A General Hospital (Bang Bang!) Double Header

Thinking Fans Comment Update October 2:  Lois chronicles soaps’  long history of bloody brides (who knew?) … Cat complains that The Shooting was ripped off from The Godfather Part III … while Cyber is just tired of bad, repetitive writing … and more. See Comments below. 

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Sonny and Kate

The occasion of yet another one of Sonny’s love interests being shot by a Mafia enemy, this time right before the wedding ceremony of Kate (a.k.a. Connie Falconeri) and Sonny started, triggered a high decibel  phone call between my friend Ed Martin and me.  As we have both watched General Hospital forever, we were furious with yet another cliche Guza plot,  which is an insult to our joint intelligence.  Ed bitched the circumstances of the shooting, and I bitched about how sick I am of Italians being portrayed as stupid mob stereotypes.  You see I’m really Italian and really a Connie …

                                                                                                                   Marlena

                                                                                                                    XXXOOO

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GENERAL HOSPITAL GUNS DOWN KATE — AGAIN!

By Ed MartinSonny

No soap opera exasperates me quite as much as General Hospital. Latest case in point: The shooting of Kate Howard.

I haven’t been paying much attention to GH of late, largely because I find the mobsters and their ladies to be increasingly uninteresting, and also because — after too many years of withdrawal — I am finally getting a very satisfying classic GH fix from Night Shift on SOAPnet.

But I did tune in Friday for the wedding of Sonny and Kate, and here’s what I saw: Kate and her cousin Olivia, with whom she was recently reunited after a separation of twenty years, engaged in a loud, embarrassing argument in the back room of the church, with Kate unaware that she was humiliating herself for the enjoyment of her two nemeses, Carly (who had threatened to kill Kate just a few days earlier) and Claudia (who menaced Kate months ago when she lay helpless in a hospital bed). In a telling closeup,

This isn’t simply repetitive storytelling, or storytelling that I don’t find appealing. This is bad soap writing, plain and simple.

Carly was the picture of crude contentment listening to Kate, likely realizing how humiliated she would be when she later learned that everyone in the church heard all the ugly details of her battle with Olivia.

I was waiting for the ferocious spat between Kate and Olivia to degenerate into a clawing catfight. Mercifully, that did not occur. But then something worse happened: Kate got shot at the altar! Now she’s once again fighting for her life at the hospital while Sonny throws more tantrums and barks at the staff.

Been there, done that. Kate took a bullet a few months ago and only recently completed her recovery. Who decided that it would be entertaining for viewers to see her gunned down once again – this time after an intensely awkward and embarrassing experience? For that matter, wouldn’t the shooting have had a greater emotional impact without being preceded by the ugly fight between Kate and Olivia? This isn’t simply repetitive storytelling, or storytelling that I don’t find appealing. This is bad soap writing, plain and simple.Kate

I thought the addition of cosmopolitan Kate to the GH canvas was intended to provide sweet relief from the ongoing madness of its mobster stories. Instead, she has been pulled into the rotting, redundant remains of what was once a fun, vital and entertaining serial.

The only satisfying moment in this entire mess came when Monica put Sonny in his place, reminding him of all the people he has known who have suffered and died just because they were a part of his life (including several of her loved ones). I assume Olivia is next in line to fall under his spell and in turn be felled by an assassin’s bullet a year or two from now. In the meantime, if Kate survives, I assume Carly will learn her dreaded secret and torment her anew, or threaten to kill her again. (The buzz online indicates that Kate had a child long ago and that the kid may have been Sonny’s.)

Fortunately, I can escape all of this nonsense over on SOAPnet with the increasingly popular Night Shift, where there isn’t a mobster in sight.

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MISOGYNY AND MEATBALLS:  BASTA ALREADY WITH THE ITALIAN STEREOTYPES ON  GENERAL HOSPITAL!

By Connie Passalacqua Hayman  (a.k.a. Marlena De Lacroix)   

What a surprise — more misogyny and violence on General Hospital!   You can’t ask for a better example of woman-hating than having Carly and Claudia make fun of the bride’s private fight with her cousin on her wedding day.  Well, maybe yes you can — bang bang!Lisa LoCicero

As a real Italian-American named Connie who was born in Brooklyn, I must say this now.  Enough already of the goomba Italians from Brooklyn who are mobbed up on GH.   Now they’ve introduced yet another Brooklyn Italian character, Olivia, who is supposedly Kate’s (a.ka. Connie Falconeri’s) cousin. And soon as I heard that dumb Italio-Brooklyn accent coming out of actress Lisa LoCicero’s mouth, I wanted to scream “Basta!” (That’s means “enough”  in Italian!)

My family, the Passalacquas, were Italians from Brooklyn and they certainly did NOT talk like “dis.” They were a big loving family, all  hard working immigrants, not criminals.  They had a fruit market, and for decades after this my father, Cosmo, joked that they were “fruiterers of distinction.”  They certainly were not criminals. I never ever heard the word mob or Mafia uttered in their house.  So why should they, and all Italians, be stereotyped as such?  Stereotyping Italians is as bad a stereotyping Jews, African-Americans, Asians and every ethnic group.

