Goodbye Barbara Jean

For the Week of May 15, 2023
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Daytime lost a true legend this week. Let's remember her 45 years in Daytime and also discuss this week's Port Charles happenings.

Dearest readers, just typing that title made me cry. We lost our beloved Bobbie Spencer. We lost Jackie Zeman, and it hurts.

I don't care about people who think it's silly to mourn someone you don't personally know. Jackie Zeman was in my house weekly for over four decades. I started watching GH the year Jackie began acting on the show. My husband, who pretends he doesn't watch GH, was sleeping when I heard the news of her passing. I told him the following day, and he hugged me and said, "It's almost like losing a member of your family, isn't it?" He gets it.

Loyal soap fans have invested days, weeks, months, and years in the storylines and characters of their show. We have spent the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve with these characters.

Jackie Zeman has been a presence in my life since I was 17. I am now over 60. For all my adult life, I cared about what happened to Bobbie Spencer and her family. I think that's real, and I think it matters. Jackie Zeman impacted my life, and I know she impacted yours, too. I know from the many people who have contacted me via Twitter that we are in a moment of mutual grief. I don't care if non-soap fans don't understand that or want to mock us. This is a sad moment for fans of this show that celebrated 60 years on the air.

GH is timeless. This show has impacted multiple generations. I think about little Max from "Max Updates GH" -- GH has fans from kids Max's age to people in their 90s and older. Generations of people have shared and loved these stories and the actors who bring their favorite characters to life.

We saw the Vietnam War on soaps. We saw AIDS on soaps. We saw breast cancer, rape, and many other topics no one else would touch over the years. Soaps have been braver than most other mediums in taking on significant untouchable issues. Jackie Zeman was part of the saddest story GH ever told -- a story about the death of a child and the topic of organ donation, which made a whole generation weep -- the sad and stunning death of Bobbie's daughter B.J. whose heart saved Maxie Jones.

To this day, I cannot think of that storyline without crying. I worked at a travel agency then, and every morning for weeks, we would talk about what happened the day before and cry and cry at our desks. We would get so mad when a customer came in to buy an airline ticket because we had to stop talking about Bobbie, Tony, Felicia, B.J., and Maxie.

The first love triangle I was ever invested in was Laura, Scotty, and Bobbie. Bobbie was the bad girl, the conniving woman who set her sights on destroying her rival for Scotty's affection. Bobbie called her big brother Luke to town to help her ruin Laura, and, well...we all know how that turned out. I read an interview with Jackie where she said the audience hated her so much, she was receiving death threats and had to travel with an FBI bodyguard!

Over the years, I went from hating Bobbie to rooting for her. She was a woman with a scandalous past, trying to reform, turning from a hooker into a nurse and fighting her past mistakes every step of the way. I loved Bobbie with Jake, Roy DiLuca, Noah Drake, Jerry Jacks, and of course, Tony Jones. (But not that jackass D.L. Brock.) I loved Bobbie's fierce and feisty loyalty to her family and friends.

I loved it when she found out Carly was her daughter. I loved when Lucas told her he was gay. I loved the way she helped Elizabeth after she was raped. Those scenes are all etched in my mind. I'm crying again. I keep stopping and taking a breath. I have been threatening to drink hard liquor while writing this, but it's not 5 o'clock near me yet. But soon, I will make good on my threat.

I can't believe she is gone. I can't imagine how much pain her family and castmates must endure when we, who have never truly known her, are heartbroken. I can't begin to comprehend how much heartache the GH cast and crew have had this year after losing Sonja Eddy and Nneka Garland.

How much heartache can one group take? I worked at a place where we lost four staff members in one year, and we were like walking zombies. I keep thinking about Genie Francis and Kin Shriner, who have been with Jackie since the beginning. Four decades of friendship and shared experiences. My heart hurts.

I was discouraged by ABC News and Good Morning America. They barely acknowledged her passing. She got a 20-second mention after 45 years on the network. Maybe they are planning a more extensive story later? I don't know, but as of this writing, she didn't get the respect she was due. I think it's because soaps aren't seen as being as valuable as other forms of entertainment. In its heyday in the '80s, GH had 11.4 million viewers. Right now, Yellowstone hit its top ratings of 12.1 million viewers. By the way, it's also a soap. Why is one better than the other?

