Prior to diving into my picks for best and worst of 2018, I reread what I wrote last year. 2017 was a tough year to write about, but I was hopeful the new year would be full of soapy goodness. Unfortunately, I was wrong. This was not a good year for General Hospital. The stories I anticipated were sidelined for ones focused on disastrous new characters played by uninteresting actors.
The best story category this year was perhaps the toughest one for me to pick a winner. There just weren’t a lot of what I would consider great story lines to choose from. Pacing and consistency was a major issue this year, leaving a lot of potentially promising tales to flatline. For example, the reveal that Finn and Chase were brothers happened early this year and we still don’t know why there is animosity between them and their father.
Attempts to create unnecessary drama often ruined what started out as buzzworthy storylines. Kiki’s #MeToo story, though given little promotion from the show, grabbed the attention of mainstream press. But what should have stayed a story of female empowerment turned into a mother vs. daughter over a man conflict. Mike’s story tugged on viewers’ heartstrings, winning awards for its portrayal of a family dealing with Alzheimer’s. But what started as a very touching story was botched when it became about a dead body in a basement.
Here’s hoping some changes are made to help the soap live up to its potential. Without further ado, here are my picks for the best and worst of 2018:
Best Story—The Jim Harvey Story
The story of Franco’s childhood and his connection to Drew didn’t start out like it ended. There were months of various characters interpreting Franco’s painting while the story stalled in the middle. But the last act made me forgive the initial clunkiness when the odd tale of a rabbit’s foot and a toddler’s tumble down the stairs turned relatable and topical. GH addressed its fair share of social issues this year and this one was the one that resonated the most.
Franco’s childhood really hadn’t been addressed previously, other than the reveal Betsy Frank was not his real mother. However, it was clear he was an unhappy child and that something had happened to make him that way. This was a story that was always lying in wait to be explored. When the writers found themselves with two Jasons to explain, the bold move was made to incorporate part of Drew’s backstory into Franco’s. This created the opportunity to showcase Billy Miller and Roger Howarth’s chemistry, as well as play the frenemy quad between Franco, Liz, Drew and Sam one last time.
The reveal that Franco had been molested by his mother’s boyfriend, Jim Harvey, and that Drew was taken away as the result of a failed attempt to protect him was pretty heavy. The final showdown was satisfying to watch. Franco got to confront his abuser and Drew was able to save the brother he had forgotten, kickstarting an unlikely friendship. In the end, the tragic and sad story left the audience with a feeling of hope.
Worst Story—Anna had Faison’s son
Even when GH felt like a boy’s club, Anna Devane was portrayed as a strong heroine. She’s arguably one of the most popular characters in the entire soap opera genre. One of the aspects that makes her so likeable is she’s allowed to have flaws. Fans are okay with her not being perfect. However, completely rewriting her history: saying she got her stalker intoxicated; had sex with him; had his baby; and then dumped the child is several steps too far.
It’s hard for me to wrap my head around why the writers didn’t immediately cut their losses with this story. It’s even harder for me to understand how it made it to air to begin with. While there is value in Anna having a child permanently onscreen, there are ways to do that without destroying what is sacred. The writers could have made Griffin the son Anna thought she lost with Duke, resurrected her daughter Leora from her Pine Valley days or utilized her missing years.
Most Disappointing Story—The Jason/Sam/Drew Triangle
This should have been 2018’s hottest storyline—not just for GH, but for all four soaps. Both Jason and Drew should have been pursuing Sam. Her heart should have been torn as she struggled to decide which man she would ultimately choose. That’s how soap triangles typically work. In this case, neither guy made much of an effort to woo Sam, and she never had to make any hard choices.
Sam divorced Drew because she still had feelings for Jason. But she hasn’t acted on those feelings—and it’s been months. Meanwhile, Jason has made no real effort to recapture the time he lost, being satisfied to simply wait, even though he’s already missed spending six years with the love of his life.
Drew isn’t trying to win back Sam or discover who he is without her. Instead of trying to make any leaps forward, he literally does nothing. This story should have given each of these characters a chance to reflect on their pasts and grow as they looked to their futures. At this point, I’d be happiest if the whole thing was called off and all three found new lovers.
The “You Really Wrote That?” Award—The Sonny What-If Episode
The Sonny focused “What-If” episode had some positive moments. Underused stars Dom Zamprogna and Lisa LoCicero got a chance to show off their acting chops and seeing the different couple combinations was amusing. That’s where my enjoyment ended, however. This episode was not the life-changing moment for Sonny it was promoted to be. It changed nothing. So, what was the point?
It didn’t help that the episode was plopped in the middle of the Croton storyline. Originally, Sonny only buried the body of Margaux’s father in Croton. Then it was rewritten that he murdered him. Perhaps the writers should have stuck with the original story, since it would have been more appropriate, given current events, to not show that a teenager shooting someone is the right choice. Saying that Robin would have died of AIDS had Sonny not been a criminal was not only a stretch, but offensive.
I was also confused by what I can only assume were supposed to be “bad things” in Sonny’s nightmare. Some of the couples in the alternate reality were better than GH’s current offerings, shining a light on the show’s lack of romance this year. Also, two of the soap’s strongest females were in positions of power—Anna as the police commissioner and Alexis as the DA. That’s bad? Because I want that!
