I was tasked to write the Best and Worst column for GH 2020, but I want to list more Bests than Worsts because of this dreadful year.
The show we all love had to take an extended break this year, and we wondered if it would survive, if it would ever return, or if GH, like so many other beloved shows, restaurants, and other institutions, would fall victim to this tragic year and never return.
The actors we adore are getting up every day, masking up, having their temperatures taken, social distancing, and following lots of rules to entertain us. To give us an escape. To make the world seem more like the one that vanished before our eyes in March. I want to give them credit for that. As someone who has recently gone back to work in an office in the age of COVID, I can tell you it isn't fun. It's filled with fear and uncertainty. You spend your days thinking through every decision... "Did that person who just sneezed have a cold or COVID?" "Did I remember to sanitize that doorknob before I touched it?" "Do I say something to the person who refuses to mask up, or will he punch me?" A joke, but only sort of.
Our GH cast and crew, from youngest to oldest, have shown up to work, followed health and safety protocols, and put themselves out there in a scary world, just to entertain us. Yeah, they get a paycheck, too -- but I would venture a guess and say most of them could afford to miss a few months of work without sinking. But they came back to work, anyway.
And you know what? We needed them. We needed that one hour a day we could focus on intrigue, betrayal, romance, rehab, mob wars, new loves, and other soapy concerns. When we got the news that GH was coming back with live episodes after a long hiatus, it was like Christmas was coming.
I want to say to the cast of GH -- I love you. I don't know you, but I hold you in my heart with deep affection. Thank you for getting up at zero dark thirty every morning, driving in L.A. traffic, masking up, and doing beautiful and passionate work. Merry Christmas, happy Hannukah, happy Kwanza, or happy Festivus if that's what you celebrate. Sending you all the holiday cheer.
Now, on to what I am supposed to do. I purposely didn't read my fellow columnist Liz's column, so after I post, I will go back and read it and see what we did and didn't agree on this year. To be honest, I have spent a lot of time trying to block this year from my memory, so I am surprised I remember as much as I do.
I'll start with the Worst list, and with that being said, this doesn't mean these plots were badly acted or anything, just that I did not prefer them...
Willow/Chase and Michael/Sasha's breakups -- I thought they were both adorable couples and that the storyline of Sasha and Chase pretending to cheat was just nuts. Did not care for that plotline. The ensuing fallout was very soapy and dramatic. Still, I want Chase and Willow back together and Michael to help Sasha kick the drugs.
One day, a new Lucas showed up with the "the role of Lucas Jones will now be played by Matt Trudeau," with no explanation of what happened to Ryan Carnes. I'm still scratching my head over here.
Remember when GH was running out of new episodes, so they kept showing flashbacks to stretch out the new scenes? The first day, I thought it was brilliant, but a few days in, I just wanted to see the latest scenes and have the new material end slightly sooner.
Even before GH went on an official hiatus, the show was routinely being preempted. I am so thankful Hulu exists. It's worth every penny and has no commercials.
Cyrus as a villain. He isn't a soapy enough villain. Helena is a good villain. Faison is a good villain. Heather is a good villain. Cyrus doesn't have that spark of pure evil or the dark humor that make soap villains so wonderfully campy. But now that they have made him Laura's brother, I'm far more interested in seeing what comes next. Apparently, the writers are taking us on a journey with Cyrus that we didn't expect. I'm willing to be patient and let his story unfold. Jeff Kober showed some real vulnerability in his mom, Laura, and Martin's scenes the other day. I can definitely buy into more of that and less of the drug kingpin hooking people on coke part.
Jax and Nina are a snooze. I'm sorry, but there it is. I said it. If I were Nina, I would run back to Valentin.
Maxie and Peter... Maxie rarely picks the right guy. I'm ready for Peter's evil deeds to be revealed. It's taking too long. I'm tired of hearing people talking about bringing down Peter, but no one ever does.
I didn't like Neil's death or the entire storyline with Alexis. It never went anywhere, and right when it started to move forward, they killed him off.
Drunk Alexis -- make it stop.
Franco's brain tumor... so let me get this straight. Suppose you have an inoperable brain tumor, and you get conked on the head with a beam in an explosion. In that case, it can then be operated on, and you can fly to Geneva the next week?
Alex -- she was killed off way too fast. She and Peter had just become acquainted. I wanted more.
Losing Lulu -- was there one reporter too many? They could only afford Jackie or Lulu? Do they want to switch Lulus? Is only one half of the famous couple Dante and Lulu of "Lante" allowed in Port Charles at once? I don't get it.
