General Hospital Weekly Diagnosis: Story Problems

It’s been a little hard to keep positive about General Hospital lately. The quality of the show is not anywhere near where I know it could be. GH needs a little tough love from critics right now.

For this week’s review, I’ve decided to take a different approach and focus on what I think needs improvement. When 2017 ended I was very optimistic for the upcoming year, eagerly looking forward to Jason, Sam and Drew’s triangle, Franco and Liz’s wedding, Anna’s spy games, and Lulu and Maxie’s shenanigans. Flash forward several months later and I’ve gotten none of that. Franco and Liz’s wedding didn’t happen in February which I’m okay with but no new wedding date (or story line) has been set yet. The triangle with the Quartermaine brothers and Sam is structureless and boring. Anna’s history and characterization has been tampered with in a gross way. Maxie and Lulu aren’t even speaking to each other. It feels like the writers have no idea what to do with anything not related to Peter August or Nelle Benson.

These are my thoughts on the General Hospital episodes that aired May 7-11, 2018 as well as some thoughts on what parts of GH need a little TLC.

Casting A Long Shadow

It was recently announced that the very talented Elizabeth Hendrickson would be joining the cast in a surprising new role. While many fans are curious as to who she’ll be playing and who she’ll interact with, others reacted online to this news with “why can’t GH just write for the characters they already have?” Fan response on social media is tricky to decipher but I don’t think it should be disregarded either. It’s a matter of finding the right way to look at things. “Soaptwitter” is full of demands for certain couples, complaints of story pacing and, in GH’s case, mocking of the excessive hiring. Writer Tom Casiello remarked on Twitter, “There are two kinds of angry soap fans. The first is angry because they’re not getting what they want. The second kind is angry because they know what the show could be and it’s just not living up to its potential.” It’s the latter that deserves the most attention. The issue isn’t that a certain fandom didn’t win their fan war or anything of that nature; It’s that present stories are unlikeable. The current cast isn’t getting good story and a new hire isn’t going to fix that. We just have one more character that will be stuck in weak story. Ratings do tend to bump a little when a popular soap star joins a cast but those ratings aren’t maintained without good writing.

Lack of screen time for favorite characters is another casting related complaint amongst fans but a lot of times that boils down to a problem with story. In primetime, we only see characters once a week and that weekly appearance is more than satisfactory to hold an audience’s interest. If what we’re given is the same conversation over and over again, it feels like the screen time is lacking when in actuality it’s just more story that is needed. This also ties into the complaint about pacing. There’s nothing wrong with a story taking months to play out as long as there is continual movement. Not giving viewers something new every time a character graces our screens is a waste of time and resources. Fans aren’t going to invest in repetition.

Spies and Lies

Anna set her plan to find Henrik in motion.

Let’s talk a little bit about umbrellas. I live in the Midwest and when it rains, it pours! At times the rain and wind are so aggressive that it has turned my umbrella inside out, bending and breaking it. During those type of storms, it’s best to forget the umbrella and make a mad dash from my door to the car instead. GH, you need to make a mad dash through this Henrik Faison storm because your umbrella is broken.

GH has put all its eggs into one basket with the Henrik story and the response has been less than positive. Nobody would complain about this story eating the canvas if they enjoyed it. Fans’ dislike for Henrik isn’t based on an agenda. It’s not like “Spixie” fans are trolling from multiple Twitter accounts because they aren’t getting their pairing. This story is just bad. “What if Faison and Anna had a child together” is tacky fan fiction not clever storytelling. Anna is one of the most adored characters on soaps and GH has messed with her history to the point that it negatively changes what has long been establish. It feels like GH was banking on our love for Anna to make this story a winner, but I’ve had viewers tell me they are now fast-forwarding her scenes. It’s not Finola Hughes or her fans’ job to ensure this story line’s success. That’s up to the writers and they need to cut there losses on this one.

