This past year of General Hospital was really hard to watch. With subject matters such as sex cults, dying kids and rape, it did not provide much escapism. It was devoid of heroes and hope. I get that GH is a darker soap but I think it’s time to lighten up.
I chose to forgo the best story category this year as I didn’t feel there was anything deserving such praise in 2019. The year had some good moments but stories were severely inconsistent and lacked proper emotional beats. Shiloh had three different back stories and after nearly a year of slow-moving story there wasn’t the expected murder mystery to provide any payoff. Franco’s multiple albis were ignored when he was arrested for murder while Jordan’s crooked police work was never addressed. Ryan’s capture had to have a redo after the women he harmed were robbed of their moment. Jason and Sam’s long awaited reunion involved battling a rickety ladder while saving his boring nephew. Drew’s exit was the closing of elevator doors and he was barely mourned.
It’s too early to tell yet but so far the head writer change-up has helped pep Port Charles up a bit. I appreciate that some stories that weren’t working were dropped and that others have had some decent movement. Here’s hoping 2020 is a lot more fun! Without further ado, here are my picks for the best and worst or 2019:
Unsexiest Story – The Sex Cult
Coby Ryan McLaughlin is a very handsome man. It’s not surprising he earned a fan following. If only the fictional Dawn of Day story had as much appeal as its leading man. I get what the writers were going for with the ripped-from-the-headlines story, but it wasn’t a good fit for GH.
The sex cult story wasn’t plausible for any of the many characters that GH already had, creating the need for day players and new characters to even tell the story to begin with. Existing characters were dumbed down to fit the plot. It was particularly damaging to the character of Kristina. I get that the daughter of Sonny and Alexis is more book smart than street smart but, with a streetwise father and savvy, successful mother, I’d expect her to be less gullible. More attention should have been given to how she got to the point where she could be so easily manipulated.
Perhaps the worst part of this story was how it diminished Jason and Sam, one of GH’s core couples. Shiloh blindfolding Sam and sniffing her was not only unsexy but cheesy as heck. Jasam playing along with this seemed beneath their expertise. I hate to advocate violence but why didn’t the hitman just “get rid of” Shiloh? Sam setting herself up to be assaulted while Jason recorded it was not only very out of character but irresponsible storytelling in the era of #MeToo. Any intended romance from Jason saving Sam was weakened as result of these bad decisions.
Most Disappointing Story – The Mind-mapping
The mind-mapping story felt like a major bait-and-switch. I was fully prepared for this tale to be weird given the sci-fi premise. But the set-up promised something very different from what unfolded. I loved that Franco made the ultimate sacrifice for his family when he saved Cameron. William Lipton was great in those scenes and I expected the focus to be on him instead of Oscar. Liz’s plea that Franco wake up as Franco, her heartbreak when he no longer recognized her and Drew’s reassurance that his 2012 self would love her set the expectation that the story would be about Drewco falling for Liz. Because why wouldn’t it be?
The story ended up not being about Franco, Liz and Cameron at all. Instead it was about Kim and Drew’s offscreen romance, Kim’s bizarre and selfish grief, Oscar, Oscar’s Meadow, Oscar’s treehouse, etc. Kim having sex with her friend’s computer-virus-infected husband after her attempted rape of Drew was not something that could effectively be sold as love. Liz, a rape survivor, would never excuse this behavior with statements such as “I know you’re grieving…”
All the emotional beats this story needed either happened offscreen, not at all or at the wrong time. Drewco’s reaction to learning that the body he was inhabiting belonged to his beloved brother Bobby should have been shown. Finishing the treehouse for Drew is something that Franco should have done upon his return to grieve the loss of his brother. Jason and Monica should have been in the courtroom when Kim confessed to assaulting Drew and should have been allowed to react—onscreen. This story has gone so far off track it’s impossible to course correct.
The “You Really Wrote That?” Award – Carly and Sonny’s Baby Story
There were a lot of possibilities for this award this year, but I settled on Carly and Sonny’s baby story. This story was panned the moment the news leaked online. People hated it before it even aired, and opinions never changed. Out of all the couples on GH to have a pregnancy story, these two should have been the last on the list. Carly and Sonny have outgrown having babies. I have no idea how anyone could possibly think this was a good idea.
Sonny has so many children it’s become a running joke on social media. There is no reason for the now grandfather to have a baby. Especially, when Sonny’s sons Dante and Morgan could return one day. We never saw the conception and the explanation for the lack of birth control was that Carly didn’t understand how her body worked and simply stopped taking the pill because she thought she was too old to get pregnant. Perhaps the most ridiculous part of this story, though, was that the majority of it took place in the kitchen with the characters milling around a bowl of moss repeating the same conversations again and again.
The “For Better Or Worse” Award – Weddings
In 2018’s Best and Worst review, I commented that there were only two weddings that year—Drew and Sam’s short-lived marriage and Curtis and Jordan’s recast-heavy wedding. This year there were more weddings (which I appreciated) but none were particularly memorable, at least not for the right reasons. In fact the first wedding of 2019, Elizabeth and Franco’s long awaited nuptials, was arguably the worst soap wedding in the history of soap weddings.
