“General Hospital” Madness: Why Kill Jake? And What Have They Done to Luke?

By Ed Martin

Anyone who is still wondering why broadcast soap operas are disappearing before our eyes need only review recent episodes of ABC’s General Hospital. Don’t blame shrinking audiences. (Viewers aren’t really going away. They’re just harder to count.) Don’t blame competition from other media. (Overall media consumption is on the

The current Death of Jake Webber disappointment comes at a time when soaps overall are in dire peril — and in desperate need of stories that respect their shows’ histories while reinventing them for the future.

rise, boosted by ever-evolving digital technologies that make following a favorite soap easier than ever.) Don’t blame the recent round of network budget cuts. (Low-budget serialized storytelling is thriving on basic cable television, and there is no reason why broadcast soaps can’t adapt.) Whatever you do, don’t blame the actors. (There are dozens of fine performers of all ages on the six remaining soaps.)

So what’s the problem? Take a good long look at the current Death of Jake Webber baby jackstoryline on GH and you’ll have your answer. It’s the writing, plain and simple.

I’ve never been a fan of soap stories that involve the deaths of children, and that includes the now legendary Death of BJ Jones saga on GH almost 20 years ago, another tale in which one kid died a sudden death and made available a critical organ to save an afflicted child elsewhere on the canvas.  At the time, I thought the loss of Nurse Bobbie Spencer Jones’ little girl would in the long term damage the show, in that I could imagine dozens of stories about BJ in her troubled teen and young adult years and the impact her behavior would have on her mother, who had been a rather combustible teen herself. For the most part I was wrong about that. The show found plenty of stories to tell even without [Read more...]