The destruction of Julian -- the very worst thing on GH this year was the destruction of Julian's character, killing him off with a body found, so there's no hope of a return, and losing the fabulous William DeVry. So, Kim had his baby, but he will never know? Sam, Lucas, and Leo have to live with the fact that their dad bombed a bar full of their family members? No reconciliation ever for Julexis, which fans have begged for, for years? Boo.
Sometimes, things can be good, but sad. Or they can be really good, but not in the stand-on-your-sofa-and-applaud kind of way. The Internet loves a smooshed name, but just in case "#Berst" doesn't catch on, here is something from General Hospital that deserves accolades... but I just have a hard time labeling it as "best."
Mike dying -- I needed a transitional column for this one... Max Gail, Maurice Benard, Eden McCoy, Chad Duell, Laura Wright, Vernee Watson -- so many people did the most fantastic scenes when Mike was dying. So, the acting was the BEST, but the sorrow was the WORST. The scenes where Josslyn was thinking of all the events in her life Mike would miss left me sobbing in a puddle. Max Gail morphing from charming, happy-go-lucky gambler Mike to a man deep in the grip of Alzheimer's was so nuanced and perfect. I really wanted him to get an Emmy. The saddest of storylines, but magnificent acting and spot-on writing.
Recast of Jackie Templeton -- bringing Jackie Templeton back to be Finn's stepmother and having her played by AMC alumna Kim Delaney was genius. Now that we find out Finn could be Chase's dad? Yikes.
This brings me to Violet. The casting director who found Jophielle Love should get a big fat raise.
More Scorpio brothers. Seeing Tristan Rogers and John J. York on my TV this year was delightful. Both of the Scorpio brothers are charming, passionate, and a delight in any scene they are in. More, please! I am immensely enjoying Robert's budding friendship with Olivia.
This brings me to Holly. Hooray -- we saw her. But boo, the storyline was quickly shelved. Please get Ethan back for another caper to rescue his mom. Let Robert be his dad. Emma Samms and Nathan Parsons were a sight for sore eyes.
Tracy returns. I know that Jane Elliott has worked many years and may only want to pop into Port Charles occasionally. But ABC should offer her piles of cash to come back full-time. She's a powerhouse, an excellent troublemaker, a force to be reckoned with, and a delight to watch. Whether she's nurturing Laura over Lulu's health or framing Alexis for drunk driving to make her shut up, I simply can't take my eyes off of her.
Ned. I'm crazy about Ned Ashton (Quartermaine), and I'd love to see him and Tracy join forces to try and wrestle control of ELQ back from Valentin.
Valentin. Oh, Valentin. If I were to fall in love with a fictional character, it might be him. I know he can be lethal, and I know he lies quite a bit, but damn, if that man loves you, he will do anything to secure your happiness, even conjure a daughter if you want to be a mom. But the reason he's on my Best list this year is because of the heartbreaking scenes James Patrick Stuart did when he found out he was Helena's son and not the son of Mikkos. The "I'm a lie" scenes were splendid and passionate. Another best for me is his connection with Alexis and their budding friendship. During Alexis' intervention, the game they played was hilarious as they each wrote down horrible things they had done. I almost want them to be together romantically. Still, it'd be slightly creepy for Alexis to fall for the son of the woman who slit her mom's throat. Plus, I want him to reunite with Nina.
Genie Francis/Laura. I started watching GH because of Genie Francis back when I was in high school. We are the same age; when she was 17, so was I. Having GH bring back the storyline that got me hooked on GH with Laura and David Hamilton was an enjoyable surprise for long-time viewers. I am also delighted that the writers gave Laura two new brothers and that one of them is Michael E. Knight. I want him to be more deeply woven into the canvas on GH, and being related to a Spencer is a great way to anchor someone. Oh, wait. Luke. Lucky. Lulu...
Brook Lynn and Sam have had temporary fill-ins, and I'd like to heap praise on two very talented ladies. Briana Lane as a fill-in for Amanda Setton was a revelation. Her version of Brook had me laughing and crying. The throat-cutting scenes, the affair with Valentin, the lip-synching to Amy's voice, the boisterous spats with Ned over ELQ stock -- she just nailed every scene she was in. By the time she left, I had forgotten what Amanda Setton looked like and had to go and Google her. Not that she's not memorable, but because Briana owned the role so wholly, she made me forget everyone else. Next up, the temporary fill-in for Sam with Lindsay Hartley. She had her own take on Sam, and her chemistry with Sam's usual scene partners was off the charts. I love Kelly Monaco, but I didn't hate her recast as I expected I might. Lindsay gave us a new version of Sam that was vulnerable in different ways and expressed Sam beautifully. When Kelly came back, I feel like she gave her performance a little something extra to remind us who the real Sam is! So, if GH had to make temporary recasts, they picked two perfect replacements in these roles.
