All you need is Love in the Afternoon

For the Week of October 9, 2023
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Greetings once again, Mr. and Mrs. Port Charles! Spencer and Trina have finally gone all the way. Anna and Valentin seem to be falling apart and may be headed for Splitsville. Are Sonny and Nina's chances at happily ever after doomed, or are their best days still ahead? And can someone please free Elizabeth? Guest Two Scoops columnist Steve is back with his thoughts on General Hospital.

Aaaaaaaaaaat laaaaaaaast
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh yeah, at last

Folks, the Etta James lyrics above came to my mind after the long-awaited Spencer and Trina love scenes. And what love scenes they were! Hot damn! At long last, the payoff for this stunningly gorgeous supercouple and its fans arrived. With the lights of New York City shining down on them, our "Sprina babies" were able to shut out the rest of the world. They said their I love you's, admitted they were in love with one another, and made love for the first time without a care in the world.

The scenes were magical, a sort of throwback to the olden days of Love in the Afternoon that was once the motto and hallmark of ABC Daytime -- instead of the Hallmark Channel type of storytelling I feel viewers have been subjected to in recent memory. At the same time, the scenes were also groundbreaking. We've never quite seen a young couple that looked like Spencer and Trina on General Hospital who shared the type of love and intimacy that these two do.

Everything about the scenes seemed perfect: the red rose petals, the way Spencer towered over Trina before swooping her into his arms and placing her on bed -- like something that would appear on the cover of a romance novel. Their longing looks, their sultry kisses, their sensual touches, and some things that this writer cannot describe -- not in this space, anyway -- were all things of pure beauty.

Things were just as sweet a few days later when we saw the two young lovers pick up where they had left off. Trina got to share some long-overdue point of view, while Spencer declared that Trina completed parts of him that he never even knew needed to be completed. Spencer's words are high in the running for Line of the Year. I suspect that many of us have felt that way about someone special at one point in our lives, but we either couldn't find the words or the courage to say it. Spencer did, and it was beautiful.

One testament to the power and beauty of a good romance is that it brings together total strangers from all walks of life and backgrounds with a common interest. There are many reasons we watch a soap opera like General Hospital. One of them is for romance. When told right, these stories remind us of the power the soap opera genre can still have over viewers with the right amount of writing, passion, and chemistry. A common sentiment that I've come across on social media this past week goes as follows: "I hadn't seen General Hospital in (X) years, but I came across these (Spencer and Trina) clips, and now I'm hooked."

That's called star power. Twitter user Jennifer Hallam went a step further: "New fan after seeing clips on here. Just watched all the Greenland #Sprina clips on YouTube. So much love and strength between them. Their chemistry is phenomenal. I can't wait to see the rest of the clips and hope that one day we get #GH in the U.K."

Added Twitter user Danny: "Tell me why I live in a country that doesn't even air this soap? I don't even watch soaps -- and yet found this gif and spent my entire morning watching this couple's story through YouTube clips. #Sprina is it?"

Indeed, and the impact that this moment -- this couple -- has had on people is evident in the amount of engagement their scenes have received from the show's official social media accounts, magazine covers, and more. Nicholas Chavez's Spencer and Tabyana Ali's Trina have chemistry not in spades but in minted gold. They are the rare type of artful science that can only come along every so often. As Mr. Chavez himself said after the scenes aired: "Endgame."

When I was growing up, my mother watched the "Big Three" soaps on ABC Daytime. When it came to General Hospital in the 80s, I remember how much she loved the chemistry between Leslie Charleson's Monica and especially Stuart Damon's Alan. Years later, when SoapNet launched, and we could occasionally watch together on weekends, she would say of another GH couple (full disclosure: it was Sonny and Brenda): "They can write the most amazing love story, but they can't script or teach chemistry. The actors either have it or they don't."

"They can't teach chemistry."

I've thought about that a lot lately, given how Spencer and Trina's romance has blossomed since 2021. My love for soap operas began through my mom, and I like to think that people who are the same age now as she was in the 80s are passing their love for General Hospital down to their daughters and sons the way mine did. My mom passed away almost three years ago, but I know that she would have enjoyed watching Spencer and Trina's romance the way I and many others do. That thought makes me smile. Again, the power of well-written soaps is still there.

