Sunday, July 1, 2012

What a difference Anna Devane makes

For years, ‘General Hospital’ fans have been plagued with poorly written women.

Since the audience for soap operas is mostly made up of women – this led to a lot of disgruntlement.

The men in Port Charles were portrayed as heroes – even if they were mobsters and rapists. I mean, I love Luke as much as the next person, but you can’t gloss over his history.

The women were portrayed as props to the men – I mean, poor Sam did nothing but follow Jason around for years saying what a great guy he was. And Liz? Her whole reason for being in life was about having a man. She was like Bella in ‘Twilight.’

When a woman was given any sort of strength – like Carly – she was written as a shrill harpy that was insecure around other women and got her power from taking it away from other women.

Or, in the case of Robin, she was portrayed as a smug know-it-all.

That’s changed in recent months.

I call it the Anna Devane Effect.

Anna Devane is one of the strongest heroines Port Charles has ever known. She’s helped save the world – a lot – and she tried to instill a certain value set in her own daughter. Sure, she was portrayed as somewhat of a deadbeat mother in recent years – but that has more to do with timing than anything else.

From the minute Anna Devane set foot back in Port Charles this time around, there’s been a discernable shift.

As the police commissioner, the first thing she did was call resident thug Jason Morgan – the man every woman makes excuses for because he’s “dreamy” – into the police station. She warned him that his crap would no longer be tolerated.

She didn’t scream, yell or dissolve into tears – which is how the women of Port Charles would have handled things during Bob Guza’s reign of terror. She matter-of-factly stated how things were going to be.

It was a sobering moment for Jason – and a moment of joy for viewers.

She recently also had a chance to converse with resident mob boss Sonny Corinthos – he of the greased back hair, charming dimples and raging mood swings. Her response to him was equally invigorating. Unlike the other women on the canvas, Anna does not think Sonny is misunderstood or a good person. She knows he’s a loser – and she treated him thusly.

Ron Carlivati has done a good job of incorporating new characters with old characters on the GH canvas. Things aren’t perfect – but they’re definitely getting better.

Even the other women on the soap are seeing marked improvements in their writing.

Sam is no longer following Jason around like a lost puppy dog. She’s standing on her own two feet – and her chemistry with John McBain is palpable. He treats Sam like an equal, not a commodity, which is something the character desperately needed.

Felicia is back and sparking with Mac again. Of course, it would be nice to see her trying to help her wayward daughter, but beggars can’t be choosers I guess.

Tracy has gained a new insight into her life and realized she’s been a walking doormat for Luke for years. Of course, she retaliated by trying to get Luke locked up for Anthony’s murder. That’s not being a harpy, though, that’s how Tracy has always been.

Lulu, who has been lost for about two years now, is starting to discover her own drive and embrace the adventurous spirit that inhibits her very DNA.

Maxie, well, Maxie is still Maxie. I think trying to force a relationship between Patrick and Maxie could be a huge misstep at this point – but that’s one of my few quibbles with the show. She should be interacting with Lulu and Sam, quite frankly, and not acting like Florence Nightingale for Patrick.

Alexis has always been strong, but her airtime dwindled for awhile there. She seems to be making a strong comeback, though. I think it’s time to give her a love interest that isn’t a mass murderer. I hear Ric Hearst is free.

Kate is mired in the worst story on the soap right now – another DID fiasco. I wish the soap would cut their losses with her, instead of giving her a son (fans see the anvils that Trey is her son, by the way).

Even Carly is seeing a certain softening of her character. I don’t want to see Carly lose all of her edges, but she doesn’t have to be the town witch either. There can be balance.

Starr is slowly trying to put her life back together after the death of her daughter and boyfriend. Of course, that means singing. When are soaps going to realize that forcing song on their characters is painful, not fun?

That brings us to nuKristina – who is a walking cliché. Why GH felt the need to downgrade the acting talent for the character while upping the sex factor is beyond me. Perhaps the character will grow on me – but somehow I doubt it.

Finally, we come to Liz. Liz has been tangled in one baby drama after another for years. I fear that she’s going to get knocked up by Jason again. Then, right after it happens, Jason will find out he’s the father of Sam’s baby and things are just going to get ugly. The writing for Liz hasn’t been good in years – and she’s the one character that’s really not experiencing any growth under the new regime. Can we please make Liz the character she was on her way to being in the late 1990s?

Anyway you look at it, the women on GH are starting to come into their own though – and it’s a welcome development.

What do you think? Is the writing for the women on GH improving?


Blogger Mystic Dreamer said...

Great article and I think you have hit it right on...I love to see strong women who know who they are and what they want out of life ...don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with a women wanting nothing more than the right man and a family..and I would love to see another Alan and Monica, or Lila and Edward or Ruth and Joe or Audrey and Steve...these were strong couples who had there issues throughout their marriages, bur managed to stay together for the long haul...and IMO gave the viewers and the other characters the chance to see that couples could survive through it all and come out strong...I think that over the past few decades with divorce rights in the real world on the rise that soap took this and ran with it to the extreme and I for one would like to see just a few couple survive over the next few decades to come...just my thoughts!

July 2, 2012 at 7:57 AM 
Blogger kcl said...

Perhaps the writing for women is improving---I can't say for sure since another aspect of the Anna Devane effecft is that it brings back longtime lapsed viewers like me. But regardless, the writing still has a long, long way to go. Yes, Anna has put Jason and Sonny on notice, but she has also been mooning over Luke like a teenager, and it's awful to watch. Two awesome women like Anna and Tracy should not be competing over Luke Spencer. Nor should Sam and Liz be squabbling over Jason as they have been. Alexis needs to bring Kristina in line. Anna and Felicia should be talking about their daughters or their friendship or anything but Luke when they have scenes together. Also, too many storylines and characters (Sam's, Kate's with Johnny & Joe Jr., Luke's past, Todd's past) still involve rape. And finally, until the men who hog most of the airtime are no longer amoral misogynists like Sonny, Jason, Luke, and Todd, GH will still be sexist. I want to see strong heroines AND true heroes who respect and admire women.

July 3, 2012 at 4:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, Robin kept me watching the show for years when I found most other characters intolerable. Robin was good and smart, and she was a classic heroine, but GH never let her do much that was heroic. The return of Anna Devane keeps me watching the show. I don't think Anna's being written as smart, sophisticated, family-centered, and problem-solving as she was in the 1980s. Of the women in the GH cast, I currently only enjoy Anna, Tracy, and Felicia. I love that they are smart, no-nonsense women, and of course, the fact that Finola Hughes, Jane Elliot, and Kristina Wagner are incredible actresses keeps be glued to my screen during their scenes.

During all these years, the only heroic and good character on GH has been Mac, but he sadly is on infrequently. Unfortunately, other characters are still dominating the airtime, rather than my faves.

July 3, 2012 at 6:41 AM 

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