Nothing made sense. How did Sonny, a law-abiding family man, being married to Olivia cause Dante to become a bad person? Why would Carly be an alcoholic and still be married to AJ? A resourceful schemer such as her would have found a way to take the money and run. I can only imagine that the reason Michael wasn’t in the episode was because it would have been impossible to write him even more messed up than he already is. Also, if Carly had never met Sonny, who did she name Michael after? And why would Jason’s name be Smith? He took the last name Morgan to honor Lila. It had nothing to do with Sonny.
Best Episode—Nathan’s Funeral
Nathan’s funeral was beautifully done. I appreciated that the fact he was a police officer and fallen hero was shown in the details of the service. The folding of the flag and the gun salute made his loss feel very real, especially to viewers who had experienced similar memorials. I also appreciated how, at many times, the episode was very quiet as most funerals tend to be.
The episode gave many of GH’s talented cast a moment to shine, most notably Kirsten Storms and Michelle Stafford. Nina smoked to try to calm her nerves, and held back tears during awkward exchanges with her nemesis Anna, and her ex-lover Franco. Maxie had trouble moving and almost spent the entire day on the floor of the apartment she shared with Nathan. Ghost Georgie giving Maxie the strength to carrying on was a nice use of history and really tugged at the audience’s heart strings. The character has lost a lot and Storms did a brilliant job showing the viewers life doesn’t get any easier for Maxie.
#GHOffscreen Story I’d Most Like To Watch—TJ and Molly Adulting
I don’t think I am alone in enjoying this couple even though they’re so rarely on. Both Molly and TJ are very bright young adults with great futures ahead of them. TJ is studying to become a doctor. On a show called General Hospital it should be fairly easy to work him into various storylines and have him interact with multiple members of the hospital staff. We should be getting a glimpse of what drives him to want to have a career that helps others. Meanwhile, Molly is a successful romance novelist with two bestselling books. Why has she stopped writing? Did her passion for writing vanish? Is she just too focused on her school work at the moment?
I would like it if TJ entered the fast-track program at the hospital with the wacky Dr. Finn as his mentor. We could see him develop friendships and relationships with the other hospital characters (and give us a chance to see more of Epiphany, Felix, Amy and Lucas) as well as get sucked into the occasional spy-world shenanigans that come along with working with Anna’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Molly could be approached by Disney with an offer to make Love In Maine and Maine Squeeze into movies, pushing her into the spotlight and putting the pressure on her to write a third book.
Biggest Head-Scratcher—The Devaluing of Sam and Liz
I have long said, despite what is presented, Sam and Liz are the main characters of GH. They have strong, loyal fan followings, are the most talked—and argued about on social media. Unfortunately, the creative team must somehow be blind to this, because the writing for them this year was pretty disrespectful to both the fans and the actresses.
Liz is one of the longest-running characters on the show and Rebecca Herbst is beloved by fans. However, this should-be leading lady was treated as an afterthought all year (although she had a lot of company in that category). Anyone not living under a rock knows fans have been begging for years to have Liz’s parents pay a visit to Port Charles. Instead of delivering something that not only would have made the fans ecstatic, but also would have given Liz some meaty material, the writers cruelly teased the audience by having Franco attempt to invite Liz’s mom and dad to their wedding. However, instead of meeting the parents, we met Liz’s long-lost (and never before mentioned) friend so Oscar could have a doctor. Then Liz’s wedding, an event that should be treated like a very big deal, was delayed in favor of stories that the no one cared about, again denying fans of her current pairing a much-earned payoff. Liz is still the strong, independent woman the previous regime shaped her into, but she lacks the story and attention that she deserves.
Sam has always had a very passionate, loyal group of fans. While her fanbase is divided now between Dream fans and Jasam fans, the writing for her, in particular, has managed to aggravate both those fanbases. She came across as callous and wishy-washy during the non-existent triangle story. She chose Drew, divorced Jason, then chose Jason, and divorced Drew, before finally allegedly choosing herself, which was so badly written it came off as looking like she chose nobody. How can the writers not know what it looks like when a woman puts herself first? Her current story, taking a page from her history, features a mysterious connection between a now-deceased, wealthy ex-husband and a cult. It’s unclear how much of this tale will be about her, but it would do wonders for both Sam and her fans if this leads to some major point of view story for the former con-artist turned detective.
Best New Romance—Joss and Cam
It’s been awhile since GH had a good teen romance, so Joss and Cam are a breath of fresh air. A good couple has both chemistry and writing. This young romance thankfully has both. William Lipton and Eden McCoy are able to play their twitterpated counterparts with believable sweetness.
Aside from the chemistry and cuteness, the teens growing feelings for each other stem from the show’s history and legacy. Their friendship and personalities were established years before, when they were still children. Both are also the next generation of major legacy families—families that haven’t always gotten along, which will no doubt, add some more angst down the road. The writers don’t have to try to sell something unfamiliar to the audience. We already care about Joss and Cam. Here’s hoping the star-crossed teens can get together!
