Dear readers, I have been making notes of my best and worst for the year, and I have three pages of bullet points. I'm not going to be able to hit every topic we all loved and hated in depth, but I am going to try to touch on as many as possible.
Of course, this is purely subjective. There are things I loved that some of you hated. I love some couples that you don't. You will think some storylines were riveting that bored me to tears. We all are very passionate about our soap, and our opinions are all over the map. So, here's my request... if I loved something that you hated, just take it in stride. Differences are what make the world interesting!
I'll start with the best, the things that engaged me, delighted me, made me cry real tears, delighted my heart, and made me happy to be a soap viewer.
This year, GH leaned into its roots and gave us some genuine medical drama. Every time they swung the bat in this arena, they hit a home run. With Mike's Alzheimer's storyline, Bobbie's diabetes, Carly's later-in-life pregnancy complications, Donna's spina bifida, the diagnostic gymnastics that went into discovering Alexis was being poisoned, and Oscar's cancer storyline -- in all of these, GH shined. There were a couple of notable exceptions, but you have to wait until the "Worst" section to hear me rant about those.
Max Gail and his portrayal of a man declining mentality from Alzheimer's is just a thing of beauty. The ups and downs of a mind dancing in and out of the present and past, of recognizing and forgetting -- he's just absolutely slaying this role. The writers are capturing the angst of the family of someone with Alzheimer's, too -- the helplessness, the searching for miracle cures, the desire to have them around as much as possible vs. the fear that they are so unpredictable and you don't know how they will respond in any given situation. It's just been on point and fearless in its look into this disease.
Bobbie's diabetes diagnosis was another winning storyline while it was happening, but in a nod to the worst, many storylines are just forgotten, never to be mentioned again. I'd like to see Bobbie prick her finger every now and then testing her blood, or asking for Stevia for her coffee, or any little nod to her earlier diagnosis.
Also on the best list, and this is seriously near the very top of my list, is Maura West. Dear readers, I can't take my eyes off of her. Maura never sleepwalks through her scenes. (I'm too kind to mention the one GH actress that I think is just totally bored with her job.) Ava is such a complex character, and she has chemistry with everyone, friends and enemies alike. Ava was heartbreaking as she had a mental meltdown after the loss of her daughter, falling in love with a serial killer, being trolled online after the Crimson issue, seeing ghosts, and being told Kiki was damned. Her scenes for months have been "Must See TV."
But seeing her emerge this week, back at the gallery, stronger and back to form, I screamed, "Yes!" at my TV. Watching her mentoring Trina in art and, moments later, holding a gun on a prince, equally compelling. All dolled up in heels and makeup, she is stunning. Curled up in a ball on the floor of the mental hospital with no makeup in the midst of a full breakdown, she is equally stunning. She's a gem. My only hope for 2020 is that no one snatches her away like they did Michele Stafford. If she and Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) end up in a romance, I won't complain.
It's also wonderful to have Ingo Rademacher back on canvas. Having Josslyn's dad show up at the time she was losing her first love to cancer rang true. Also, I just want Jax on the canvas always. He's so charming and handsome. He's one of the reasons I watch soaps. I'm glad he is woven into so many storylines, but the man needs a love interest.
Some of my points have one foot in both the best and worst columns. For instance, I was delighted to see Tamara Braun back in Port Charles. This is a woman who wowed on GH before as Carly and won an Emmy ten years ago for the role. How do they take a powerhouse actor like that and write such a weak character? Kind of like what's happening with Michael E. Knight now. It's like having Jennifer Hudson on and not asking her to sing, or having Jim Carrey on and not letting him riff jokes. You play to people's strengths. Just the name alone is not the ticket to ratings. It was wonderful that they thought to hire her and tragic that, once she was there, they didn't utilize her and instead made her character totally unlikable.
Best comedic relief: Liesl Obrecht. Kathleen Gati is the whole package. She gets the best lines and makes me howl. She gets a heartbreaking scene and brings me to tears. She gets a song and sings it like a nightingale. She brings radiance and life to every scene she is in. She had such great chemistry with Michele Stafford that I was afraid that when the recast came, it would fall flat, but she managed to find a way to connect to NuNina and make me care. I think she should go to counseling and fall for Neil.
Another familiar face I was delighted to see back in 2019 was Rebecca Budig. I was thrilled that Hayden Barnes came back to town and that Anna was on a very long absence, because I am rooting for Finn and Hayden. I love Anna, but I love her with Robert. But about five minutes after Hayden introduced Finn to his adorable daughter, Violet, she left town again. I'm glad she left her daughter behind, though, because the little girl is a gem. Jophielle Love is a keeper, and I hope she sticks around a long time. And I hope Violet's comes home soon, too.
