General Hospital’s Monstrous Lies, All My Children’s Truthful Memories

By Marlena De Lacroix

Yesterday, I was trying to write my long promised column against the most perversely inhuman, possibly most disturbing soap storyline of all time, but the words just would not come out.  I’m talking about the General Hospital storyline written by Bob Guza that began with 12-year-old Michael getting shot in the head and climaxed with his parents Sonny and Carly screwing in the back seat of a limo after delivering their comatose son  toAMC trio a long-term care facility. That I felt paralyzed and couldn’t write was very odd because I’d been angrily “writing” the words of the column every day in my head since that day six weeks ago when a shot meant for Sonny rang out in the coffee warehouse and mistakenly hit Michael.

Still searching for my muse, I decided to switch gears and tune in to All My Children.  And there was Larry Lau as Greg Nelson, returning after nearly 25 years for the wedding of Angie and Jesse. Great friends during their days as high school students,   Greg and Angie and Jesse reminisced about the very, very sweet love story of Greg and his now long-dead wife, Jenny, who as we all know also included the special bond of remarkable friendship that existed between Jesse and Jenny.  The flashbacks started rolling: AMC couple Greg meeting a very young though dazzlingly beautiful Jenny (played by Kim Delaney in her TV debut) in a high school classroom … their first kiss … Jesse and Jenny hanging out on the fire escape during their special summer in New York … Greg saving Jenny Graduate-style from marrying  the icky Tony … Greg ecstatically kissing Jenny at their joyous wedding  …

And I started to cry.  All my pent up emotions started pouring out  …

Which is very strange, because back in early 80s, I never particularly  like Greg and Jenny.

They were just a young, popular couple, but not worldly enough to interest the likes of sophisticated soap watcher moi.   At the time, I was a young career gal who was more interested in older, more complexly cerebral couples like the sexy and intelligent Sky and Raven on Edge of Night,  the ever storm-tossed Mac and Rachel on Another World and the pure madness of Holly and Roger on Guiding Light.

The fact is, back then I had a dozen intelligently written and acted couples to choose from on more than a dozen soaps written by names like Marland, Labine, amd Bell.  It goes without saying that soaps were so much better all those years ago. Even though I personally was not a Greg and Jenny fan, all of AMC was just brilliant then, written by Agnes Nixon and a staff of terrific associate writers, with true wisdom and understanding of the absolute truth of the human condition.    Much like her story of teen lovers Tara and Phil with which she launched AMC in 1970, Nixon’s Greg and Jenny was a beautifully written, deeply human take on the universal experience of  first love. So classic, poignant and enduring, in fact, that one of the 25-year-old clips instantly tugged at my heart and triggered a torrent of tears.

Later, in the middle of the night, I couldn’t help but try to unravel the very complex and contrary contexts of my paralysis over writing about GH, and my outpouring of tears about old AMC.  As you know, I lost my father last month and when you are bereaved your whole way of thinking becomes much more emotional and reaches for a deeper level.  You start wondering about what is eternal, what is passed on to you by your parents, what counts in life, what is truly good and what is truly bad.  And what kind of messages about what truly means something in life you are passing on to others.  It’s corny, but the truth is all we have.Sonny

And then it hit me exactly why the Michael story on GH  is really so repugnant, why I had had so much trouble writing about it.  Everything about the Michael story is so false, so unhuman, so contrary to the interior world of human logic and bona fide human  feelings.  An naive  twelve-year-old buys a gun, and then the man who wrote Carlythe story, Bob Guza, goes to Entertainment Weekly and tells a writer that Michael was shot because he had it coming in some sort of twisted demonstration of poetic justice. Huh? Then after an operation, Michael goes into a coma which the doctors tell his mother is irreversible.  And Carly refuses to listen to them, because in her head, she “knows” Michael will wake up.  Huh? What parent, what mother, doesn’t listen to doctors when their child’s life is at stake?  I take this monstrous  plot twist as more evidence of the total disrespect and misogyny Guza has for women.  Speaking of, Carly and Sonny’s “reunion”  screwing in the limo was surely the low point of daytime dramatic history.  Was this “reunion sex” between two divorced  “supercouple characters” supposed to be the “payoff” to the long, awful shooting-of-Michael story?  Perverse, disgusting!

And a long, long way from the days when daytime was highly rated and beloved because it gave us authentic love and romance in the afternoon.  Guza first turned that mode of civilized  behavior inside out — perverted it — over 12 years ago to give us a soap in which crime is good, the villains are the good guys and there is no such thing as right and wrong. (Which was not his own, but stolen from Mario Puzo!)   Enough already!  With this storyline he has reached the outer limits to this bogus storytelling, which has no ring of truth to it, no emotional authenticity whatsoever.

How disingenuous it was for Guza to run to a magazine to try and justify the shooting of a twelve-year-old, to sanctimoniously try to convince readers that the ugliness he had made us watch was all for the good, namely to reunite Sonny and Carly, two characters who are emotionally impaired (to be polite) and dangerous, irresponsible parents.   I don’t care if he did all this to get Sonny out of the mob!  It was still a month of soap opera which sought to get ratings through shooting children and adulterous sex under the most sleazeball circumstances.  In the end, what it was really appealing to was the most prurient interests of the audience.Michael

There — I’ve found some words for the Michael story, which is about as wrong and corrupt as soap opera is these days.  No wonder I wept when I was reminded of the purity and simple emotional truth of the Greg and Jenny days on AMC.  True love — and great, humanistic writing — are all soaps need, twenty five years later.  Or ever.

Comments

  1. Aaron says:

    *stands and applauds*

    I can’t add anything more of value to what you’ve already said. Nail, meet head.

  2. Annika says:

    I’m wondering if Guza would have done this with Tamara Braun still in the role. We all know the writing is vastly different for Laura Wright’s version than to Tamara’s. I’m reminded of how they wrote off Tamara and brought on poor Jennifer Bransford. Was Laura Wright the ONLY fix TIIC at GH could think of for this sad character? The Carly I loved before Tamara’s exit was becoming less dependent on Sonny and stronger due to Tamara’s emense ability to wade through the crappy writing. My guess is this storyline wouldn’t have been happening if Tamara had stayed because we would have been getting Carly & Lorenzo…another character that was trashed on the altar of the great big disappointment that is Sonny Corinthos.

  3. Joyce says:

    Wonderful article. I truly miss the emotional investment when I watched soaps, and the beauty of first love or just love in the afternoon. I agree Guza so borrowed ‘The Godfather’ though to be fair to Puzo he never glorified the mob, my Corleone and Tom did good things but they were indeed criminals and viewers like me never forgot that, and though in the end the Corleone children suffered… Michael sitting alone was the ultimate in poetic justice…live by the sword ……your article however was spot on….missing daytime love in the afternoon on ABC.

  4. Tom Casiello says:

    Marlena –

    There are no words. I linked to your blog from mine, because this entry is just… it says so much, it’s left me speechless.

    Thank you. So much. THANK YOU.

    –tom

    Marlena says: Well, thank you, Tom dear. And thank you even more for the very beautiful blog you wrote about me: http://www.myspace.com/tommiecas. Wow!

  5. cilla says:

    GH is a sewer where no couple lasts more than 6 months thus one can watch the show but there is no emotional investment in it or the characters. I remember how beloved GH once was with Luke and Laura, Lois and Ned, Monica and Alan, Holly and Robert, Scott and Dominique. These characters take me back to good memories. We knew them. Who wants to know Sonny and Carly? Jason? What kind of mother would screw her ex in the back of a limo after putting her permanently comatose son into a facility? Some romance in the air leading up to that one. There is not one couple on GH now that has been together 6 months or longer and have a good relationship. Not one. Guza lives in a dark sewer which is why the ratings have followed him there.

  6. Desertrose says:

    Thank you, Marlena, excellent column!

