April 15, 2004

Upwards Descent 

When did General Hospital become so rife with hypocrisy?  When did the last hero and heroine disappear?  Can someone explain to me how my enemies became my heroes and my once heroes my enemies?  If not that, can someone please just tell me if there is even a way left to sort out the mess that was on my screen today? 

The thing is, some of it was SO good.  There was great acting at times, complex story at times, and actual character driven dialogue at times.  There was also such convoluted crap that is beyond description filtering through most of the episode.  I’m beyond speechless.  At this moment, I wish I were an offline viewer with absolutely no sense of who is in charge of this show, and oblivious to any agenda that exists.  I wish I could’ve watched today and really thought that finally, finally, Sonny and Jason were being made to look like what they are.  That would be clueless, selfish, deeply troubled individuals who have lost all sense of purpose or morality beyond what serves them at any given moment, and everyone and everything else be damned.  Just think back for a moment and imagine that you were watching today knowing that new writers (fair writers, writers who are interested in telling a real story) took over a few episodes ago and this was their shakeup.  This was their explosion, their cataclysmic event.  This was the beginning of the fall of the House of Hypocrisy.  They knew they couldn’t just have Sonny and Jason wake up one morning after endless months of abuse dishing and entitlement waving and have them suddenly realize that they aren’t the end all and be all of Port Charles.  We watched all these months; we watched the build up of the self-involved man thugs.  We watched them take over fictional PC and even worse, our show!  We watched the police turn corrupt while the few half-decent citizens around town turned to the mob for help with every hangnail they acquired.  We watched it all and we deserve to see its undoing.  We deserve to savor it and maybe we can even manage to conjure up a moment of regret for the fallen if the fall is swift and fitting. 

Today Sonny and Jason fell.  Well Sonny fell, and Jason saw him teetering on the brink and in the blink of an eye he threw himself after Sonny, narrowly missing the leg he was trying to latch on to.  In an amazing twist, he hit the ground first and he also hit the hardest.  In fact, he probably broke Sonny’s fall in the end.  I’ve seen Jason refuse to do so much less for Sonny, but this time he inexplicably stood by and did nothing while Sonny stepped in to *his* marriage.  His life.  Jason was always the only one who could stop Sonny from going to far, but lately he’s failed.  He’s been emasculated into just the hit man.  Sonny and Jason never converse anymore, Sonny just fires out orders and Jason acquiesces.  They no longer appear to be friends, it’s become a working relationship and Jason is most definitely the subservient employee in Sonny’s kingdom.  How interesting is that?  Very interesting actually since there probably are very few real friendships in the mob, friendships that last anyway.  It occurred to me a few days ago, while I was lamenting the way Sonny has reverted back to treating all women as something to be brushed (or pushed) aside, that GH has actually succeeded in certain elements of realistic mob portrayal.  If mob fantasy, safe for network and safe for pre 8pm is your fancy, that is.  The big problem is, you can’t have it both ways and have it make sense.  You can’t have the hero be a heartless criminal who murders people left and right.  Not unless you’re willing to go all the way with it.  Jason and Sonny became a step closer to realistic mob portrayal today, but to what avail?     

Hello, GH?  This experiment has failed.  It does not work.  Daytime is not the venue for a show overrun by women hating men.  It is not the venue for violence upon violence, upon violence.  There may not be a venue (ever) for a daily program that tries to make that kind of thing its platform.  Sonny used to work, but that was when he was torn.  When he was trapped (of his own making granted, but those traps are all the more interesting).  When he cared.  When his conscience made him weep and wail.  Now he only weeps and wails about those that hurt him, but once upon a time, he wailed about those he hurt.  Jason used to support Sonny foremost out of love, respect and friendship.  Now he supports Sonny because it’s his job.  Both now actually believe that they are doing the right thing.  Instead of warning others off and saving them from the despair and loneliness of this life, they rail on those that don’t embrace it.  They now believe this is the true and right road to follow, and that would be the fork in the road where they lost me. 