But let me tell you, the online community gave Jackie and her alter ego, Bobbie, a lot of love. She has been trending on Twitter for days. My timeline is filled with clips, love, tears, and people remembering this incredible Daytime Emmy-winning legend.

Jackie Zeman's death is a personal loss, but it's also a terrible loss to the story. When Bobbie said recently that she couldn't believe Luke was dead, she kept thinking Luke was going to show up and say, "Barbara Jean, you'll never believe what happened..." (paraphrase). I wanted that scene to play out so badly. I wanted to see that reunion. Now, I never will.

I want GH to do an entire episode devoted to Bobbie. I want her funeral to look like Big Fish. I want every nutty character she's ever interacted with to show up at her funeral. I want Luke back from the dead, the ghost of Tony Jones, Jerry Jacks incognito, old Lucas, all four Carlys -- Lulu out of her coma, both Luckys, and scenes with Aunt Ruby; give me the works.

I'm crying again. Readers, we just saw Bobbie at the Nurses Ball, singing and dancing, and we didn't even know she was sick. I'm so glad they had the scene that honored Bobbie's service to GH, and now I wonder if the writers knew she wouldn't be working again. It's a sad day for GH lovers everywhere. My sincere condolences to her family and friends who knew and loved her.

Any dreams I have of a proper goodbye to Bobbie may be a long time in the making. Depending on how long the writers' strike lingers, we may run out of new episodes and not have resolutions to our current storylines for weeks or months. I hope that doesn't happen, but I'm not confident this strike will be resolved quickly. Several shows I am jonesing for, like Cobra Kai, have already stopped production due to the strike. Good thing I have a gazillion movies and every season of Gilmore Girls on DVD. I have already streamed myself through most of the Internet. Also, I watch a lot of YouTube travel and cruise vloggers, so at least they will probably continue to provide fresh content. My husband and I keep saying we will start our own YouTube travel channel, but we are both lazy.

Back to Port Charles. The past few weeks on GH have been so action-packed. Even though I knew that the writers wouldn't let Victor kill the entire planet, I still felt my heart pounding. I was worrying about little baby Chunk (Ace) and Sprina, Dr. O and her bone marrow, and Laura, Holly, and Anna, who dragged herself out of the hospital while bleeding. But not so much about Drew. I have to say, the ladies didn't really need him. The sisters handled it for themselves. Spencer gave the best assist by knocking Victor's head into the bar at the Haunted Star before Victor unleashed his poison on the world. It was my second favorite scene of the week.

What was first? The leap. Oh, my goodness. When Trina saw Spencer all bloody, bedraggled, and bruised coming around that magnificently built Greenland rock, and she leaped into his arms with the passion that Baby jumped to Johnny in Dirty Dancing, I rewound and watched it twelve times. I asked myself, "Wow, how often did they have to rehearse that to get it down?" The answer is (drum roll) -- ZERO. Zero times. How do I know this? Because Nicholas Chavez posted a video on his social media and said it was completely spontaneous, that Tabyana Ali just did that at the moment. It was not scripted or rehearsed. And I loved it even more. I was delighted to see soap vets like Peter Reckell and James Patrick Stuart giving these two young actors recognition for their work. But I can't neglect Laura's face when she saw Spencer, that cry she gave -- oh, my goodness! My heart was so full from these reconciliation scenes.

It's been a long time since we had a genuine supercouple to root for. I mean, Trina and Spencer are the age of my grandkids. Still, I am wholly invested in their love story because true love is ageless, and we can recognize it when we see it.

I think that's why we get so frustrated when the powers that be are trying to push couples that aren't working on us, like Maxie and Austin. That was just painful. Give me double the Anna and Valentin and double the Sprina instead.

Testing the waters is excellent. I understand that soaps do that occasionally, and I am always willing to give a new couple a chance. Right now, I am open-minded to Cody and Sasha. I am open-minded to Robert and Diane, but I also loved Robert and Holly in the day. Which couple is best for right now? I don't know. I want to see Austin in a love story because I adore Roger Howarth, but his best chemistry was with Brit, who is gone. Maybe he can take a crack at Nina when Sonny dumps her?

