Soaps: Where Intelligent Women Still Rule

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

Jane Ellliot’s Tracy Quartermaine is one of soaps’ leading Brainy Ladies

Women are still the core of soap opera.  They are what the plots are about and they make the stories go.  An overwhelming number of women on soap operas are very intelligent, assertive and masters of their own fates.  Here’s a round-up of the most intelligent and sometimes devious women on soap opera right now:

Quinn Fuller, The Bold and the Beautiful (Rena Sofer):  Quinn came onto to the show as a jewelry designer more than a  year ago.  She is sharp as a tack.  She will do anything to make sure her son Wyatt lands up with Hope, instead of his half-brother Liam, with whom Quinn has frequent arguments. This week Quinn bribed Bill Spencer into giving Liam the Spencer name, her leverage being sex pics of herself and Bill, which she threatened to show to Brooke.

Katie Spencer, B&B (Heather Tom): Katie fancied herself a regular girl until husband Bill cheated on her with  Brooke.  So she stepped up, using all her intelligence to run Spencer Publications, and at the same time obtaining custody of son Will.  Recently she lost it all because of supposed lost ownership and custody papers she previously signed, but wound up with soap’s ultimate prize: the love of and engagement to rich and handsome Ridge Forrester.

Jill Foster Abbott, The Young and the Restless (Jess Walton): Jill started her Genoa City life as a hairdresser, but grew into a more prominent position as she got older.  She married John Abbott and went to work at his company. Recently she married  charming Aussie  Colin Atkinson, but strongly assumes he only married her for Katherine’s inheritance.  This week she handcuffed Colin to a pipe in the attic and made him sign divorce papers.

Leslie Michaelson, Y&R (Angela Conwell): Leslie is a lawyer who represents unpopular causes and equally unpopular people like Ian Ward.  Recently she spurned the love of crybaby and general pain Neil to make a fast marriage to Dr.  Barton Shelby.

Alexis Davis, General Hospital (Nancy Grahn): Alexis is the smartest woman on daytime television, a very good lawyer and a strict mother. Only a smarty like Alexis could  keep criminal Sonny out of jail all this time.   Alexis’ problem is that she always gets involved with bad men like Sonny and her current crush, Julian Jerome.

Tracy Quartermaine, GH (Jane Elliot): Tracy has always been the smartest of the smart, a leading Quartermaine since the rich family came to town decades ago.  Her Achilles heel is Luke Spencer, to whom she has been married three times.  These days a secretly criminal Luke wants to wrest control of  the Quartermaine company ELQ to himself.  Will Tracy catch on and ward off his evil efforts?

There are more, of course. Who are your nominees for the Soap Opera Brainy Lady Hall of Fame?   

Born to Lose: The Tragedy of Connie

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

It’s not easy being a soap heroine – especially one who is doomed from the outset.  Consider the unfortunate life story of Connie Falconeri a.k.a. Kate Howard on General Hospital. She was found shot to death on the show last week, her usefulness as perpetually over-the-top victim and ongoing pain in the butt finally at an end.

Kelly Sullivan

Now our evergreen anti-hero Sonny Corinthos is free to work his moody mobbed-up magic on yet another hapless female with a taste for bad  guys. And so the misogynistic beat goes on.

Connie first came to Port Charles in 2007 in the guise of Kate Howard (played then by Megan Ward), a glamorous women’s magazine editor, cool and collected and full of the promise of intelligent femininity.  But that promise soon evaporated as she became involved anew with Sonny Corinthos, her childhood sweetheart from back in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.   Eventually Kate agreed to marry Sonny, his shady doings notwithstanding. Her reward for her faith in him was getting shot in the middle of the wedding ceremony by one of Sonny’s enemies.

Kate was carried off and placed in GH limbo, there to stay until she was needed again. The call eventually came, and she returned to Port Charles (this time played by the dynamic Kelly Sullivan). And, for some nonsensical reason never made clear, she got involved with Sonny all over again.

Meanwhile, her own troubled past came into play. A n’er do well named Joe Scully came to town, and it was revealed that he had raped her, unleashing the double personalities of nasty Connie and sweet Kate. Connie, it was revealed, had abandoned her baby son Trey in a dresser drawer and run away to college, later making her way to New York City where she became the glamorous magazine editor.

But Connie’s past kept following  her. She became increasingly hysterical, especially after Joe and Trey’s deaths. Her magazine, Crimson, got into trouble and so did the newspaper she edited, The Port Charles Press.

To increase the Press’ circulation, new owner Derek Wells (a.k.a. Julian Jerome) encouraged her to publish a secret she had found out from Sonny: that Kiki Jerome wasn’t a Quartermaine after all.  That fact helped Tracy wrest control of ELQ away from a shocked A.J. Quartermaine. A.J., an alcoholic, went on a bender and took a gun out of the Quartermaine safe.  Right afterward, Connie was found dead on the floor of her office.

Who killed Connie?  Just before she died, Connie scribbled  the letters “‘A.J.” in blood on  a piece of cardboard next to her body.  But was it really A.J. Quartermaine?  He had an alcoholic blackout and doesn’t remember.  It may also stand for Ava Jerome, Kiki’s mother, whose secret was exposed when Connie published the fact that Franco Quartermaine wasn’t Kiki’s father. Whoever shot her, Connie didn’t even get a funeral, so little does GH think of its tragic heroine.

But we will miss her anyway, thanks to the consistently bold and captivating work of Ms. Sullivan, with her big eyes full of fear and trembling upside down frown. Bon voyage, Ms. Sullivan. Here’s hoping we see you again soon somewhere else.  