Years ago I interviewed Claire Labine, who created Sonny in 1993, and her writer daughter Eleanor and writer son Matt in Claire’s brownstone in the patrician Park Slope section of Brooklyn. At the time they were writing Guiding Light.  They couldn’t get over how Sonny, the two bit street criminal and pimp they had originally created years ago, had become so popular— the Marlon Brando of soaps,  il capo di tutti capos. But they never meant for GH to become totally dominated

I am so sick of Italian mob stereotypes on GH, so sick of Sonny and his clichéd world, so sick of Guza! 

by the Mafia (as it was transformed into by their successors and the  current  headwriter, Mr. Guza).  The Labines  knew the world of Italian Brooklyn well — it lay just across Prospect Park in Bay Ridge and out into Bensonhurst. Eleanor, whose married name at the time was Mancusi, patiently told me she and her family had also been  interested in affectionately portraying the good and humorous Italians — the overwhelming majority — who lived in Sonny’s Bensonhurst, too. Remember the other Labine creations, the endearing Lois Cerullo, (Rena Sofer) and her good hearted mom, Gloria (Ellen Travolta)?  Lois was one of GH‘s most popular and beloved characters ever.

But of course, mob stories and the character of Sonny rules Guza’s violence-ridden GH and as such, we’ll never be free of characters turning up from Bensonhurst as mob-related stereotypes.  Lisa LoCicero is a terrific actress (I interviewed her when she played Jocelyn  on The City) and already her character Olivia  has guts and has shown she can stand up to Sonny. Big Pussy Also, a new Italian character Maximus, played by The Sopranos‘ Vincent Pastore (the infamous Big Pussy) will show up in Port Charles soon as the father of Sonny’s bodyguards, Max and Milo Giambetti. Will Maximums  be mobbed up and talk like “dis”? What do you think?

I am so sick of Italian mob stereotpyes on GH, so sick of Sonny and his clichéd world, so sick of Guza!  I guess I’ll have to eat more manicotti and meatballs to console myself.  My grandmother Concetta (after whom I am named) passed down the recipe to me.   You see the secret to being a real Italian is both knowing and enjoying the food AND understanding the real people.  Bullets are for stupid, lazy writers whose only real connection to my culture is copying the pulpy works of Mario Puzo.

Comments

  1. horselover says:

    Bravo Ed and Connie! I couldn’t have said it any better!

    • Firstly, none of this “gumba”–the correct word is “cumpa’ ” which is slang for “compare” which in turn translates to “godfather”, though, the true Italian word for ‘godfather’ is ‘padrino’. The female version is “commare”. (madrina) I am also sick of seeing my people being depicted as perpetual criminals and “uncooth”–don’t you know that nothing compares to the Italian culture? Writers…do your homework….examine the real Italian society…perhaps you will learn something. I was born in a small village in Southern Italy…I am well educated and have more class in my little finger than you can possibly hope to gain. By the by, Lisa LoCicero may have an Italian name but her looks are not that of a true Italian—her colouring and features are all wrong…is she partly Hispanic?,,,not a Spaniard, mind you (ignorant people considered Hispanics as Spanish) but of mixed blood–which is fine and dandy–I just don’t like Hispanics and other cultures ( French, Portuguese, Spaniards etc.) assuming the role of Italians—il capo dei capi—not capos—alla vostra salute–ciao

  2. Lois says:

    While I sympathize with your ire being raised because of all of the Italian stereotypes suddenly arriving on the scene at General Hospital — I believe that the stereotyped Italians are just joining a bigger bunch of GH stereotypes — and are probably just going to get lost in the crowd. At the head of the list of stereotypes, of course, are the Port Charles police — who are unanimously portrayed as stupid, bungling, corrupt, unethical, incompetent, narrow-minded and self-centered. In the case of Connie’s wedding –the police also turned out to be johnny-come-lateleys — so, naturally, the ONLY people around to chase after the shooter — and conduct an investigation — were mobsters!

    And, while I sympathize with those who were miffed because Kate was shot at her wedding — you need to remember that ABC never met a bloody bride they didn’t love to pieces! In some cases — literally! While I would LIKE to lay this prejudice all at the feet of Guza and Frons — I am afraid that the obsession with the bloody bride is common to all three ABC soaps — and predates Frons’ arrival at corporate headquarters.

    For example, back in 2001 — ABC was billing the summer shows as the “summer of seduction.’ But 2001 was REALLY the summer of the bloody bride! On All My Children, Gillian Lavery became the bride of Ryan — and, shortly afterward, Gillian was shot in the head. When Gillian was pronounced dead, Gillian’s heart was quickly donated to someone else. It seems to me that the recipient of Gillian’s heart later died — but hadn’t become a bride yet.

    On GH — shortly after Carly became engaged to Sonny for the umpteenth time, Carly was seriously injured when one of Sonny’s enemies sent a bomb which went off in Sonny’s Penthouse.