Couple Most In Need Of A Reboot—Sonny and Carly
Sonny and Carly have a very believable friendship, but any hint of romance is absent in their everyday scenes. There are no looks of adoration or romantic gestures, and there’s barely any physical contact. I don’t need a plethora of love scenes but some dialog that suggests a present attraction would be nice. I’m okay with Carly and Sonny ending up with each other for the remainder of their time in Port Charles, as long as it doesn’t seem that they’re simply accepting their lot in life.
While there could be some value in exploring other romantic options, I would rather see things spiced up for them story-wise. Instead of Jason always being the one to save them, how about they save each other for a change? Have them play matchmaker for Jason and Sam or Michael and let some of the romantic setups they conjure up overflow into their own lives. Even something as simple as having them go on a date night would help them become a viable couple. In the last few weeks, there has been more affection between Sonny and Carly. I hope that continues.
Best Villain—Ryan Chamberlain
While anti-heroes are always fascinating character studies, GH has so many morally grey characters it has left fans craving some solid villains. The pure evilness of good guy Kevin’s twin brother Ryan has given the audience a bad guy to root against. The serial killer has never been the good guy despite his brother’s hopes to fix him. His “resume” includes killing his wife, stalking Felicia and kidnapping Maxie.
Ryan’s only redeeming quality comes in the form of his adoration of Ava. At the moment, she remains unaware she has, yet again, captured the heart of a serial killer. That romance went from fascinating to twisted when Ryan decided to murder Kiki. Not the kind of romantic gesture any woman wants to receive. When Ava finds out Ryan is responsible for the death of her daughter there will be hell to pay. Hopefully, this villain’s demise comes at the hands of some of Port Charles’ heroes.
Best Friendship—Franco and Drew
2018 saw the introduction of some new friendships in Port Charles, something the show really needed. Franco and Drew’s unlikely bond is still a work in progress, but their bromance was definitely one of the more touching parts of GH this year. In a surprising twist, it was discovered they were raised as twins, a possible reason why Drew wasn’t able to fully hate Franco.
Unfortunately, their past together was also a tragic one. Their mother Betsy Frank’s boyfriend had molested Franco, and his successful attempt to protect Drew lead to an accident. In a knee-jerk reaction, Betsy gave Drew to an orphanage and convinced Franco his brother was imaginary. This time around, Drew saved Franco when the guys took down Jim Harvey. The once brothers continue to turn to one another regarding family matters such as Oscar’s tumor and the murder of Franco’s daughter. Hopefully we will see more of their family connections in the upcoming year.
Best Guest Star—Britt Westbourne
GH has its fair share of mean girls but none as unapologetic as Britt Westbourne. The daughter of two of the show’s super villains, the doctor certainly has the DNA to be ruthless, but she’s never reached that level of femme fatale. Instead, Britt is the classic soap schemer. Her schemes don’t typically work out as planned—her attempt to win the affections of Prince Nikolas Cassadine ended in a life on the run—but they’re always entertaining to watch. Her affection for her family, her best friend and fellow schemer Brad, and her almost step-son Spencer give her just the right amount of heart to make her likeable.
Britt’s most recent visit to Port Charles had her working with Anna Devane to help bring her mother, Dr. Liesl Obrecht back to town. Watching her pig out on barbecue ribs while flirting with Finn added some much-needed lightness to a dark storyline. While, at the moment, GH’s cast is quite crowded, I would be happy to see Britt replace a few of the characters that have yet to connect with audience. I think she’d really add value to many stories.
Best Performance—Maura West as Ava Jerome
Maura West always gives her all—and this year her character Ava was given a lot to do. In a special, single-shot episode, we got to see the martini-loving former mob boss’s vulnerable side as she called out the hypocrisy of those who dared to judge her, while exposing her vulnerable side with her regrets about Morgan’s death, guilt for murdering Connie, and fear she can’t be a good mother.
Later, the claws came out when she discovered the man she loved, who she had put on a pedestal as her savior, had betrayed her with her own daughter. Ava’s wrath was swift and as always vengeance didn’t go as planned.
But, over the course of a few months, Ava went from wanting revenge to wishing she had her daughter back. However, Ryan took it upon himself to murder Kiki, believing, in his warped mind, it was a gift for his new girlfriend.
Ava and Kiki had a strange way of loving each other but they did love one another. Ava’s devastation was all-consuming as she begged for her daughter to get up and declare the whole thing a ploy. West slayed the material, and the audience definitely felt Ava’s pain.
In 2019, I want to see love in the afternoon return to GH. What stands out the most about this past year is that romance was missing. There needs to be focus on building solid new pairings and strengthening the couples that are already together. This year there were only two weddings, Drew and Sam’s short-lived marriage and Curtis and Jordan’s recast-heavy wedding. Characters such as the very popular leading lady Alexis and handsome newcomer Chase spent most of the year single. GH can do better than that.
Stories also need better planning. There were long periods of time with little to no story movement, having a negative effect on the show’s quality. Fans should never be given a chance to get bored.
What are your picks for the best and worst of 2018? What do you hope to see happen in the new year? Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts!