Note: This script was written for an unfilmed episode in September of 2020, but I stand by all the observations. I didn’t update it for the last ten months of story because I think it mostly still applies.
Does anyone remember Love in the Afternoon? The super couples of the 80s and the messy love affairs of the 90s?
We used to have Luke and Laura, Frisco and Felicia, Sonny and Brenda, Jason and Robin –
Now we have Sonny and Carly – Jason and Sam – Michael and Willow.
As if 2020 hasn’t been hard enough.
This week, it’s time to talk about the romance. Or the lack thereof. I’d love to blame it on Covid and not being able to film sex or kissing scenes, but romance on GH has been on life support for years. I’m going to talk about three current GH couples – what’s wrong with them and if the show is determined to keep them, how do we fix them?
While GH has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to stale and crusty couples, I picked three that had different problems. These particular problems represent the larger issues with the writing of relationships on the show.
When possible, I’ve given some thoughts and opinions to “fix” these couples and give them new life because anything is possible on a soap opera.
Even on General Hospital.
Who knows? Maybe GH can turn me into a Sonny/Carly fan again.
I wouldn’t count on it.
Sonny & Carly – Stale Bread
For Sonny & Carly, my primary problem with this relationship is the length of time they’ve been together. Sonny and Carly reunited in the summer of 2014 and married in 2015. Outside of a brief separation when Morgan died in 2016, they have been together for five years.
That’s a long time on a soap opera for a couple to be together without any obstacles between them. In comparison, their original run was in 1999-2004 – another five years. In that first period, Sonny & Carly were divorced, experienced two pregnancies (unborn son in 2000 and Morgan in 2003), affairs (Sam), betrayals (Carly turning Sonny into the FBI), and other relationships (Alexis, Zander, and a flirtation with early Steven Webber).
Sonny and Carly lived a lifetime during those first five years and when the writers ran out of material for them, they separated in 2004 and moved the characters on. Despite a brief remarriage in 2007 to protect Carly from having to testify against Sonny and sleeping together in 2008, Sonny & Carly were done for a decade.
By the time Sonny & Carly reunited in late 2014, I was actually mildly interested in them. I still liked Carly at this point, and Sonny was probably the most interesting he’d been in years after murdering AJ and having a torrid encounter with Ava over his grave (which is how we got Avery). I wondered what they’d bring to each other after all that time apart.
And the answer is really nothing. Sonny and Carly, two of the show’s most damaged and morally dubious characters, have been stripped of any character trait that made them interesting, and now I want to set them on fire. All the time.
Some of the problems with Sonny and Carly can be fixed with tweaks in the writing and the perspective of the writers.
Stop telling me Carly has changed and actually show it. In her last scenes with Nelle, when Carly talked about turning the corner – I’d like her to explain when and where that was. Because we didn’t see it. When Jason calls Carly selfless, I need you guys to cut the bullshit. Carly is selfish – that’s her charm. She’s selfish and self-centered, so when she does try to help people be selfless, she’s terrible at it. And she tries to be selfless in order to show people she’s not selfish – that’s the self-absorbed part of her. That’s the growth – she didn’t used to care. Now she does. She just doesn’t know how to do it.
I don’t mind that there are more people who respect Sonny now than they did in twenty years ago. I mind that Sonny seems to accept it as his due. One of my favorite things about Sonny was the really amazing confidence he’d project mixed with the self-hatred he felt deep inside. Sonny was always supposed to lose. He lost Lily, his first child, Brenda, his first child with Carly – Sonny was supposed to struggle.
And yes – at some point, Sonny can win. But he wins all the time. With the exception of Morgan’s death, Sonny gets away with everything. I’d love to see him lose everything – let Cyrus win the territory – let Sonny be forced to take things back the way he was in 1998/99 when Sonny returned to the show after Jason had sold out to Moreno and he had to rebuild from scratch.
Let’s break Sonny down and rebuild him. I adored this character once, but together – he and Carly are narcissistic self-absorbed bastards who think they’re amazing. They don’t challenge each other to better together. They used to – Carly used to push Sonny to take things less seriously and Sonny pushed Carly to be less selfish. That’s why I loved them once. They were damaged people whose damage matched and complemented each other. They were stronger together once.
And now they make each other the worst versions of themselves.
I think Sonny and Carly can be fixed. The writers just need to take a minute and get back to the root of those characters and why they were popular once.
