Let General Hospital’s Ladies Lead

Now that most of Garin Wolf’s storylines have wrapped or are evolving into something new, GH no longer feels like it's jumping from one thing to the next. We’re beginning to see umbrella storylines immerge. Before, I rarely watched General Hospital live. Now, thanks to storyline hooks, I’ve found myself watching it live more and more. With Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini firmly in place, it's time to infuse Port Charles with what made them so great in Llanview, their leading ladies.

At One Life to Live Carlivati excelled at driving storylines by capitalizing on the struggles, rivalries and love lives of its female characters. To me it was his biggest strength. Who didn’t enjoy his writing for Dorian (Robin Strasser) vs. Viki (Erika Slezak)? Blair (Kassie DePaiva) and Tea’s (Florencia Lozano) frenemy status was often more enjoyable to watch than in their opposite sex romantic pairings. Natalie (Melissa Archer) took on any woman in her path, even her sister. We may have called Jessica (Bree Williamson) “Messica" on the podcast, but even the men in that crazy character’s life revolved around her, not the other way around.

The men of General Hospital have led the pack for years. It's time for the ladies to take the lead and let Carlivati play up one of his strengths. 

Currently, few of GH’s logical female rivalries enter each other’s orbit very often. Sam (Kelly Monaco) and Elizabeth's (Rebecca Herbst) interactions have been farily limited, considering the drama in Sam and Jason's marriage. Carly (Laura Wright) and Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) only share scenes in passing.  Monica (Leslie Charleson) and Tracy (Jane e Elliot) have immense history. Fans love the Quartermaines, but we rarely see them opposite one another, unless they are trading barbs in the mansion.  I’d even suggest destroying Lulu (Julie Marie Berman) and Maxie’s (Jen Lilley) friendship and return them to loathing one another. The closest female rivalry GH has is Carly vs. Sam, but even that has become muted.

There are bright spots among GH’s female characters. Carlivati did the impossible by making me care about Sam’s emotional pain. Kelly Monaco has been fantastic in conveying her character’s coming to grips with what happened to her. I look forward to Olivia (Lisa LoCicero) vs. Heather (Robin Mattson). Epiphany’s (Sonya Eddy) attempts to pull Patrick (Jason Thompson) back from the brink were welcome. The impending birth of Sam and Tea’s babies holds promise. Kristina's (Lindsey Morgan) return to Port Charles will hopefully provide us with more Davis women moments. All My Children had the Kane women, One Life to Live had the Cramer women and GH should have more of the Davis women. The return of Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) has been stellar, providing many of the female driven moments I care about.

I felt her pain over the loss of Robin (Kimberly McCullough). I felt her anger at learning of Patrick’s betrayal of Robin. I cheered her lethal warning of retribution.  I felt her compassion and forgiveness of him later on. She has been John McBain’s (Michael Easton) voice of reason. Unlike a large number of other GH characters–male or female– I felt myself connecting to her the way Carlivati connected me to most of OLTL's prominent female characters.

I'm not ignoring the current crop of ladies leading Gh story. Maxie's plight to save her man, Sam's rape that ended with a baby spawned by the enemy and the Bensonhurst DID Chronicles certainly have women front and center. However, these stories always comes around to the men of Port Charles. Sam's rape has been more about what a jerk Jason is. Kate's crazy alter tends to focus just as much on Sonny as it does on the patient. Maxie's prison sentence was more about Matt and Spinelli than being behind prison bars. 

Empower the female residents of Port Charles by  having them driving story, whether through underhanded tactics, standing on principal or even–dare I say it–being a victim. Many fans, myself included, care more about the lives and rivalries of GH's female residents than Sonny (Maurice Benard) vs. Johnny (Brandon Barash), Sonny vs. McBain, Sonny vs. Todd (Roger Howarth), Jason (Steve Burton) vs. McBain, Jason vs. Franco’s (James Franco) ghost or Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) vs. Matt (Jason Cook). These male characters are still important in helping up the stakes or showing out at pivotal moments. However, after all the gun pointing, chest beating and angry staredowns are over, we need the ladies front and center with the men as support, not the reason they're driving story

Let the ladies lead!

32 Responses

  1. Profile photo of curacaoman

    Too bad that the umbrella stories that are emerging are so derivative. The show is much better than it used to be, but still missing innovation. Sad!

