General Hospital Diagnosis: Modern Families and Cool Kids

Before technology took over the world, kids, home on summer vacation, used to watch TV with their parents. It was one of the ways soaps got passed down from generation to generation. That’s how I started watching soaps. My sister and I watched the NBC soaps Days of our Lives, Another World and Santa Barbara with my mom. When I visited my grandparents, I’d watch The Young and the Restless, and sometimes The Bold and the Beautiful—but only when Sheila Carter was on (Grandma loved her). Later my friends and I fell in love with Roger Howarth’s hair and started watching One Life to Live. Then my college roommate got me hooked on General Hospital. This was how people became soap fans.

Because of that typical pattern of behavior, the summer months usually meant featuring teen sets and 20-somethings to hook younger audiences. Those new viewers would then essentially grow up with the characters. On GH, the character of Robin Scorpio Drake is a good example of this. Fans have watched her grow from spunky little girl, to angsty teen, to a wife and mother. They were along for the ride during her losses and triumphs. As a result of her strong following (even though she’s not a series regular anymore) ratings tend to bump up when she makes an appearance.

Jason, much to his brother AJ’s annoyance, began as the “Golden Boy” of the Quartermaine family. He was a part of a popular young adult set which included Keesha Ward, Karen Wexler, Jagger Cates and Brenda Barrett. When the character went though a dramatic personality shift thanks to his brother’s drunk driving, fans embraced him as Stone Cold.

Meanwhile, his pal Brenda morphed into a leading lady—thanks to her triangle with mobster Sonny Corinthos and millionaire Jasper “Jax” Jacks. “The Four Musketeers” of the late ’90s and early ‘00s is another good example. Elizabeth Webber, Lucky Spencer, Emily Quartermaine and Nikolas Cassadine were all from legacy families, had compelling story and were played by actors with solid screen presences.

The Guza years, unfortunately, weren’t kind to what started out as soap gold. The group was given a string of misogynistic stories and dissembled. Liz went from tragic heroine to being desperate and passive. Lucky became a deadbeat, manipulative addict. Emily went from smart and confident to childish and naive before meeting a violent end. Nik was given a bizarre doppelganger story and unprincely affairs. Somewhere along the line the value of having a strong younger cast of characters for fans to follow was lost.

Family Ties

Liz now has a teenager to deal with.

Teens don’t really watch TV anymore. They watch their iPhones. So, in that respect I understand why a soap wouldn’t want to put a ton of effort into writing stories for a bunch of young and often inexperienced actors. Daytime dramas currently seem more concerned about maintaining viewers instead of trying to snag that next generation of soap fans. However, investing in a good next generation of characters isn’t just about getting new viewers. People don’t only like characters who are the same age they are. Soaps are really about families, and that means we need the kids as well as the parents in order to have consistently good soaps. As far as core families and legacy go, GH unfortunately is not doing so hot. And it’s not because these characters don’t exist; it’s because the show isn’t utilizing them.

There have been some recent efforts to focus on family on GH, something I hope is not just a tease. I really enjoy seeing Sam interacting more with her brother Lucas and his husband Brad. The trio plays well off one another, and the very different characters keep the interactions interesting, even when all they are doing is having drinks at the Metro Court. While Nelle has a really weak connection to Port Charles, her storyline does involve a lot of Spencers, Quartermaines and Corinthos’s—which I appreciate. It was a treat to see Bobbie wearing funeral attire to her grandson’s wedding, Ned officiating the ceremony and Michael scheming against his baby-mama despite his family’s concerns.

A couple of the families I’m craving to see more of are the Webber/Hardys and Baldwins. I feel Franco and Liz’s upcoming marriage will be a good catalyst to usher in more focus on those houses. Teasing that Liz’s family might make an appearance, and then not having that story go anywhere upset viewers. Fans have been begging for a confrontation between Liz and her neglectful parents so that felt like some kind of cruel joke. Who knows what the future holds and hopefully the fan reaction has been noted. In the continued absence of Liz’s parents, we are thankfully seeing the little story she has focus on the family she has created for herself in Port Charles.

When Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman were the head writers, it felt like they tried to establish both Liz and Sam as GH’s edgy and sexy matriarchs, as much as they possibly could, given the circumstances. Those two characters should be like One Life to Live’s Vicki and Dorian. While Sam is in a sort of awkward holding pattern right now, Liz is still rocking her new role as a strong, confident woman. She’s being written as a good mom to her kids, a caring, loyal partner for her fiancé and an influential figure at the hospital via her support of Kiki. Now that Cameron’s a few years older, we’ll be able to see how she guides him through the bumpy young adult years, and I’m really looking forward to that.

