HOLLYWOOD—This week is iconic because not only is the CBS soap “The Young and the Restless” celebrating 50 years on daytime TV, but so is the ABC soap “General Hospital.” Yes, two of the longest remaining soaps still on the air are celebrating massive milestones. Take a look at my column on “Y&R,” as we now dive deep into the fictional world of Port Charles and the soap opera that still holds the most viewers for single event ever when Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) married in 1981 with more than 30 million people tuning in. Yes, America more than 31 million people watched that iconic event that has become a daytime staple.
April 1, 1963 was the day that “General Hospital” debuted on ABC as viewers were introduced by Frank and Doris Hursley that gave fans the iconic Steve and Audrey Hardy, who later spawned a ton of legacy characters as we transitioned to the iconic staples known as the Quartermaine clan led by Edward and Lila, not to mention Luke Spencer, Laura Vining, Scotty Baldwin, Dr. Tony Jones, Bobbie Spencer, Felicia and Frisco, Robin Scorpio, Anna Devane, Duke Buchannan, Robert and Mac Scorpio, Helena Cassadine, Nikolas Cassadine, Carly Spencer, Sonny Corinthos, Jasper Jax, Brenda Barrett, Cesar Faison, Mikkos Cassadine, Ryan Chamberlain, Kevin Collins, Lucy Coe, Jason Morgan, Alexis Davis, Sam McCall, Elizabeth Webber, Heather Webber, I can keep going on people but I think you get the point.
Similar to “Y&R,” this soap is also known for its iconic opening credits from back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, that I don’t love as much in the 00s. The opening credits of a soap opera can have a huge impact on how people perceive the soap, even if many don’t believe it. I think to this day, “General Hospital” has some of the best villains on daytime TV. I mean the Cassadine family is wicked to the core. The Ice Princess saga, the death of Lucky faked by Helena was heartbreaking, the manipulation of its own family members to win in the end, the stories are countless.
Cesar Faison, this villain is top tier people. His obsession with Anna Devane has been a decades long narrative that didn’t end until a few years ago. One of the best storylines I can recall to this day is when Faison played a role in Robin’s fake death. It was easily the best twist in the “GH” history. Not in a million years did I expect that surprise to unfold. Not only was it captivating, but it delivered two of the most heartfelt reunions when Robin was reunited with Anna who refused to give up hope on locating her daughter.
In addition to that moment when Emma spots her mother and jumps into her arms right before Patrick plans to marry Sabrina. Talk about another twist when the audience learned that Duke, the man who first had Anna’s heart, had been very much alive for years and was being held captive by Faison. Blew my socks off when that reveal came to light. When it comes to villains, no one does it better than “GH.”
Controversial storylines are potent on the soap, as in the 1979 rape of Laura by Luke; there was also that brutal rape of Elizabeth Webber that changed that character forever. The writers are not afraid to go there, and while not comfortable to watch, the soap is not afraid to tackle difficult subject matter. Alcoholism and addiction was a storyline that involved both father and son, Lucky and Luke. Luke was responsible for a fatal crash that killed Elizabeth’s son Jake, who was later brought back to life in a twist of fate involving Helena Cassadine. Lucky suffered addiction and had to curb that habit, while also battling alcohol.
One cannot forget iconic acting from Jonathan Jackson after he learned that Elizabeth was sleeping with his brother, Nikolas. Fantastic, still a gripping scene to this day that sends chills down the spine. The biggest tearjerker has to be from the 90s, when Bobbie and Tony had to bid farewell to their daughter BJ who was brain dead after her school bus was struck by a drunk driver. Tony and Bobbie saying goodbye to their daughter, not a dry eye watching that episode, the icing on the cake was that BJ’s heart was used to save Maxie, Felicia and Frisco’s daughter who was dying. Watching Tony sit by his daughter’s bedside during her final moments: if you don’t cry you’re not human.
We cannot forget about that domestic violence storyline involving Kiefer, Alexis and her daughter Kristina. It was so brutal and difficult to watch and that climatic scene where Kiefer almost kills Kristina and Alexis walking into her home to find her daughter bloody and barely conscious? Oh it grips your heart and haunts you in the worst possible way as a parent. Fantastic, gripping writing that while a controversial story was one that needed to be told on daytime TV.
The mob wars involving Sonny Corinthos have been countless where do I start? Alcazar, Cyrus, the five mob families, the current threat? His first wife blowing up in that car, Sonny learning that Brenda was alive in that church after he gets shot, the death of Morgan Corinthos, his confrontation with Ava after he learned she swapped his meds, Maurice Benard has delivered some iconic acting and storylines since his debut on the soap in the 90s. Another iconic character I have always adored was Carly. I loved her at best when portrayed by Tamara Braun. You remember when Ric Lansing was keeping her captive in that panic/safe room, and how Elizabeth stumbled upon that secret after weeks of not knowing what Ric was up to? Just classic! I love Laura Wright, but I don’t love what the writers are doing with her character at this current moment.
One of my favorite characters right now has to be Ava Jerome. This woman came onto the scene as the sister of mobster Julian Jerome spilling blood along the way by killing Connie, getting pregnant with Sonny to save her own life, manipulating her daughter’s ex who she was sleeping with that led to his supposed demise, not to mention sleeping with serial killer Ryan Chamberlain who later killed her daughter. That scene where Ava learns that Kiki is dead, Maura West is absolutely terrific people. West is hands down one of the best actresses of our time. The amount of iconic scenes and storylines that “GH” has delivered in the last 60 years will never disappear and that is a testament to the longevity to the soap.
Some of the storylines drag a bit longer than I like, Wiley being revealed as Michael’s son, Nina FINALLY learning Willow is her long-lost daughter, we might want to speed some of those reveals up. However, 60 years and still kicking, I can only hope to see more from “GH” in the coming years.