General Hospital’s Entertaining Throughline: Kiki Isn’t a Quartermaine

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

For a soap that is frequently troubled and all over the place,General Hospital had a very entertaining week. That’s because it had a very definite throughline — the revelation to many that Kiki isn’t a Quartermaine – aimed at a Friday cliffhanger destination. Michael’s brother Morgan was set to marry her, but Michael, knowing that Kiki isn’t his biological  Quartermaine cousin, burst in at the last second to break up the wedding.

Kristen Alderson’s Kiki: Not a Q

Some adroitly complicated plotting got us to that point. Kiki’s lack of Q DNA has been something of an open secret for some time. The audience has long known the truth.  The only person who now really doesn’t know is Kiki herself, who carries on under the delusion that she has a Q family vote in who gets control of ELQ, Tracy or A.J. (Earlier she voted with A.J. who emerged victorious in the struggle.) Kiki’s mother Ava spilled the beans to Morgan, who then redoubled his efforts to get Kiki away from Michael.

So if Kiki isn’t a bona fide Q, what is her true lineage? It turns out her biological father is the normally chilly, Spock-like Silas, from whom this news elicits actual human emotions. Live long and prosper,  Michael Easton, a.k.a. John the cop and Caleb the vampire. You are the Leonard Nimoy of soaps.

The bombshell news that Kiki isn’t a real Q burst via the Port Charles Press, whose editor Connie found Kiki’s birth certificate after Tracy let her break into Ava and Franco’s room in the Q mansion. Going forward, this dramatic piece of investigative journalism may in some way lead to Connie’s exit from the show, or indeed from this earth. Kelly Sullivan, the spunky actress who plays her is due to leave the show, and fan speculation is that Connie will be murdered.

Who done it, or more accurately, who’s gonna do it?  It could be Kiki herself.  Ava was seen physically threatening the life of Silas should he go near his biological daughter, so violence toward Connie for exposing her long held secret is a possibility.   A.J. almost strangled Connie while confronting her that she had published the secret that led to him losing ELQ.  Sonny himself is mad at Connie for exposing the secret, since Michael and Kiki would stop thinking of themselves and being related and that would somehow ruin Morgan’s chance to marry Kiki.

The show had several great scenes this week. Sonny pistol whipping a hysterical A.J., when  he found A.J. threatening to strangle Connie was exciting.  A scene in which Tracy and Elizabeth debated A.J’s past failures was particularly well acted by Jane Elliot and Rebecca Herbst. Also well-turned by Michael Easton and Maura West  was a scene in which  Ava physically threatened Silas with a scissor to his  back should he make contact with his new daughter.

All week there was a real sense of suspense. Would Kiki and Morgan ultimately marry?  Will Connie really be done in, and by whom?   We’ll have to all tune in to GH next week to find  the answers to these ongoing  questions and more. Thankfully for the continued success of GH, we’re looking forward to it.

General Hospital at 50: They’ve Only Just Begun …

Marlena says:  It’s a special time at General Hospital.  The 50th anniversary is coming up April 1 and it’s been just about a year since headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer executive producer Frank Valentini took over a dying show and made it must-watch TV.  Marlena’s dear friend and veteran journalist Ed Martin, who first started watching GH in the glory days of the early 80s, expresses the feelings of many avid fans at the current state of the show in this column, reprinted from his regular gig at TV Worth Watching. Ed’s been a guest columnist here many times, and I’m so happy to share his latest GH thoughts with you.

By Ed Martin

April will mark the 50th anniversary of ABC’s General Hospital. I’ll be marking my 35th anniversary as a steady GH viewer just a couple of months after that. One year ago, I was almost certain that neither anniversary would come to pass, what with the show in a death spiral after more than ten years of dreadful mob-based stories that had gutted virtually everything [Read more...]

General Hospital Update: Is it Still on Life Support?

By Ed Martin 

I’m not sure what to make of the big surprise on “General Hospital” this week – but then again, I haven’t known what to make of GH in a very long time (years, actually). Robin Scorpio is alive – and looking very tanned and rested, I might add, even if she is being held hostage in something resembling a hospital room.

Seeing Robin in that bed at the end of Monday’s episode was the first time GH has really “wowed” me since that unforgettable moment in May 1980 when Edward Quartermaine sprang back to life after faking a heart attack and shocked his

Even though I haven’t cared for many of executive producer Frank Valentini and headwriter Ron Carlivati’s storytelling choices, it has been a sweet treat to see so many fondly remembered characters from General Hospital’s past return to its canvas.

daughter Tracy (and millions of viewers, as well) after she had refused to give him his medication because he wouldn’t change his will. Ah, sweet memories …

The Robin reveal was all the more impressive because it hadn’t been leaked. I didn’t think it was possible to keep anything from [Read more...]

General Hospital: Looking Back on 45 Years

(A note from Marlena:  It’s General Hospital’s 45th anniversary!  Here’s a celebration of the event by my good friend and journalistic colleague Ed Martin.  Ed and I have been happily debating General Hospital over coffee now for almost ten  years — and believe moi, we’re not always happy about the current state of the show.  Still,  Ed is clearly very sentimental about the show he once dearly loved.  Read Ed’s authoritative column TV Buzz at www.jackmyers.com.)General Hospital

By Ed Martin

General Hospital today is marking its 45th anniversary. The daily drama about the residents of fictional Port Charles, New York isn’t the oldest soap opera on television – CBS’ Guiding Light and As the World Turns have it beat – but it is still a vital and important show. It is the centerpiece of ABC’s afternoon lineup and remains the most talked about serial on daytime television – a distinction it first achieved 30 years ago this year when a young character named Laura Vining, who began on the show in 1976, moved to the center of the show’s narrative. Laura, one of the most messed-up kids in the history of soap opera, was played by Genie Francis, who was then only in her mid-teens. She had a [Read more...]