    I am so tired of GH only showing the dark side of humanity. If there is any time in history that we can use a little (OK, a LOT) of light, I’d say this is the time.

    It is clear to me that Guza has a very sick & twisted view of women, family and no clue about heart centered love. His idea of what constitutes love is simply twisted power plays and I don’t want to feed my soul on his trash.

    I watched GH from the first days and I don’t recognize this show anymore.It started out as good stories about basically good but flawed human beings. Now all this show does is glorify greedy power hungry losers who think they are winners.

    I finally gave it up completely last Nov and can’t say I miss the show. I miss my old “friends” that I got to know over the years, but Guza & Frons managed to kill them all off anyway.

    …and yeah, watching Greg and the Jenny flashbacks really brought back all the good feelings I used to have when I watched my stories. The kind of stories I would watch with my Mom or my kids…..GH today? No way would I want to share any of that with people I care about. No way. And that may be one more reason why the soaps are losing viewers…..

    Marlena says: Thanks so much, Desert Rose! You are the author of the best line to ever be part of a message sent to this column (it’s about GH): “Now all this show does is glorify greedy power hungry losers who think they are winners.” Love it, darling!

  7. Cherry Ames says:

    Marlena, Bless your heart!

    Marlena says: Bless your heart back, Cherry baby! Seriously, thanks so much!

  8. horselover says:

    ***Stands and applauds***

    While I was waiting for your column on GH I happened to turn on AMC which I haven’t watched for years. I too cried over the wonderful Greg/Jenny and Jesse/Jenny flashbacks. Was there a better male/female friendship than Jesse and Jenny? The show was just like coming home. It was genuine and authentic. It was sweet and moving. It was everything GH is not.

    It absolutely boggles my mind how AMC can bring back these vets and hit a home run while GH screws over EVERY legacy 80′s character from Rick Webber to Anna Devane. TPTB are so focused on the unholy trio that TPTB can’t see the forest through the trees. Why are TPTB still employed at GH?

    Bravo, Marlena! Bravo!

    Marlena says: Thanks as always, Renee! Why do Jill and Bob still have their jobs? I’m beginning to believe it’s because possession is now 9/10 of the law in soaps!

  9. Deborah says:

    Bravo! Right on! I have only one small quibble with your assessment of what is wrong with Guza’s Gangster Hangout – formerly known as General HOSPITAL!

    Unfortunately for all of us – Guza DOES believe in ‘right and wrong.’ Guza’s rule of ‘right and wrong’ is VERY simple! Sonny and Jason are ALWAYS right ALL the time and everyone else in town is ALWAYS wrong – ALL the time.

    And, in case you don’t quite get that point when Guza is being what passes for ‘subtle’ in Guza’s mind – Sonny and/or Jason (Usually BOTH!) will get up on their moral high horses and ride all over town – making loud and LONG proclamations about how RIGHT Sonny and Jason are – about everything – and how WRONG everyone else in town is – about everything – ALL the time!

    Two years ago, in 2006 – General Hospital frequently managed to struggle all the way up to 3.0 in the ratings. THIS year – 2008 – General Hospital considers it a major ratings coup when they struggle all the way UP to 2.1!

    Of course, it COULD be that Guza, Frons, Phelps, etc. really ARE doing what their bosses really DO want them to do – which is to kill soaps so the time slots currently occupied by soaps can be filled by ‘cheaper’ redundant news programs and reality show rip-offs of OTHER reality shows!

    Keep on truckin’ – but – really – the major problem with Guza’s view of right and wrong is that, Sonny and Jason are ALWAYS right – and everyone else in town is ALWAYS wrong! BECAUSE everyone in the audience who has been around for very long KNOWS going into EVERY ‘new’ story line on GH that Sonny and Jason ARE the only two in town who are ever allowed to be right – EVERY story line turns into a big snoozer!

    Sincerely, Deborah

    Marlena says: This letter put a great big smile on my face. Keep on truckin’ too, Deb!

  10. andemcbeal says:

    “Then after an operation, Michael goes into a coma which the doctors tell his mother is irreversible. And Carly refuses to listen to them, because in her head, she “knows” Michael will wake up. Huh? What parent, what mother, doesn’t listen to doctors when their child’s life is at stake?”

    While I agree with everything else, I take extraordinary issue with this. The doctors weren’t counseling Carly to allow a course of treatment to save Michael that she was ignored because she “knew” better. They were telling her that her son’s life was OVER. I can’t think of any circumstances where it would be an honest, organic, realistic or remotely human reaction to have a mother (hell anyone, denial isn’t a river in Egypt, it’s a stage of grief) give up on her child the first time doctors tell her that she should.

    Marlena says: At the same time the Michael gets shot story was playing out my (now deceased) father lay unconcious in the hospital after a major heart attack. The doctors kept stressing his advanced age (85). I wanted him to live, I fantasized repeatedly he’d recover, having more “hope” than the doctors who knew the medical reality of the situation. In the end, I came to believe what the doctors said because they are professionals, trained for what they do! I believe in reality I am a REAL PERSON. Carly is a FICTIONAL character. Don’t tell me any REAL person is not going to believe what a doctor says if the life of a beloved family member is at stake!

    And remember, Guza hates women. He didn’t stick Sonny with this silly “I know better” attitude did he?

  11. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Bravo!! Merci pour les bons mots. Excellent!

    A couple of days ago, Jason spent two episodes talking to Elizabeth about how he is responsible for what happened to Michael because of the life he lives and how he’s going to change. I found it so disgusting. And disengenuous. Oh, it was nicely acted, adequately written. But a complete waste of air time. Like Jason’s going to suddenly put his gun down and give up the mobster life.

    Michael’s shooting was the most tasteless thing they’ve ever done.

    But then, I said that about Sonny shooting Carly in the head. I said it about the tacky way they treated Genie Francis. I said it about killing off Emily and Georgie within weeks of each other. I said it about the Michael buys a gun plot.

    Every time I think GH can’t sink any lower, it does.

    Marlena says: Thanks James. And I love this letter, especially the last line. I have friends who actually believe Sonny–and Jason–will leave the mob. If you believe that I have a little bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you….

  12. DS0816 says:

    Actress Kim Delaney was my first soap-opera crush.

    A 25-year soap-watcher, I began expanding my soap-opera knowledge, in Spring 1984, by gradually viewing the full slate of soaps beyond the two I had been used to: “Ryan’s Hope” and “Days of Our Lives.” (I won’t go into…”details!”)

    Without much knowledge of story history, I was in seventh grade when I took on “AMC.” Tad was smitten with Langley’s daughter, Hillary Wilson, who wasn’t impressed with Tad’s caddy ways of sleeping with, and dropping, numerous women, especially with the Thornton mother-and-daughter team Edna and Dottie.… Angie was dealing with hubby Jesse’s shady dealings with a guy who followed Angie and baby Frankie.… Erica was newly married to creepy new Pine Valley resident Adam Chandler.… Palmer was attacked–but not hurt–by “Adam” (who turned out to be Stuart).… Brooke (and actress Julia Barr) was pregnant, but hubby Tom was on the outs with her for having slept with Erica the night before she wed Adam.… Adam’s nephew Ross was dating Ellen Shepherd.… And Greg and Jenny.…

    Well these two lovebirds, Greg and Jenny, were newly married, living in an apartment. And this one day, the two are at the beach. Tad arrives. Jet skiing is what he has in mind. It’s what Jenny’s psychopathic ex-beau, Tony Barclay, had in mind as well–for Greg. He rigged those skiis for Greg. Only problem: Tony didn’t anticipate that Jenny would “try” them on to see if she liked the feeling.

    In hindsight, I can recall this story with some laughter over the fiction of it all. But actress Kim Delaney wanted out; and the show had to accomodate. Had I been emotionally invested from the couple’s beginning, in 1981, I would’ve been angered. Both Delaney and Laurence Lau were pure as the sweet, engaging couple. And they are a classic example of just how great soap-opera supercouples are when there appears to be little effort going into shaping a charming duo with down-to-earth appeal.

