Why General Hospital Is So Unsatisfying to Watch Right Now

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

We had hope, didn’t we, in those heady days when General Hospital, the leading survivor among network daytime soaps, seemed to be in the ascendancy again. Alas, the good times have faded. These days, watching GH is a very frustrating experience.   Many of the storylines are unsatisfying. The characters don’t make much sense and the stories lack motivation and have holes in them. 

Roger Howarth’s Franco, dancing as fast as he can

The show still seems to still be struggling to come to terms with its three character switches, if that is fully possible.  As Franco, Roger Howarth (formerly Todd) is dancing as fast as he can, but still can’t seem to escape the character’s unseemly and criminal past, no matter how much the show “factually” absolves him of his sins — responsibility for Michael’s rape, Sam’s non-rape, etc.  Kristen Alderson (formerly Starr) is still terrible as Kiki, her eyes bulging and mouth always agape as she engages in her forbidden romance with biological cousin Michael.  As Silas, Michael Easton seems too cold as a cancer doctor, and does not even exhibit his trademark sex chemistry (from when he played John) with Kelly Monaco, who still plays Sam.

At least they have tried to cross Silas into a new story.  He seems to have a romantic past with Ava, as played by Maura West, the show’s revelation as an actress. West carries on as well as can be expected, considering that her fairly new character is so quickly saddled with the shooting of Olivia.  How can she get away with it and still be on the canvas?

Forever pregnant? Dr. Britt (Kelly Thiebaud) and Maxie (Kristen Storms)

The show has crossed Nicholas into a story with Britt, who is still – in what may be soap opera’s longest gestation period — pregnant with Patrick’s baby.   For some reason not well explained or even likely, Britt and Nicholas seem interested in each other.   Meanwhile, Patrick (supposedly the father of Britt’s baby) and Sabrina continue their romance, which lacks any kind of authentic sexual spark and is thus hard to believe.  

And speaking of endless pregnancies, what about Maxie, who is carrying her own baby, secretly fathered by Spinelli. She is the surrogate mother to what she is passing off as Lulu and Dante’s daughter, although many fans think Britt’s baby is really their transplanted embryo.  Got that?  We’re really in trouble when whole scenarios dreamed up by fans as well as the writers are equally unappealing.

Even worse, there are signs that GH may be retreating into the world of Bob Guza, with all its bad taste and silly violence! How else to explain Don Sonny ordering a compliant Shawn to beat Franco to a bloody pulp? It was uncalled for and gross.  And can’t the “creative” team do better than the creepy gay lab tech Brad trying to blackmail the straight Michael into sleeping with him to silence his knowledge that Kiki and Michael are romantically involved?

Listen up, GH! We were so happy when you seemed to leave all that shallow sleaze in the rear view mirror. Turn back at your peril.

Comments

  1. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    And you didn’t even mention Dr Brad. I am all for grey or even full out evil gay villains. But here we have someone who repeatedly states that he finds heterosexual kissing and love as “sick,” has been described as repulsive and with “bad breath,” and wants to blackmail a prison rape victim into sleeping with him. And, from what I can tell, this is played for laughs (Ron Carlivati, when asked on twitter said that Brad was not a blackmailer or an exploiter but merely an “opportunist”… I guess the same way that a woman who has had too much to drink and can’t say no is not rape.)

    I’m just glad both One life to Live and All My Children seem to be stronger than ever. Michael Fairman’s interview with Ginger Smith was the most heartening thing in soaps I’ve heard in a year–down to her admitting that Agnes Nixon wrote that brilliant scene with Joe and Billy Clyde!

    Marlena says: I mentioned Brad and how creepy he is. And I hear it’s going to get worse….

  2. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    You did–sorry! On a few message boards the argument for him has been “Why not have a gay villain?” Which I am all for–the boring, completely “nice” gay stereotype is useless after all we’ve come through. But–when you only have one other gay character on canvas (and I love Felix, but so far he too has been shown only lusting after straight men–mainly Milo,) and then have a character who fits every stereotype that bigots hold against gays as a cartoon badguy… Not to mention, he’s the only Asian on a current soap opera. The mind boggles.

  3. I adore Maura West’s character of Ava Jerome although I was confused by your comment about how she’s still on the canvas after shooting Olivia. Well Sonny is still on the canvas after shooting Carly in the brain and also shooting his son who was unarmed. Ava is clearly a character who is neither black nor white but shades of grey. And remember she was trying to shoot Franco not Olivia. If she had shot Franco I’m sure the entire town would have give her a metal.

