Busted to Blissful ~ May 2007 ~ GH and Y&R

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GH is too repetitive, Y&R mixes and matches couples to perfection

Laura Wright, Carly, GHBusted ~

General Hospital’s Repetitiveness

Why do I feel like I’ve tuned in to Passions when I’m watching General Hospital?  Maybe it’s because the GH writers seem to have taken a page from the James E. Reilly school of thought -- show your characters having the same conversations over and over again ad nauseam.

It’s not enough for GH to milk the Sonny/Carly/Jax triangle to death, but they’re also overdoing the Lucky/Elizabeth/Jason baby story at the exact same time.  How many times can Carly waffle between Sonny and Jax?  How many times can Elizabeth tell Jason he’s doing the right thing by keeping his paternity of her baby a secret?  And how many other characters are they going to lament their dilemmas to before talking to themselves?  Wait, they’ve already resorted to using that horrible Passions cliché.

It’s time for GH to have Carly pick a man and stick with him, and then give them an obstacle to overcome together as a couple.  If after Carly marries Jax, she continues to pine for Sonny or happens to sleep with him again, the character will be completely ruined.  In order for Carly to be a character we root for and like in spite of her foibles, then she has to learn from her mistakes, and not be doomed to repeat them.

As for Elizabeth and her unborn baby, enough already.  She’s already survived a fall, a car accident, a hostage crisis, and false early labor.  All of these situations have been a chance for her to come clean about the baby’s father, but instead we get the same scenes again and again --  Jason comforting Elizabeth, Lucky expressing gratitude to Jason for “saving” Elizabeth, and Elizabeth trying to convince Jason staying quiet is the best solution.  If  these scenes play out one more time in any way, fans will change the channel and not tune in again until Lucky inevitably learns the truth..

Each of these storylines might have worked individually, but together, they’re just too much.  All of GH is the same every single day.  The whole hour revolves around Carly and Elizabeth and their men.  Enough is enough.  There are other characters on the canvas worthy of screen time too, yet they only make a token weekly appearance.  Give us more of Alan’s ghost haunting Tracy, and the hilarious pairing of Tracy and Luke.  These characters work because they aren’t doing or saying the same thing every single episode.

GH can fix this mess quite easily by having Carly choose between her men once and for all, and by allowing Elizabeth to tell Lucky the truth about Jason being the real father of her baby.  If they can accomplish this feat with sparse dialogue, in as few days as possible, all the better.  The true ensemble nature the show is supposed to reflect can return, and I can stop having Passions deja vu.

Michelle Stafford, Peter Bergman, Phyllis, Jack, Y&RBlissful ~

Young and the Restless’ Family Dynamics

General Hospital should take a cue from The Young and the Restless about how to interconnect characters without it becoming tedious and repetitious.  Lynn Marie Latham,  Y&R’s head writer, has woven a delightfully tangled web with the characters of Nick/Phyllis/Jack/Sharon/Brad/Victoria/JT, not to mention adding Nikki and Victor to this convoluted equation.These characters are all established, and for the most part, well liked.  They also happen to have switched partners within this specific group more than once.  Yet somehow, it doesn’t seem incestuous (like the other Bell show), but always entertaining and surprising.  You never know which couple to root for.

When Nick was still married to Sharon, and had an affair with Phyllis, I was pulling for Nick and Sharon to work through their problems and stay together.  But after awhile, Nick and Phyllis started to grow on me.  Brad and Sharon also have undeniable chemistry together, but as his relationship with Victoria evolved, and eventually led to marriage, they became the couple I liked best.  Somewhere along the way, probably when Jack delivered Phyllis’ baby in the elevator, I was reminded of the connection they share, and they emerged as my favorite pair.

For my current favorites to wind up together, Phyllis could leave Nick for Jack, and Nick would return to Sharon.  Brad would beg Victoria for forgiveness, only to have her leave him for JT.  A heartbroken Brad could then turn to Nikki for comfort.  After all, they were engaged once, and stranger things have happened

In addition to my wish list, there are many other ways these couples could wind up coupling and uncoupling, especially with Victor and Nikki in the mix.  This is truly a mark of a well written story when there are endless possibilities for it to play out, and any number of them are bound to cause fans to talk.  If fans are still talking about a show after an 18 year run at the top of the ratings, obviously the show is doing something right.

It’s Soap Opera 101 to know fans want a well written and acted umbrella story featuring their favorite characters.  However, knowing this and executing this are two different things, and Y&R has been able to accomplish both.  They have patented a scenario that can play out for years to come, with serious ramifications for all the fans’ favorite characters.  What a tangled web indeed.


Lesleyann CokerLesleyann 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.