2020 was not only a bad year in the real world but a bad one for the soap world as well. Of the four soaps, I feel pretty confident saying that General Hospital was the lesser of four evils. Not really high praise, but it’s something. I think GH is better now, at the end of the year, than it was at the beginning of 2020.
With the long break in filming due to the pandemic and the obvious creative shift that took place after the delayed Nurses’ Ball, compiling the highs and lows of GH for the year was a little awkward. Before I started my list for 2020, I reread what I wrote for 2019. I picked Lulu and Dustin as the most promising new couple and Neil and Alexis as the characters most in need of a story. Oops. Things changed in Port Charles this year, to say the least—some of it for better and some of it for worst.
Best Story – Olivia channels James Bond
Watching sexy, no-nonsense Olivia take out a few bad guys while rocking a red dress was just pure delight. It was a fun fantasy for the audience to follow along. Who wouldn’t want to go on a European adventure with a dashing spy and save the day from the sexy villain? And all while Olivia’s handsome, rich husband footed the bill. This story not only proved the ladies of Port Charles should be the heroes of this show, but that romantic adventures can still be done in daytime.
People watch soaps to escape, and this year, in particular, we really needed an hour a day where we could just forget about the reality around us. I was very thankful for this storyline and hoped the guys in charge saw as much value in it as I did.
Worst Story – Michael and Willow are tricked into marriage
Remember back when soaps had 20-somethings who were career-driven, complex, and had emotional intelligence? I miss those days, and the ridiculous quad between Sasha, Michael, Willow, and Chase made me miss them even more. The powers that be at GH seems so thrilled to have an attractive younger cast that they forgot to give all the characters personalities, leading viewers to brutally make fun of the “interchangeable brunettes”.
The attempt to turn Michael into a romantic lead was instantly negated every time his mommy fought his battles for him. Willow was too gullible for her role as tragic heroine. Chase was too manipulative to be the unlucky good guy. And promising career gal Sasha turned into a cokehead because the mama’s boy didn’t like her anymore. This poorly constructed mess of a story suffocated GH for most of the year, much to my annoyance.
Worst Couple – Peter and Maxie
In my humble opinion, Peter and Maxie are not only GH’s worst couple of 2020 but the worst couple ever to be inflicted on the soap genre. I can’t think of any other time when a female character was dumbed down so much for a man. Maxie has been a lot of things, but she’s never been this pathetic. Her pairing with Nathan was extremely popular. Having Maxie be so insensitive to Nathan’s memory by getting together with the man indirectly responsible for his death only alienates the fans who loved the couple. It would be a much different situation if Peter had earned redemption first, but he has not done anything to prove his worthiness. And no, making him a virgin to a series of ordinary human experiences didn’t make him deserving of Maxie.
All that being said, the thing that truly makes this pairing so awful is how boring it is. There’s no chemistry whatsoever, even with the extremely forced rom-com writing and baby on the way. Maxie’s pregnancy isn’t a reward to fans after watching a supercouple couple go through obstacles. They did it, ostensibly, to add drama to the latest attempt at Peter’s downfall. But, with Peter’s destruction having been stopped and started too many times to even count at this point, it’s likely, in the end, this plot point will be all for naught, and Maxie fans will continue to tune out. Smart writers would have cut their losses years ago with this pairing.
Potential Couple I Want to See Make It Official in 2021 – Scott and Liesl
The beginning of 2020 saw the continuation of some truly horrid pairings pushed onto the audience in major, front-burner storylines. Perhaps the time off gave the powers that be at GH a chance to sit back and take a more objective look at the romantic offerings because, in the last few months, we saw a lot of intriguing chemistry testing. While Britt and Jason, Epiphany and Taggart, and Brook Lynn and Chase all caught my attention, the couple that really stood out to me was the unlikely, quirky duo of Liesl and Scotty.
Nothing romantic is happening between the lawyer and doctor at the moment, but they are a lot of fun to watch together. Scotty saving Liesl from the randy Dr. Kirk and her covering up his crime is a soapy starting point for their relationship. Keeping this secret while fighting to save Franco will undoubtedly give the two lonely-hearts something to bond over. GH needs more fun couples, and Liesl and Scotty fit the bill.
Find a Cure For it Already – Stupidity
Port Charles was plagued with a bad case of the stupids this year. Sam gave away her children’s inheritance to her evil not-uncle just so she could be with Jason…who she later broke up with for the sake of her children.
For some reason, Ava and Nik thought it made sense to spend nearly a year attempting to destroy their friends’ marriage, then make each other jealous enough to push the other into an affair, instead of just picking easier and quicker targets. Liz and Franco took months to catch onto Nik and Ava’s scheme despite their obnoxiously obvious behavior.