The Triangle

I really wanted Jason, Sam and Drew to be the next Sonny, Brenda and Jax. Unfortunately, rather than taking the first five months of this year to develop this story, the emotional beats have just recently begun to play. For example, it was nice having Jason tell Sam about his escape but it would have meant more if that scene had taken place six months ago. Ever since Jason returned, things between Sam and him have felt disconnected with very little explanation. If their often mentioned connection had been played, it wouldn’t have felt so passive when Jason decided not to fight Sam’s decision for a divorce. Because the longing wasn’t played up as it should have been, many felt confused by Jason not pursuing Sam. Regardless of who Sam choses, her love affair with Jason meant something. It didn’t do anyone (including Drew) any favors to ignore this.

Drew and Jason had a run in.

I’m a Sam fan but she has not come off looking very good as result of this clunky writing. I was most looking forward to her role in the tale, with her being torn between two suitors. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of focus on what is so lovely about Sam that both these men would want her. Not showing immediate concern that Jason had five years taken from him made her seem cold. She loved him very much so even if she didn’t want to continue with their marriage she would still want him to be safe. And rushing into a quick remarriage to Drew just made him the fool for believing her when she said she no longer had feelings for Jason. I like that Sam is choosing herself now and hopefully that will help mend the story a bit. But I wish she had been more honest in the beginning, there was more focus on what makes her so desirable and her journey was guiding this story.

A big problem with this triangle is that we don’t know Drew. Some details have been provided. We know that as a child he adored his “brother” Bobby, that he was a heroic Navy Seal and he had a relationship with Kim which resulted in a son. Last week, with Oscar’s urging, Drew finally decided it was important to get his memories back. It’s possible that Drew’s reluctance to regain his memories was because he feared losing Sam. I could understand that but I don’t feel like that was properly verbalized. I’d like to see more of Drew bonding with the people from his world and gaining an identity separate from Jason’s. Then see if Sam is able to love the end result.

Last of the List

Franco met with the last person on Harvey’s list.

I’m a fan of the pairing of Franco and Liz and liked how the child abuse story was done. But what the heck was that ridiculous ending? Holy plot point Batman! A friend of mine (Hi Jojo!) pointed out this would have been better given some more thoughtful editing. Franco and Liz could have started at the Quartermaine mansion instead then ended up at home discussing how they are ready to move forward and setting a wedding date thus giving the story some proper emotional closure. I agree that would have been much better.

In the end, Franco contacting Harvey’s list of victims fell flat. Instead of hiring an actor to come in for a day to save Charles Street and help Franco see he wasn’t responsible for what Harvey did, it would have been better to write for the actors already employed. Another meaningful therapy session with Kevin and/or bonding moment with Drew could have been used to effectively show Franco letting go of his self-loathing. This would have shown the story’s impact by focusing on the change in relationships as Franco continues to heal.

As for Charles Street, since the damage shown has been minimal there wasn’t a dire need to see how that part of the city got funding to rebuild. A line or two about insurance claims and the community coming together would have sufficed.

The Tragedy of the Penguin

“Morgan loved penguins!!!”

Carly flipping out because of a penguin mobile was certainly not what I expected. While I’d love to give props for shock value, this was just an odd way to move the story forward. For starters, it’s never been mentioned, at least not to any degree of importance that I would remember, that Morgan loved penguins. Secondly, penguins are adorable and everyone likes them so it was weird to have Carly see this as something unique to Morgan. Third, how did Nelle even know that Morgan loved penguins and this would set Carly off? The fact that this was played so seriously with an ominous score didn’t help. I’m perplexed as to why this story was what was promoted for the week instead of the upcoming Nurses Ball.

Nelle’s plan didn’t go the way she wanted and Carly ended up shoving her down the Quartermaine staircase. The scene was very reminiscent of AJ pushing Carly many years ago which resulted in her losing her baby with Sonny. It was a nice nod to GH history in that respect. Maybe this is the writers way of going back to playing Nelle as the Carly 2.0 we thought she would be when it was assumed she was her long lost daughter.