I know there are those of you who are team Nina and Sonny. I'm just not. I'm sorry. I have heard that Maurice Benard likes them together. I adore him, but I disagree with him on this point. I have asked myself if I would still feel this way if Michelle Stafford was still Nina. The answer is yes, even though I am crazy about her. It's not an actress thing; it's a storyline thing. They have written Nina so despicably that I can't get past it.

Nina has been horrible to Willow all along. I loved this week's scene where Sam encouraged Nina to face the truth about herself. The distance between Willow and Nina isn't solely Carly's doing. Sam reminded her that she had been terrible to Willow for years. Sam advised Nina to humble herself and ask for Carly's help repairing her relationship with Willow. Nina did it, and Carly may help her because she doesn't know that Nina is the one who turned her and Drew in to the SEC.

I hope the GH sound department is ready to give me a good hard slap sound the day that comes out because I want to hear Carly's hand crack Nina's face. Also, I hope the makeup team is ready to draw a big red handprint n Nina's face. P.S. -- major shout-out to the GH props team that created Greenland for us in Southern California. That was so much fun. I loved every snowy rock and every room of the evil lair.

Nina and Ava were having drinks, and Nina told Ava that Nina planned to confess her sins to Willow. Ava told Nina that was a horrible idea and that she had gotten away with murder and should not tell anyone where she hid the body. Only Ava and Martin know what Nina did; Martin can't reveal it due to attorney-client privilege, and Ava swore she wouldn't tell anyone. Of course, they discussed it in a public bar, so who knows who was at the next table? I hope Ms. Wu overheard them and informed Sonny that his girlfriend is a rat.

Scott ran into Ava and Nina. He was forlorn because his beloved schnitzel won't forgive him for siding with Elizabeth over Brita in the Hook killer case. Nina and Ava told Scott to give Liesl time because she had been through a lot in a very short time and that Liesl needed time to process it. They believe she will come around. I genuinely hope that's all it takes, because Kin Shriner and Kathleen Gati are an absolute delight together. I really want to see this quirky couple find their way back together. Both actors have the rare gift of being equally adept at comedy and drama. They can make you laugh until you cry or just make you cry. They were unexpected when they first got paired together but a delightful surprise.

Let me backtrack a little. I want to give some love to Kelly Monaco. Sam's character has changed and matured over the years. She has become the big sister and voice of reason anyone would want. She is always supportive and offers excellent advice. Her scenes with Nina this week were terrific. She conveyed truth and understanding to Nina that Nina would not have received from most anyone else.

I love Sam's relationship with Dante; their scenes together always make my heart happy. But I think it's time for Lulu to wake up from her coma and test the strength of that relationship. Will Sam and Dante stand if Rocco's mom comes home? Will Drew turn back to Sam and Scout when Sonny and Carly team up to keep her out of jail? When the writers' strike ends, I hope they are thinking about how to open up these storylines. As soon as Diane said, "You aren't married to Carly anymore; you don't have spousal privilege," the hairs on my arm went up because I smelled a Sonny/Carly wedding down the road.

But will that wedding be to save Sonny or Carly? Michael has the dirt he needs on Sonny, but Willow begged him to delete it and not use it. Michael informed Dex today that he will not use the evidence that Dex spent months securing to turn Sonny in.

Dex was taken aback because that opened him up to genuine physical danger. Dex either must stay in the mob and keep working for Sonny, turn Sonny in himself, or run. As of today, he decided to run, and Michael offered to finance his escape. In the previews for next week, Joss says if he runs, she is going, too. I am betting that Dex won't want to take Joss away from her family.

I predict that Dex will eventually stay in the mob. He's started to like and respect Sonny. I still believe that Dex will become one of Sonny's kids. Dex gets so happy when Sonny shines his light of approval on Dex. If he's not related, why would he care? I have also seen the tender look Dex gets when he sees Sonny being a loving and supportive parent to Kristina. It's like it's something he has hungered for all his life.

If Dex is Sonny's son, who is his mom? Some rumors say Lily may have survived the explosion long enough to give birth to Sonny's unborn child. Dex's past story of having an unhappy childhood could indicate he was adopted or maybe in foster care. Also, he could be Brenda's son, which Brenda told Sonny years ago wasn't his, but perhaps she lied. Just rumors and theories, but I really like the notion, and I hope it is true. If so, and if Dex stays in the mob, will Josslyn tie herself to Dex for life like Carly did to Jason? Probably so.