As happy as I am for fans of Spencer and Trina, I feel the need to issue a word of advice to GH writers and ABC executives: don't squander this momentum. Months ago, viewers were on the edge of their seats after the couple's adventures in Greenland. Who can forget Trina's perfectly timed leap into Spencer's arms, coupled with Laura's hands-to-her-face expression? That scene was instantly timeless. It takes my breath away every time I go back and watch it, and I honestly don't think it ever won't. The bottom line to network suits and GH scribes alike: "Love in the Afternoon" is what your daytime lineup was once centered around, and it's a formula that still works.

Not everything is rose petals and Broadway tickets to Moulin Rouge for the citizens of Port Charles, though. In fact, some folks are just downright miserable. Look no further than T.J. and Molly's overnight grudge against Kristina. Folks, I'm having a difficult time understanding so many things about this storyline. Molly's overnight case of "baby rabies" is the biggest question mark to me. It makes me wonder: who asked for this storyline? From the start, it has felt rushed, out-of-character, and all around half-baked. Kristina is no more a threat to Molly than that creepy stuffed horse we kept seeing. If the goal of this storyline was to turn Molly into an unlikable shrew, it has worked. Otherwise, I don't see the point.

As for T.J.,Tajh Bellow is a marvelous young actor who is both handsome and charismatic. But I feel like he's being hampered by a storyline such as this. To me, T.J. should be allowed to lead the hospital with the same type of conviction and multiple layers that were previously held by the likes of Patrick Drake. T.J., along with Elizabeth as head nurse, would be a good moral compass for the hospital.

Elsewhere in the misery department, Carly, Drew, Michael, and others have convinced themselves that the one percenters of Port Charles are the real victims of an insider trading mess that Carly and Drew brought on themselves. Folks, I'm sorry if this offends any of you, but I have an issue with the writing for characters who look like Carly, Drew, Michael, etc., as it relates to using a minority judge to earn some kind of Get Out of Jail Free card.

The message that GH has chosen (repeatedly) to send with this storyline reeks of tone deafness, privilege, and elitism. Simply put -- no one wants to hear a bunch of rich white people whining about how difficult the criminal justice system is treating them -- unless you're at a campaign rally.

I also can't ignore that Trina and her family weren't extended the same outrage that Drew and Carly have been afforded. Just over a year ago, an innocent Black girl's life was almost ruined after she was framed for revenge porn -- by a white perpetrator, no less. Yet Trina's family and friends spent less time complaining about the criminal justice system than those involved in this insider trading story. Why is that?

Portia and Stella had a memorable and poignant conversation about race that lasted one episode. Compare that to what is now months of Drew and Carly's endless harping about the injustices of a crime they actually committed. Sorry, but other than Drew's bad luck fortunes in the prison shower at Pentonville, he and Carly aren't the victims of anything besides either their own ignorance of, or blazing indifference toward, white-collar crime laws. The longer GH continues to perpetuate them as victims, the more this storyline disgraces itself.

Sonny and Nina are in love, and I love that for both the characters and the fans who affectionately call themselves "Sonaritas!" I don't know if Sonny and Nina will survive the upcoming revelation that Nina had Martin tip off the SEC (BECAUSE DREW AND CARLY ARE GUILTY AND COMMITTED A CRIME!), but a recent set photo featured Nina's portrayer, Cynthia Watros, showing off what appears to be a nice wedding ring. That makes me think Sonny and Nina's wedding goes through.

Admittedly, I'm having a hard time seeing what Nina did here that was so wrong and unforgivable. She learned of a crime, and she reported said crime. There were extenuating circumstances, sure, but is what Nina did any worse than Carly withholding the truth about Willow being Nina's daughter? Or for that matter, Michael having brought a hired gun to town in an effort to send Sonny to prison? When Nina's secret is exposed, I hope that the secret about Dex is exposed, too. Turnabout should be fair play.

Anna and Valentin have hit a rough patch. Anna feels that her world is crumbling and that she can no longer trust Valentin. She doesn't know exactly who is gunning for her, but one person she doesn't suspect is Charlotte. I liked the reveal that Charlotte was the one who broke into Anna's suite. I'm not yet convinced that she set fire to Anna's house, but the break-in was a nice twist that I didn't see coming. Credit to the show's writers for potentially introducing Port Charles' latest little Firestarter.