    I hate the character of Brad. I find him completely repulsive and a predator, not just an opportunist. How he hasn’t been fired for sexual harassment I’ll never know. On the other hand I think that Nicolas and Britt have potential. They both come from seriously dysfunctional and villainous families. They can compare notes over whose parents are more horrible.

  4. Kevin says:

    The problem is that almost all of the story lines are inspired or transpiring BECAUSE of events that have happened in the actors lives.

    The entire moving characters from “One Life to Live,” recreating characters and story lines from those same actors originally portraying them, etc. is what is dictating everything we see today.

    To some degree last year’s death of John Ingle is even the reason for the Pickle Lila fiasco but that story is Shakespearean compared to the other story lines. Gone are the days when a head writer has a bible and the main story points are created a year or two before we see them on screen.

    • lisa says:

      This is not unusual. Sbu left, and completed altered the trajectory of Sam’s baby kidnapping etc. KmC not being available has also impacted her s/l and Patricks trajectory etc. I do agree that GH has had a lot of BTS stuff this year that has impacted story and caused many a re-write. Personally, I feel like it’s just finding it’s groove again.

  5. horselover says:

    Fantastic article Marlena! Thank you for putting down in words what a lot of us GH fans are feeling. And where are the GH vets?!? I’d much rather see them than 10 newbies and 3 former OLTL actors.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Frankly Franco getting a beat down was a high light. Roger Howarth without a doubt got stuck with a turkey of a character and a story. And quite frankly he’s been unwatchable in the role. The fact I have to watch Franco and Kiki in the Q house is insulting. The fact that the show put a priority on bringing back these three actors in the first place when they weren’t needed is even more insulting. Quite frankly GH is a mess.

  7. lisa says:

    Did you watch the last week or two? It really took a upswing turn in my eyes. Franco is still a bit hard to swallow, but they are starting to flesh out Silas IMHO, and he is coming along very nicely. Not to mention I think he has oodles of chemistry w/ not only Sam, but Ava. I also thought Todd and Ava are very interesting, w/ a twisted dynamics. I agree about Patrick and Sabrina, but Nik and Britt is possibly inspired, and it seems to me the show is starting to build connections across the canvas. I haven’t like it this much in months and months.

    • Tea says:

      I cheered when Sonny had Shawn beat the hell out of Franco. Way to Go Sonny :-) Some of us love the mob & we’re thankful it’s made in some form.

  8. heidi says:

    Interesting column… agree about some… but not about all! Agree about Brad… a vile and disgusting character that needs to be taken out. The fatal error of bringing Franco back to GH and having made Roger play this… yes… vile and disgusting character is truly unfortunate!!! As for the beating of Franco… while it was a bit much to watch… there has never been a character that has deserved a beat down more than Franco!!! I did not mind the result… he deserves so much more!!! Agree that Kristen is not very good as Kiki… and Kiki is a very unlikeable character… I really do not care about her at all and wait for the scenes without her!.. Silas has been an extremely unlikeable character to the point of being a HUGE JERK… but he seems to be coming around a bit or thawing out. He is the more intriquing in the sense that he is seeming to be the most intertwined new character in what appears to be many characters to come and have been. I have never been a fan of Britt and am waiting for the day she will be gone. However having her become a friend… not a lover… with Nik is not a bad idea! Look what he did for Brooklyn. It could be something like that. I still can’t believe that they have had Britt live with Sabrina and Felix and his disasterous sister. If anything have Nik put Britt up at Windemere. Way back when Patrick and Britt were going to sleep together and she said her apartment was having repairs… I actually thought she might have been at Windemere…there is a connection between her and the Cassadines and that for sure is her mother and her father and maybe more. Since we have to endure her for awhile… her contract and all… I don’t mind if she would go through the Nikolas school of being a better person… like he did with Brooklyn. The pregnancy/embryo mess is getting a bit old but… at least it is being more true to the timing of preganancies.

