By Marlena De Lacroix
“Would you die for love?”
That’s ABC Daytime/SoapNet’s slogan for November sweeps on General Hospital. It bridges four major storylines, including one in which the major young heroine will die on the show, mistakenly murdered by her own pre-poisoned ex-husband/current boyfriend during a gala ball.
How can ABC be so irresponsible? General Hospital‘s prime targeted audience is young females, the advertiser-desirable demographics of ages 12-17 and 18-34. Teenage suicide is a serious problem in this country! (According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide accounts for 13% of all teen deaths!) To even suggest to today’s young people that dying for love is something romantic, let alone a subject for fantasy, is egregious. And the height of desperation, even for a poorly rated daytime television genre that will try anything to vamp an audience.
And doubly sad for a show which has retained its ratings mainly through stories about mob violence. A new mob family, the Zaccharas, has just come to Port Charles to challenge upstate New York don Sonny for his territory. Its ferocious head Anthony Zacchara (Bruce Weitz) has been depicted as a loony-bin psychotic, with the mobster attended by a man in a white coat in his home full time. Sick as this may be, his potential for intense danger brought a new excitement to GH. The show, in the name of ratings strength, has consistently raised its dramatic stakes while at the same time lowering the bar on good taste: the characters of small-time don Sonny and his hit man Jason became the show’s central “heroes” in the mid-90s. Even before The Sopranos, Emmy-winning headwriter Bob Guza made GH a world where conventional morality is turned inside out.
But constantly staging phony mob violence and suggesting to a teen audience that it’s cool to die for love are two different things. The most prominent dead victim on GH chosen for sweeps month is said to be Emily Quartermaine (first Amber Tamblyn, now Emmy winner Natalia Livingston), a character adopted as a young girl by GH core characters Alan and Monica. The GH audience has watched her grow up through her teen years into young womanhood. This is one young doctor whose days of compassion and love are suddenly over this month in the world of GH, a soap opera suddenly propagating the message that love is to die for.
P.S. Does anyone remember The Bathrobe Don, a New York City mafioso who used to walk around the streets of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in his bathrobe and slippers to demonstrate to the world how crazy he was? His “madness” was a sham intended to prevent him from going to jail. But finally, after many years, suspected Genovese family crime boss Vinny “The Chin” Gigante was found to be a faking his madness and sent to prison. Could the character of Anthony Zacchara be based on Gigante? (The real Gigante died in prison in 2005 at age 77.)
Creme De Lacroix: Deidre Hall (Marlena Brady, Days of Our Lives)
As the tears fell down Marlena Brady’s face last week at her husband John Black’s memorial service, it was hard not to notice that the face of three-decade Days veteran Deidre Hall had not changed one bit in all those years. Most other senior daytime divas have surgically “refreshed” faces. Hall’s miraculously fresh face is so perfect, she may well be soaps’ own Dorian Gray. Whatever the method, Hall’s preservation job is so exact, it’s downright spooky.
Originally published on www.jackmyers.com.