GH has done an incredible job casting young actors overall -- their teen scene right now with Joss (Eden McCoy), the recast Cam (the multi-talented William Lipton), Trina (Sydney Mikayla), and Dev (Ashton Arbab) holds my interest because each of them is an interesting character in their own right. They have given each of the teens their own independent storyline in addition to their group storylines, and it's made them well-rounded rich characters, and even though I'm AARP age, I enjoy watching their scenes.
I've also grown to appreciate Willow and Chase as a couple. At first, I was annoyed with Willow as a character because I wasn't seeing why she was there or how she was connected. I was wondering why we had to have so many scenes of Nina being annoyed by Charlotte's teacher. But as soon as we saw that DOD tattoo and realized there was more to Willow than met the eye, my interest grew. I am still a little torn about if I prefer Willow with Michael or Chase; today's episode of Michael and Willow hanging out with Wiley made me wonder where things are going.
If Nelle thinks Sasha (the lovely Sofia Mattson) or Willow is in her way, she will do terrible things to them. If Michael ends up with his son back, I think Willow's bond to that child is already so strong, she won't even care if he's not her real son. Maybe they should swap for a while, and Chase can be picked as the male Face of Deception, and they can bond over modeling. Katelynn MacMullen and Josh Swickard are selling the uncertainty of a new couple in love, first getting to know one another. But since Harmony is out of jail, there will definitely be some drama around the corner for them.
Random new plot idea, since the president signed Space Force into existence today, GH should definitely reinstate Casey the Space alien. Like pronto. We can decide which characters we would like to send to outer space.
Also on my Best of 2019 list: the brief reign of the Scorpio brothers back at the PCPD, the surprise resurrection of presumed-dead serial killer Ryan Chamberlain, the sudden reappearance of the sassy Brook Lynn Ashton (Amanda Setton), Laura as the mayor of Port Charles, Kiefer's sister Kendra rat poisoning Alexis for revenge, Violet Barnes (Finn's daughter), Monica embracing Dranco as Drew to get to know Jason's twin before he brain-switched back, Franco sacrificing his brain to save Cameron (and his switch from villain to hero now indisputable), Kim briefly having a Drew who remembered their love, Sam's past coming back to haunt her, Nikolas being alive as I predicted since he fake died, new T.J. Tajh Bellow, Nina and Valentin in spite of his misdeeds, a ghostly visit to Lucas by Brad Maule, Scott Baldwin fighting for Franco and finding his way as a father, Kin Shriner as a constant joy, Oscar's death (on both the best and worst lists, to be honest), GH making Cassandra James's character Terry a real part of the canvas -- Oscar's oncologist instead of just a prop character, the Twitter feed and Instagram feeds of many of our GH stars for backstage looks at their lives and having them interact with the audience, the Nurses Ball (like every year), and our long-lost soap stars finding a second life on Hallmark Christmas movies. Here's looking at you, Matt Cohen and Ryan Paevey.
And one final best: seeing Amy Driscoll back on canvas as of today. Welcome home, Risa Dorken.
As you can see, I can't unpack every single one of those topics. There are so many great things about General Hospital. GH is a joy in my life and something I look forward to every day. Even when I whine about it, I still am madly in love with it. I had a very hard year this year. A cross-country move prompted by layoffs and financial issues, giving up a home and a life I loved, getting rid of nearly everything I owned, and moving 2500 miles away. The one reliable thing that cheered me up a little every day was GH. Watching my familiar old friends deal with their drama, which was always way worse than mine. I mean, I didn't accidentally fall in love with a serial killer, or go blind with a mystery twin disease, or find out my daughter was a fraud, or in a rape/ tattoo cult. GH made my problems seem small.
But with all that love in my heart for this crazy show, there are still things that absolutely drove me mad this year. I can't decide where to start.
Oh, wait, yes, I can. That moss on Carly's kitchen counter. It was in so many scenes, they should have named it. Then I was watching another show and saw the same moss, and I thought, "Did ABC find a sale at Home Depot on giant moss bowls?" It was the focal point of the kitchen conversations. Why?
Next up, and a little more serious -- the concept of suspension of disbelief is a big part of being a happy soap viewer, but sometimes I just cannot suspend my disbelief as far as they want me to.
For instance... a coed prison? Nelle and Shiloh both roaming the halls, conspiring together? Ryan, a serial killer, being given a cellmate to kill instead of being in solitary confinement? Cult leader Shiloh, who was in for drugging and raping young women, allowed to visit with young women in prison? Side note, I miss Coby Ryan McLaughlin; can't Shiloh have a not-evil twin? But I digress. How about a mystery virus that made twins go blind? How about not tasting rat poison in your smoothie? What about that time when Robert wouldn't give Finn back his engagement ring for weeks? What normal man wouldn't say "Dude, give me my freaking ring now"? But what did it matter because after he got the ring back, he proposed, Anna said yes, and then she vanished for months. Also, there's the whole uploading someone else's memories into someone's brain from a flash drive. If that ever becomes a thing, I think I'd like to get a peek at, like, Prince's memories, or someone else who probably had fabulous things going on in their heads. But wait, I would not want to trade my memories for anything or anyone. I have lived quite an unexpected life myself.