    On OLTL — the ORIGINAL plan was for newly-engaged-and-pregnant-Blair to be involved in an airplane crash. However, in the middle of OLTL’s plans, September 11 happened. TPTB began an embarrassing scramble to re-write much of their bloody fare in the wake of the tragic events in New York and Washington, D.C. As a result, Blair was STILL involved in a plane crash — but the crash mercifully happened OFF screen! TIIC were willing to give up their image of bloody-bride-Blair — but clung desperately to their “bloody bride” story! Afterward, TPTB were all over the soap press with promises that all of the hasty re-writes had taught them a lesson and, from now on — we would all be seeing a ‘kinder, gentler’ soap product. Famous last words.

    Over at Port Charles, of course, Caleb the vampire dressed Livvie all in bridal white and then gnoshed on her neck. Again. And Again. And still some more gnoshing! TIIC were SO in love with the images of Livvie’s red blood, trickling down and staining her white gown — that the scene has probably been re-run more often than any other scene from Port Charles!

    In March of 2005, when Sonny and Jason decided to murder 9 members of the rival Sandoval crime family while the Sandovals were attending a family function at the Metro Court, one of the innocent by-standers who got caught in the crossfire was Courtney. Courtney had just recently become engaged to Jax and was, naturally, dressed in white for the blood bath. Naturally, Courtney ended up covered in blood — although the blood came from ANOTHER innocent bystander who got caught in the crossfire!

    Last October — not only did the ‘sweeps’ event BEGIN with almost-Bride-Emily, dressed in white and covered with blood — but the event turned out to be a “black and white ball.” This meant that most of the young girls attending that event were dressed in white — and nearly ALL of them ended up with blood stains on their white ball gowns. When crazy Anthony mistook Nurse Layla for his dead wife, Maria, Anthony waxed poetic about how Maria’s white dress was stained by her blood when Anthony shot his wife instead of his son. Later, of course, when Anthony shot Nurse Layla in the back, we naturally got to see Layla’s blood, staining the back of Layla’s white ball gown.

    After the October-November sweeps carnage was over and the victims were making their way to the Emergency Room at the hospital — Guza just HAD to have one more bloody bride to clinch the deal! A day-player recent bride was rushed to the E.R. — still wearing her bloody, white wedding gown, of course. The story was that the bride was hit by a car as she crossed the street to enter the church for her wedding. As I recall that particular side story — the problem was that the doctors COULD save her life — but the surgery would make it impossible for her to ever have children again.

    Samantha McCall ALSO belongs in ABC’s hall of bloody brides. Shortly after Sam and Jason had decided that they WOULD get married, Sam, all dressed in white, met Jason on the patio of a dance which Jason had decided NOT to attend because Jason was afraid that he would draw the attention of his enemies. As Sam ran into Jason’s arms, one of Jason’s enemies took aim and shot Sam in the back. Naturally, of course, Jason was stunned when Sam’s blood began to stain the back of Sam’s bridal white gown — and Sam slumped to the floor!

    So — personally — I was not all that surprised that Kate turned out to be THIS year’s bloody bride. The only thing that REALLY surprised me was that Guza was able to wait so long before once again indulging in the ABC obsession for a bloody bride!

    There are plenty more examples which I could mention — but these few examples will help you get the picture. That Connie/Kate happened to be a member of an Italian family was probably just an afterthought, tossed in by Guza. Of course, we could NOT help but notice that cousin Olivia ALSO had blood covering HER gown as well!

    ABC’s REAL prejudice is directed toward brides. The Italians were merely this month’s innocent bystanders!

    Marlena says: Good thing I didn’t have my wedding to Moose on ABC!

  3. Cat says:

    Wordy Word Word WORD! So much Word!

    That was like a primal scream from the soul, Marlena/Concetta! Great breakdown from Mr. Martin, too.

    After almost 20 years of on-off GH viewing, I finally bit the bullet (so to speak) and switched off after Michael’s shooting and limo sex. I don’t think there is one character I like on GH. I didn’t even like little Michael. So how can I possibly get invested in Who Lives and Who Dies? Why should I like them when the writers of that show plainly don’t either?

    I did make sure to tape Monday’s episode with The Shooting, though — a total rip-off on the last 10 minutes of The Godfather Part 3, right down to the location of Kate’s bullet wound and her standing there unaware and disbelieving at having been shot in the first place. I was especially saddened to see Kate’s BFFs Maxie, Diane and Alexis acting like somebody had just spilled water on their dresses — no big deal. The nastiness prevalent among Carly and Claudia was nauseating. Insulting and inhumane. Women really do come out looking horrendous on this show. Carly is supposed to be GH’s heroine?

    I have always firmly believed that soaps can, somehow, be saved with a little TLC. Looking at how badly GH has been destroyed, I know that not to be true. And that saddens me… as I move away from Daytime and look elsewhere for a little bit of televisual escapism.

    Marlena says: Carly is only one person’s heroine — Bob Guza’s. Cat, don’t leave soaps! Marlena likes your letters too much!

  4. Matthew Cormier says:

    I agree with you both, enough is enough with the mob on GH. It’s time for somebody else to come in and create a new vision for “General Hospital” which is badly in need of new direction. I suggest either Claire Labine or whoever is writing for Night Shift.