Another note on Joss. When Joss is telling Dex about the many branches of the family tree, she leaves out a very important one -- her father, Jasper Jacks, and her Uncle Jerry. No mention of her departed grandma Lady Jane Jacks. While I know Ingo Rademacher is a sore subject with ABC, GH needs to recast the role and give Joss her dad back. We need his voice in her life, even if it's coming out of another mouth.

With Victor's death, someone should go and sweep the Cassadine compound and find Jason and possibly Nikolas, too. We know Austin's creepy cousin Mason had Nikolas, but who is he working for? I am truly saddened to lose Charles Shaughnessy. He played a magnificent villain in Victor Cassadine. I am glad we got to keep him for as long as we did. I will suspend all disbelief if he returns to life in a few years. There are so many loose ends to wrap up someday.

There are also many mysteries to solve. For instance, why is Tracy Q so interested in Research and Development at Deception? What stake does she have in this? I loved the exchange between Tracy and Brook Lynn, "What do you want, my discount on wrinkle cream?" Tracy replied, "I don't have a wrinkle; I have character." Perfect. With every line she utters, Jane Elliot reminds us that she is the best diva in daytime, then and now. I just adore her.

But I'm mad at her and all the Q's for assuming the worst about Ned. This time, he really didn't do it! I am so excited for the day when everyone finds out it was Nina who reported Drew (who has been nothing but kind to her and her Aunt Liesl) to the SEC because she was in a jealous snit about not being invited to Willow's wedding.

Mind you, I know Carly is not blameless. She antagonizes Nina and rubs the fact she's close to Willow in Nina's face. I understand Nina's impulse to get revenge, but I don't understand following through. Throughout my life, there have been times when people hurt me, and I wanted them to get what was coming to them, but I let the universe take care of them. Karma is a *itch, so I don't have to be one.

Sonny made it clear to Diane this week that he is still loyal to Carly and wants to help her beat the charges against her and to discredit the witness against her. Diane informed Carly and Drew she could only represent one of them, and Carly won Diane in the coin toss. So, Sonny will still have a touchpoint on Carly's defense, spousal privilege or not.

Oh, the day he finds out it's stupid Nina, I want popcorn to watch him throw things across the room. I hope he cusses and breaks bottles. I hope he tells her she's dead to him. As Ava cautioned Nina about -- when it comes out that she is the one who turned the mother of Sonny's kids in to the SEC, Nina will have made a pack of mighty enemies for the rest of her life.

Readers, you know how much I love my dear, sweet Valentin. His speech to a very dead dad this week was so touching. He vowed to make the Cassadine name one that would bring honor to his children instead of shame, and I know he meant it. I hope without Victor, Anna and Valentin can genuinely start a life together without that threat hanging over their head for at least a month before the next crisis unfolds.

It appears the next crisis will be Valentin's involvement with Pikeman and the shipments Sonny is allowing to pass through Port Charles. I am a little happy that Sonny only supplies weapons to our allies, not enemies. That redeems him a little tiny bit, I suppose. But why is Valentin involved in this at all? Doesn't ELQ pay him enough? But then I ask the same thing about all the rich guys worldwide who do shady stuff for more money and wonder how much money and power will finally satisfy them?

What will happen tomorrow, dear readers? Will there even be a tomorrow with the writers' strike still going strong? Will Esme thank Trina for helping to save her baby? Will Dex take more opportunities to continually remind Joss she is also wealthy and privileged when she disses Spencer? Will Maxie remember to keep faking her sinus infection next time through the entire scene instead of stopping her fake coughing and sniffling halfway through?

Will Valentin tell others his secret on how to look fit as a fiddle right after fighting off a deadly toxin? Will Michael and Sonny start therapy together to work out their life of issues, like Sonny hanging Michael's bio dad, A.J., from a meat hook or Michael cracking Sonny's wife Claudia in the head with an axe handle? Will Joss give Willow the good gossip she wants instead of stringing her along in another game of telephone? Will Holly randomly kiss Robert and drink Diane's Champagne again, or will Robert set her straight?

Only tomorrow knows, and I will tune in tomorrow as soon as the writers' strike ends and lets us have some more tomorrows!

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