    As for the unwatchable opinion… I disagree… Kirsten Storms as Maxie with Georgie was spectacular and very watchable!!! I enjoy just about any scenes with Maxie, Spinelli, Carly, Ava, Tracy, Lucy, Laura, Anna, Duke, Max, Felicia, Molly, Rafe, Alexis, Sam, Heather, Nik, Patrick, Sonny, Olivia, Dante, Lulu, Luke and more and maybe even Scotty . Should we hope for more and better… always!!! I think it maybe coming! Are they making mistakes in Brad and Franco and Felix’s sister… Taylor… YES!!! For me though it still is the number one soap and is my first and foremost watch… because of the stellar cast and the majority of the characters!!! I will keep hoping and cheering them on for all of the good things they do and I will join in on the unfortunate when they are… but… I will continue to support them and hope that they will be around for at least 50 more years!!!

    • heidi says:

      Forgot to mention what an opportunity we have with all the DNA being taken all at one time!!! The possibilities are endless!!! We can only hope that Roger is found to not be Franco because he DNA proves he can’t be!!! Would that mean he is a Jerome or a Cassadine or an experiment created by Faison and Dr O? The fact that newbies like Brad and Silas and Ellie seem to be the ones touching the DNA samples is an unfortunate state of affairs… lots of opportunity!!!

      • lisa says:

        OOOH, loved both of you posts, and you make an excellent point about the DNA. Just think of the all the possible familiar re-configurations! I think the most poignant point you make is that there are many things to watch for right now, however, there is nothing wrong w/ wanting more too.

        • Kevin says:

          @Heidi: I agree with what you said about Kiki and that you literally “wait for scenes without her in them.”

          I was watching (one of many) Michael/Kiki/Morgan scenes the other day and thinking, “This show would improve at the very least 40-50% without these three.”

          And it has nothing to do with them being in the 18-24 demo. Heck, I adored and worshipped little Kristen Alderson in the early 00′s. It’s just a terrible recast, recreation, the whole thing is awful and actually EMBARASSING to watch and that embarassment doesn’t come from the incest but because of the actors involved and the way it’s flowing.

  9. Dale says:

    It seems that Ron Carlivati is following the same trajectory on GH as he did at OLTL: fantastic first year followed by an abysmal period. In OLTL’s case that period lasted almost two years before Ron found his footing again, IMO. Does GH have that much time to fool around?

    By the way, Marlena, have you forgotten that tomorrow is OLTL’s 45th birthday? :)

    Marlena says: Hi Dale! xo Happy Birthday OLTL!

    • Lynn says:

      I agree totally. GH has not been good for the past few weeks. New characters seem to be getting all the attention. I hardly recognize the characters anymore. Carlivati did an awesome job his first year, but now I am not a die hard fan anymore.

  10. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    Merci pour une critique tres excellente. You expressed so eloquently what so many fans have been saying.

    Hard to believe that three months during the anniversary celebrations, the show was firing on all cylinders. Yet here it is July and the show is barely recognizable. Obviously, the biggest misstep has been the Llanview Three. Everything about their return as new characters has been mishandled. And they’re shoving Franco and Kiki down our throat four days a week, Silas three days a week Only good thing about the Llanview Three’s return is Maura West as Ava.

    The Nikolas-Britt pairing should be fun, especially if the let some of Nik’s evil Cassidine side come out. Patrick and Sabrina were enjoyable while she was playing the Ugly Duckling, but lost most of their appeal when she got glammed up. I love the Felix character — wish they’d pair him up with Carly more (she desperately needs a gay best friend). Brad was a somewhat interesting character until be tried to blackmail Michael.

    These teen storylines are OK in small doses, but they’re taking over the show. I know you’ve got to appeal to younger demographics, but don’t let them overrun the show at the expense of thhe veteran characters.

    And that’s what I resent most about Franco, Kiki, Morgan, Taylor, TJ, Rafe and the other newcomers — I want to see Laura! I want to see Anna! I want to see Duke! I want to see Scotty! I want to see Robert! I want to see Lesley, Monica, Heather, Mac, Lucy, Tracy, AJ, Elizabeth and all the characters whose history is intertwined in the fabric of the show. They’re the reason GH made it for 50 years.

    Yes, Laura, Lucy, Anna, Duke and the rest are on 1-2 days a week. But they don’t really have a storyline. Their scenes come across as filler until we can get back to another scene of Franco and Ava sparring. And it should be exactly the opposite.