  2. Profile photo of soapbaby

    @Luke: Good read and I agree. On OLTL, the female characters drove their storylines and/or had clear POVs in storylines in which they were supporting players.

    The biggest problem I see for Carvialti and team is that GH doesn’t have the heart that OLTL had. Guza, while he excelled in the big moments during his run as GH’s headwriter, he ripped out the heart center of this show. We stopped seeing Audrey and Bobbie, The Quartermaines were decimated, and The Nurses’s Ball being dismantled are just three major examples of how far away GH has gotten away from what’s important.

    A side-note (though very important): I was struck by how Caucasian the cast of characters is on GH. There’s no diversity in the cast. Tea is the only non-Caucasian lead female character while Delores is “blink and ya missed her.” This show desperately needs diversity in it’s cast. Sean and TJ aren’t cutting it. I appreciate the new creative team’s inclusion of more and more diverse dayplayers (i.e. the new mayor, the new D.A., Alexis’ colleague who appeared yesterday) but let’s get some series regulars who drive stories who happen to not be White and Heterosexual. While not leads, I miss the Evans and Patels from OLTL.

  3. Profile photo of pjc722

    As much as I applaud that someone is saying that this show needs to be driven by the women and not the men, it’s doubtful it will occur since all the stories that have strength right now have men as the central drive to them. And that’s not because of Wolf but because of the new writing regime.

    Sam’s baby story: About Jason. (Cartini wrote that direction when they easily could have rewrote it to focus on sam)

    Starr loses her family: Who’s driving this story? Todd, Sonny and Michael. Starr is on the sidelines most of the time and if it was going to be a female driven story than Blair and NOT Todd should have been in town.

    Tea cross-over and baby: Todd will drive this story because he will somehow be involved with Heather in the switch.

    Anything with Carly: Sonny, Jason and Johnny. They drive these stories and Carly just yells at them.

    Kristina: It will be about Sonny and his power play with his kids and not about Kristina dropping out of Yale and going it on her own. Even Alexis is on the side of the story watching.

    Tracey/Anthony/Luke and Anna/Heather: Luke is the driving force here. He is the connection to all 3 women. They come to him for murder for hire, consoling, and for demented sex with a demented woman (Heather).

    Starr & Michael: This will be about Michael moving on from Starr holding his father at gunpoint and less about Starr seeking revenge for the death of her family, no matter how misguided. Look at how she’s telling Tea not to go after Michael.

    Patrick and Elizabeth: This is about Patrick’s grief yet when Elizabeth lost her child… HER CHILD… Patrick was no where to be found and even then that story was about how it effected Jason.

    My point is that this show is too male dominated and the writers are more interested in writing from their prespectives than in telling simplier, more romantic or tragic stories.

  4. Profile photo of tylerbo20

    I’ve been watching and loving the vets stories like Tracy heather Monica Felicia Mac Anna still ff sonny Carly kids and Alexis sadly the show needs genie Francis and bobby would be good

  5. Profile photo of alstonboy4315

    Connie/Kate is currently eating up the show. Once her story ends, maybe a more suitable leading actress, such as Nancy Lee Grahn, Jane Elliot, Leslie Charleson, Finola Hughes or Robin Mattson, can take the forefront. Kelly Sullivan is not really leading lady material for me. I can only tolerate her on my screen in small doses.

  6. Profile photo of stoney07

    Cartini are gods. They do no wrong…

    Let me stop. That was sarcasm. But I will say that the show has improved greatly. I still don’t buy Cartini as the end-all be all to the soap industry, or as the most talented writers in soaps, even right now. I don’t find the appeal of their particular style..but that’s just MY personal opinion. Seems to me a lot more is tolerated under the Cartini regime than it was under Garin Wolf or Bob Guza…just because they are “Cartini”…but I guess.

    Anyway, I hope the show keeps getting better and better…and I hope this article comes to pass.

  7. Profile photo of maxsmom

    I am raising my hand to say that I did not like the writing for women on OneLife under RC.