The Pyro and the Klepto

We’ve only seen teen Cameron twice so far, but I like the setup of the teen triangle. It’s hard to see what direction the show will specifically take with the character, but I think Cam is going to be a little bit mischievous. His father was bad boy Zander and his mother was a troublemaking teenager after all. Cam should be someone who’s good-natured but still likes to bend the rules. I also like that his friend Joss has been made more rebellious with her new habit of stealing. It’s not quite the moody teenager I had wanted her to be, but it’s a start. Oscar is obviously the “good guy” in the equation.

If they do a good job writing the triangle, it could also be a good story for the parents involved. Carly can be a little controlling over who her kids spend time with, and she doesn’t like Liz or Franco. If Joss and Cameron were to date or have sex, it could cause a little bit of warring between households, giving the relationship a “Romeo and Juliet” feel. Meanwhile, Oscar and Cameron’s parents get along. Kim and Liz are friendly, while Franco and Drew are developing a brotherly bond. If their kids aren’t getting along, that could cause some conflict for them as well, as they’ll need to step in and resolve things between them.

Little Sister

For some reason, the writers like to manufacture offspring in order to expand families and continue next generations rather than utilize what’s already been established. While sometimes these recons work (such as Sam being Alexis’ daughter), other times the results are a bit mixed, such as the current story playing now with Anna’s newly discovered son. Being a legacy kid or veteran does not necessarily equal a great character. However, in the case of Serena Baldwin, it does. It would be nice if Franco’s sister could not only make it to the wedding but become a permanent fixture in Port Charles.

Expanding Scott Baldwin’s family and his role in Port Charles would have been the logical response to Anthony Geary’s retirement. It would have been easy enough to do, since it only required adding one character. Trust fund baby Serena had a fairly prominent role in the GH spinoff Port Charles when she was a child. Much like Robin, there are fans who have watched her grow up. When PC ended, Serena moved to France. The gap in years gives the writers an opportunity to still start with a bit of a blank slate while using an existing character. When Serena made a brief appearance a year ago, fans responded favorably to her, and actress Carly Schroeder showed unfaded talent. She would be a great way for GH to not only expand its rather thin 20-something cast but help rebuild a core family.

Human Resources

Kiki’s case against Dr. Bensch has support and complications.

I’ve grown to like the character of Kiki Jerome Baldwin and am enjoying her #MeToo story. I like how her family has received increased focus as a result of her struggle. Her soon-to-be step-mother Liz and former aunt Alexis are supporting her. Ava and Julian have discussed ways to use the “family business” to take care of Dr. Bensch. I also like that Scotty is involved and going to help his granddaughter by throwing the case. However, it’s a little weird that, while we’ve gotten this big reaction from Franco—he attacked Bensch, talked about killing him with Ava and then discussed what happened to him as a child with Scotty—he hasn’t had any scenes with Kiki in this story yet. That’s a missed beat that hopefully will get played soon.

While it certainly does add to the family drama, I’m not sure how I feel about Kiki’s one-night stand with her mother’s boyfriend. I do think Matt Cohen and Hayley Erin have chemistry, but it could have been set up better. Since there was no buildup of any attraction between the two, the only explanation for the tryst is alcohol. I have issues with Griffin’s response to his rather sinful actions. He should be super nice to Ava to compensate after doing something so hurtful, but instead he’s been mostly judgmental. Other than not wanting to lie on the stand, there hasn’t been a lot of moral reflection on his part. It’s also not a good look for Kiki to be a jerk to her mother after having sex with her boyfriend. Those poor choices aside, I’m very invested in how Ava will react when she learns the truth. I like when Ava and Kiki get along, so I’m hoping Ava takes out most of her anger on Griffin. She, after all, does have information that could ruin his career.

Do the Right Thing

Sam is less than impressed with Julian.