    Ron C is a very good writer, capable of incredible storylines. Maybe he shot his wad during the anniversary, but what he’s giving us is subpar and boring. And he gets defensive whenever anyone tries to point that out to him. A classic case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

  11. Adam says:

    Given the mess Ron and Frank made of OLTL at times-seemingly every good thing they did was followed by three horrible ones-it would appear they have done the same thing to GH, which is a shame given what they had done over the first year and some change that they were in charge. As James said, Ron might have “shot his wad” and this is a problem. He is capable of some very good work, but incapable of sustaining it. Marlena, aside from Michael Malone for a while on OLTL in the 90s and Claire Labine in the 90s on GH, and maybe Hogan Sheffer for a while on ATWT in the early 00′s, has there been writer in the last 20 years who hasn’t been a rollercoaster of an experience?

    • SZima says:

      Adam, I SO agree with you about the mess CarTini made of OLTL. So much so that I quit watching it the last year it was on ABC. You’re right, they do come up with some good stories once in a while, but they always take many steps back for every one they take forward. The Llanview Three have pretty much destroyed GH for me…for now. I’m enjoying DOOL much, MUCH more than GH, and that’s saying something!

  12. janet says:

    Great column. You pretty much hit the nail on the head about the way I have been feeling. I do not like FrancoTodd.His whitewashing was completely unnecessary. The character was evil personified. A brain tumor?? You have to have a brain to have a tumor in it. Well the old saying is true *be careful what you wish for,* we wanted more Q’s we got Ron’s view of Q’s Michael who is a Q’ isn’t living in the mansion, Morgan, Ava , Kiki who aren’t are? Its Monica’s house. Alan gave it to her. Old lines are now given to others. ?The beat down made me turn the channel, and vow to never watch this show again in real time. I don’t like Roger at all in any of the characters he played , I do not find his so called humor funny. but that and Brad blackmailing a rape victim, made me gag. As for Silas he is the only OLTL transplant I do like. His attitude is something I can see why. he is an oncologist, so he must deal with lots of death, plus lots of children’s deaths ,so I can see him trying to stand back. Ron needs to stay off the social medias sites. he can’t take criticism, he has a weird way of thinking. brad an opportunist? gag me. he is scum, and I think if he had gotten a beat down I might even watch that. Maybe KIKI can get a boa and put it in his house. DiDn’t I read somewhere Starr did that on OL. One thing about the anniversary show, FrankenRon used things and characters we loved and brought back characters we loved so of course people watched, the way he is going now, fergetaboutit. I find it harder and harder to care if I watch. I want to see Laura, Anna Scott, Felicia, mac, maxie , ellie, Lulu, I don’t want to watch the mob. I don’t mind the teens all of them, I love Danny and Emma, Liz and AJ, Don’t want to watch incest, un_Q kiki, I do like Michal now that the SLS is gone. No mob, Shawn is now dead to me. he enjoyed beating people up, he shoots for money and is incompetent at that. Have always hated Sonny, so if they want to have someone beat him up, I would watch that, Maybe even more than once. When there was less Sonny there were more viewers. People got sick of the things Sonny and Jason did and never went to jail. Did you notice when Sam was upset and she said where is Jason and looked up, I thought hey Sam you won’t see him there look down. Thou shalt not kill, is the fifth commandment. He broke it to many times so look down if you want to see him.

  13. Diana says:

    I always appreciate your articles Marlena. I would like to see RC get creative again as apposed to recycling the overused OLTL plots such as the DID and child with Leukemia just to name 2. What’s up with these writers that have to kill off/kidnap/make sick little children? It’s been done so much and not that long ago. As much as people are sick of mob, I am sick of the killing etc. of little kids, they are never shown on the screen anyway. I fast forward through 99% of the Kiki scenes and Morgan is equally lame. Patrick is always wonderful but how lame is it to want to FF through his scenes with Sabrina, NO chemistry, zero! I don’t know if the Robin character is coming back but Sabrina is too immature to be with Patrick, try pairing her with Michael. What they have done with Brad has set back Gay perceptions 25 years. While he might appreciate a stud, a la Felix and Milo, he would not try to blackmail a straight guy for sex!!! REALLY RC??? I have watched GH for 40+ years and I want RC to get back to saving it not sending it the way of OLTL.

    • SZima says:

      Amen Diana! Thank you for so eloquently expressing MY thoughts! I couldn’t have said it any better!

  14. Marilyn says:

    Really good column, Connie.

