Wednesday, December 7, 2011

General Hospital's end looks to be near

The end is near for ABC Soaps.
‘All My Children’ is already gone.
‘One Life to Live’ leaves the air in the next month or so.
That leaves ‘General Hospital’ as ABC’s lone sudser standout.
What’s chilling for soap fans – myself included – is that Katie Couric has already been guaranteed General Hospital’s time period in September 2012. Brian Frons, then president of ABC Daytime (he’s since announced he’s moving on to something else), said that whichever shows were getting the strongest ratings would be on the ABC lineup at that time.
Monday, I called my local ABC affiliate – WXYZ – and asked them how the schedule stood starting in September. Especially since ABC’s replacement for ‘All My Children’ – the ridiculously boring ‘The Spew,’ I mean ‘The Chew,’ is getting lower ratings than the show it replaced.
While the girl who answered the phone was helpful, the news she shared wasn’t. Essentially, she said that the schedule would consist of ‘The Spew’ in the 1 p.m. timeslot, ‘The Revolution’ – a diet show – in the 2 p.m. timeslot ‘One Life to Live’ will be vacating in January and Katie Couric’s talk show in the 3 p.m. time slot.
I asked about ‘General Hospital’ but was told “that’s not on the schedule.”
There has been no official announcement about the cancellation of ‘General Hospital,’ but if spoiler websites and online chatter are to be believed, that announcement is coming out after the new year.
There are a lot of reasons the soap genre is dying. There are less women at home during the daytime. There are a lot more options on television for those women who are at home. Online views and downloads and Soapnet cable viewings aren’t counted in overall ratings. The list goes on and on.
This is still a television show, though. The simple fact of the matter is, if the writing is good enough and entertaining enough then viewers will tune in.
‘One Life to Live’ has actually seen a surge in viewership from nostalgic fans who were drawn back by popular actors like Andrea Evans, John Loprieno and Roger Howarth.
So what’s ‘General Hospital’s’ problem?
When you look at ‘General Hospital’ it’s a funny thing, you can actually tie the drop in ratings to a storyline. Up until the late 1990s, ‘General Hospital’ had solid ratings and a fanatical fan base. Then the mob took over.
A show that had one time been about the lives and families of a hospital staff quickly became about killing off legacy characters and propping a hitman, his greasy little whiny boss, a narcissistic woman who seduced her own mother’s husband and a convicted prostitute who hired thugs to menace small children – oh, and who seduced her mother’s husband.
Where, exactly, is the rooting value in those characters?
When I was five years old, my mother kept me home from afternoon kindergarten to watch the most viewed episode in soap history – the 1981 wedding of Luke and Laura. Now, let’s not mince words, Luke was a rapist (later turned into a seduction and then back into a rape) and Laura was his victim but the couple managed to grab the imagination of an entire nation.
Laura was a plucky heroine – played with emotion and edge by a wonderful Genie Francis. We forgave Luke and followed them willingly on their many adventures.
Cut to today, Genie Francis was unceremoniously dumped from the show after being told she was too fat and her character was turned into a weak and sniveling woman who got locked up after losing her mind.
And Luke?
Well the rich history of Luke and Laura has been undermined by a series of masochistic writers who rewrote the couple’s past and turned Laura into a woman that not only knew her husband was cheating on her – but essentially encouraged it. Huh?
Throughout its history, ‘General Hospital’ has been a show with strong – yet flawed – heroines like Anna, Bobbie, Lucy, Holly, Audrey, Monica, Felicia, Laura, etc. After all, when you’re trying to draw in a largely female base, you don’t do it by showcasing weak women.
Sadly, that’s all ‘General Hospital’ has now. One woman has three children by three different fathers and spends her days begging the father of kid number three never to leave her.
Another woman purposely seduced her own mother’s husband on the kitchen floor as some sort of payback, hired thugs to menace small children and has purportedly been raped and yet never went to the hospital -- even though she’s supposed to be a tough female private investigator. The fact that this character – Sam for those who don’t watch the show – spends all her time worrying about her serial killer husband and his ‘Incredible Hulk’ rage issues, all the while making excuses for him is a whole other story.
Then there’s Carly – a character who bases her whole existence on men and what they can do for her. Yes, I know Erica Kane did that on ‘All My Children’ too – but Carly does it with actual malice. The writers treat Carly as a character that can never be bested by another character. How realistic or “rootable” is that?
Lulu, a character that is slightly more realistic but still plagued by doubt, is now hitting the bottle out of nowhere and the show’s longtime heroine Robin, a beloved character that has been living with HIV for almost 15 years, is soon to be leaving the show and looks to be killed off.
None of these women – or the writers’ treatment of them -- inspire loyalty from female viewers.
If ‘General Hospital’ had a chance at saving itself, it was by doing a complete and total reboot about five years ago.
Sadly, it’s become blatantly obvious that the soap is doomed and the mass exodus of stars from the show only proves that.
What’s funny is, I still eagerly tune in to ‘One Life to Live’ every day and I will miss that soap desperately. Yet ‘General Hospital’ has always been my favorite ABC soap. Sadly, with what ‘General Hospital’ has become, it would almost be doing the show a kindness to put it out of its misery before it does even more damage to its historic pedigree.


Blogger Succoach said...

It's as though the actors already know the show is ending because everyone of them have a side line business going on. SB has been in network marketing programs but recently has starting working with his personal trainer marketing a MLM program Body by Vi and using another MLM program Talk Fusion to present live broadcasts.

you can check this out

plus bringing in other cast members.

Laura Wright's husband has a wine business

Julie Marie Berman and her husband have a business together selling green products for pets

December 8, 2011 at 5:35 AM 

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