  5. esther says:

    Glad I wasn’t the only one rolling my eyes, disgusted by this latest plot point (cause Lord knows it ain’t character development) in Guza’s Hospital. You and Ed both did a great job of why, so I won’t be redundant and will just say — yep!

    As for Night Shift, oy … I finally tuned in after the hype and because I saw a promo with Anna and Robert. So … I watched. And while I wasn’t disappointed with anything that involved the above two (and scrubs) — the rest of the show? A complete waste of my valuable time. Stupid me watched it live rather than just waiting for TiVo to finish recording. I found the other actors (minus Chad whatshisname) to be horrible. The story of the racists so completely heavy-handed, I suddenly thought I was watching an Afterschool Special from the 1970s. Essentially — everything I suspected it would be — it was. Sorry, I can’t join the Night Shift bandwagon.

    It just proved to me once again — TiVo is my friend and patience truly is a virtue.

    Marlena says: As I said here about two weeks ago, it wouldn’t be a party without you, Esther dear.

  6. MarkH says:

    Great, great post. Like you, I have “found” Night Shift, and I’m actually struggling to stay up Tuesdays at 11 pm (hard for me) to see it. It feels like a real soap, with real emotion, real situations.

    You say “increasingly popular” Night Shift. Do you mean critically, or ratings-wise? I want the show to get boffo ratings, growing weekly, so that Mr. Frons is faced with the reality of the horrible abomination (GH) is stuck with on daytime. And so Mr. Frons then makes the only correct decision…..

  7. Aback says:

    Being an Italian myself, I’m disgusted at what GH has been doing for YEARS, and I wonder why people are still watching and caring so much.

    Marlena says: You’re right — I am about 15 years late in making this call. That’s how long Sonny — who was cleverly given the non-Italian last name of Corinthos –has been in the mob, an Italian stereotype if ever there was one.

  8. Cyber says:

    I just am so tired of it. It is such bad repetitive writing until I just can shake my head. I watch soapsfor drama and I’m just not getting it…Olivia why is she brought on the canvas? For what purpose? To chant “my cousin” after its obvious to me she clearly has issues…she hasn’t seen this woman in twenty years! GMAB where is this concern coming from?

    Wasn’t Kate shot before? My bone of contention is that there are sooo many useless characters when character I care about get no air time…Why are Nadine, Olivia, being fastforwarded past Lainey and Kelly. I happen to like those characters; Lainey with Justis is the last romantic interest she had they have never been in a solid storyline. under a sweep umbrella but here comes Nadine and all these characers walking into a sweep. I have put GH on a clips basis…I only tune in for my favs and that’s it. I haven’t watched an entire eppy in so long and it seems I don’t have to watch it but I’m right in step because of the “predictable” writing that offers me no wonderful surprise…

  9. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Well, I’ve been enjoying the build up to the wedding that’s been going on for weeks now and all the foreshadoing of doom. Really enjoy the Kate Howard character. She gives a much-needed sense of class to the show. And yes, I like her despite being connected to Sonny (who I used to enjoy in small doses, but grew to hate once he started dominating the show).

    So, Friday’s show started out pretty good. The shouting match between Olivia and Kate with everyone overhearing was just part of the ongoing wedding problems. Carly and Claudia being there gave potential for some good bitchy scenes. Alexis and Diane there offered potential for some witty banter. Spinelli and Maxie there offered potential for some Spinelli-esque humor. So, it felt like this could be a really good show.

    And while the promos and alll the foreshadowing had told me there would be some kind of disaster at the wedding, I wasn’t prepared for a shooting. Especially given that there was no build up to the shooting. The shot just seemed to come out of nowhere. No scenes of a mysterious figure sneaking a case into the church, putting together a rifle or taking aim (unless I missed something). No, the shot just happened!

    Where’s the fun in that!? The whole point of building dramatic tension is to give the audience clues that something’s going to happen. Oh, sure there was the foreshadowing of doom, but this felt like bait and switch. This felt like cheating.

    So, that’s when the wedding nosedived for me. Another Sonny wedding disaster. Yawn. More scenes of Sonny puffing his chest and barking orders at hospital personelle. Yawn. Another Sonny love interest gets caught up in the violence of his world. Yawn. But I guess that’s one way for ABC to save money — recycle bits of old scripts.

    As for the Italian characterizations, they’ don’t especialy bother me since I’m not Italian. But I’m sure if they were using dumb Southern redneck stereotypes, I’d be offended since I’m from the South. No, the Italian stereotypes are just part of the bigger problem that none of the characters seem original anymore, with the exception of Spinelli.

    Oh, and just FYI, the character of Sonny was already on the canvas when Claire Labine got there in fall 1993 — she was hired to make sure Luke and Laura were given an entrance worthy of their legendary status.

    Sonny had arrived in Port Charles in spring 1993 as a small time hood, the mangager of the strip club who got Karen Wexler hooked on pills. I believe Gene Palumbo was writing the show at the time.