Nelle thought marrying known former mobster Julian would help her gain custody of Wiley.
Jason left his family because he’s more worried about what will happen to Sonny and Carly than his own innocent children.
Jordan’s crooked police work has repeatedly hurt others, and she still seems to have learned nothing.
Taggart faked his death just so he could wander around Port Charles and blow his cover.
Nina’s dating Jax.
Carly thinks she’s a great mother.
And don’t get me started on Julian’s long list of screw-ups.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
While no one expects any of these characters to always make the right choice, there should be a better explanation for their behavior than just cluelessness. Next year, I hope that the writers do a better job writing the characters true to character and giving them flaws that are understandable and relatable.
Worst Salt In The Wound – Casting Finn and Chase’s parents instead of Liz’s parents
Finn and Chase’s family backstory was quickly forgotten when it started and stopped a few years back. There was no fan outcry or demand for it to continue. The audience wasn’t invested and quickly moved their attention to other stories. And when it started and disappeared again this Fall, viewers were not disappointed to see the story set aside. Nobody wants to watch Finn’s daddy issues explored or Chase’s family secrets exposed. These characters are popular because of their complicated romantic relationships, not because of their family unit. Fans have, however, wanted to see Liz’s abandonment by her parents explored.
When the show announced Kim Delaney would be making her way to GH in a surprise role as the mother of one of the GH’s beloved characters, fans thought that maybe…just maybe…their decades of pleading to have Liz’s parents show up in Port Charles had finally been answered.
After all, Kim Delaney totally looks like she could be Rebecca Herbst’s mother. Unfortunately for loyal viewers, this is not what happened. We should have known better. The audience will always care way more about Liz than the powers that be do.
Sticking a successful actress such as Delaney with a character that was only on GH for two years back in the ’80s and was only memorable because the role was played by Demi Moore is not clever. It’s ridiculous and, quite honestly, a bit insulting. Kim Delaney is not Dollar Tree Demi Moore. It would have been much better for the actress if she had come to the canvas as a doctor and the mother of a beloved legacy character. Gregory Harrison should be playing a dashing lady’s man and heroic doctor, not Finn’s cuckolded and clueless father. It would have been great soap to bring on the silver fox as Jeff Webber.
In Soap Opera Digest’s “Best and Worst of 2020,” Rebecca Herbst was their choice for “Biggest Waste of Talent.” GH’s choice not to reward Herbst for her many years of hard work and fans for their loyalty to the show is glaringly obvious to everyone except those with the power to make the right choice.
Most Revived Character (Male) – Valentin Cassadine
I wasn’t sure how viable Valentin would be without Nina. GH did, after all, tame the baddie years ago to pair him with her. I thought his days would be numbered when he lost his romantic obsession to fan-favorite Jax. However, in a surprising twist, Valentin became the mischievous bad boy while the Jax and Nina pairing fell flat.
James Patrick Stewart is a very charming man, and he’s been able to bring that to his scenes with multiple ladies in Port Charles. He sizzles as Anna’s frenemy and confidant. He’s formed a connection with his alcoholic notsister Alexis. And he doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to be a father again, thanks to his rebellious roll in the hay with Brook Lynn Quartermaine. I’m eager to see what lies ahead for Helena’s son.
Most Revived Character (Female) – Laura Webber
While Luke Spencer may have gotten all the credit, it was actually Laura Webber who saved GH back in the day. It’s nice to see her finally out of the shadow of Luke and Laura. The mayor of Port Charles can be quite the badass. It’s a blast to see the character go back to her pre-Luke roots and cause some good trouble.
The writers have done an excellent job giving Laura her voice back after years of playing the innocent victim. She’s connected throughout the canvas. She has a hot political career, a loving husband, a solid friendship with Curtis, her Cassadine prince son, and her chosen daughter Liz. The recent reveal that Martin and Cyrus are her half-brothers adds to the people she interacts with and is a surprisingly good use of Laura’s history. Nobody should have any doubt that after this year, Genie is GH.
For 2021, I hope there is more attention given to the emotional beats of a story. Too often story structure was flimsy, characters were written out of character to force them into hollow plot points and the heart of the stories landed on the editing room floor. People watch soaps because they love the characters and all the messy emotions that come with them. It’s not the baby switches, back from the deads and who’s the daddy stories that draw viewers. It’s how those over the top events impact the characters.
What are your picks for best and worst of 2020? What would you like to see happen in the new year? Please leave your comment below to share your thoughts.