Another unbelievable plot point -- Sam is in prison for killing Shiloh. Please consider how many times Jason had the chance to get rid of Shiloh and didn't. Jason the hired gun, the paid hitman, the enforcer, and he didn't kill Shiloh. You know who wanted me to add this? You guessed it. My husband, who pretends he doesn't watch GH. Yet somehow, he is very worried about if Jason has gone soft.
I loved Coby, but the Shiloh/DOD story was too long on the front burner and should have been wrapped up sooner, or at least not overtaken entire weeks of storyline. So many people were wrapped up in it, and it became all pervasive, and you could hardly remember what the people in Port Charles did before DOD opened its doors.
I know what Lulu was doing. Not watching Charlotte. Seriously, I want Valentin to get full custody and for Lulu to have to grovel to see her at all. After she wasn't paying attention while Charlotte got kidnapped, you'd think she would have a heightened sense of urgency about not taking her eyes off of her kids in public, but no, she had to make out with Dustin on the docks, you know, that really great place for kids to play, right by the water, without a rail...
Side note: I don't fully trust Dustin yet. He's probably a plant, waiting for Dante to contact her or something. Speaking of Dante, has he made no progress with his PTSD? It seems after months of treatment, he'd at least be able to have a phone call with his mom or talk to his kid on his birthday. But nothing. No contact whatsoever. He even sent back Olivia's letters. If Dominic Zamprogna doesn't want to come back, either recast the role or stop talking about him. If he does want to come back, bring him back. I used to love the character of Lulu, but I find her less and less likable every day. Blabbing her fat mouth at Valentin and Nina's wedding, telling off Valentin, who is actually a genuinely loving father to Charlotte while she is negligent. I'm just over her.
Next up: poor Wiley. Wiley Jones (a.k.a. Jonah) has like 15 parents/grandparents circling him. Lucas and Brad, Shiloh and Willow, Harmony, Bobbie, Michael, Carly and Sonny, Sasha and Chase -- so many people are just gaga over that kid. When will he be revealed to be Michael and Nelle's son? I hope he gets to ring in the New Year with his real dad. And that Nelle scores herself one of those overcrowded prison pardons just to liven things up. But add that to the list of things to suspend disbelief. Prisons certainly do release prisoners due to overcrowding, but it's guys who sold weed or robbed a loaf of Wonder Bread from the 7-Eleven, not violent offenders.
Another thing I am adding to my worst list has nothing to do with GH and everything to do with ABC... Preemptions for news. Their idea of an emergency and my idea of an emergency are two different things. There is a plethora of 24-hour news networks, so if I wanted to watch the impeachment hearings all day, I could easily switch to one of those networks dedicated to news That is, in fact, the reason they supposedly exist. But in reality, I think they are probably a clever tool of Satan to divide us, as people line up behind some certain ideology and dig their heels in and hate everyone who disagrees with them. But I digress...
The three major networks should make a policy to not interrupt their four remaining soaps unless an actual emergency is underway, like a hurricane is about to blow your town away, or a shooter is at your local mall, or something you need to know about right now.
Okay, I mentioned this earlier, but how do you take a powerhouse performer like Tamara Braun and write such absolute trash for her? She did the best she could with what she was given, but what she was given was absolute rubbish. A friend of mine lost her teenage daughter to complications of MS. She was devastated, heartbroken, fragile, but -- she didn't attempt to date rape anyone to make a new baby. She didn't steal her friend's brain-damaged husband for her own because he had a memory transplant. I love campy soap plots, but these plots ruined Kim and made her totally unlikeable. No one could relate to what she was going through. No one looked at her and said, "I could see myself doing that if I were grieving the loss of my child." One more note: she barely had any scenes with Steve Burton, and in her days as Carly, the two of them had incredible chemistry, so that was a missed opportunity.
Also tied up in this were unfortunate couplings... I kept rooting for Julian and Alexis to reunite, and instead, GH had Julian (Charlie) with Kim, and Alexis with Neil. I'm sorry if you really love Alexis and Neil, but to me, they are a snooze. I just don't feel the sizzle that I need to care about them as a couple. I don't dislike Neil; we certainly need an extra shrink at GH with the number of mentally unstable people in Port Charles. Kevin and Neil can divide and conquer. But find Neil a new woman. Let the always-offscreen Max dump Diane and let her woo Neil away from Alexis so she can go crying to Julian. Yeah, I know, Julian cut Brad's brakes, but since Jordan can't find any evidence of it, maybe we can just give him a pass and pretend it didn't happen.