    What I want to know is why did they hire all these superb vets and then not give them good stories? Anna was a tremendous addition to the show, the practically perfect leading lady who can do tender or tough. And they got Genie back and what do they do? They break up Luke and Laura! WHY??? Some of us have been waiting years for that reunion. They get the Deception thing started and then barely address it as they use up most of the airtime for Ava and Franco. Maura is indeed an excellent actress, but she is a new character and we are getting too much of her too soon. RH was great as the remake Todd of last year, but this reincarnation is pitiful. Hate the blonde locks, can’t believe for a second he is Franco. Or Jason. I want Todd back. All that was really hateful of Prospect P–when they weren’t going to use the characters anyway, having lost the actors. Jeesh! What we once used to refer to as ‘dog in the manger’ behavior.

    I want to see Lucy and Laura actually getting their company up and running, hiring and so on. We get such little dibs and dabs of it, it is hard to sustain interest. I want to see Kevin treat the crazies. Love to see him treat Britt. Patrick and Sabrina are NOT working. Surprisingly, Britt and Nik are. Some stories have run on far too long (Maxie’s secret and pregnancy) and some are totally being neglected. And Kiki and Morgan…ugh. Morgan is a stupid and annoying character and Kirsten has had much better days than her recent ones! Kiki is disgusting. And this mess leaves Michael without much of a character to play.

    I loved Michael Easton as John McBain, but do not see the potential in this cold doctor thing. Loved him working with Anna, which he now won’t get to do (but then Anna is barely working anyway).

    Once they had all these delightful returning characters–Felicia, Lucy, Kevin, Laura, etc.–they seemed to just shove them to back burner. BIG mistake.

  15. Adam says:

    I’m not totally in love with everything PP has done with OLTL and AMC, but based on what they’ve done and what Ron and Frank have done over the past few months at GH, I can say that it seems one brand knows where it is going and the other desperately wants to convince people that it does. I am slowly coming to believe that there was some vindictiveness behind the use of the OLTL characters on GH, and given how protected “Ron and Frank” were by some now-disgraced members of the soap media, I again wonder if we won’t start to see the true colors emerge. As for bringing Laura back just to…ditch her and break up Luke and Laura, again, I can only say I yawned. Maybe by the very nature of a continuing medium, soaps will recylce stories and “beats” from time to time, but there has to be a limit. Maybe the answer is limiting each headwriter to a certain amount of time, say 2 years. This might result in a seeming lack of cohesion, but it would also, perhaps, result in preventing stories from being repeated in the exact same manner every six months. Fresh eyes, fresh voice. Just a thought.

  16. JR says:

    Marlena,

    I agree with absolutely everything you say! Thanks for voicing your thoughts.

    My question is why does the entire show have to turn itself upside down for the exit and return of 3 actors in the same 3 months and why does it take endless airtime and weeks to see them off and introduce them? Are these all story related issues or is budget an issue for not seeing more of the characters we love that ground this show in realism? I feel they are trying to placate the fans with a side dish of Maxie/Spirit Georgie, Heather Webber, and Monica/Leslie, while we’re being served a 7-course dinner of newbies and the OLTL3 actors.

    This is all coming from someone who wants to be a fan of the show. The worst part is the bad taste jokes which we’ve gotten a glimpse of before with Mr. Marbles during the Nurses Ball. Now we are saddled with Brad and RC says of MiKiki, “If there is any hope of Kiki and Michael being together, then they can’t be cousins. Technically they can and it’s even legal in New York State for first cousins to get married, and yet it doesn’t seem to be something that’s very palatable to our audience–at least, the loud ones, who tell me it’s gross and disgusting. (Laughs) ” I’m starting to think it’s RC’s humor that is warped and not one of his writers. At first I though he was trying to make MiKiki seem less gross by making it funny with Brad in the picture. Then it got worse. I don’t know how much worse, because I stopped watching all but 10 minutes per week lately.

    It’s very strange that RC’s so called socialism (using as many characters as possible) seems to heartily extend mostly to those we do not want to see much of. When was the last time the Scorpio/Lavery family had a storyline that involved the entire family with scenes together? Why are these new Jeromes on canvas having very few scenes with their main connection, Anna Devane and Duke Lavery? I’m starting to wonder why I care at all. I certainly didn’t when Guza was writing. I think I’m being shoved in that direction again.

    I don’t need a surprise or stunt everyday to impress me. I just need a good cohesive s/l with real emotion and families.

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