ETA in 2021: This problem has only gotten worse since we’ve entered Sonny is dead hell. I have no idea what this show is doing, but Carly is even worse than she used to be and I didn’t know there was anything under rock bottom.
Jason & Sam – Character Growth
Jason & Sam have a similar problem. Sam is Jason’s last brand-new love interest. They were paired together in the fall of 2004, and since then – Sam has been Jason’s “endgame.” He had a two year relationship with Elizabeth from 2006-08, but it’s really just been Sam.
For fifteen of the last seventeen years, the character of Jason has only been allowed to have two love interests. And that is complete insanity. I’m saying that as a Jason and Elizabeth stan. I write fanfiction for this couple but that doesn’t mean I want them as endgame.
Endgame doesn’t exist on a soap opera. Not until the characters are near retirement.
Jason as a character has not been allowed to grow. At all. Not since the day Steve Burton returned in 2002, and do you know how I know this? Because the writers use the exact same excuse to break up his relationships.
In 2000, he tried to end his friendship with Elizabeth because of the danger. In 2002, he pushed Elizabeth away due to the danger. In 2006, he pushed Sam away due to the danger. In 2007, he and Elizabeth hid their relationship because of the danger. In 2008, he ended his engagement to Elizabeth because of the danger. In 2008, he broke up with Elizabeth because of the danger. In 2012, he told Elizabeth they couldn’t be together because of the danger. And last spring, he pulled the danger excuse on Sam again –
If you’re noticing a pattern there, it’s because the writers simply could never explain why Jason and Elizabeth wouldn’t be together for thirteen years – Jason told Elizabeth things were too dangerous, then went on to date and marry other people.
Jason and Robin broke up once because of his job, but then she decided she could handle it and he let her make that choice. They broke up the second time because of Carly. Jason was allowed to grow throughout that relationship.
Jason dated Courtney for reasons that will never make sense to me, but they divorced when Courtney decided she couldn’t handle his job. Despite being an enthusiastic participant for much of 2003, in 2004 – she suddenly couldn’t deal with it. I’m not mad because they were literally the worst pairing Jason has ever had, but it was lazy writing.
The writers don’t know who Jason is. So they can’t write his relationships.
And the writers don’t know who Sam is. Every few years, we reboot her character because we’ve run out of things to say about her.
These characters were good together once. In the fall of 2004, when Sam had been abandoned by Sonny and lost her daughter – I bought their interactions. I wasn’t wild that Jason had stepped in with that storyline or that he was dating someone else associated with Sonny (particularly his recent ex-mistress) but I could get over it.
I didn’t watch fa lot of 2005 because I was working, so I missed the doubles storyline. But when I came back that fall, Jason had lost his memories and Sam was taking on the world to save his life. Between October 2005 and May 2006 – I was on board with Jason and Sam. I had given up getting Jason and Elizabeth, and I liked Lucky and Elizabeth with Greg Vaughan.
But then Sam got shot, and Jason broke up with her, and I got angry. I was pissed at Jason, and rooting for Sam. I liked everything they gave Sam as a story after that because she was struggling to find her own identity – and I thought by 2007, we’d found it. She was a messy vixen who desperately wanted to be happy, didn’t mind hurting people to get there, and would always put herself first.
That’s my favorite version of Sam.
Which is ironic – because that’s who I have now. Sam is a messy vixen who desperately wants to be happy, doesn’t mind hurting other people, and always puts herself first.
Except now – the show tells me she’s a heroine, and that everything she does is justified. The people she’s hurting? Her children and the Quartermaines. She’s putting herself first – and that means doing whatever she can to be with Jason.
The show doesn’t seem to understand that Sam looks desperate and dumb most of the time. They think it’s romantic that she went to those lengths to be with Jason.
I just think it’s sad.
It’s sad because Jason isn’t putting in that time or effort. He doesn’t have to. He’s never had to. Women come to him. They compromise their own principles to be with him, but he never has to put himself on the line – never has to sacrifice anything to be with them.
Jason – one of my all-time favorite characters – is emotionally stunted and boring.
Which makes Sam the only one trying.
And there’s no romance in that.
I want nothing more than for Sam to realize that what she’s wanted so badly all this time – a life with Jason – isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. That she’s been desperate to get that happiness back – that brief happiness they had in 2005-06 – that she’s destroyed countless healthy relationships to get it.
And then I want her to walk away. For good. This couple can’t be saved.