That's another worst. Julian has worked very hard to change his life and become a respectable citizen for his kids and grandkids, so to have him frame Brad with a fake affair and then try to kill his son-in-law, it's like taking Julian all the way back to square one. I'm a writer. I have been in rooms full of writers. There is someone who says, "Hey! I know, let's have Julian try to kill Brad and accidentally almost kill Lucas!" and no one else has any better plot ideas, so they all say, "Okay, cool," instead of thinking about the long, slow climb this character has made from bad guy to good guy. I know some of you vehemently disagree, but I am still team Julexis.
Another worst for me was losing Michelle Stafford to The Young and the Restless. I was so invested in Valentin and Nina, and James Patrick Stuart and Michele had so much chemistry. I was so sad when she left, even though I also watch Y&R, and the idea of having "real Phyllis" back was delightful. Can't she just work for two shows? She's a powerhouse. I bet she could pull off both. Tristan Rogers has pulled it off, right? I wasn't feeling Cynthia Watros at first; the roll-out was rough. But she has grown into the role, finding her inner fire. I adored her on Lost, and I am learning to love her as Nina. But I still really miss Michelle. But, I'm loyal like that; I still miss Julie Marie Berman as Lulu.
Allow me to unpack my disdain for Lulu in 2019. This is odd for me, as I have never disliked a Spencer before. But this year after Dante left, Lulu became an incredibly whiny, annoying, needy, and clueless character. She did dangerous things like trolling a criminal on a fake dating site; she was nearly killed by Ryan and blamed Franco for the longest time (more memory manipulation!); she let her child out of her sight for a second time after she was kidnapped by a lunatic just a month ago; and she has made herself the teller of secrets (the reason I used to hate Robin!), butting her nose into everyone's business and busting up Nina and Valentin's wedding.
Now, here are some more things on my worst list
• Jasper Jacks, the most dashing man in daytime, has no love interest. A vague flirtation with Nina doesn't cut it. Some tender moments with Carly don't cut it. Give the guy a woman. Bring Brenda back. Have her be Dev's mom. Maybe the kid looks so much like Sonny because he is Sonny's kid. Wouldn't that be a fun twist? That would send Sonny and Carly into a tailspin, for sure. Reignite the Jax/Sonny/Carly/Brenda quadrangle, and I would love all that soapy drama.
• Some of Liz's kids are always missing. She has three sons, and they are never all home at the same time. Even now, Aiden got sent off to Ireland for Christmas. Although I did hear that he's working on another project...Jake was presumed dead for five years, and now he's been missing for at least another year. We haven't seen him more than twice.
• Losing Billy Miller. Is Drew really dead? I hope not. I hope Billy Miller is just on a Viking River Cruise and will be back soon. But he also would need a love interest.
• Nu Jordan. Vinessa Antoine was not an easy actor to replace. Briana Nicole Henry is lovely, but I still don't buy her as chief of police. I was so happy when she turned things over to Mac. Give me more John J York and let Jordan go be a P.I. with Curtis.
• Jason and Sam have become a snooze. There, I said it.
• Bringing people back only to ditch them again in five minutes. Weeks of promos that Dom Zaprogna was coming back, and then he was only there for two days. Stories that Rebecca Budig was coming back as Hayden, and then she was gone in a month.
• Bringing back Lexi Ainsworth and not writing for her. Lexi is an amazing actor. We got some great scenes with her during the DOD storyline, but then, poof! She's basically been missing ever since Shiloh left. I'm not talking about occasional visits with her mom and sisters, I mean a real storyline with meat behind it. Now that DOD is gone, what's her dream? Is she dating anyone? Is she accidentally joining another cult? I want to know her story.
• More Alexis, please. More Diane, please.
• Mike and Yvonne's fake wedding. Do Alzheimer's facilities actually allow their patients with a lost grip on reality to get fake married? That whole plot line bugged me.
• Peter's descent back to bad guy. Just like Julian, he put the work in to change his life, so to have him dive back into bad guy mode made the whole rest of the year feel pointless.
• A general lack of cops and doctors. Cops: Chase, Jordan, sometimes Mac, Nu-Valerie vanished after like two episodes. Doctors: Finn (infectious diseases), Lucas (trauma surgeon), Terry (oncologist), sometimes Griffin, sometimes Monica, T.J. in progress. This is why they had to bring Griffin back for a day to look at Lucas. Maybe this incident with Franco will make Cam want to be a singing doctor.
But all these worsts aside, I still love my show and will look forward to every crazy episode in 2020. As I always say, I will tune in tomorrow as long as there are tomorrows.
What are your thoughts on General Hospital? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.