    Labine is often mistakenly credited with creating Sonny since she ran with the character, gave him a backstory, paired him with Brenda and greatly expanded his presence in town.

    Marlena says: Thanks for the corrected back history of Sonny. Gene Palumbo, who has an Italian name, invented Sonny? That’s interesting. FYI, when Claire Labine wrote Ryan’s Hope she devised a Mafia character named Joe Novak, who was played by Roscoe Born. Born was a sensation in this first daytime role.

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more, Ed and Marlena. While I find the character of Olivia fascinating, I wish that the story had been more about Kate as Connie than yet another story about one of Sonny’s women getting injured. This storyline has so much potential that they are wasting. It should be about Sonny and his first love trying to recapture the past and who they once were. Kate coming to terms with the decisions and choices that she made twenty years ago when she left Connie Falconeri behind. And why are we just seeing cousin Olivia? Why not have the rest of the Falconeri clan come to town? Are they not alive? And if Kate is such a fashionista, why are we not seeing some of her fashion friends attending her wedding? It could have been about the culture clash of Kate’s two worlds meeting. Why couldn’t Carly have found out through Spinelli about Kate’s past and used the occasion to expose her? That would have made more sense than Kate being shot again in less than six months.

    Imagine what the reception could have been like with the Falconeris, the Port Charles elite, the fashion crowd, and the bride and groom. Remember how great Lois and Ned’s wedding was on GH, back when the Labines were writing the show? That kind of heart?

    Now I just don’t care. This show is just one retread after another. Come on, how many times has Monica berated Sonny about his choices? We all know that Mac and the police will learn nothing and Jason, the big hero, will solve everything, including global warming and the financial markets crisis, while Sonny breaks glassware.

  11. Bryon says:

    Hi Marlena and Ed! As always thanks for putting into words what many many many of us feel. Am I dreaming too big here that with the success of Nightshift, ABC will get a clue and make changes to GH?

    Marlena says: Byron dear , that’s exactly what I want. If they can’t do it now, I’m going to ask for it for Christmas!

  12. tess says:

    I have often wondered why General Hospital is even about the mob. After all, the show is called General Hospital. With the success of Gray’s Anatomy and ER, why doesn’t GH give us contemporary stories that are exclusively about a hospital?

    I know a few fans who are wild about the show and because they avidly spoke about it, I checked it out. Its appeal eludes me.

    What am I missing?

    Marlena says: If you want to see a contemporary soap that’s actually about a hospital –the very same General Hospital — check your local cable listing for the show’s spinoff, General Hospital: Night Shift, which airs on SoapNet weekly. You will be glad you did!

  13. Fabobug says:

    Kudos to Marlena and Ed,

    My only regret about your column is that such brilliant and witty writing was wasted on this disgusting repetitive tripe of a show. I finally gave up on GH after Georgie’s death, I just felt too insulted and that was the final straw.

    Guza’s reductionalistic portrayals of Italians and women feel like they are more from the 1950′s than the 2000′s. And as Mr. Martin pointed out, these were bad stories the first 5 times, it’s enough already! Even Maurice Bernard has essentially stated he’s tired of the same old same old.

    However, thanks to Marlena’s column a few weeks back I checked out Night Shift. And thankfully I see some signs of intelligent life in the ABC drama universe. But how much longer can GH hinge on this vomit?

  14. Monica says:

    I love this insight and you both rock with your current assessments of this show. But it brings up another question….. why also at times especially in his salad days is Sonny the man whom came from BensonHurst also have a Greek last name and at times can spit out the Spanish when called for like when he mad about something.

    Marlena says: Thank you darling! Sonny was probably given a Greek name to mask his life as a criminal. Maurice Bernard is Spanish, so I guess that’s where Sonny’s Spanish comes from. But consider that Sonny, could have been named after no one else but the Godfather’s own matyred son….Sonny Corleone!

  15. Purple Haze says:

    General Hospital does live up to its name — since that his where all the victims of the mob and assorted serial killers wind up.

    I can’t understand why Claire Labine would have been surprised that a low level pimp and criminal like Sonny would have taken off given that Maurice Benard was cast as the character. Anyone who saw him as Nico Kelly in “All My Children” would have known of his potential. The actor would not have been a good fit as a typical “hero” or mainstay of the community, a Joe Martin (AMC) or Mike Bauer (GL) type. “Sonny” is a perfect match between actor and character (can you imagine anyone else playing Sonny?). Few actors could maintain their popularity amidst the “copy and paste” scriptwriting as well as Benard, so kudos to him.

    I suppose as a long-time viewer I put up with all t he violence so as to see the stuff that GH does so well. They can do “quirky” characters better than other shows and write to the actor’s strengths. They can recognize talent and devise back story and weave such actors into the mainstream seamlessly, think Carolyn Hennesy or Bradford Anderson. They do not give untried newcomers the run of the show (think Tyra on Y&R or Liberty on ATWT), aggravating viewers to the extent that the newcomers, whether talented or not, whether they could have proven to be welcome additions were their introductions not so heavy handed, become so unpopular they are written off.