    Marlena says: Thanks for the trip down AMC memory lane. The best soap ever in its best years! But, dear, lots of effort went into making Jenny and Greg a charming duo with down to earth appeal. The show had a terrific casting director then, Joan D’Incecco, who cast Laurence Lau and your crush, Ms. Delaney. And headwriter Agnes Nixon and her staff WROTE the entire Greg and Jenny romance. All of theater is manufactured, don’t you forget that. And only done well by those as talented as Nixon and company!

  13. Thanks for this great entry Marlena, I couldn’t agree more. This has been an ugly story, and what’s more: predictable and boring. It’s rendered GH – a show I’ve been attached to since the late 70s – almost entirely unwatchable for me.

    But there’s been one winner for that: OLTL, which I now have time to watch and am really enjoying.

  14. Kellye says:

    Marlena, great column!

    What scares me is that I believe that Guza actually knows right from wrong. Witness Carly apologizing to Alexis for continually berating her for trying to keep Kristina safe from Sonny’s world.

    Honestly, I think that the intent of a good story may (just MAY) have been there. The execution (as always) just sucks. If there wasn’t a shoot-out every other day on the show, having Michael shot would have had a big impact and would have made Sonny leaving the mob make more sense. As it is, Guza just loves to play shoot ‘em up with his GI Joes too much to ever show them being “wrong.” How else could he continue to play?

    I also subscribe to Deborah’s (and your) theory that ABC has had, for a number of years, no intention of keeping their soaps running for very much longer. They would have gotten too much flack for canceling them outright, so what better way to address that issue than to erode the viewer base so much that no one cares?

    A fan for years—Kellye

    Marlena says: Thanks, Kellye dear! However, I don’t believe ABC is purposely out to erode the fan bases of their shows. It’s too diabolical. I just think the daytime execs are too interested in gaining new audiences to show the Big Network Bosses Upstairs and in so doing, come up with stupid, violent, empty stories and characters which repel old viewers like you and me. So what if we were faithful for decades! Not anymore!

  15. Julien says:

    I cannot stand Jason or Sonny. The moment that Sonny put AJ on a meat hook and stole his child is the day that GH died for me.

    What’s worse is that the show is now grooming Lulu to be Carly 2.0. Lulu is always right while Maxie is painted as the bad girl. It’s bad enough we have to endure Carly’s screaming and crying on a daily basis. But Lulu has joined in, giving us the Doublemint Twin Shrews.

    It’s sickening!

  16. Jenn says:

    When I began seeing the promos for Sonny and Carly’s “big reunion”, it made me feel sick inside. So I decided to stop watching GH live and simply tape it so I could FF through all the dreck I don’t want to watch. That particular Friday episode with the disgusting hookup, watching it later on, I got through GH in roughly five minutes. The entire show was one of the most dreary hours, and the reason is simple: Regardless of how many other stories are going on on this show, it still centers around too much mob. That episode had nothing but Sonny and Carly, Jason, Claudia, Anthony, Ric and Trevor, Lulu and Johnny… The only scenes I watched were Kate and Jax’s, because I actually like these characters. But finding likable characters and likable storylines on this show are few and far between. Someone already mentioned that no couple lasts six months on this show, which is sad, but definitely true! I don’t understand what the problem is.

    Do TPTB just have really short attention spans, thus leading them to believe that the audience does, too? Just when I begin to possibly start liking a pairing, they begin on their road to splitsville, and one (or both) characters is hooking up with someone else. There are no solid couples, no “soulmates”, nothing to hang onto. I am still bitter over TPTB splitting up Ric and Alexis. I haven’t liked either character with anyone else since, and I am apalled at Alexis’s fascination with the Metrocourt killer Jerry. But they were split so that Ric could once again go back to being obsessed over Sonny, because character growth on this show is also non-existant. I like Robin and Patrick, when they are good, but then TPTB write scenes where Patrick is gushing over how hot pregnant Robin’s MOM is, and I cringe.

    There is not a whole lot saving this show right now, for me. The scenes I do watch have become so sparse. Spinelli is still entertaining as ever, but I wish the writers would ground him a little more, and let him embark in a romance, instead of writing him as the goof with a huge crush. The one girl who did like Spinelli was a sweet, intelligent, beautiful young girl with so much promise, and she was murdered! Max and Diane are great for comic relief, but they don’t get a whole lot of airtime.

    Another big mistake of GH’s in recent months was bring on this boring Zacchara family. Instead of killing this dull, depressing mob stuff, TPTB just get rid of one mob family, and introduce another one. But not one single member of this “family” appeals to me at all. Not crazy Anthony, not pathetic Claudia, not young Johnny… So from now on I will be recording it and FFing through all the garbage that I don’t want to see. Maybe then GH will become a much lighter show for me, albeit a LOT shorter….

  17. Wendy says:

    Marlena, I have started re-watching GH only recently, and so I don’t quite have the same mob fatigue as everyone else yet. But I totally agree with what you’re saying. I miss the love stories. I crave the love stories. I search for them everywhere, which makes me a textbook “shipper” fan that the other cult tv people hate (cf. my being a Spike/Buffy shipper once upon a time). Finally, after years of abuse by tv writers and fans over being a shipper, I returned to soaps…. only to find so many fewer love stories than there once were. It’s why I love Spinelli/Maxie right now–it has the potential to *be* a love story, though they may be trying to screw that up too. But it’s the only thing close to a love story on the show right now.

    Marlena says: Wendy, old friend, fellow professor! I don’t buy Maxie and
    Spinelli — he’s too much of a wimpy, sweet guy for her. Fast gal Maxie needs someone slick like Patrick … or Luke! The only reason GH is pairing Spinelli and Maxie is because they are the only two characters in that age group who haven’t been killed! (I loved Spinelli with Maxie’s murdered sister Georgie.) And there is no such thing as real love on GH anymore. The only couples in “love” on this show (such as Elizabeth and Jason and Patrick and Robin) are in fast need of psychotherapy.

  18. Chris says:

    Marlena Dear!

    You’ve left me speechless with your latest column (actually, I was speechless last night and all I could do was link the column along to my many soap fans; today I’m even more impressed with your words and very proud to call you my good friend! :)

    Awesome column!

    Now… when will “Marlena” begin a head-writing stint?

    Marlena says: Thanks, Chrissie dear. I am probably the only soap journalist in history who didn’t want to be a soap writer; I prefer journalism, merci beaucoups. But when I think about what a headwriter earns….

  19. Jason says:

    Where did they come up with all of this “Grief Sex”? First Robin and Patrick and now Sonny and Carly. Does this happen in real life? I don’t think I would be hopping in the sack after burying my 20 year old sister or dropping off my 12 year old son in the coma ward.

    Marlena says: Jason, LOLOLOLOL. For once, Marlena is totally stumped!

  20. pjs says:

    Marlena…

    You have done in this column what Bob Guza has never done. You have spoken from the brain to the heart and made it crystal clear why Guza’s GH fails on every front as memorable, life-affirming soap opera.

    His GH succeeds best as a tune-in-tomorrow thrill ride. But even then, it does nothing to nourish the soul.

    Who among us viewers would ever wish to know in real life the cast of characters he sends into our living rooms every day. Hit men and mobsters as heroes battling their equally criminal more vicious selves as competitors for their turf. Women who can’t let their better selves assert themselves in the face of the bad men with whom they become obsessed.

    Marlena, you felt that Carly’s reaction to Michael’s displays Guza’s disrespect for women. I’ll allow Carly her denial (though not the limo sex) as understandable.