Dragging the viewers along with them, they’ve become so mired in gross negligence of humanity that neither they nor we can find our way out.  We cannot make their actions make sense anymore, even those of us that still bother trying.  And unfortunately, that problem has spread to almost every other character on this show through the efforts (or non-efforts) of writers persistent on making them seem right, no matter the cost.  Sonny has disowned his sister because she made a call that interrupted his attempts to make his ex-wife shoot her lover?  Really?  How does one make sense of that?  Sure, there is an argument to be made that Courtney betrayed Sonny.  I didn’t really see it as her calling the cops on him; she called the cops to try to avoid trouble.  Carly called Alcazar and warned him that Sonny was coming after him (weeks ago) yet that was understandable somehow in the end, but this apparently, is not.  Courtney didn’t even know if anyone was at Alcazar’s apartment, but no matter, she placed a call to the police.  Period.  Can Sonny take that as a betrayal?  Sure, maybe even rightly so.  Can *I*, the viewer, find a stance to take on the matter?  Sure I can, I think murder is wrong – so sue me.  Then again, it’s a soap and people get dead on soaps.  That’s okay with me as well.  The real problem is, that I cannot look back at any of these STUPID character’s lives anymore and really get what the hell they’re doing.  They make no sense.  They’re all apparently operating from some handbook that no one remembered to issue to poor viewer Sherry.   

I watched the scene with Sonny, Carly and Lorenzo.  I wanted to feel something, anything.  I wanted to understand where these people were coming from.  Why would Sonny want Carly to prove her hate by killing someone?  How can I make that not sound like insanity?  “Oh, if you really hate him then you’ll shoot him”…wtcf?  Am I supposed to think that really makes sense?  Why would Carly take the gun and aim it at Lorenzo?  Was she afraid?  Did she just want to get the gun away from Sonny?  Did she just really want to prove her love to Sonny?  Did he just make her angry enough to snap into psycho Carly mode, as has previously happened?  She didn’t appear to be doing any of those things to me.  I couldn’t read one thing in her expression or demeanor.  Then, because she wouldn’t splatter the man’s brain on the wall behind him, Sonny deciphered that she still loves him (when frankly, she never did to begin with if you ask me, or if you ask her) and that’s a huge betrayal as well apparently.  So he runs home to his girlfriend to cry about it and then runs upstairs to boink Sam after that.   

I watched the Jason, Courtney, Sonny scene.  I did feel something here, it was a good scene and the acting succeeded where the writing failed.  Alicia Leigh Willis did a fabulous job, and honestly, I was more stilled and frightened by her asking Sonny if he thinks she’s afraid of him than I have been by most anything Sonny has ever uttered.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Courtney should be a force to be reckoned with on this show, but I’ll save that for another column.  I felt the anger in that room.  I felt a little of the hurt, but mostly I felt the anger.  It should have been enough to satisfy my drama needs for a week, and it would have been if I thought that the tide was finally turning.  If I thought that finally, the followers of these two “heroes” had awakened to the farce that is their lives.  If I thought for one minute that the writer’s wanted me to see how wrong Jason and Sonny were, if this were really the fall *I* thought I was watching, I’d be elated.  I know better though.  I know they won’t go there, because it would ruin all their fun.  So, I watched a scene that could’ve been something but instead was another exercise in hypocrisy that will go uncovered, probably forever.  I’m watching two grown men yell and spit and stomp their feet because their favorite blonde refused to let them kill someone.  This is why I watch daytime soap opera?  So I can watch these two rise again and again to the top, while they’re holding every other character underwater and slipping further and further down the scale of decency and sympathy?   

How did we end up with so many nasty, twisted characters?  Why do I just *know* that this brief awakening of conscience by a few characters will be fleeting?  Why does a story like the one that Luke and Skye are starring in suddenly look dirty and distasteful?  Soaps do these kinds of stories all the time, even with the humor injected.  Why is it that I can no longer watch even that level of soap story without feeling irritation and dislike?  GH has taken the fun out of surrealism.  They’ve taken “tongue in cheek” and rammed the tongue so far down the throat that we’re all gagging on it.  They’ve lost the ability to pick and choose where they play their little games.  It’s just not funny anymore.  It’s not dramatic.  It’s not even interesting.  Not from the perspective they’ve forced us into.  There is so much talent and so much potential.  If I were a bit more unaware, a newer viewer maybe, I’d quite possibly be jumping for joy today.  I saw the beginning of the fall, and it was long overdue.  If only.   

It has become entirely impossible to feel good about watching this show.  That, my friends, is the saddest thing of all to me because I do care about the characters and I do wish for the show to succeed and thrive.  Some days though, I feel entirely guilty for that wish.     

I’ll be back in a few days with more detailed thoughts about this week.  If nothing else, the current events have awakened me from my blasé attitude.  I have plenty to say and a LOT of notes to sort through (and some of it is positive, I swear!).  Thanks for listening.                      



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