    I’ve said enough about the destruction of Marty Saybrooke but I didnt like the writing for Viki, Dorian, Jessica, Tea, or Blair either. Hell, Natalie was character whose very existence annoyed me but the writing for her was awful as well.
    Jared was the man who Natalie was willing to go behind the backs of her family for but he hadnt been buried before she was back sniffing McBain. Jessica couldnt handle almost anything but a “perfect” life without handing things off to an alter. Tea put up with the man who was thought to be Todd’s worst impulses including defending him for raping Marty during Rapemance. Blair fell into bed with almost every man in her orbit, if the show were still on would she be sizing Matthew up? The best romance RC could write for Dorian was playing second fiddle to David? As for Viki, she was backburned for long periods, was a sounding board for long periods and then the end of her marriage to Charlie and remarriage to Clint were written as desperate attempts to appease her fans before the show wrapped.

    I am trying to give GH RC some time but I absolutely cannot stand OneLife RC.

  8. Profile photo of bishbay

    Luke, you’re being disingenuous if you say that what we’re watching is still some sort of Gavin Wolf problem. These are Cartini stories, and it’s going to be Sonny/Jason/Todd from now on, except when we’re watching their women’s babies get stolen or switched, or their girlfriends get shot or assaulted. Then the story will be about how Sonny/Jason/Todd are victims because their wives/girlfriends got shot or assaulted.

    GH SUCKS right now, and it’s self-deception to think that Cartini are going to make it better. It’s only going to get worse.

  9. Profile photo of SoapArmageddon

    We might get strong women on GH, but I suspect that their names will be Starr, Tea, Blair, and Natalie.

    If you have to bring in characters from your previous show to create story on your current show (and stories you’ve already told, I might add), then all you are is a one-trick pony.

  10. Profile photo of ConqueringBlue

    I agree that women need to be driving more stories, but I do NOT want to see Lulu and Maxie’s friendship destroyed so they can go back to hating one another. Too many women on GH have been fighting over men for too many years now, Maxie and Lulu have been the only real female friendship that’s been constant. And if this is all about girl power, why must all these women be “frenemies”? What’s wrong with just plain ol’ being friends? THAT is what GH is missing. In fact, there is frienship missing all over the place. The men are constantly involved in mob wars, the women have acted like jealous shrews for pretty much over a decade. I miss the days of Lois and Brenda, and Lucy and Felicia. Emily and Elizabeth. Strong female friendships that are relatable and enjoyable to watch. Everyone is always screaming at each other and fighting that it sucks all the joy out of it, and personally, that’s one of the reasons I haven’t been too thrilled with GH since the 90s (give or take a year here and there). And this has been through Guza, through GW, and even Carlivati as well. I’m trying to give him some more time, and there ARE some stories that I am enjoying. But so far, the show feels just as dreary as ever, and it doesn’t help that many of the stories he’s created are nearly exact replicas of the stories he told on OLTL. Come up with something new, please!!!!!!

  11. Profile photo of Jon

    Bring back Jackie Zeman’s Bobbie. I saw her not too long ago and her face seemed a little less “scary”. What’s left of it anyway!

  12. Profile photo of EricasEvilTwin

    Luke – ICAM Kelly has been stellar!

    Conquering Blue I agree, I want to see more friendships. I am so annoyed that neither sam nor lulu have gone to see maxie even with all thats going on in their lives. Sam and lulu, after being held hostage, didnt go to check on one another. People were clamoring for sam to tell alexis about the rape and we only got like two scenes before it became all about Kristina. Diane seems to have disappeared. I like that Olivia and kate finally actually seem like family but still she was more about steve when kate was unraveling – some “sister”. And what does carly feel about kate at this point – they seem like natural frienemies and I would have liked her go to kate and offer up some forgiveness. I LOVED Tracy and Alexis sharing scenes – I would love to see her hire alexis to deal with the anthony stuff and become true friends. There was a time when the show used kellys and jakes/the flaming rib to bring unusual people together so that they could bond. I would love to see alexis and anna talking about their views on parenting.

  13. Profile photo of The_Moustache

    MEH, don’t get your hopes up about the women suddenly leading the show. this aint OLTL you know.

    unless Maurice Bernard and Steve Burton find it in their hearts to cut their episode guarantees, don’t expect anything to change.

    AND YOU KNOW IT boo.