    I enjoy the visuals on GH more than any of the other shows I watch. While other shows have allowed set design to fall to budget constraints, GH consistently delivers good product, for instance, Carly’s house with its interesting light blue, brown and gray color scheme, the Crimson offices with their high-end furnishings and cityscape, and the Metro bar — a very compelling place to get the alcoholic sustenance one needs to get through the show’s dismal repetitive writing.

    If I could not focus on the glass half full I would become just another statistic — a former viewer who has abandoned the genre. I will interject the 12-step program motto “I take what I need and leave the rest.”

    Yes, they do stereotype Italians as criminal and uneducated but since almost everyone on that show is criminal and uneduated, what is the difference?

    Marlena says: I play that game with my friend pjs all the time. He’s watched GH since Day One and really can practice “I take what I need and leave the rest.” I refuse to do it anymore. As you know, GH is dirt to me since a child, Michael was shot (something that should never happen in a female-oriented medium) and now even my old fave OLTL has become almost unwatchable because of “amnesiac” Marty having a romance with her rapist Todd. Revolting! I’ve loved soaps forever and given them almost an entire writing career, but I refuse to let the writers trangress on my basically morality and principles as a woman, all because they are desperate to save the medium.

    Unfortunately however, as a critic for this site I have to watch these shows. Wanna know my secret? A couple of spoon-fulls of Pepto Bismol everytime I have to watch an ABC show!

  16. Cyber says:

    Well, I’m African American, a very long time viewer; every time I even hear the name Bensonhurst it’s scary … and isolates me from the story right off the bat. Because they offer me nothing to counterbalance their Bensonhurst characters “family wise” just a touch of color for their wall paper. I’m aware of where I stand in all this (like Lainey and Kelly) .. nowhere … Besides, I know how “most” of the populace of Bensonhust feels about my heritage.

    Still, I am a lover of mob tales “when told well.” These are not. I too immediately thought of Mary’s shooting on the church steps in the last Godfather saga, even to the expression on Kate’s face … it was a total rip-off; it’s not the first time they’ve directly lifted from an existing mob tale to re-tool it “badly.”

    Sonny/Kate’s story is nothing more than a Guzafied rendition of my hometown’s Sam Gianciana and the famous McGuire Sisters’ Phyllis McGuire … it’s the same deal, and that’s ok, if it’s done well. Phyllis was never targeted, shot and their affair was well known … Nor were his daughters ever shot or targeted. She is alive living in the lap of luxury in Vegas … he was murdered.

    It’s just so many characters on this show. Already I’m reading Olivia is a keeper … why? Another barking in your face character shouting insults (in an overwrorked accent after being in town 5 minutes sizing everyone up). Isn’t this what I just went through with Claudia not long ago? Doesn’t she have an eastern accent? (They even look alike). Doesn’t Carly do the same thing?

    Besides, I’m not willing to sit through more of newbie du jours being explained the lay of the land, e.g. Olivia asking Carly advice “you know him best.” A waste of my time … this should be a fade-out while Carly explains Sonny to Olivia. Then fade in to her questions regarding what they discussed. I already know the story.

    Besides, I just went through this with LuLu to Laura, which is understandable for me, because she is an iconic character. It was a waste of precious air time, for Olivia? Is she this important?

    They did the same thing with Claudia … every time airtime is spent giving a newbie history lesson, while I still wait for existing stories to play out. While they continually introduce more newbies. Then wait some more while they’re anchored to the canvas, it’s a muddled mess “for me.”

    I remember in a DTC Podcast (you may have been on the panel) a guest host felt GH needs to tighten up by changing to a half hour. I don’t wish to see this happen but agree to the reason why … I just think it’s simple, better writing and execution of stories. I don’t think it matters how long they air … If it’s still bad writing the problem won’t be solved especially with an extremely overcrowded canvas. How much air will they get?

    I too feel the mob tales are “sterotypical.” Moreover, should be in “moberation.” It’s way out of control and they have virtually changed the nature to General Mobspittle. NS2 is what GH “should be.” Yes, I want to have my mob; but again, in good stories not dominating the entire show.

    Is the mob still “like this?” I live in a mob town and these mobsters have changed with the times. GH mob tales are circa 50s-60s really old school (like some bad Edward G. Robinson movie). The new mob here don’t target families, they kill you, that’s it. And this is my major bone of contention; another, is this comedy eg “Married to Mob” comes to mind in many of the mob storylines..

    How mob is presented? Am I to take this seriously? When the police chief commisioner’s daughter is squatting in a mob lord’s PH barking in his face how screwed up he is. I thought kingpins are supposed to be taken seriously and at least respected, she clearly does not?

    Instead of feared, revered, I’m getting a young blond ditz parked (like LuLu before her) taking pot shots at him (in his own house). Is this a comedy? Why is Spinelli living there when there is an empty PH across the hall? Can’t he come over to give Jason a POV? Is he Jason consiglierre or is it Carly?