    But his contempt for women is revealed most clearly in what he has done to Alexis. The Alexis we once knew would have held her fingers to her nose and walked away from the sheer stench of the repulsive Mr. Craig/Jerry Jacks. But Guza’s Alexis tingles with anticipatory pleasure at the persistent interest of the sociopath who a) shot Robin Scorpio in the stomach at point-blank range, b) caused Alan Quartermaine’s cardiac attack death, c) blackmailed, poisoned, and nearly killed her nephew Nicholas, and d) shows contempt for every law she herself has sworn to uphold. Any real woman who knows what Alexis knows about Jerry would run in the other direction from him. Alexis hangs on him, protesting wityh one hand, clinging with the other. Only a Guza woman would find him to be the one that she wants.

    All of Guza’s female characters are nothing more than moths drawn to a flame as they endlessly and repetitiously and willfully pursue relationships with lowlife sociopaths. Kate with Sonny. Carly with Sonny. Carly with Alcazar. Elizabeth with Jason. Lulu with Logan. Lulu with Johnny. Alexis with Sonny. Alexis with Ric. Alexis with Jerry.

    Guza’s GH clearly insults women at every turn. Is it any wonder that the two most sympathetic, good women on the canvas in recent years were both done in by the same homocidal son of a mobster. Farewell, Georgie and Emily, we couldn’t get to know you further because Guza doesn’t know how to make goodness compelling.

    Which is where, Marlena, your own know-how is so brilliant. To have turned the light of yesteryear-AMC’s Jenny and Greg (the flashbacks had me welling up, too) on today’s GH truly shows the slimepit it has become under Guza.

    We cared about Greg and Jenny. Two good people in love. If Jenny had lived, and Bob Guza had gone on with Jenny & Greg’s story, who among us doesn’t believe that Greg would have become an abusive addict and that Jenny would have been reduced to nonstop lying about the true paternity of her baby by career criminal Billy Clyde Tuggle II?

    Marlena says: Ah, thanks pjs. I love your Billy Clyde Tiggle II and Jenny joke. And I’d love to see how Nancy Grahn, a great feminist who is always outspoken and honest in interviews, is going to defend Alexis’ most recent involvement. It’s so rare for an older actress to get anyone as delicious as Sebastian Roche to play against….why Jerry’s been allowed to stay on the show more than a year past the hotel hijacking and now his other crimes and never prosecuted has always puzzled me….but, well, Roche really is French and charmant and tremendously appealing to older babes like moi …

  21. Cyberologist says:

    Don’t even know where to begin with my response because your commentary and comments are “exactly” how I feel about a show I once held dear…what gets me is Jr.’s macabre, morose (even the setting) dark method of storytelling with its endless series plot points without ever getting to the main the point. I’m waiting years for stories to unfold..He is a horrible scriber just a sick individual. I thought it was me but it feels good to know I’m not nuts.

    I truly think something is not quite right with Robert Guza, Jr., but what is even scarier is that Frons and his Mickey Mouse Club sanction this man to wield his wicked pen. I’ve really lost respect for a corporation that would allow this carte blanche with such total disrespect for women. Jr just does’t get it and I believe he never will..I’m tired of waiting hoping that he does..The only thing now that keeps me in GH is my support of these actors who make lemonade out of the lemons of this so-called writer. Sorry to be so long winded…but I hate what this man has done to my 45 yr old show. How dare he!

    Marlena says: I tend to stick with shows only if I can stand watching the story. I think one of the reasons Guza can get away with what he does is that he has megapopular actors as Tony Geary and Jane Elliot and Kimberly McCollough ets. etc., whom we have all loved and adored for decades and decades. Guza knows we’ll them watch no matter what he spits on screen. To continue to watch or not watch is purely a personal thing.

  22. MamaCete says:

    I read the replies made for General Hospital. I have to agree on certain topics. The writer Bob Guza has made the story line with certain characters so unbelievable, I don’t watch everyday. Before, I couldn’t wait for GH to come on in the afternoon. I’m starting to get disgusted again with this GH since this is the only soap I have watched for over 40 years.

    TPTB better get new writers. Guza has written GH right into the ground. Why can’t the TPTB listen to what the viewers have to say and write on the soapnet? The viewers know more about the characters then the writers do. I so much wanted Jason and Liz to get together and get married. This has dragged on for so long that now Jason had to give up his son. I would have preferred that Jason left the mob and maybe an operation that could have restored his brain back to normal and he could have become a doctor and with Liz he could have had a happy family. If this storyline worked with Nicholas to become normal why not Jason?

    TPTB only want to listen to the writers and forget what the viewers want. Also, the Lulu storyline is really getting on my nerves. I don’t want to watch her anymore. You have Bruce Weitz, Rick Hearst and Stephen Macht, all great actors and high caliber of their acting skills, yet you don’t give them much air time. I believe with all the blogs being said on the GH site the viewers are also getting disgusted and the ratings that GH had before are going down the tubes and a lot of viewers have stopped watching. TPTB better wake up before the other soaps get a higher rating then GH.

    Kristen Storms turned out to be a better actress than when she first appeared on GH. She had made her character believable and to the point when saying her lines. She deserves more credit than TPTB give her. Steve Burton can say more with his eyes and when he says his lines you feel every emotion when he is on screen. He is truly a gifted actor and takes it seriously. Another actress that is overlooked is actress that plays “Diane”. She is really good and I watch every scene she is in. She is just so believable. You should give her more air time.

    I also agree the storyline with Little Michael should not have been thought of. There has not been much happiness on GH and I don’t blame some of the actor’s who want to “Jump Ship”. The Nadine and Nicholas storyline, I just can’t accept. TPTB should have paired her with another actor. Maybe if Emily were to come back some day as a new character they can write her as a relative — she and Nicholas would hook up again. Some days Sonny’s acting is right on and some days it looks like he doesn’t want to be there because of the written scripts that are given to him. Jax and Kate were enjoyable to watch. If Brenda were to come back played by the original actress this could blow “GH” out of the water and there would be may viewers returning. She is also a very good actress and very believable in her lines. I also enjoyed when she was paired with Jason — you can see it was adlibed and they were having fun while acting. It’s a shame that Jason and Liz can’t be together. We waited so long for this pairing and this may also be a reason I will not be watching this “GH” much longer. TPTB promised that Jason and Liz would be together and get married and be a happy family and TPTB pulled the rug from under us. I certainly don’t blame the actress Rebecca “Liz” who plays her to getting put back with less story line and less air time. Who could blame her.

    The writers better get their act together. They are making big money and not giving the viewers what they want to see. I guess I really wrote too much already and I would like to see other viewers respond and see if they agree with me. Every so often we can make our opinions known and maybe TPTB will read what the viewers write.

    Thank you for letting me add my comments.

    Marlena — Keep Up The Good Work!!!

  23. Righto says:

    Since Lynn Herring left. GH has been crap.

  24. Paulette says:

    Brava Marlena Brava!

    I gave up GH after 25 years last year, having finally had enough of the show and its treatment of good actors and stories for the selected few. Recently I began tuning into AMC again after a long respite. The return of Greg was such a lovely trip down memory lane. Ah the summer days of not wanting to miss a moment of the Jenny/Greg love story along with the many of great stories of the early 80′s.

    Thanks for the great column!

    Marlena says: Thank you dahling!

  25. elbug10 says:

    Brava, Marlena! As a soap fan for over 25 years, and a GH fan for ovre 15, I’m having a really hard time staying toned in to “General Mobsters” these days. Every single character I ever cared about has either been killed off (Georgie, Alan, AJ, Emily) or ruined by Guza. Elizabeth, once a vicitm of rape, is now in love with a hitman. Alexis the moal DA was ruined the minute Sonny turned her head and now is falling for sociopath, Mr. Craig (sorry, I still don’t believe he’s Jerry Jacks, nor do I believe his brother would so willingly forgive Craig’s crimes in the name of brotherhood). I could go on, but my point is that there is no light or love on thsi show anymore.

    I love Scrubs, but hey’re reduced to one day a week in a silly s/l. I would much rather see them united, dealing with the ramifications of Robin’s HIV and it’s effect on her baby (not to mention Patrick and Leyla’s exposure, a fact which the once responsible GH has conveniently swept under the rug). Spixie add some levity, but I’d llike to see Spinelli used as more than comic relief. I too miss love in the afternoon. I miss the GH of the early to mid 1990′s w/ Claire Labine as head writer. I’d take a dog love story again any day over the depression we’re being shoveled right now! Someone let me know when the weather forecast changes and Port Charles can expect to see some sunlight again!

  26. Patrick Erwin says:

    Marlena, this is truly a beautiful piece of writing. You know I am not a big GH fan, but even if you take the Guza-specific content out, there is SO much that speaks to all of us about the shows that we love, the reasons we watch, and why we care about what happens next. As Tom Casiello said, there simply are no words.

    Brava!

    Marlena says: Patick, you are too sweet. Moose and I are blessed to work with you!

  27. Linda says:

    Marlena:

    You really hit the nail on the head. I don’t watch AMC but I used to years ago, and I caught a few minutes of the wedding scene. It brought a big nostalgic smile to my face. Beautifully done! Even the return of Anna Devane doesn’t do that anymore, as much as I love FH. Everything is just crap now. Too much of the show is wasted on the ever tiresome LuLu, Carly and Sonny. Michael’s shooting was such a bad idea that it is hard to even feel emotional about the whole process, and the repulsive limo scene really put the icing on the cake.

    If Guza gets an Emmy this year (the nomination was a travesty) I guess we can only expect more of the same. I am glad though that they are trying to soften Claudia instead of wasting Sarah Brown’s talent on a ridiculous caricature of a character. Tyler Christopher really needs a strong actress finally to balance his fine acting, which he hasn’t had in years, if ever. All in all, very little to be excited about with GH.

    Linda

  28. Marilyn Henry says:

    There were literally years when GH viewers couldn’t wait until the next episode, when the emotional investment was so high the show was discussed at business water-coolers and across the country by snail mail. Appointments were put off at 2:00 PM and high schoolers and college students alike skipped afternoon classes. I am not exaggerating. Not at all. I had a friend who put off surgery so she wouldn’t miss a anticipated episode. Most of us were like that about this show. It the doorbell rang at 2:00, you kept the curtains closed and didn’t answer it!

    Of course all this was during the Luke and Laura and Robert and Holly days, but there was much more than those stories to be savored. Monica and Leslie having a shouting match over Rick, Jeff coming thisclose to finding his son Steven Lars, Heather escaping the mental ward, Tracy discovering husband Mitch in his mistress Susan’s love-nest flat, and later withholding her father’s medicine. And who can forget the stunning entrance of Robert Scorpio into Luke’s life? There was SO much then on GH that was simply UNforgettable TV. Usually you were left smiling at the end of the show with a ‘wow, can’t wait til tomorrow’ attitude. That was real entertainment.

    There are very few ‘feel good’ moments in today’s GH, almost nothing to look forward to with the delicious kind of anticipation of the old days. Stories make little sense now, something is begun but never finished, ends left dangling, beloved characters twisted to fit some story line we never wanted to see in the first place. Stories do not seem to grow out of other stories in true soap form. For instance, what was in that briefcase that caused a month-long hostage story? That could have opened up a whole new adventure story. But the case blew up and that was that. Not fodder for Bob’s obsession with mob?

    Bob thinks he is writing a black and white, film noire type gangster movie. The only color on the screen these days are the characters’ faces. All else—sets, clothing, dim lighting—are in shades of grey and black, total gloom. EVERYbody wears grey now, even a young girl like Lulu. Or black. Or some indistinguishable shade of brown or charcoal. So not only are the stories depressing, violent and angst-ridden, we get the visual effects as well. I was shocked when Liz was shown in a light yellow jacket! The only color in the whole episode. I’m an artist and this bothers me perhaps more than most, but I see other viewers have started to notice.

    What a joyless, insulting, sleazy hour GH has become.

    Marlena says: Marilyn, I couldn’t agree with you more. Gloria Monty’s last legacy to the show and daytime television is that she hooked discerning, intelligent viewers like you on her show. It always amazes me how many people I know who came to love the show in the Luke and Laura era still stick with GH even if it is a totally different show now. Such is the power of really great soap opera. ABC did the right thing by giving the now late Monty a piece of the show when she retired!

  29. Eileen says:

    I have always loved your column ( back when you wrote for SOW). I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read this. I have not watched GH in about 3 years (except for a brief return last year when Genie Francis came back and what a disappointment and joke that turned out to be), but I read the the different soap boards and cannot believe the horrible storylines. My major beef with this show was the total rewriting of history to basically washout everything that has happened on the show BG (before Guza). Sonny and Carly are two vile, amoral pigs and they are the two stars of the show!!!??? Yuck. Hate and revenge sex have replaced romance and love on this show.

    Marlena says: It gives me a real thrill when people say they read and enjoyed my magazine column. I wrote it 52 weeks a year for 11 years! I loved Genie’s brief return to GH a year and a half ago because she is heavenly and magic no matter where she appears. It is unspeakable that the show refuses to bring Laura back for good and features sluts from hell of the day like Claudia and well….Claudia. (athough I have always loved Sarah Brown as an actress). Will GH ever change? I’m pessimistic as long as the soap climate remains as desperate as it is. There are fans who actually…..like Guza!
    Yikes!

  30. Christine says:

    Your comments and those of others show your love/hate relationship with GH and Bob Guza — one that I share.

    I think they could have done so much with the Michael buying a gun story — him getting into a gang, drugs, etc., and then they could show him getting help–from his mom, stepdad Jax and Kate — who could use her new magazine to show the dangers of drugs and gangs, especially drugs as they do show up in the fashion world. Sonny and Jason might have seen their influence more, and used it — in a good way, not threatening. Bob Guza has introduced some good story lines with Jason, Sonny, Alcazar and now the Zaccharas, but it does seem he’s mob obsessed. He’s also done some good things introducing HIV and abortion story lines, and I give him full kudos on Lulu using her right to choose, with Luke and then Laura supporting her.

    But Guza has also done some bonehead things like trying to say that Michael’s shooting was to show consequences of him buying the gun? or Sonny being in the mob? Jason and Sonny have been getting away with stuff for years and if there were to be consequences to be paid–those characters should have paid them — not Michael — there were other consequences they could have shown for him buying the gun, and it would have been good public service, especially with kids getting out of school soon and having more idle time, which is usually when they get into trouble.

    The Sonny/Carly sex in the limo and then her jumping into bed with Jax is going to have a predictable end — Carly will be pregnant and not know who the father is. How many times do they have to replay that one? Guza is showing his contempt for women by making them all sluts who don’t know how to do anything but have sex–and GH is fast losing more than it is gaining.

    Enough! They bring back characters like Anna, Bobbie, Scott,etc, and then don’t use them to their potential. Monica got sent to rehab but not to be seen again–another good character and story wasted.

    Watching GH is fast becoming a waste of time. I occasionally listen to audio of it on the radio, or catch up with story lines on blogs and websites. Guza et al show no respect for long time characters, or fans.

    I love him and I hate him — just like many others. The one woman/character Guza does seem to like, and I’ve never understood why, is Brenda. She has the main three leads — Jax, Sonny and Jason go ga-ga over her. Why? She’s just not that good and she should stay gone.

    Marlena says: Personally, I have no love for Guza, although I glad that the Lulu abortion story was actually done. I interviewed him years ago and found him very intelligent — intelligent enough to bend and manipulate storylines to create the kind of stories (the Metro Court sequence, for example) that are nicely modern and fast food, as young male viewers seem to like. But as I wrote in this column, he has gone round the bend with this Michael/Sonny/Carly thing, souping up the worst elements he has used for years in his GH storytelling — violence and misogny.

