News that former General Hospital co-head writer Charles Pratt, Jr. is taking over the head writing reigns at All My Children seems to be cause for panic for a lot of Pine Valley fans, all because of two dreaded words, "the mob" (Cue horror movie score). First of all, it is so charming how a lot of GH fans, critics and journos believe they are speaking for the entire fanbase when they demand that all the GH mobsters and those who write them be stoned in open court. Newsflash, a lot of GH fans actually like the mob. I know it's shocking.
I am one of those aforementioned lovers of the mob. I admit it, I am a card-carrying, shoot-out loving, fan of mafiosos and their molls, and there are many more like me. We meet in secret underground dens and trade Scarface memorabilia and I "Heart" Jason Morgan tees.
Daytime fans seem to be able to put up with everything else under the soapy sun, i.e. incestuous supercouples, the supernatural, the absurd, people who taint cosmetics that end up killing people and are then made the central characters on the show, maniacal grandmothers who show up to wield knives at the necks of any young girl unfortunate enough to snog their grandsons and so much more, but heaven forbid someone might actually enjoy storytelling about the mob.
Organized crime, rape and gay kisses seem to be the only plot points in daytime that cause heated debates these days. I guess all the rampant lying, cheating, blackmail and murder that has transpired on daytime for the past 50 plus years is okay as long as it isn't associated with questionable coffee shipments?
Why should fans of mob characters have to defend their affection for Jason and Sonny or Luke and Noah (What, you've never heard of the Gay Mafia?) for fear of being lambasted on message boards across cyberspace? Oh and believe me that is exactly what happens. It's not that the mob fans aren't out there. On most GH boards, however, the non-mob lovers have such a lock that if someone dares to post about Jason being their hero the person is then cyber flogged and sent fleeing from his or her keyboard naked, bleeding and in tears to repent of their unholy support and affection for fictionalized criminals with hearts of gold. The mob is one of the most enduring myths in popular culture, from The Godfather movies to The Sopranos, and it has been core to GH for over 30 years.
I am not saying I have loved everything about GH in recent years. I find the killing off of core families on daytime to be the equivalent of shooting one's self in the bar of soap. Daytime serials are meant to be multi-generational and to build on those previous generations, so I will never understand the logic of slaughtering legacy characters for sport, but why don't we see the same impassioned outcry about the dismantling of Y&R's Abbotts or disappearance of the Hortons on Days of Our Lives?
I am a huge fan of the Quartermaines and can't stand the thought of Alan and Emily not being around for pizza next Thanksgiving, but the current GH writing regime didn't start that trend either. Gloria Monty herself reportedly wanted the Q's out during her last stint on the show in favor of new families. And horror of horror retiring one family unit in favor of newer families has also been done many times before. I wonder if Bill Bell would have had been ripped to shreds if there had been message boards when he wrote out the Brooks and Fosters in favor of the Newmans and Abbotts on Y&R in the 80's?
At least-in my opinion-GH in its current incarnation has a consistent throughline and storylines that are riveting and viable. The mob in Port Charles has resulted in numerous tragedies for the show's first family no doubt, but now-as we speak-er type, a storyline that is over a decade in the making is playing out, giving Laura Wright (Carly) the work of her career. Would I love to see Monica and Edward play a larger role in this more than say the latest in CGI gaming? You bet your mouse pad I would, but I find storyline holes that need filling on all of the soaps. I know some of my colleagues hate this storyline, but it is can't miss television in my house, okay, apartment, I know, I know, I'm throwing my money away in rent, get off my back!
GH has taken great strides to balance itself out following 2003-05 aka "The Years of the Fab Four". The hospital is back, Robin and Patrick are arguably as popular as any mob couple, there's glamour and intrigue surrounding the Crimson gang, but it's still not enough for some fans. Mob loathers simply won't be happy until the mob is eradicted from the show period and that's not going to happen. Why should GH tick off arguably one half its fanbase to appease the other?
People who bemoan GH's ratings and attribute it to the mob should look at the numbers for all of daytime. Soaps are down from a year ago across the board, except for some key demos for ATWT. In fact most daytime talk shows are showing similar viewer erosion, yes, even The Mighty O. There is absolutely no guarantee that backburnering the mob will make so much as a blip in GH's ratings. Look at OLTL, most would agree it is the best written, most character-driven, balanced, old-fashioned soap these days, but the ratings, nor the fanbase reflect that. This very site is point in case. We post an OLTL thread and sure it is noticed, but we post a GH thread and it goes through the roof. I think people simply love to hate General Hospital because it was the soap that transformed daytime and people still expect so much.
As I have said before Guiding Light fans moaned and complained about mob supercouple Danny and Michelle. Let's see a show of keyboards of who would rather watch old You Tube clips of GL's "dreaded" mob storyline than an actual air show today.
As for AMC, people have been crying out for new blood for years. Who knows if Pratt will work for the show, or if he will be a big, fat smelly turkey? I for one am going to wait and see. I don't recall any unaborted children or heroines succumbing to fatal pancakes during his tenure at GH. The fact that this man enjoyed telling stories about the mob on a daytime soap that was already rooted in the mob long before he took over should not necessarily cause fear that Erica Kane will soon need a bullet proof Coach purse.
GH is not the only thing on Pratt's resume. He has also worked on some of the most successful shows in recent primetime history. I don't remember any mob shoot outs on Wisteria Lane. My point is, you can't always judge a writer by one project you didn't like. Shonda Rhimes, who most, including I, would consider a genius for Grey's Anatomy, also penned the Britney Spears classic Crossroads...type amongst yourselves!