Elizabeth and Franco’s cheap jailhouse wedding wasn’t the only odd walk down the aisle. Alzheimer’s patients Mike and Yvonne said I dos despite the fact the bride was already married. Mike’s wedding inspired Sonny and a very pregnant Carly to renew their vows, something CarSon super fans enjoyed but what a strange reason to have a wedding. Valentin and Nina’s wedding was called “the wedding of the year” by the showrunners but was barely attended and ended in the bride having a major meltdown. Shiloh and Nelle got married offscreen…which I’m okay with. The only wedding event that felt remotely earned was Elizabeth and Franco’s beautiful reception.
The writers are already setting us up for some good wedding possibilities for 2020 with Valentin and Nina planning on making another attempt to get hitched in January, Finn and Anna’s engagement, and TJ’s plans to pop the question to Molly. Let’s hope the new head writing team likes writing weddings more than funerals!
The “Find A Cure For It Already” Award – Grief
Love in the afternoon should not be covered in death. Sadly, this year was all about parents grieving their dead kids. Sonny and Carly continued to talk about Morgan ad nauseam; Ava was overcome with guilt regarding Kiki’s death; and a big funeral was held for Drew and Kim’s son Oscar. Even new character Neil’s backstory involved the death of his daughter. While a story about loss can be very moving—when told right—this was too much.
Morgan died in 2016 and it feels like he has more story than the characters who are still on the show. There is even a drinking game for the number of times his name is said in an episode. Kiki’s death gave Maura West a lot of good material to sink her teeth into, but I can’t help but feel that there would be even better story if Kiki were still alive. Meanwhile, Oscar wasn’t an important enough character for his death to justify all the screen time it was granted. There were more people mourning than falling in love!
Here’s hoping 2020 is more about celebrating life!
#GHOffscreen Story I’d Most Like To Watch – Alexis and Neil’s Romance
It’s been a very long time since Alexis has gotten any. That being said, Alexis’ next big romance should be about more than just getting laid. A slow build for Alexis and Neil will give them a better foundation and the audience a chance to fall in love along with the fictional couple. But we need to actually see it!
Alexis and Neil getting stuck in the elevator together and sharing their first kiss during a game of Drag Queen bingo were charming moments. I also enjoy Neil being the supportive boyfriend during Alexis’ stay at General Hospital. None of that is actually a story about them though.
I understand that pairing Alexis with someone other than Julian needs to be handled with care given the popularity of Julexis. A triangle could be a good future story. Alexis and Neil need some story before that can happen though. With the doctor’s interest in Russian history, it makes sense for the couple to be pulled into a Cassadine mystery.
Group of Characters Most In Need Of Story – The Ashfords
Diversity on soaps is needed. But diversity is something that needs to come from the writing. The Ashford family, namely Curtis and Jordan, are shown a lot but don’t really have any solid story. Jordan being bad at her job isn’t story. Curtis being everyone’s favorite sidekick isn’t story. Stealing a kidney from Ryan was intriguing but not much has come from it. Do Curtis and Jordan even have any friends right now? Stella sort of had story in the form of a quad with Mike, Yvonne and Marcus but it’s not a story I care to watch—or remember. Meanwhile, poor TJ is rarely seen. These are messy characters with messy pasts so there’s really no reason not to give them a soapy story line.
I like the setup of TJ wanting to propose to Molly. His family had some interesting views on commitment and interracial relationships. Given the current political climate, it would be very timely to see these topics explored. I also hope that Stella’s recent discovery of a relative in Port Charles leads to something interesting, perhaps a long lost child. Curtis and Jordan’s marriage is much too neat. Give them something to really clash over and let the viewers see if they are capable of overcoming the obstacle. I want to see some quality family dysfunction.
Most Promising New Couple – Lulu and Dustin
I miss Dante but I’m glad that Lulu is getting to move on. I feel like Luke and Laura’s daughter has gone through a mini reinvention of sorts this year. I like her new career. Investigative reporter works well with the character’s feistiness and adventurous legacy. I also like seeing her playing more with fellow Webbers such as Liz. It’s a good way to show Lulu as more of her mother’s daughter. Her relationship with hottie Dustin is a part of her new lease on life.
Mark Lawson and Emme Rylan have chemistry and look adorable together. It’s nice to see a new pairing that is not too heavy on the angst. GH needs all the lightness it can get. A new good guy type was also needed to fill the void left by both Nathan and Dante. I’m interested to learn more about the teacher/Uber driver and see how his romance with Lulu develops.
Worst Triangle – Valentin, Nina and Jax
The basic premise seems soapy enough. Man lies to win the heart of the woman he loves; she discovers his deception and turns her affections to the hunky hero. But this triangle is extremely flawed because neither pairing option is worth rooting for.