    Also, Guza is not the only one who has say at this show. Amazingly the executive producer is a very successful woman, Jill Farren Phelps. Over the last thirty years Jill’s done brauvura quality work on soaps like Santa Barbara Guiding Light and Another World. When I knew her then, she had brains and taste . I can hardly believed she’s sold out so heavily as to let GH become as base as it is.

  31. Jim says:

    From the looks of it, GH really must be headed for disaster. I mean based on these comments here it amazes me that Guza or Frons can put on their pants in the morning because it seems that everyone here apparently knows the secret to television success. It’s to make everything 1982 once again so it seems. Yep, that’ll do it!

    I am quite surprised that because something is not like it once was it is all of a sudden crap. It reminds me of what grandparents say about the old days before computers, cell phones and walking to school 12 miles in the snow. If they can’t comprehend the sign of the times, then the times must be wrong-not them. There was a couple of responses here that alluded to watching these soaps for the last 40 years and being upset by the current regime or storyline. Let’s face it. It is a different world and the demo is always going to focus on the youth. And although this vociferous group of villagers is ready to take down FrankenGuza, keep in mind that this is a very small group in the scope of viewers. If people didn’t like Jason and Sonny they would have been gone a long time ago. When Steve Burton makes appearances, there’s always a huge group to greet him.

    Soaps in general have a lot of problems today. Even Y&R. The fact is daytime has been losing viewers for the last 15 years. OJ is one reason. But also the fact that more women are working more is another big reason. The third major reason is the influx of hundreds of channels all offering terrific counter-programming. The result has been fewer viewers which leads to fewer advertising dollars which leads to smaller budgets. So the soaps counter by offering quicker paced stories, more action, or new technological devices such as green screen (GH and AMC) or the hand-held reality show feel that GL has implemented.

    Yes, GH has had its problems. I don’t think Michael getting shot is one of them. What else was supposed to happen? For years, the vocal critics have lambasted GH for glorifying its excessive violence and that Sonny is portrayed as a hero (wrong, by the way). So when we see the horrific example of what this violence brings, we are all of a sudden in shock? This is what happens. Innocent people die. If they didn’t, then where is the lesson learned? Sonny is no hero. I have NEVER believed him to be a hero. He is a deeply flawed fatalistic character in which people around him get hurt or die. I believe the majority of viewers believe this as well. And for the record, GH has won best daytime Emmy 7 times in the last 11 years. So, because they’re not doing the Ice Princess anymore, doesn’t mean they’re doing crap. It’s just not your soap anymore.

    But let’s get down to the reality of it all before we hang TPTB, ok? Have you ever wondered why the mob became so prevalent? Two reasons. Tristan Rogers decided to leave GH and Tony Geary decided to kill off Bill Eckert and reprise Luke Spencer. And what was Luke’s story? The return of mobster Frank Smith which brought forth Sonny Corinthos who was supposed to whack Luke. Well, considering that uber hero Robert was gone, we were left with the anti-hero Luke and the guy who ended up befriending him-Sonny. And there you have it. From that point on, GH became even more about anti-heroes and deeply flawed characters. Had Jason Q not become Jason Morgan, that character would have seen its demise because that was the organic direction of the show. There was no more Robert to wear the white hat. And Mac and Sean never got to that same place as Robert. They didn’t have quite the same following.

    Someone here mentioned that it was a travesty Genie Francis was not asked back. The fact is that she was and turned it down. She does not want to be a full time actor on GH. She wants the Tony Geary special. Unfortunately, nobody will get that anymore and I’m not sure Tony is going to get that indefinitely. Tristan Rogers did not want to come back for 14 years. Jack Wagner had no interest. Vanessa Marcil-no long term interest. Finaola Hughes doesn’t want a full time gig. Rick Springfield would rather tour. It makes writing long term stories quite difficult for favorite characters.

    Finally, I want to remind everyone that in 1982, John Berardino gave a very insightful interview to Soap Opera Digest, I believe, in which he stated that he wasn’t happy with this focus on the youth and the neglect of the hospital in the show. He was referring, of course, to Luke and Laura and the science fiction storylines that may have saved GH, but ultimately killed the hospital. Steve, Audrey, Jessie, Gail, and Lee all became secondary characters from that point forward because GH was infused with youth and vitality-Luke, Laura, Scotty, Tiffany, Robert, Blackie, Jackie, Frisco. Today, GH is finding its way under very trying circumstances, but it is making great strides in leveling the playing field, so to speak. Perhaps GH may find a permanent home on cable in the future as television viewing habits continue to dwindle.

    On a positive note here, I applaud your tremendous insight on the soap world, Marlena, and I have great respect for your opinions and everyone here. Everyone should be entitled to speak as they think. I just happen to think differently. Thank you.

  32. esther says:

    Marlena, I have so much to say on this subject but — you said it all and so much better than I could have. Can I stand with everyone else and just clap? :)

    Marlena says: Esther, I think you and I have been talking about this for about 15 years now. Scroll back and look at an answer where I commented on the role of JFP in this debacle. I know you agree!

  33. Purple Haze says:

    The problem with soaps today, IMO, is that too many cooks are spoiling the broth. Soaps were at their best when they reflected the vision of one master storyteller (Irna Phillips and her proteges — Nixon, Marland, and Bell). Irna lived in the world she created — and her writing and that of her successors reflected a respect for characters, story and audience that is missing today.

    As far as Michael’s shooting, there were some prior indications that Morgan would have been inadvertently shot because Michael had bought a gun and brought it into the house. That would have been far worse!

    I think it is admirable that each adult character involved (Carly, Jason, Sonny) has accepted some level of responsibility that Michael’s shooting was due to their choices.

    The limo sex was part and parcel of Sonny and Carly’s mutually destructive modus operandi and reminiscent of their first sexual encounter many years ago when they first “made hate.” Carly was always a “mule in horse’s harness” (as Mammy referred to Scarlett and Rhett in “Gone with the Wind”) and her attempts to live up to the “classy existence” she clawed her way up to with Jax was as doomed to fail as any of other her attempts to rise above her perpetually selfish and destructive life.

    So this might have been distasteful but it was certainly in character for one of the most disgusting soap “heroines” of all time!

    Marlena says: Great letter, Hazel. I agree, and I subscribe to the old Single Headwriter Theory. But those were entirely different days, the grand days of Agnes and Claire and Bill and Doug. You are right that we at least got out of Morgan being shot by Michael and other rumored gun horror stories when Michael bought the gun, but it may be because that part of the story ran during the Writers Strike.

    I got such a giggle when you mentioned Mammy calling Scarlett “a mule in s horse harness” (and later Rhett too) because I am one of the world’s biggest “Gone with the Wind” fans. Next to soaps, it has been my reason to live since I first saw the movie and read the book in 9th grade. But I disagree about Carly. Scarlett was very smart and cunning, and she was no slut. Carly’s mind is way inferior and she has always been a hussy, as Scarlett herself probably would have called her. Scarlett was stubbborn in a classy way. Carly, as far as I am concerned, has always been….mentally impaired.

  34. sydney says:

    Marlena –

    The whole Michael thing has me sick -this was the young actor I was mesmorized by in the kidnapping sequence was it 5 years ago – and he is growing up, not much for him story wise, especially with Carly and Jax keeping house. It would have been great to see his first kiss, his first crush (wouldn’t Georgie have been the perfect older girl for him to be adored with?) This Coma thing is pathetic and weak.Getting hit by a stray bullet was cheap, and when there is a recast I will not like a new version of Michael. The way everyone has reacted to this event is equally sickening – from the Carly/ Sonny sex, to Carly’s outbursts, to the ridiculous self blame segments EVEYONE seems to be having, it is just wrong, and frankly not effective in keeping the fans engaged.

