September, 2003 brought about the passing of one of my most favorite actors, John Ritter. His death shocked America and truly saddened me. He was a Ďstapleí of my lifetime; lighting up my screen on many TV shows like Ally McBeal, Felicity; the infamous Threeís Company and most recently 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. I often felt as though I knew him personally, that he was a personal friend of mine. He will be greatly missed by many, many fans.
Since Johnís death, his last TV sitcom, 8 Simple Rules, has continued. I have faithfully watched each episode in awe of every actor and their abilities to continue after the death of their central character. The show continues to honor John Ritter through the obvious mentioning of his character and its commitment to the history of what the sitcom was originally about. With every episode my respect for the writers, actors and even the fictitious characters, grows.
We donít watch TV blindly. Each and every one of us chooses a show for a specific reason, becomes dedicated to a show for certainties we expect each time we turn it on. Sometimes itís the actor, others itís the general storyline. Whatever the reason, we commit to a show, fall in love with it and therefore expect some form of commitment from it in return. (I am faithful to Law & Order because the attorney Jack is the most moral and upstanding character on TV.) This isnít too much to ask, frankly, itís expected. Advertisers rely on people like us. Take for example the Super bowl. Advertisers pay a lot of money for those commercial time slots because they know there are millions of people watching that one specific event and that we will watch their commercials. Each year the commercials are outrageous and weíve grown to expect a certain level of advertisers during the breaks of the game. Weíre essentially a Ďsure thingí for Super bowl advertisers.
My son faithfully watches Dora the Explorer. He emphatically adores Dora. Each episode brings a new and exciting problem to solve; sometimes includes a family member; always relies on her map, backpack and friend; has to travel over something dangerous like Crocodile Lake; deals with a treacherous fox and inevitably succeeds at her task. Dora the Explorer offers my son consistency and a continuation of history. He finds comfort in that. We are all like my son when it comes to the shows we watch. We look for consistency, appreciation and respect for the shows character and a little something extra to keep us on our toes.
Over the years Iíve grown attached to General Hospital because of the characters and history of the show. Iíve invested my time into families such as the Qís and the Spencers. Iíve watched them go through hell and back; cheered on the sidelines and yelled at the TV in angst and trepidation. Iíve put myself in the shoes of characters such as Emily (and would love to do so now considering sheís sucking face with a hot pirate these days!), Monica and Bobbie Spencer. Iíve wondered how I would handle their fantasies of TV; how I would react to living in the Qís mansion; knowing my husband was having an almost affair with my best friend and continuing to take him back when he wandered. Iíve shared the fear of freezing Port Charles; various bombs and wandering eyes. Iíve judged the nasty characters, eventually understanding their reasons and liking them in spite of their actions.
General Hospital has for as long as I can remember, always respected the history of the show. The 7th floor nurses station; The Christmas Party at the Hospital; the Nurses Ball and more have made the storylines of GH, whatever they may be at the time, ring true to the core show itself. Though weíve continued to see new characters, the writers have shown respect for the previous and current characters and connected them, generally speaking in some way. This loyalty to what originally started General Hospital remained fast and true, with a touch of variety and spice to keep us interested.
Unfortunately that was the General Hospital of yesterday. The General Hospital of today is quite different. Astoundingly different, to say the least. Weíve see the diminishing of core families on General Hospital; the loss of annual events; new characters with no purpose, let alone no remote connection to anyone else on the show and frankly, no consistency of the characters weíve grown to love. One minute Elizabeth is destroyed by Ric for all of the immoral acts heís committed. The next minute a video of him professing his love (which heíd done over an over) makes her realize heís the love of her life and all is forgiven; an example of the inconsistency in the writing of our favorite characters.
Skye ____________(fill in the blank for her last name because right now no one knows for sure), was a good Chandler. Then she became a Quartermaine out of nowhere and in time we accepted, even liked her as one. Now weíre lost again. Spoilers say she is a Cassadine. Iím not sure how that will be possible, but itís what the writers need to make their storyline work. No attention or loyalty to the character; just focus, focus, FOCUS on writing story. Who cares if the stories donít make sense? Donít ring true to history? Um, excuse me Mr. Pratt, Mr. Guza, WE DO. Thatís why we watch General Hospital. We are loyal to our characters, their lives, their histories. Even if youíre not. They are what keep us coming back to ABC Monday through Friday at 3 PM EST.
The powers that be are changing the very foundation that attracted us to GH. Yes, originally Steve Hardy was a central character, but we as fans know and accept the death of an actor as a valid reason to let go of a character. We do not however, seem to accept age as a reason to drop a character, or decrease their storyline to less than recurring. Theyíve reduced Audrey to filler, taken away the consistency of the foundation of the show by eliminating the Nurses Ball and giving us a teaser of a Christmas story at the hospital. Donít even get me started about whatís happened to the Qís! Our personal lives change daily. We struggle with our own daily demons and frustrations. Our one hour a day of General Hospital is something we look forward to not only for the characters we love but also because it provides, or should provide, some sense of consistency and structure to our own lives by taking us out of our reality and into fantasy. It keeps us thriving.
General Hospital has lost consistency to storyline; loyalty to its history and most importantly, respect for its characters. Gone are the days of knowing what to expect and being surprised by it anyway, unless of course itís Sonny having a glass-breaking temper tantrum (which hasnít surprised me in years!). Our characters go from one extreme to the other in minutes; Courtney can accept Jasonís life; Courtney canít accept Jasonís life. I realize the effort of the writers is to create drama but itís reduced to silliness when the consistency is lost. For me, thatís what General Hospital has become, silly.
Thankfully like life, soap operas tend to be cyclical. As the saying goes, ďwhat goes around, comes around.Ē Iím hoping that some day soon some of the writers who have remain true to the characters and history will come around again. Until then, I try to remain faithful to General Hospital and take it for what it is, which as my husband continues to remind me, is only a soap opera.
Thanks for reading!
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