There is a bit of a misconception about Jason wanting a family. Drew’s “Jason” was the one who chose Sam and the kids over Carly and Sonny, but Jason himself was never given that opportunity. As I commented on Twitter, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Sonny’s conflict with Julian could lead to Jason choosing Sam and Danny when the dust settles. Sam and her father are not on good terms, nor should they be considering he held a knife to her mother’s throat, driving her to drink and fall into depression. However, I don’t think Alexis would want Julian dead, and Lucas has been slowly warming back up to his father. Sam cares about Alexis and Lucas and would not want to see them hurt. Adding to the list of why Sam would not want Julian dead is the fact he’s a bone marrow match for Danny. Jason now knows that Danny had cancer, and exactly how much his family needed him while he was missing all those years. Jason has told Sonny he is willing to kill Julian if given the order. He did not have all the facts when he made that statement. It would be excellent story-telling, as well as character development, if Jason knew all the facts and was forced to make his own decision on what path he wants to take.

Recently, I’ve gotten the impression GH is shifting away from holding characters, such as Sonny and Carly, up on a pedestal to everyone else’s detriment—something that has long needed to happen in order to improve the show’s quality. Last Wednesday’s episode, in particular, seemed to have a theme about men, violence and doing the right thing to protect the ones you love. Choices have consequences.

My Three Dads

Jake just wants everyone to get along.

Jason has expressed an interest in being a part of his children’s lives, recently making an awkward attempt to spend time with Jake. Jake is still trying to figure out what he thinks about his father, and they often find themselves not on the same page when communicating. What the boy does know for sure is he loves all three of the fathers in his life and wants them to have the same bond the three Webber brothers share. Jake even invited Franco and Drew to attend a baseball game with Jason and him. Needless to say, the men aren’t ready to form any familial bonds quite yet. They do all love Jake though, and have tried to keep some form of peace for his sake. Is it possible that Jake could build some bridges between them? With the complexities and messiness that exists between the men and their different families, it would take a lot of work, so I’m not sure it could happen.

There is kind of a strange, brotherly feel to the characters of Jason, Drew and Franco in the way all three are connected. Jason and Drew are long-lost twins; Drew and Franco were raised as twins; Jason and Franco once thought they were twins, and Franco is really Jason and Drew’s cousin. It’s the kind of complicated family tree that only exists on soaps. As Liz Masters from Soap Central explained in one of her Two Scoops commentaries, “I realized this week, as I watched everything unfold, that Drew is the Jan Brady of his family—caught between a wildly popular older (I made that up) brother, Jason, and a zany younger (also completely made up) brother, Franco. I have no idea what order they were born in, but Drew strikes me as the middle child.” We all know the fanbases of these three characters tend to clash on social media. However, Twitter and Facebook comments should not be what drives the writers. Jason, Drew and Franco’s connection and relationship should be played.

When OLTL recently had what would have been its 50th anniversary, I did what every nostalgic soap fan does and logged onto YouTube. I found myself rewatching perhaps my favorite story line ever—the search for the Lord heir. It was an umbrella story involving all three Lord siblings, while at the same time giving everyone their own story. GH could do something similar. What Drew does or doesn’t remember will cause family drama. The issues that could arise from Drew having Jason’s memories has been brought up a lot lately. Franco’s fiancé Liz and Drew discussed the topic, concluding not using the information he has against Jason would be the right thing to do. Since he doesn’t think much of Jason, it seemed Drew made that choice to protect Sam and the kids. However, Margaux’s new interest in Drew seems to be at least partially connected to what he knows about Jason’s past. She doesn’t have much of a fondness for Port Charles mobsters. Could she sway Drew? And if Drew ever does decide to move forward with regaining his own identity, will he have to trade Jason’s memories for his own? Solving the mystery of “Who is Drew Cain?” not only would give Drew his own identity, but it could change his relationships and alter who he considers family.

Which core families would you like to see expanded? What family dramas would you like to see play out? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

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One thought on “General Hospital Diagnosis: Modern Families and Cool Kids

  1. Aislinn

    July 25, 2018 at 7:38pm

    The Webber’s and the Baldwin’s age sorely lacking in Port Charles.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Aislinn

    July 25, 2018 at 7:38pm

    The Webber’s and the Baldwin’s are sorely lacking in Port Charles.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Linda

    July 25, 2018 at 7:41pm

    Great read!! Like you, I would love to see the show rebuild the Webber/Hardy’s and the Baldwins; they are the true core/legacy families that were represented on the first episode of GH.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Mel

    July 26, 2018 at 8:22am

    Like you, I wish we saw more Baldwins and Webbers. At the top of my list would be Steven, Serena, and at least one of Elizabeth’s parents. Oh, and more Scotty!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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