    So Guza, what do you do…. I loved Ric and Alexis much the way I Love Diane and Max, and for that matter love Diane and Alexis (More smart pro-women bantering please!)…These endearing pairings are delicious, and remind me of how much I loved the old days before the mob became focus, when Monica and Bobbi were often paired. . I hate the whole Emily scenario (although the last dance sequence was beautiful!), and hated Georgie being killed off…perhaps it is time for Helena to come and give birth to these fallen characters in some DOOL twist. Sam and Lucky are Boring – although I love Sam and Lucky separately. I had such high hopes for Claudia -because I love Sarah Brown. I am disgusted with Carly can;t watch her anymore….and I am so fed up with the Jason story -Since when did he feel remorse – isn’t it part of his brain damage that he can’t ? The whole Baby makes three with Robin and Patrick is irritating – and Anna needs a great story – perhaps with Jerry Jax.

    I am available for hire this summer if GH needs a creative mind. I agree with your take on this Michael mess, and hope someone, someone named Bob, is reading the discussions created, and that maybe we’ll see improvement soon!

  35. cilla says:

    I take issue with Jim’s statement that Genie Francis was asked back and refused because she did not want full-time work. This simply isn’t true. She left because she was allowed vacation time in her contract. Her husband was going to film a movie in London and she asked for the summer off which was within her contract rights. Jill Farren Phelps, refused to let her off on a technicality that she had to request the leave 6 weeks or months (I can’t remember exactly) prior to the date which she had never had to do before. She felt she was 1/2 of the reason GH was still on and deserved equal treatment and benefits as her partner, Tony Geary. Jill wouldn’t budge so she quit.

    When she returned from London, there was no story for her at the time according to Jill. Jill has a long history of firing or alienating female soap stars. She stated many times after her 2006 wedding return that she would like to be asked back. I have watched off and on since the late 70s but always adored all things Quartermaine–those older than I –like Edward, Tracy, Mary Mae Ward, Monica and Alan, Tony, Helena etc. so I do not agree with the statement that viewers are only interested in youth.

  36. Beth says:

    Marlena, I wanted to applaud you for this amazing article. I’ve been so crushed with disappointment over this show since November, and I’ve finally put it aside. I hate to throw away 30 years of off-and-on-again viewership, but GH has become a joyless, soulless mess. I’m just glad to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    I was especially interested in responding to one of your comments:

    “Also, Guza is not the only one who has say at this show. Amazingly the executive producer is a very successful woman, Jill Farren Phelps. Over the last thirty years Jill’s done brauvura quality work on soaps like Santa Barbara Guiding Light and Another World. When I knew her then, she had brains and taste . I can hardly believed she’s sold out so heavily as to let GH become as base as it is.”

    This to me is the biggest mystery about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at GH right now. This is a woman who’s no stranger to the soaps industry and is in a position of power only rivaled by the headwriter. Why doesn’t she actually wield some power and change things? Maybe she likes this vision, but as a woman I find it hard to believe that any woman would like the constant misogyny and violence against women that pass for plot points on this show.

    To me, she should have stood up and cried “foul” when Guza decided to kill off Emily and Georgie within a month of each other in service to a serial killer story that apparently hadn’t even been plotted out completely when it was started. She should read the script and seriously question why it’s necessary for Sonny, the supposed hero of the show, to call Claudia slut and whore constantly. She should wonder why Jason would choose to threaten Sam’s life when once he and she were the loves of each other’s lives. She should have asked why any woman would want to watch Jerry put a knife to Claudia’s neck, shank her, and kick her off a pier as a form of entertainment. And she should have never, ever, decided that showing a graphic depiction of Emily being strangled over and over again in the course of one show to serve a plot point that could have been presented a myriad of other ways was a good idea.

    I certainly don’t want to discount the men that watch GH, but soaps are and will continue to be a primarily female genre. Why in the world would a show want to continue to alienate the fanbase that has kept them on the air for 45 years? A steady diet of violence, misogyny, plot-point storytelling, empty sweeps stunts, and lack of romance, families, and love serves no one except the daytime talk show waiting in the wings to take GH’s timeslot.

    But thank goodness for AMC and OLTL right now. Like you, I shed more than one tear for Greg, Jenny, Angie, Jesse, and the heydey of Tad the Cad. I watched AMC diligently during that period, and it was a joy to see AMC so lovingly acknowledge what was one of the finest eras of this show, while still moving these characters forward in substantial stories. And OLTL has just been soap heaven lately. And both of them did it without having to resort to blowing things up. Imagine that!

    Marlena says: Beth, this is a brilliant letter. And thank you SO much for saying that soaps are primarily a woman’s medium–I got clobbered the last time I wrote that here. I also like how you enumerate your bill of particulars against female producer Phelps. I’ve had no contact with her since I (rightfully so!) eviscerated her work at OLTL about ten years ago.

    I can only deduce that Jill is going with the flow at GH these days. An industry friend who has a pipeline into the studio says she hears Jill might be a figurehead at the show (Guza and ABC Daytime vp Brian Frons are men!) and that she spends a lot of time shopping. Of course, this is all unsubtantiated rumor. What isn’t is that Jill should be ashamed to be a woman and to produce a show that is so overwhelmingly anti-female. But, as Tony Soprano might say, “It’s just business.”

  37. David C says:

    Marlena, you’ve written volumes about the power that was AMC in these short paragaphs and also, the drek that is GH for the last decade.

    You’re missing another villain in this GH business: Jill Farren Phelps. She blissfully killed off key core character Maureen Reardon on GL because that character didn’t score well in focus groups. She allowed beloved heroine Frankie Frame to be murdered in a grotesque way on AW. The writers can’t do anything if the exec producer disagrees. Guza must have Farren Phelps as co-conspirator with Brian Frons as the bystander enabler.

    The magnificent humanity of writers like Nixon, Marland, Bell, Slesar, Malone, Taggart, Broderick et al, is what’s been missing from the soap genre in the last ten years. Without that, we have daytime soaps in their current state and nowhere else to go but down, out and off. Permanently.

  38. Jane says:

    Thanks Marlena, wonderful post! I miss the GH I loved during the 80s and early 90s. I don’t recognize this show at all anymore. I think the MOB centric focus of GH contributes, but it is also a combination of the writers ignoring show history, sacrificing character development for plot points, and the complete and utter lack of a moral voice on the show.

    The cops are portrayed as bumbling idiots, the storyline rich environment of the hospital is ignored for more of Sonny/Carly/Jason, we see no repercussions for amoral acts, the hero’s and heroines….AREN”T. We see Jerry stab a woman, Sam stand by and aid and abet a kidnapping, and arrange for a children to be terrorized with guns, Lucky having sex for drugs, Carly and Sonny commit chronic adultery, Nic using money for his addiction. Maybe we could stomach all this if we saw, more of Mac and the PCPD solving the crimes, more of mothers like Elizabeth, putting her children’s needs first, more of hard working smart women (like Lainey, Kelly, Bobbie, Monica) doing what the rest of us do everyday.
    GH isn’t fun, there is no lighthearted romance, instead its dark, violent and depressing. How sad.

  39. Jim says:

    Marlena-For the record Cilla”takes issue” with my Genie Francis comment and then basically supports it in her own words. The fact is Genie wanted to be back part-time, like Tony, and the show said no. So the other way to look at that is that she was offered a full time gig and she said no which is what I said above.

    And I’m someone who thinks Genie is great and sorely missed from the show. I’m just stating the facts as they are. Not how I wish they were.

