Shocked, dismayed, sad, disappointed, angry, heartbroken — I’m experiencing a full body of emotions, all due to the ridiculous firing of Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth Webber) from General Hospital. I know, some—maybe most—will jump to the conclusion that my dismay is due to my love of all things Liason, the unforgettable romantic pairing featuring Herbst’s Liz and Jason Morgan (Steve Burton), and I won’t lie, that definitely plays a part, but I have been having a love affair with the character of Elizabeth Webber since long before she fell for Jason. In fact, I've loved Liz and Herbst since they first popped up in Port Charles back in 1997.
Elizabeth’s storylines over the past 13 years have made her one of my all-time favorite soap opera characters, while Herbst's performances in those storylines resulted in her becoming one of my favorite daytime actresses. "Bad" Lizzie Webber was a force to be reckoned with when she first showed up at Audrey’s (Rachel Ames). You just couldn’t help but root for the underdog, little sister over the more “perfect” Sarah.
When GH scribe Michele Val Jean made the decision to write a brutal rape storyline for the character of Liz, Herbst’s acting choices —not to mention the elegant writing—transformed her into a fan favorite, which she’s been ever since. Who could ever forget a shattered and broken Elizabeth crawling out of those bushes, only to be found by Lucky (Jonathan Jackson)?
A teen love affair was created through pain and healing. Simply put, it was one of the best stories General Hospital has ever told, brilliantly acted by Herbst and Jackson. It also led to GH finally revisiting one of the most controversial arcs in the soap’s history, when Lucky learned his father, Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) had raped his mother Laura (Genie Francis).
The tender care Lucky showed for Elizabeth as they both dealt with the scars sexual violence had left on them, made what could have been just another soap teen pairing a bonafide supercouple. Remember Lucky and Liz hiding out in the catacombs, or making a home out of an abandoned boxcar, with Elizabeth painting the walls? These two were destined to be together, until they weren’t.
With plans to move to New York City, Lucky and Elizabeth gave us one of their most memorable moments, exchanging vows in an empty church, just the two of them, promising their love and life to each other. That love ended in tragedy, when Lucky was thought to have died in a fire. Herbst rose up to the challenge again, giving yet another heart-wrenching performance, stopping fans in our tracks as a result.
Out of Lucky’s “death”, Liason was born. Yes, here is where my love of Jason and Elizabeth: The Couple began. The two started out as friends, helping one another in their own way. Elizabeth needed someone to help her mourn over lost love, Jason was reeling after seeing Sonny (Maurice Benard) with Carly (Sarah Brown). When Liz found him shot and bleeding in the snow, magic transpired. Liz was on to her second, epic love story in Port Charles, one born in friendship. It’s sad TPTB never seemed to realize how much this pairing came to mean to fans of General Hospital.
The winter Jason spent hiding out in Elizabeth’s studio gave fans some of the best moments in Liason’s history, a slew of Liason lovers, including me, were hooked, but Liason just couldn’t make it work. Whether it was Burton’s comings and goings, or the brass deciding to put Jason with one flashy, story hog newcomer or another, fans of Liason always got just close enough to forever before having the rug pulled out.
Then, after years apart, Liason fans finally got what we’d been waiting for. A drugged up and cheating Lucky (then played by Greg Vaughan) and Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco) rolling around on the floor with her own mother’s husband, caused the fates to align as Liz walked up those infamous stairs and into the arms of the one man she could never forget, mob lifestyle be damned!
Both in need of comfort, Liason exploded in a night of passion we fans will never forget. The blessing of a faulty Quartermaine-produced condom gave us baby Jake and at long last what felt like a real shot for Elizabeth and Jason, that is until a bullet ripped through Michael’s skull.
All along the way, Herbst rolled with the punches, not to mention the Lucky recasts and paycuts. From Jackson to Jacob Young to Greg Vaughan to ultimately Jackson again, Herbst never missed a beat, managing to preserve Liz’s integrity and spirit, even as one out-of-character plot point after another was written and executed to try to make fans dislike the character. Sorry, it didn’t work.
ABC Daytime and General Hospital have made a huge error in judgment. Failing to see the potential and legacy Liz brings to the canvas (Hello, she's Dr. Steve Hardy's granddaughter!) only tells me what fans have been claiming all along is absolutely true — General Hospital has no respect for history, veterans or their viewers, and this “storyline dictated” exit proves it.
Photo Credit: ABC