    Spinelli has needed his own place for a long time to entertain his lady friend (on his sofa … I guess Jason’s PH is small). I’m rather sick of him being there with all this OneTreeHill nonsense. He’s funny, nerdy cute but its gotten old. He does solve the issue of stale, dark, morose, depressing storylines with a ray of freshness and he speaks like his generation would dialog with mobsters … I’m not wonderfully surprised by another mob character coming so soon after the Russian. Their story board is basically mob with a little Robin, who I also see on NS2 …(Elizabeth thrown in every other week for 2 min). I miss Alexis. I’m glad for Jax but overall I’ve seen this mob story.

    I am not vested in any more characters from Bensonhurst. I know it’s Frons’ old neighborhood. Enough said.

    Marlena says: This is a terrific letter, Cyber; so much to think about here! First off I love Lainey; she’s way too smart, classy and educated to be of continued interest to Guza (loved her with Cody last summer on his NS, though.)

    And you are right, Guza’s mob is like something out of the 50s. Of course, he could have studied the contemporary mob by watching and thinking about The Sopranos, but the quality of writing on that show was way, way beyond the Guza level. Am I right — I read about her lots in Dominick Donne’s stories in Vanity Fair — but wasn’t Phyllis McGuire (infamous love interest of Sam Giancana) a much, much smarter babe than Kate on GH? Kate ran a magazine, but that doesn’t means she’s smart — all you have to know to do that is how to play power politics. I alway thought Kate was rather stupid, especially since she didn’t get rid of Sonny as soon as she could figure out from history (and Michael’s shooting) that he could get her killed. And he almost did — twice! If she got shot once, I’m sure Ms. McGuire would have left Giancana pronto(with a good financial settlement), not like Kate, Guza and Sonny’s idiot! Even today, McGuire sounds like quite a canny lady (and she’s quite a wealthy one too.)

    Just for the record, I don’t like Maxie. She looks dangerously anorexic and no one on TV should ever speak so fast and expect to be understood by the audience. Her fast talking is monotonous after a while. I still love Spinelli, but unless he turns out to be Sonny’s son, his character needs some rethinking. They’ve given him no room to grow as a character; anyone naturally this bright would have moved on by now — finished his college degree and been off to grad school. Of course, no character is allowed to grow on GH — ever. Look at ever-stupid Sonny and poor (little) Lulu!

  17. Marlene says:

    Dearest Marlena,
    I, too am of Italian descent and only knew of the fun loving, gregarious hard working Italians of my youth; my grandmother’s friends who were all so proud of being first generation Americans who served in WWII and Korea. Nary one of them resembled Sonny and his thugs. I am ashamed of GH. I yearn for the long ago intellectual and cerebral GH that was written by the Labines.
    I remember a column you wrote when the Labines were writing GH and in it you stated that GH would always be number one as long as the Labines were writing it. They no longer write it, and look how far they have fallen.

    Marlena says: Thank you for confirming what I said about real old Italian families, especially the good-hearted people like my father and his brothers and your grandmother’s friends who went off to World War II and saved us all — without griping, without question. And then took care of their families, honestly and to the very best of their abilities, for the rest of their lives! None of them would ever dream of wanting to be in the mob!

    The Labines have been out of soaps for years, and I doubt they’d ever want to come back to GH, or an ABC show. Too bad for all of us! Too bad for all of us!

  18. Marilyn Henry says:

    Connie, you and the smart, faithful comment-ors have said it so well. And Cyber, I have often wondered why Lainey, beautiful, smart, the show’s one psychiatrist (and Lord knows the inhabiters of PC need one sorely!), should be standing on the sidelines, when she could have story galore. And romance. When they brought in her father I thought perhaps she was about to actually be featured…but no. And soon she was just recurring …

    The violence is so repetitious. It is a little like swearing. It has lots its shock value in overuse. Think how that one “damn” stood out in GWTW. Today they use the nastiest language possible to pepper film dramas and it has no effect anymore. A good swear word is only as good as its shock value, and a gunshot only as good as its surprise and shock and this latest had neither. For a long time I’ve wondered why the show cannot just fire someone and let the character move away — instead of Guza being allowed to kill them permanently. Why couldn’t sweet Georgie just go to Europe to study if they wanted her off the canvas? Why did AJ have to die? Alan? Emily? Frankly, I’m very worried about the well-loved, iconic Robert Scorpio. If he were on GH, I don’t doubt Guza would kill him in a nano second! And without a twitter of regret. Even bad mail doesn’t give him a twinge.

    I am SO tired of new characters who come on, are tried, often shoved at us in large doses, and then get wiped out when the overdose proves too much for the viewers. (I am so very sick of Claudia by now I actually long for Guza to have his way with her.) They hire so many newbies; why can’t they hire Genie? But of course the show has been run into the ground, so it is probably too late. I am still angry that they didn’t bring her in for a good story with Luke. What a waste. But talent on this show is continually demeaned. Look at John J York, a good actor and one of the handsomest guys on the show, who is now reduced to being a too stupid cop.

    At least Lisa DeCeliso is a talented actress and has a strong naturalness that makes her character watchable. But another long lost kid of Sonny’s?