  40. cilla says:

    First, Genie Francis has said over and over again that she was never approached by GH upon her return from London except for the short wedding stint; nor has she been approached since her 2006 25th GH wedding. She has said in interviews if she were invited back she “would make it work.” Jim, this is very much documented in interviews she has given. She couldn’t say “no” to part-time or full-time work as she has never been asked. There are many people who return for short repeated visits like Kin Shriner, Rick Springfield, and Finola Hughes. So GH does have recurring or part-time actors; Genie has not been asked back. Jim, you are totally wrong in believing she was offered a full-time gig. When asked after the 2006 wedding return if she would return she said point blank she hadn’t been asked and if she were asked, she would have to give it serious consideration because of uprooting her children from school but she did not rule it out; she merely said it would involve finding suitable schools in LA for her children. She wasn’t asked so she could not say yes or no. Jill Farren Phelps does not want her back and Jill is the reason she left in the first place.

    Second, and more substantially, the topic of Jill Farren Phelps: Jill is the reason the late, great Beverlee McKinsey left abruptedly in 1992. Beverlee did not like the direction her character was being written. Jill was the ex. producer. She had an “out” written in her contract and left without notice. Beverlee was one of the best– a truly great actress. Also, Jill controversially fired Laura Bonarrigo Koffman (Cassie on OLTL) while she was on maternity leave in 1999. Nice surprise for Laura. Not to mention the late Anna Lee who was fired in 2004 from GH and died within a few short months. Her family blamed the firing for breaking a 91 year-old’s heart and hastening her death. Lesli Kay and Kari Wuhrer were fired, too, by Jill. Both were pregnant. Draw your own conclusions about this “woman” executive producer. I think she enjoys going after legacy actresses with a vengence. So in that respect, she is as much at fault for GH’s nadir as Frons and Guza.

    Marlena says: Okay, with all due great, great respect to Cilla and Jim, I’m breaking up this brawl right now. Since neither of you are professional soap press (I’m assuming) I gather that the facts you are basing your arguments on were gleaned originally from soap mags and/or the net. You are what is known in the biz as “secondary sources.” So let’s cut to the chase and invite some primary sources to weigh in. If Bob or Jill or Genie want to contact me in response to my GH column or the letters printed here, I’d be happy to post here whatever they have to say.

  41. Chris says:

    Marlena, During the eighties my cousin’s husband hurried home for lunch every day from his job as an accountant to watch Greg and Jenny! I am glad to see he was not alone. Furthermore, thanks for what you had to say about the state of GH. When Sonny shot Carly in the head I felt the show had gone as low as it could go. I guess I was holding them to too high a standard.

    None of the soaps are what they used to be— but I remember the Monica cancer story and bawling through BJ’s death and I wasn’t even a regular view of GH. Those stories were strong enough to hit the emotions of someone who only watched during GL commercial breaks. Now stories which should have enormous emotional appeal are just numbing or mishandled. Under almost any other writers Sonny’s realization of his bipolar disorder could have been a magnificant story and been socially significant (and done with sensitivity toward the portrayer’s own BPD), but under the current regime it was trivialized. To this viewer GH seems to have the potential to tell great stories, but if there is any way they can screw a story up they will do it. Like many I too am tired of the focus on three or four characters and the limited airtime of others. Also, JFP is the same person who killed off the beloved Maureen Bauer on GL. To me as a longtime soap viewer, she just doesn’t get it. And finally, in my fantasy GH Sebastian Roche aka Jerry is a sleeper WSB agent sent to clean up the mess that is Port Charles. After all every girl can have a dream.

    Marlena says: Love, love, love your dream Chris! Knowing GH, if they really did introduce a sleeper WSB agent to clean up Port Charles it would probably be Sonny’s up-until -now-unknown twin brother Bunny. Or perhaps, Money.

  42. Annie says:

    GH is just getting boring to me. I still watch it but like others I am sick and tired of it being “General Mob” no matter what happens the storyline will always revolve around Sonny. I like the guy but come on, there are some great actors that just don’t get the air time they should. I would love to see more Monica and the Quartermaines. I always got a kick out of them.

    My big complaint with GH is the treatment of the female characters. If I hear another “I don’t know who my baby’s father is” storyline I am going to scream. Those storylines are just plain stupid and make the women look like tramps while they potray the men to be Superman. Why is it that women are always fighing over the guys? Never hardly see that with the men doing that. When these women are on their own they are strong, independent women but give them a man and they become weak. Right now the two strongest women on there are Diane and Alexis (or at least I think so) when they are together they can probably kick any male’s butt!!! They need more airtime!!!

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    Marlena, I really enjoyed what you wrote by the way. I just found this site and I love it.

  43. Tess Mallory says:

    Dear Marlena — what an incredible blog! I have been watching soaps for 30 years and am now a romance novelist. Everything you said is so completely true about soaps today. All My Children is my long time fave soap, and what has been done to it in the last three years is just sickening to me. Now they finally seem to be, perhaps, back on track a little with the return of Jesse and Angie, and other veterans. But the death of Dixie before she and Tad could find their daughter, Kate, was just unforgivable.

    The other day there was a one episode “event” where Dixie’s ghost came to Tad (on the verge of death) and they had their fast-forward “Life” together–what would have been. What an insulting and obvious ploy to try and placate angry viewers and “fix” what had been done to this beloved show. Well, it didn’t fix anything, and Tad’s reunion with Kate was such an anti-climatic moment that it made me even more angry than I was before.

    Soap writers need to take a page from the “book” of romance authors and remember that not only do storylines need to MAKE SENSE (one of my pet peeves) but they have to reflect real, heartfelt emotions that real people experience! Killing off character to bring other characters back together is just LAZY. There are so many ways to work out a reunion between characters — romance writers have to do it in every book we write!

    Thakns for letting me rant! :) And thanks for a beautifully written, heartwarming blog. I will be reading your posts from now on!!

    Tess ; )

    Marlena says: I am so honored to get this letter, Tess. My best pal is an editor of Romantic Times, the magazine of romance fiction, so I am very familiar with your world. I love the way you compare soaps and romance books and you are so right that soaps must MAKE SENSE. Such a simple thing, you’d think soaps would finally get it right after 70 years!

    I liked the Tad and Dixie in Heaven episode because on soaps, we NEVER get to see two people growing old together and going through all the events of their lives together. I inquired and found out that episode was written by a very young woman (Kate Hall, daughter of veteran soap writer/actress Courtney Simon). It never occured to me that AMC was trying to make up Dixie’s death; I was just grateful to see an episode that resembles real life — my life as a woman — on a soap.

    The romance books I’ve read do reflect real life and real love more than soaps these days. Whoever thought that that a written fictional genre would survive a televised one here in the 21st century?

  44. Candy says:

    I agree Marlena – this story line was not only tasteless but it was BORING. Although I think it is a first reaction for a parent to not want to believe hopeless news from a doctor, the Carly character is certainly more intelligent than this, isn’t she? And this story line drug on and on and on ad nauseum – reminded me of soaps long ago when you could watch an episode about every 10 days and maybe something new would happen.

    GH changed a lot of the standardized soap opera fare when Gloria Monty came on board and created a show with multiple complex plots, good acting, and respect for all age characters. I personally am quite tired of them trying to shove teeny bopper story lines by bad actors down the viewers’ throats, especially when it doesn’t take a genius to see that their QUALITY actors (Luke, Tracy, Edward, etc.) are what has always made their show a stand out.

    I would rather see fewer characters that are quality actors, than a dozen young characters who do nothing but “fill” the time slot. Of course, with better actors you need quality story lines to be written. Who knows, maybe therein lies the REAL problem!

  45. Eq8 says:

    I wouldn’t call AMC the best soap ever. A good one in the 70s and 80s. But best? No.

    Nothing tops Guiding Light into 1984, and then again from November 1990 to about 1994. Especially that magical 1991-1992 era when everything the show did was so right that it was the best television show on the air, daytime or prime time. AMC never competed with prime time. Not in its wildest dreams.

    And I realize that there’s a lot of nostalgia for Jenny and Greg, but she was about the most annoying goody-two-shoes heroine, of all time. I’m still sort of glad that she was blown up. My teeth couldn’t take anymore of her naive nitwit sweetness.

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