  14. Profile photo of soapfan616

    Bravo for this article. Although I think many fans, well at least this fan, would have gone a bit farther and called a spade a spade. GH is the most sexist soap in the history of soaps. This new regime has done little to change that, in fact, it has seemed enthralled to continue the rapes and present us with maybe rapes and women who just can’t help but stand by their killer men.

    I do hope this regime turns the page. No soap can be successful without fully realized female characters. It’s been at least ten years since one of those types of women walked around Port Charles.

    I do applaud how this regime has handled Anna so far. I must say I expect any day for her to be placed into some subservient or victim role as well but so far this regime has avoided that.

    But on most days it’s hard to tell that this show is written by anyone who knows a real woman. On it’s worst day’s it seems to be written by someone who has some deep resentment of women.

    When you have one alter going to bed with a killer while the “real” woman throws herself at another killer…well, this show doesn’t need to just focus on women. It’s needs to stop writing women as insulting caricatures. If they were writing any other minority group as poorly, we’d all be up in arms.

    But thank you for breaking the soap press/bloggers silence on the status of women in Port Charles. I wish more would write about it! Seriously! Bravo! I hope the powers that be read this and take it to heart.

  15. Profile photo of Yoryla

    Very good article, Luke! I totally agree that the women should drive the story on the show. We are fortunate to have some extraordinarily talented actresses on the show now, such as Finola Hughes, Robin Mattson, Nancy Lee Grahn, Jane Elliott & Leslie Charleson. And I think great insight has been seen with bringing back the vets and even getting them on contract (Finola). And I do believe we are going in the right direction. Although there are still male forces on the show like Sonny, John, Johnny and Todd, I feel like the women are getting stronger, and we are getting awesome female scenes like the Davis girls’ scene. I have even started to not hate Sam lol!

  16. Profile photo of tommie

    Same could be said of where was Liz when Lisa was going after Robin endlessly not one time with Patrick.

    Robin was always a friend to Liz and kept Liz’s secrets but Liz should have been a friend to Robin when Robin asked Liz to keep her secret.

  17. Profile photo of giogio

    EET – Its always a pleasure to read your comments. But can you please tell me what ICAM means. Ive seen it a few times and I cant figure it.

  18. Profile photo of EricasEvilTwin

    And thats okay J Bernard uses SMDH (Shaking My Damn Head) and RME (Rolling My Eyes) all the time and it took me FOREVER to find out what they meant. I am very text shorthand illiterate lol.

  19. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    I love the article, Luke. You provided fans and hopefully Frank/Ron something to think about. I am loving every minute of Robin Mattson’s run as Heather. She is brilliant and has been a favorite of mine since she was on the late, great “Santa Barbara”. I, too, am actually caring about Sam…a character I quickly wrote off several years ago.

  20. Profile photo of SwanQueen59

    ConqueringBlue-Brava! Lulu is the main reason I’ve stayed with GH and the original “frienemy” dynamic between her and Maxie was a bonus and then it actually evolved into a friendship.(The yoga session was pretty funny and was one of the last times I can remember laughing out right at and with these two.) I’m at a loss as to why they’ve dropped the ball here (the Niles murder case hasn’t helped), and as EET mentioned (#14), there should have been, if nothing else, a phone call, one to the other to at least check up on each other after Sam and Lulu were kidnapped. How hard and how many lines of dialogue does it take for something so simple and relevant to the story being played out? Good Lord, I understand budget considerations, but I would think you wouldn’t have to set up a scene and have a full on conversation with both on screen. Just acknowledging one spoke with the other is all that’s needed. But hey, what do I know?… 0:)

  21. Profile photo of Tris Drake
    Tris Drake

    Problem is that most of the women are a hot mess. They totally destroyed Alexis! I’m all for women being up front and in control. But these ladies like to argue over men that aren’t worth jack. Sonny and Jason are the best things in town? And Mac can’t get a date? Robin has been dead long enough in soap time,women should be beating down
    Patrick’s door. Liz is bailing Jason out of jail? She should be telling him to jump off Whisper Bridge. The coolest thing I’ve seen happen is Maxie marrying Matt and laughing in the DA’s face. And that is saying a lot as I can’t stand her. I can handle Anna when she’s not boo hooing over Robin. She sucked as a mother,I got it. I don’t want to see her playing Grannie either. Go Chase bad guys. The women have potential but so far its Just Sonny and Todd playing “whose gun is bigger”.