Valentin is supposed to be villainous so his bad boy behavior should be played to the fullest. However, his romance with Nina isn’t built on that. It’s not the vengeful, list-making part of Nina’s persona that attracted Valentin to her but her kindness towards him regarding his troubled past. Cruelly manipulating Nina by lying to her about the child she lost after she accepted his flaws is contemptible. Perhaps turning the tables on him will eventually even the score.
Jax has played white knight to a brash blond before. If that’s the story the writers want to tell then they should revisit the Jax, Carly and Sonny triangle instead of mimicking it with different players. As the story currently stands, the only believable reason for Jax being attracted to Nina is because she reminds him of Carly.
As for Nina, she hasn’t really done much to earn herself a Prince Charming. It’s hard for me to see her as more deserving than, Ava, for example, when she has faced few consequences for her own (numerous) misdeeds. Perhaps Nina’s greatest flaw is she tends to place blame on women rather than men when her relationships don’t work out. Scheming against Valentin is a shift away from that but there needs to be a real consequence next time she attacks yet another female character in order for me to care about the character.
Couple Most In Need Of A Reboot – Jason and Sam
A guy I knew in college used a dating technique where he would tell a girl he was interested in her and then say, “The ball is in your court” thus forcing her to be the one who had to do the pursuing. This is essentially how Jason and Sam have been written since his return—a bad interpretation of woke in which all the responsibility is put on her. While Jason stepping aside and letting Sam make all the moves may have seemed like a good idea, it came off as too passive for a man who had lost six years of his life with the woman he loves.
Perhaps the new head writing team agrees that Jasam can use a bit of TLC because there has been a noticeable shift in the writing recently. Jason considering the needs of his children and putting that above any hostilities is a good move. Sam’s incarceration is a rather forced plot point but it does give the pairing a needed break so they can regroup. Sure these two like to live their lives on the edge but having a family was always their goal. So now that they have the family they always wanted, why isn’t it being played? When Jasam are finally reunited, I hope it is much better than the ho-hum one they had with Jason’s return. Jasam fans deserve to see the couple played as the caring partnership they should be.
Best Family – The Webber-Baldwins
GH has some great core families tucked away in their history books. Unfortunately, those legacies haven’t gotten much acknowledgement since the show started killing off Quartermaines in the 2000s. The Webber-Baldwin family managed to break the unwritten rules this year by showing viewers that multi-generation core family units should have never gone out of style.
The heart of the Webber-Baldwin clan is Elizabeth Webber-Baldwin played for the past 20 plus years by the underappreciated Rebecca Herbst. Her grandparents are Steve and Audrey Hardy. Steve was on the very first episode of GH; Audrey joined the sudser in 1964 and was on contract until 2002. She shares her father Jeff Webber with siblings Steven Lars, Sarah and Hayden. Elizabeth and Hayden’s growing sisterly bond was one of the highlights of this past year. With Liz’s parents long absent from her life, Laura Webber has taken on a maternal role in their place. Aiden’s bullying by his cousin Charlotte added Lulu into the mix as well.
Laura’s first great love Scotty Baldwin got to bond more with his son and Liz’s betrothed Franco this year, setting up a lineage of Baldwins as unconventional father figures. Cameron’s teen angst and relationship with Franco gets compared to Lee and Scotty’s for good reason. It would be nice to see Scotty’s adored daughter Serena take up a permanent residence in Port Charles to add some feminine dynamics to the Baldwin family.
While most soap children don’t truly develop a personality until they’re hit with a mad case of SORAS, Liz’s three boys already have their own unique personalities in place. The audience can see what the future of the family looks like—and it looks pretty entertaining.
Worst Family- The Neros
The powers that be at GH really, really loved this little family unit. Hey, I’m glad somebody did. Oscar and Kim took center stage this year much to the detriment of my enjoyment. Oscar was boring, with weak ties to the canvas, and yet a lot of time was spent on the dying kid’s all too slow death and its aftermath none of which was great drama. It was lovely to see all the big name soap stars in one scene together for Oscar’s funeral but, that budget would have been much wiser spent on other things.
The story did NOT get any better after Oscar’s passing. Instead of portraying grief in a relatable way, the writers chose to use it as an excuse for bad behavior. Kim’s “grief” was particularly disturbing. She went into a quick obsession with having a baby—because what better way to honor your dead son than to say he’s replaceable—and attempted to rape Drew in her quest. Yuck! To add insult to injury, Kim was awarded a hopeful exit granted to her via the kindness of Liz’s sister.
I can’t say I’m sorry at all to see these characters gone. Now can everybody quit talking about them all the time.
My big wish for 2020 is to see more importance put on the characters we know and love. If I’m going to be invited to watch GH everyday then I should feel like I’m at home amongst family. The focus was put too heavily on trying to tell social issues this past year and, while these stories did garner some attention from the press, they didn’t make viewers necessarily rush home to watch or create good discussion amongst fans.
What are your picks for the best and worst of 2019? What do you hope to see happen in the new year? Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts!