Busted to Blissful ~ January 2008 ~ GH

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General Hospital Wastes its Women While Allowing Tony Geary to Steal the Spotlight



I’m tired of turning on the TV and seeing smart women fighting.  I admit, a well done cat fight every once in awhile (think Krystal/Alexis in the mud on Dynasty or any Viki/Dorian verbal spat on OLTL) can be entertaining, but it becomes cliché when soaps resort to showing women doing little else.

General Hospital is one of the worst offenders of this trend at the moment.  In scene after scene, intelligent, educated and highly capable lawyers Alexis and Diane bicker like children on a playground.  The show hit a new low when both women were nominated for the Litigator of the Year award.  Instead of parlaying this award into a real competition where each woman’s cases and clients could have been scrutinized (mob ties anyone?), the writers opted to have the women embark on a comedy of not so funny errors just to get to the ceremony.

By sheer coincidence of course, the women’s seats were next to each other on the plane, and they proceeded to argue over petty things the entire flight.  This was a waste of time and not entertaining.  Next, viewers were forced to endure watching the two quarrel over how to change the flat on their rental car, and then debate whose fault it was when the car ran out of gas.  The final insult to viewers was when the two women lucked into a stereotypical biker bar.  They were first harassed, then ogled, and finally threatened when it was revealed they were lawyers.

I know the show is going for comedy, but this comedy is pathetic at best.  The trite material wastes the true talents of two of the show’s best actresses.  The phenomenal Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) and the delightful Carolyn Hennessey (Diane) deserve better than being turned into some sort of Lucy and Ethel with law degrees.

Laura Wright, Carly, GH GH hasn’t just limited its unfair treatment of women to the characters of Alexis and Diane.  The characters of Carly, Sam and Elizabeth have been reduced to nothing more than bitch slapping harpies.  Both Carly and Sam have long hated Elizabeth, so why not have these two master manipulators align against their common enemy?  It becomes repetitious to watch scenes of Carly and Sam fighting (physically as well as verbally) and then watch the same thing play out individually with Carly vs. Elizabeth and Sam vs. Elizabeth.  If the show is so into female smack downs, why not have all three of them go at it at once and get it over with?

The show insults the intelligence of its female viewers, forcing them to listen to the cruel things these women say to each other on a daily basis.  When Elizabeth proclaimed her son with Jason was a “miracle,” Carly retorted, “You created a baby.  Any bitch in heat can do that.”  Real women don’t speak to each other that way.  What’s even more insulting is that Carly, Sam and Elizabeth’s hatred of each other is because of a man.  These women need to get a clue and get over Jason, as his real love has always been his mafia don, Sonny.

In the year 2008 when a woman is a leading contender for President of the United States, women on daytime deserve more respect.  Let’s see less stupid squabbles and tacky cat fights, and more intelligent dialogue and relationships between women.


While General Hospital gives its women short shift, it always knows what to do with its incorrigible anti-hero Luke Spencer.  Luke, and his portrayer, Tony Geary, are daytime icons, and no episodes illustrated this better than when Luke “visited” heaven and then purgatory while he was in a coma.

Seeing Luke met at the gates of heaven by a piano player was classic.  In all of his years on daytime, I can never recall Geary getting the chance to sing.  At first he talk-songed (a la Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady) Sinatra’s My Way.  His talk song was vintage Luke – unrepentant and poignant all at the same time.  However, halfway through the tear jerker, Geary began to sing.  It was a stunning moment, and I found myself replaying the scene on my TiVo several times.  Geary – and Luke – were stripped of all pretenses – and in that moment it was hard to tell if it was the character or the man we were glimpsing an intimate part of.

Geary did one better and topped himself a few days later when Luke found himself on trial in purgatory.  Geary played the judge, the defender and the prosecutor, as well as playing Luke.  He also made a cameo as a “female” police officer in a uniform and high heels.  The entire episode was a tour de force for Geary and should be his Emmy reel.

As Luke’s enemies and family tried his case to all the Luke participants, the surrealness never seemed over the top.  Geary managed to make each of his characters unique while never losing the real Luke in the process.

What a great turn of events to have all the characters except Luke’s wife, Tracey, vote for guilty, which would mean Luke died.  With Tracey shockingly acting as the savior, everyone else changed their vote and Luke woke up.  The expression on Geary’s face as Luke opened his eyes to see Tracey and his kids was priceless.

Geary is a perfect example of an actor who can read the phone book and make it interesting or be equally riveting without any words at all.  Geary’s remarkable range was on display when Luke’s eyes welled with tears at his good fortune.  Without Geary uttering a single line, viewers felt like they had been on Luke’s journey with him.

The only thing that would have made Luke’s trip to purgatory and back even more magical would have been if the show had delved into its archives and shown some classic Luke flashbacks, both solo and with his beloved Laura.


Lesleyann Coker is the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel
that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. 
She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.