Anna isn't the only one in the dark about Charlotte; Elizabeth also doesn't know that her son's new girlfriend is a red flag. And speaking of Elizabeth and red flags... was there something in the hospital shower room's water that was akin to what Joanna Eberhart suspected was in the sleepy town of Stepford almost 50 years ago? That might be the only thing that could explain... whatever that was that happened in the shower between Elizabeth and Finn. Yes, I'm truly that much at a loss for words to describe it. It wasn't love, and it certainly wasn't romantic. It wasn't even fun.

Look, I know some of you are tired of me harping about why Elizabeth and Finn don't work as a pairing. But as long as GH continues to ignore viewer feedback on this pairing, I feel obliged to keep pointing out that the show is wrong on this issue. (You can read my reasons for why Elizabeth and Finn will never work in a previous column.)

Since I last wrote in this space, Gregory told Elizabeth about his ALS diagnosis. But what was the real purpose of Gregory confiding in Elizabeth, you ask? It was to tell her that it would be of "great comfort" to know that Finn would always have Elizabeth to "lean on" until the end of Gregory's life. The writing for Gregory in that scene was shameless and despicable. Plain and simple, it was emotional blackmail.

I hate that Elizabeth is seldom if ever allowed to defend herself anymore or to push back against others. Writing for legacy characters that have been on a show for 26 years is a privilege. Whoever is writing for Elizabeth has shown no clue how to write for the character in the romance department. And at this point, they have equally shown that they never will, either. Anyway, #NeverFiz.

Congratulations to Kelly Monaco on her 20-year anniversary on General Hospital as Sam McCall. Kelly is a tremendous talent, and she's always a ray of sunshine for many viewers. Last week, she said something in an interview that caught my attention. Kelly noted that she would like to see Sam and Elizabeth in more scenes together. I agree with that, and I hope the show takes her wishes to heart.

Unless I've overlooked a very brief run-in, Sam and Elizabeth haven't shared a scene since 2021. The Elizabeth/Sam dynamic, however one chooses to define it, is a part of GH history. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't GH still in its 60th anniversary year? It seems to me that this would be an ideal time for Elizabeth and Sam to get into an adventure or two together. Kelly Monaco and Rebecca Herbst are friends who enjoy working with one another. Elizabeth and Sam don't have to be fighting over another guy, but their acquaintanceship should at least be featured. Instead, it's no longer even recognized by the show. That's unacceptable.

One last big-topic question: What are the show's plans for Nikolas Cassadine? Is he coming or going? I don't think even the powers that be are sure. Nikolas was and is one of the most interesting characters on GH, and he was given plenty of heavy drama until his exit earlier this year. I understand that the previous actor who portrayed Nikolas didn't pan out. That shouldn't mean the character isn't revived and given a fresh start. To that end, I think Adam Huss has done solid work as Nikolas. Moreover, the actor has made it clear that he wants the role and that he has read up on Nikolas' history. That alone makes me inclined to give him a shot.

Part of me will always root for Nikolas. For one, we've known him on some level since 1996. For another, I always take umbrage when a legacy character is used to prop characters that are less integral to the history of GH -- in this case, Finn and Esme. The show needs to (bleep) or get off the pot with their decision on Nikolas. I say bring Nikolas back with a new edge, a character reset, and pair him with Elizabeth.

Elsewhere in Port Charles

Good for GH in getting Rena Sofer back as Lois. Rena's first scenes on the GH set in 27 years will begin airing this week. Here's hoping Lois stays awhile and that we get her point of view and a background story on what she's been up to.

I'm just going to pretend that the Corinthos organization's version of Clemenza was waiting in the backseat of whatever car Frank put Gladys in on Thursday. And that Sonny came outside to watch what happened next. IYKYK.

Hearing Charles Shaughnessy's voice this week reminded me of how much I miss Victor Cassadine. Victor was GH's best villain since Jerry Jacks.

Scott and Lucy have always been a gorgeous couple to me. Seeing them the other day made me wonder why they aren't together.

Can Esme finally pay for her crimes? I can't single out Drew and Carly for complaining about crimes they committed when Esme committed even worse crimes and is roaming around scot-free.

Hey, did you guys know that Alan left the house to Monica?! Of course, you did. I just love saying that line because it always makes me smile.

Thanks for reading along, as always. Peace, love, and General Hospital!

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