ABC Daytime crown jewel General Hospital is starting to look a little more like Cubic Zirconia these days. Early ratings reports for Monday didn't look good for the soap. Insiders are predicting GH could once again be the least watched ABC soap in total households for the week, which doesn't make the network's top brass very happy.
"More money is spent to produce and promote General Hospital than the other two soap operas combined, yet AMC and OLTL are starting to consistently beat GH is the ratings," says a source. "People are paying attention."
Reportedly, ABC's long-time stepchild One Life to Live is the most "cost-effective" soap opera on ABC's daytime lineup, and currently the only Mouse House sudser operating under budget. Wow,and to think they've managed this without benefit of CGI!
"One Life to Live operating so effeciently it makes up for All My Children's overages," the source continues. "No one knows what the heck is going on with GH. For the amount of money the network shells out on this show, the numbers aren't good."
Hmm, could breaking up popular couples like Skate (Maurice Benard and Megan Ward), Liason (Steve Burton and Rebecca Herbst) and LuSam(Greg Vaughan and Kelly Monaco) basically all at the same time without any real pay off for any of the pairings, ever, have attributed to GH's ratings taking a hit?
No? Perhaps then it's continuing to waste the time and talents of amazing, popular GH stars like Rick Hearst (Ric), Carolyn Hennesy (Diane),Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) and Claire Coffee (Nadine), while shoving contrived characters played by returned GH starlets in new roles down the audience's throats whether we want them or not?
Look, we love Sarah Brown as much as the next Carly 1.0 fan, but her return as Claudia, a character who was promoted to be a fierce, lady boss, but turned out to be just another mob whore, has been disastrously-crafted from jump street and NotEmily (Natalia Livingston) is off to a similar start. In fact if she does't turn out to be Emily, what really was the point to any of this?
I swear to the Soap Gods, daytime television is the only business model where the custormer is never right, yet they wonder why people aren't watching. I am not saying fans should always get what we want, because there is no way writers can simply make all soap couples and characters happy all the time. If they did, there would be no soap in the opera. However, there is a decided difference between couples being organically split apart by internal and/or external conflicts, rooted in characterization, than having pairings that are popular with fans—if not the network— being broken apart by executive decision, or because this actor or that one starts to get pouty about which leading man or lady he or she wants to work with, as opposed to who the audience wants to their character with—yes that even means Steve Burton.
GH's executive producer Jill Farren Phelps famously killed off Ryan Harrison (Paul Michael Valley), one of Another World's most popular heroes because she didn't like him opposite the show's heroine Vicky Hudson (Jensen Buchanan). Who gave a good kitty what the couple's millions of fans thought?
Focus groups reportedly led to Phelps kill off one half of another AW supercouple, Frankie Frame (Alice Barrett), because Phelps needed to free up money in the budget by getting rid of one of AW's "older actresses". For a time she contemplated killing off Love family matriarch Donna (Anna Stuart) or Mac Cory's insanely-popular illegitimate daughter Paulina (Judi Evans). Is there really any wonder the Quartermaines, and GH's ratings have been decimated on Farren Phelp's watch? Don't get me started on what the death of Maureen did to Guiding Light.
I'm telling you, it's the Usual Soapspects. Daytime dramas keep recycling the same three or for Soap Opera Slayers and where is it getting we the diehard fans who stick around for the abuse, hoping for one day a Soap Opera Messiah will be born in a manger in Port Charles, Pine Valley, Salem or Los Angeles? Not the real Los Angeles. The fake one on The Bold and the Beautiful where no gay people work at fashion houses and black people wear hoodies to work.
I don't know about y'all, but I'm tired of false prophets. President Barack Obama just asked GM's CEO to step down, when is someone going to do the same to the people who are killing this industry?
Maybe GH's ratings woes can also be attributed in part to using Spixie (Bradford Anderson and Kirsten Storms) to pimp and promote the NotSOAPnet lineup, yet never really committing to them as a couple? This is especially true if GH can manage to manufacture so much as a hint of a spark between Storms, and Brandon Barash (Johnny), Jason Cook (Matt), or heck, even Mark Pinter (Agent Rayner)if they thought pairing her with him woud keep them from having to give the fans their Spixie.
Heaven forbid the geek actually got the girl. I mean that never works in pop culture, except,of course in every Revenge of the Nerds movie, and, you know, those insanely-successful Ashton Kutcher reality shows. I don't know if Guza, Phelps or Frons know it or not, but Spixie fans don't play. We hear they're organzing mass tune outs any given day of the week.
Fans of General Hospital are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and unlike so many daytime writers, a lot of them have decided to "show, not tell" by simply tuning the show out. Maybe GH superheroine Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco) can go on the Sweeps adventure to end all Sweeps adventure this May? She can actually set about to find this soap opera's heart and soul.