GH’s braintrust wants you to watch the mob squad talk about murdering police officers and activating the crooked cops on their payroll to protect the mob heir apparent.  Spinelli has to tell Jason that Dante’s death, officer or not, would have grave impact (no pun intended) on those who love him, and those who serve with him.  Color me stunned, and sickened, and tired, just tired of this dreck.

What could TIIC aired instead, to woo fans back?

Or even this:

But no… black is white, up is down…and we’re tuning out.  Anyone know what’s planned for Disney Junior? My nieces and nephews visit me in the summer. I guess we’ll have something to watch together in 2012.

Sympathy Depleted…Michael Corinthos Jr: Jailbird

I know that scenes like the one below are supposed to make me feel sorry for Michael, and are supposed to lead me to want to see Dante and Lucky do everything they can to free him, but they DON’T.   I’ll tell you why after you watch the clip, if you haven’t already watched the show:

  • Do I think Michael belongs in prison for trying to stop Claudia from running off with his minutes old infant sister after she’d kidnapped his pregnant mother?  No.
  • Do I think he belongs there because he let his father cover up an act of “self-defense”?  No.
  • Do I want him there because his pinhead father told him that he was ‘proud of him’ for taking Claudia’s life?  Would sending Michael to prison be a great way to teach Sonny a lesson? No.  Michael should not be used as a pawn to teach his father a lesson.  In fact, Sonny and Jason should be in prison for obstruction of justice (they burned down a freakin’ cabin and hid Claudia’s body over something that wasn’t even a crime).  While we’re at it, Carly should be in prison with them so that Jax can save that sweet child of his from her mother.

So why the lack of sympathy?  Because in the end, it’s most likely the case that the writers will have Michael learn absolutely ZERO from his prison stint.  This is the kid who wanted to take his father’s place as mob kingpin (as though he would never have to face justice and the possibility of prison at some point in the future).  Michael was so mean and spiteful when thinking that he could be passed over as top boss that the character was insufferable.  His behavior included wanting to see his father kill Dante because Dante was <GASP> an undercover cop and a ‘rat’ who infiltrated his father’s organization.  Even after he found out that Dante was his brother, he lacked sympathy and compassion  for his brother.  He felt that the bullet to his chest, courtesy of their father, was well deserved.

Now he’s in prison with the sort of men his brother works hard to put away to keep society safe. He’s in prison with the sort of people The Quartermaines, and Jax, wanted to protect him from.   They are the sort of men his father does business with on a regular basis.   Welcome to the real (soap) world, Michael Corinthos Jr.  It’s tougher than you thought.

I don’t believe he belongs in prison, but at the same time  I just don’t have any sympathy for him.  If the GH pattern holds, there will be no redemption.  The only thing Michael will learn is to not go to prison unless he takes his fathers’ chief enforcer with him.

I’m resentful that characters who have always  shown a clear preference for truth, honesty, and justice are now just mob puppets.  I’m bored by Michaels’ ‘scared straight‘ prison moments that will lead no where.

Ending on a high note

WTF!?!?!?  Someone remembered the show’s history and is using an old plot point to tell a new story.  Lulu must be far more serious about Dante than she was about Johnny.  I don’t recall Lu ever caring if Johnny knew about her abortion.  I don’t think it even came up, but that was so long ago, I can’t remember.