While it’s fun to see Nelle terrorize Carly, I still don’t care about this story line or the young schemer at the center of it. After the fallout plays, what story is left to tell? Nelle’s pairing with Michael is a bust and she hasn’t been chem tested with anyone else. Griffin likes blond bad girls. She may have been a better choice to play on Ava’s insecurity than Kiki. Not sure who else she could possibly be paired with though other than a straightjacket.

My GH Wish List:

  • Kiki’s Me Too story is well-done, timely and deserves more focus that it’s getting. Hopefully, it’ll pick up after the Nurses Ball. And give us some Kiki and Chase scenes already! I think their personalities would pair well and visually they are very attractive. GH needs a good young romance.
  • Bring on Serena Baldwin. She’s a legacy character and is already connected to many on the canvas – Lucy, Scotty, Franco, etc. The actress is cute, charming and has talent.
  • Age Cameron a few years. A soap teen scene should consist of four characters. GH’s teen scene in Joss and Oscar. We need more than that to generate any worthwhile story. Cam could play the foil to Joss and Oscar’s budding romance thus causing friction amongst parents. Bring on another teenage girl too. I don’t want Emma aged. Give someone a niece or cousin or adoptive daughter instead.
  • Give Anna a sexy and adventurous romance. Just blame the Henrik stuff on mind-mapping or some ish. I’m willing to buy whatever.
  • I like the Mike story but I don’t get the morbid new direction. Make sure this Croton stuff has a good payoff that doesn’t take away from the nice Corinthos family moments we’ve gotten recently.
  • Set a wedding date for Franco and Liz and make it a fun, romantic event. Continue to build on the new friendships teased with Kim and Drew. Play Felix as Liz’s best friend. Have Jeff Webber and Liz’s mom return to Port Charles for a story arc. Give us Steven Lars’ reaction to Franco and Liz’s marriage.
  • Either really play the triangle with Jason, Sam and Drew or drop it and move on. Let Sam have a voice and solid identity.
  • Don’t ignore that Ava saved Jason. Playing a friendship with Sam’s aunt/Sonny enemy and Jason would be soapy. Continue to have Ava regain her power. A femme fatale isn’t fun to watch if she’s always the victim. That defeats the purpose.
  • Repair Maxie and Lulu’s friendship. Give Maxie some space to grieve but also start planning her next pairing with someone other than Henrik. I miss Team Crimson! Play Nina and Maxie’s fun business relationship again and add the fashionable Serena Baldwin as a new employee.

Check out what’s happening this week with our GH Teasers.

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One thought on “General Hospital Weekly Diagnosis: Story Problems

  1. cooks7570

    May 13, 2018 at 6:32pm

    So everyone has to get along on this show now? Rebecca Herbst’s kids are almost teenagers and the show won’t even age her kids onscreen. I wish Valerie was on more too.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Quinn

    May 13, 2018 at 7:11pm

    Great read!
    My $0.02:
    If the cast wasn’t so bloated, when GH announce that actress XYZ is joining the show, most viewers would be happy instead of disenchanted. It’s not just about the number of actors on the show, it’s about the talented actors who aren’t used, like DZ.
    The end of the Franco story was weird and precipitated. I won’t complain since I don’t want the story to continue for too long. It was dragged so much at the beginning. Can you believe GH started the story back in August? I’m ready for Friz to move on.
    I have no word for the Peter debacle. Just end it. Get rid of Peter.
    PenguinGate was ridiculous although LW was great when Carly yelled at Nelle. I still need Nelle to be gone. She’s another character that was never needed on the show.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Jenn Bishop

      May 14, 2018 at 8:42am

      Thanks for commenting! That’s how I feel about the cast too. When they can’t use who they already have, then it’s hard to get excited about new additions.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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