Dev's death -- I made up a word today. Want to hear it? Mobsequences. You're welcome. Unfortunately, Dev died. I really enjoyed his character. But I think it's essential if, every now and then, our local mobsters are reminded that their lifestyle has consequences or mobsequences, if you like my word. Maybe Ashton Arbab could come back in a year with blond hair as another character and be Dev's Turkish cousin Lev. Dustin died in the explosion, too, but -- Dante's home, so he had to go.
Dante's return -- I had forgotten what a powerhouse performer that Dom Zanprogna is, and now I remember. Hang onto him this time and give him back a Lulu. Emme, or Julie Marie. Either Lulu will do.
The return of Taggert, and having him, Sonny, and Jason bond.
Teen scene -- Joss, Cam, Dev, and Trina's teen quartet were the tightest since Lucky, Emily, Elizabeth, and Nikolas. It's a solid cast of young actors, and they shine in every scene.
Nelle's death. A powerful tale, but no way do I believe that Chloe Lanier is gone for good. I really feel she's going to be one of those "People who started on soaps" kind of actors because I think she belongs on the big screen. The girl can emote.
The tease of Duke and Connie (Kate) -- bring them back to life. I will suspend my disbelief.
Ava and Nikolas -- easily my favorite romantic storyline of the year! Two mixed-up kids from psychotic families turn a sham marriage into a real one. What's not to love? Maura West and Marcus Coloma have sizzling chemistry.
Willow finding out she's not Wiley's real mom -- guys. When Willow found out her baby had died and that she wasn't Wiley's mom, I cried as hard as she did. I always found Katelynn McMullen very likable, but I didn't know her depth as a performer until those scenes. She dug deep and opened a vein so we could watch Willow grieve. A remarkable performance.
Liesl. I love Kathleen Gati, and I love Liesl Obrecht. Glad Liesl is headed back to Port Charles to potentially rule GH and achieve world domination with her offspring Britt.
Laura Wright. I feel like I have been negligent in my praise of Laura Wright. She's present in every scene she's in. She never gives anything less than 100%. She has chemistry with everyone on GH. I know she's the fourth Carly, but please never recast Carly again. She's perfect.
Sonny -- Maurice Benard's tortured mobster with a heart of gold is a character for the ages. Like Luke Spencer before him, if he ever decides to retire, the character has to retire, too. He is irreplaceable. Accept no substitutes. This year, between Mike's death, Dev's death, having to poke a bartender in the head repeatedly for information (the funniest!), welcoming Dante home, seeing his daughter-in-law blown up by Julian, and falling off a bridge into icy waters, he has given us every emotion from joy to sorrow, anger to frustration, and peace to faith and love. Sonny is a sinner and a saint, and I like him just the way he is. Will he make it home for Christmas? I predict, yes.
No hair and makeup -- readers, this one is purely selfish. Sometimes I see the ladies on GH, and they look perfect, and I'm their age. I do not look perfect, so when the show came back post-COVID, and they didn't have their hair and makeup team, and I saw their roots and the laugh lines by their eyes, I felt relief. I realize how totally shallow that is. But just a moment of "Yay, they are human, too. They also can't get their hair done in quarantine" made me feel a little less lousy about life, as silly as that sounds.
Réal Andrews as Taggert. The fact that the cop who called Jason "Anger Boy" for years had to team up with Sonny and Jason this year was a delicious twist.
What about you, dear readers? What did you love and hate? I feel like I need to quote Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamilton -- "Look around, look around. How lucky we are to be alive right now." 300,000 of our fellow Americans have died, and we are still living, still able to watch our favorite soap and escape the madness of this year for a little while every week. We have blessings to count, even if we also have sorrows. I know I do. My heart is broken over dozens of little losses. But I choose to rejoice that I'm still here with you today. God bless you and have a happy 2021. It has to get better, right?
If you haven't yet checked out my partner in Two Scoopsdom Liz's picks for the Best and Worst of GH 2020, now's the perfect time. You can read the column here.
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.