    Pul-lease …

    Repeat, repeat… repeat again. And Maurice could phone this stuff in he has done it so often. (Sometimes I think he is phoning it in, it is so predictable and with the same old technique: mumble mumble … long pause … mumble pause mumble … yell, look under the eyebrows, yell, pause, mumble …) It is long past time to cut his air time to once or twice a week and give him a sideline story. He isn’t exactly carrying this show to glory and big ratings these days. Overexposure did him in long ago. I hate Sonny and care nothing for what happens to him — and he is the show’s lead!

    I do, however like Megan and her Kate. But not her story. I love Alexis, but that is pointless because I doubt she will ever get a story worthy of her. I like Sebastian but that, too, is pointless because Guza cannot give up making him a psycho. He could have explained Jerry’s derangement ages ago and didn’t.

    And that Russian mobster … how tired is that? The guy isn’t even scary. He seems merely sad and apologetic. (Probably from reading the scripts.)

    This latest shooting is just pathetic. Anthony’s reasoning of his motive is dumb and pathetic. The big “secret” of Olivia’s is more rehashed boredom. The show is sinking into the sunset. Personally, I am losing one of my fondest guilty pleasures, but it is hard to continue watching. So many actors I love and am reluctant to leave…I wait for Geary’s return, but am not sure why …

    Marlena says: Marilyn, your letters are always so interesting. I love your comment about the shock of using one swear word working well in Gone With the Wind, but they mean so little now in movies filled with expletives. As far as the rest … you are caught in the same General Hospital syndrome as many other Thinking Fans … you know it is time to go, but you are still emotionally attached to the characters. Perhaps at this point ABC/and or Guza should personally disburse small checks to viewers who still will give him the benefit of their doubt, and attention to the show. Pretty soon, Tony Geary will retire and the show will lose those who have loved him so and followed him no matter what … and that certainly includes you Ms. Henry, Tony’s most gracious supporter over the decades.

  19. Jenn says:

    I live in a “mob” town, and I actually found an article online about the history of the gangsters in this area, which up until 2000, were still basically controlling the whole area! It was a very enlightening piece, because I found myself comparing the real life mob wars to the mob wars on GH.

    What is interesting is how the FBI agent spent decades trying to bring down the mob don and the infamous house representative, who had been taking bribes for as long as he’d been in office. GH is lacking that FBI agent, the one who is actually the HERO of the show, the one you are rooting for to finally bring down Sonny and Jason once and for all. Instead, for so many years (over a decade now!), these two mobsters have been built up as the center of the show, so now TPTB find it impossible to ever “bring down” Sonny and Jason.

    Okay, I have come to accept that. BUT, why on earth can’t they ever let these two men move on to something more worthwhile? Everytime they attempt it with Sonny, it ends up being a red herring, because he eventually goes back. There’s no suspense to that now. It’s like JER writing (in all the times his villains were about to get “caught” in all of their lies, either they were daydreams, or they were red herrings as well), I no longer REALLY think that Sonny will be out of the mob. Every time he says “I’m out for good”, I pretty much roll my eyes, because I know that he is not. And Jason … If TPTB want Jason to be solving all the crimes in PC so much, why not make HIM an FBI agent (or better yet, resurrect the WSB!) I get that Steve Burton is tremendously popular, so get him out of this mob life and make him a member of the good side for once. He can still solve crimes this way, and still rescue all of his “women.” But at least I wouldn’t be sitting here at home, disgusted over watching an ex mob hit man/mob boss solving the latest murder, using technology and smarts that the police apparently don’t even have.

    Marlena says: Thank you, Jen. What a great article (originally from the New Republic) and I urge all TFs to read it. It shows the stupidity of real live mobsters in Youngstown, Ohio, with their sloppy hits and pitifully small brains. And you are so right — there is no character on GH who is the designated pursuer/law enforcer (a la Javert in Les Miserables, or the FBI guy in the article.) It’s all criminals all the time on GH — and I love the way you have thought through that criminal Jason is the most logical pursuer (but of course, first he has to leave the mob.) Remember when you were kids and you played “Cops and Robbers.” Well in Port Charles, the game is just called “Robbers.” There no really effective enforcers of the law are allowed in Guzaland, except Jason — a hitman!

  20. Gene says:

    Hi, Marlena, thanks for the insightful column about the state of GH. I don’t know what the heck is going on with this soap, but I am so mad about how TIIC is taking this soap into “mob-lite” style of the “Skate” wedding. I am with you and the fans that this show needs a downward ratings drop to make the network realize that they needs to be a behind the scenes change to get the show back to what the fans love about GH. They needs to get a new head writer to reestablished the Qs ad Webber families and undo the damages to many of the characters that Guza has wreck to move a plot point that is not even working. I am just turn off the show until there is some changes to get the show watchable or I believe that it will be cancelled. I don’t believe the actors and the fans who think this show is good like back in the day when it was good writing and acting and families and the hospital was the focus, not the mob.

    Marlena says: If you want your genuine General Hospital fix, do tune in to the last few episodes of GH: Night Shift on SoapNet. Join the parade, Gene — everyone wants Guza to go!

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