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Carolyn's Opinion

As GH prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary on April 1, Digest columnist Carolyn Hinsey weighs in on the state of the show.

As we cruise up on 60 years of “Love in the Afternoon” for GH, I’m proud to say I’ve been there for over 40 of them. (Insert Grandma emoji here.)

It’s hard to explain the fervor at Indiana University in the early 1980s when 70 girls tried to cram around the one television set we had in our sorority house to watch Luke and Laura every weekday at 3p.m. The action built, of course, to their 1981 wedding when 30 million people also crammed around their TVs to watch. It came as no surprise to me when I later learned that Princess Diana — who had been married four months earlier to her own version of Prince Charming — was also glued to her set and had sent champagne to the actress playing the bride. Genie Francis (Laura) couldn’t drink it, though. She was underage.

Both marriages went kaput long ago, but 42 years later, Genie and Laura are still holding court on GH along with many beloved Quartermaines, Scorpios, Webbers, Corinthoses, Ashfords, Robinsons and whatever we’re calling the Obrecht/Reeves wing of troublemakers. Our Port Charles faves have endured countless life-changing events like B.J.’s heart transplant, Stone dying of AIDS, Robin contracting HIV, Monica’s breast cancer, reigns of terror from Faison, Ryan, Heather and Peter, the frontburner deaths of major characters, and more love affairs than you could shake The Ice Princess at — and we’ve been right there with them. Once on the verge of cancellation, the show expanded to an hour in 1978 and soon shot to No. 1.
Thank you, Gloria Monty.

Today’s GH is still shooting for No. 1. They do a lot right, starting with female friendships which are routinely showcased as BFs of all ages supporting each other. Josslynn/Trina, Maxie/Brook Lynn and the Davis girls represent the younger set, Ava/Nina are the slightly older problem children, Anna/Felicia’s capers draw on 35 years of James Bond-ism, and I still hold a special place for Lois and Brenda (L&B Records forever!).

Even the local lawyers get classic lines:

Alexis: “I’m action-oriented.”

Diane: “That’s Latin for meddler.”

It’s refreshing to watch women solve crimes, catch bad guys, run successful businesses and live productive lives without needing a husband. Shout-out to Anna, Ava, Nina, Alexis, Sam, Kristina, Diane, Lucy, Maxie and our revered Monica Quartermaine, who will hopefully make an appearance for the 60th. She embodies the strength we love about GH!

The huge cast allows for lots of side trips with characters we care about (TJ and Molly’s almost baby, Leo’s autism, the launch of Deception) but the downside of trying to tell stories with 50 people is that those tales can wind up snippets that disappear. There are worse problems than having too many good characters (!) but when The Fight For ELQ takes a backseat to Austin’s Creepy Cousin and Gregory’s Journalism Career, we lose the thread. Tracy, Holly, Phyllis, Cyrus, Martin, Lucy et al are dynamic PC residents we want to see more of, so there’s a void when they’re off the canvas. We miss them!

Another GH positive is couples. Young, old, funny, serious, and every shape, size and color (props to Milo and our treasured Epiphany) means there is truly a duo for everyone. I swear, if two people show chemistry in a scene together they’ll get a squish name. “Sprina”, “Vanna” and “Fizz” were trending within hours of their portrayers making eyes at each other, and who didn’t love Martin and Lucy’s shocking ho-ho-hook-up in his Santa suit?
The downside of that success is that fans are used to A-list duos, so when GH misses the mark, it’s jarring. Austin/Maxie, Carly/Drew and Finn/Liz come to mind, but nothing will ever land with a bigger thud than 2005’s Sonny Corinthos and Emily Quartermaine. Even Emily’s brother Jason The Sonny Worshipper was like, “Back off, dude.”

Other missteps over the years include creating Bill Eckert, killing Alan Quartermaine, Laura’s catatonia (which appears to be hereditary now that two of her three kids are in comas), and twisting themselves into a pretzel to explain Jason’s absence with faux Jason and then an illogical twin named Drew who either does or does not have Jason’s memories depending on the day. (If anyone deserved a coma, it was Jason.) But the biggest mistake was made years ago when GH killed off a host of young core characters like Georgie Jones, Morgan Corinthos, and Emily Q, who could have brought the show into the next generation. Nothing against randos like Sasha and Cody, but logical connections matter. Why create new characters and then rewrite history to retrofit them into the show (Cody/Mac, Willow/Nina, Esme/Ryan, Franco/Scotty, Martin/Laura…) when Serena Baldwin, Dillon Quartermaine, Lucky Spencer, etc. are out there for the taking?

That said, the most extraordinary attribute of 60 year-old GENERAL HOSPITAL is the pace. She may be getting up there in years but the ole girl is spry, delivering something meaningful every day. You know if you hang in for the tag you will be rewarded, and it could be anything from Spencer and Trina’s first kiss to Nikolas’s “dead” body turning up hooked to machines. It’s a rare gift to know that every day we’ll get a threat or a promise or a diagnosis or a reveal or a surprise or … need I go on?

GH is a show that delivers every single day. Even if it’s not always “Love in the Afternoon”, I know it will be “Entertainment in the Afternoon”, and 42 years after I started watching the shenanigans in Port Charles that remains an amazing payoff.

Hey. It’s only my opinion.

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