  22. Profile photo of Carol2

    “To me it was his biggest strength. Who didn’t enjoy his writing for Dorian (Robin Strasser) vs. Viki (Erika Slezak)? Blair (Kassie DePaiva) and Tea’s (Florencia Lozano) frenemy status was often more enjoyable to watch than in their opposite sex romantic pairings. Natalie (Melissa Archer) took on any woman in her path, even her sister. We may have called Jessica (Bree Williamson) “Messica” on the podcast, but even the men in that crazy character’s life revolved around her, not the other way around.”

    Dorian was perpetually humiliated and degraded, while Viki mostly sat around wringing her hands. Natalie existed to drive stories for Jessica, and then John, spending the show’s last year in an endlessly stalled, boring story where she stayed with a man she didn’t even like, solely because John didn’t want her. Jessica’s stories never revolved around her – they revolved around her stud of the moment, and on laughing at rape and mental illness. Her character was butchered beyond repair for Ford. Blair was degraded again and again for Victor and Tea – even the show’s “tribute” to Grey Gardens somehow became about Blair and Dorian being failures for not having men.

    OLTL was about destroying female characters for the show’s favorite studs – Rapist #1, Rapist #2, Rapist #3, and of course John, and Rex, and David.

    Who can forget stories like Marty going insane, and nearly killing Kelly and Natalie, and the focus being solely on John’s pouting pain, and people telling him he was the victim and had done nothing wrong?

    RC never writes for women. He just trashes them for his favorite men.

  23. Profile photo of Carol2

    “I felt her pain over the loss of Robin (Kimberly McCullough). I felt her anger at learning of Patrick’s betrayal of Robin. I cheered her lethal warning of retribution. I felt her compassion and forgiveness of him later on. She has been John McBain’s (Michael Easton) voice of reason. Unlike a large number of other GH characters–male or female– I felt myself connecting to her the way Carlivati connected me to most of OLTL’s prominent female characters.”

    Between Anna ignoring her granddaughter to “give her space,” hand-holding Luke, her “old friend”, and sitting around listening to endless poutfests from John over the sister he didn’t care about for most of his life, I’ve struggled to connect with her at all.

  24. Profile photo of Cyberologist

    Well this is one reason why soaps failed to evolve for a “new audience” (for the most part) its the misogonystic writing…& fans have requested for over a decade (that I can remember) for women to be written to lead their own storylines “in a meaningful way”

    what got me is Robin’s exit storyline being all about Jason; I knew then there is no hope whatsoever for this genre to escape from the same ole formula writing…

    Women kicking ass & driving story?

    it won’t happen they refuse to do this even with many women Headwriters/writers the writing is still misogonystic ..go figure.

  25. Profile photo of thecourt99

    “At One Life to Live Carlivati excelled at driving storylines by capitalizing on the struggles, rivalries and love lives of its female characters. To me it was his biggest strength. Who didn’t enjoy his writing for Dorian (Robin Strasser) vs. Viki (Erika Slezak)? Blair (Kassie DePaiva) and Tea’s (Florencia Lozano) frenemy status was often more enjoyable to watch than in their opposite sex romantic pairings. Natalie (Melissa Archer) took on any woman in her path, even her sister. We may have called Jessica (Bree Williamson) “Messica” on the podcast, but even the men in that crazy character’s life revolved around her, not the other way around.”

    *raises hand* I didn’t. Viki and Dorian’s frenemy relationship was wonderful, but I didn’t like when that relationship drove a story. It seemed rather childish to me. Additionally, Viki and Dorian didn’t get back into the drivers seat until the show’s ending and special occasions. Blair and Tea’s relationship sucked because 9 times out of 10, Blair was supporting Tea. I saw no reciprocation. Natalie took on any woman in her path to get to her man…whether her man wanted her or not. Sorry, to me, Natalie was the classic soap woman who blamed the other woman for her man not being with her. John would be with me if it wasn’t for . Nothing at all was compelling about that. Jessica’s craziness drove storylines, but her craziness was also the heart of her being portrayed as a weak character.

    I will say that if OLTL is the basis for saying that RC can write women as leads….I will not hold my breath.

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