And I want someone to call Jason on this bullshit. The next time he attempts to talk about danger, I want someone to slap him. I want him to have to work for the next relationship – put some effort in – to own his own bullshit
Because I really want to slap lazy writers who don’t know who this character is and haven’t bothered to figure it out in the three years since he came back.
ETA in 2021: It does look like Sam sort of got what I was looking for — but even *she* broke up with Jason for the danger, and Sam is mostly wandering in the wilderness since the show doesn’t know what to do with this character.
Moldy Mayonnaise – Michael and Willow
For a brief shining moment, Michael Corinthos was my favorite character on the show.
I took a break from GH between 2010-late 2012 – I was busy with school, and it didn’t fit into my schedule. Streaming wasn’t what it is now. When I returned, it was right before AJ returned in the fall of 2012.
AJ’s return to the show gave me serious hope for this show. Sonny and Carly were finally being confronted with the crap they’d pulled in Michael’s childhood—and Michael was finally getting to know AJ on his own terms. I loved watching Michael and AJ together—the world they were building with Michael as a Quartermaine – I even liked Michael’s relationships with Starr and Kiki during this time period even though I can look back now and realize they were a bit bland.
I didn’t care then. I liked Michael. I liked watching him struggle with the guilt of hurting his parents to be with AJ. I liked watching him be conflicted between the Quartermaines and Corinthos family.
When Michael found out that Sonny had murdered AJ, I was rooting for him. He was angry—he was vindictive—he took Avery away from Sonny and Ava, nicknamed her AJ – it was glorious. He changed his name to Quartermaine –
And then as quickly as Michael became my favorite, the show took him away. He forgave Sonny and Carly, and now – now it’s over. Sonny and Carly walk in and out of the Quartermaine mansion like they have the right, Monica doesn’t slap Carly, and Michael isn’t conflicted at all about the two sides of his family.
It’s bland and boring. Just like Michael. And nothing since they cut that story short has changed my mind. All of Michael’s relationships have been boring – even Nelle whose entire value to me was how much she annoyed Carly. Sasha was a complete dud.
On the other hand – I sort of liked Willow. I like actress – Katelyn Mullen – and I liked the way they brought her to the show as a teacher involved with Charlotte and Aiden. I was mildly interested in her relationship with Chase, even though that was based on chemistry not story.
I was ready to give Michael and Willow a chance. Honest. Marriage of convenience stories are my ultimate favorite romance trope. If you tell me characters get married on the first page or in the first half of the book, I will buy that book so damn fast. It’s catnip to me.
But Michael and Willow together? They’re just boring. They’re together because of Wiley, but I don’t know what would draw them to each other except the old – he’s cute, she’s cute, we should sleep together.
And neither of them seem drawn to their old relationships – where are the conflicted stares with Michael and Sasha, Willow and Chase? Where’s the guilt Michael feels for having feelings for Willow while still loving Sasha, even though Sasha “cheated” on him?
I don’t know why anyone would want these characters together except they both like Wiley and seem like nice people.
It’s just not interesting.
ETA in 2021: This is still true except Willow and Michael look like actively terrible people with this Chase storyline.
These three couples illustrate the problem of romance on General Hospital. Sonny and Carly, as a couple, are out of gas. Their relationship does nothing now but bring out the worst in them in a way that the show does not seem to see. Jason and Sam are emotionally stunted characters because in order to be together, they have to revert to who they were in 2004 when they got together. Michael and Willow are bland, uninteresting characters whose scenes feel like watching paint dry.
GH needs couples that are fresh, with years of story in front of them, conflicting character traits that might push them into having to change in order to be together – and they need to bring a balance to each other that makes the couple better together than they are apart.
I could give these descriptions to every couple on this show. Most of the couples are boring. Most of them bringing nothing to the relationship that’s interesting to watch. And a lot of the couples are stale, having been together way too long for a soap opera.
This isn’t love in the afternoon, and I’m bored. I’m going to go read a romance novel and watch some reality television to get what I need.
ETA in 2021: While GH has broken up the majority of their couples, the pairings rising from the ashes still have the exact same problems. Either the pairings are bland and boring (Michael & Willow, Finn & Elizabeth, Dante & Sam) or the story is so narratively confusing, I have no idea where they’re going with it (Sonny & Nina, Carly/Jason/Britt). The writing is just uninteresting and inspired. I could live with that maybe but there’s a serious lack of consistent, cohesive story telling that makes it even more painful to watch.