How do you solve a problem like Franco (Roger Howarth)? While I and a lot of #Friz fans on social media are enjoying the Beauty and the Beast love story between Nurse Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst) and the reformed serial killer on General Hospital, some fans will forever see Franco as the lunatic who made Sam Morgan (Kelly Monaco) believe he'd raped her and fathered her baby.
Make no mistake, committing to transforming Franco into a viable romantic lead, especially after what he did to Sam, is problematic. Yet, Howarth is one of daytime's most talented stars and I can see why GH is determined to make it and him work. That he has incredible chemistry with Herbst further complicates the conundrum.
In order to finally make Franco understand the horrifying pain he caused Sam, head writers Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman decided to revisit the teenage rape of Liz Webber. It's a ballsy move that draws on actual show history — something "Jelly" isn't especially known for doing — and I feel they should be commended for going there.
The scribes admitted their trepidation about the tale in the November 21 issue of Soap Opera Digest. See an excerpt below.
"Look it's very tricky," Passanante offers. "It's very hard to talk about stories that happened 18 years before we were involved in the show, or even two years before we were involved in the show. But it's important to try to deal with the reality of the characters as much as possible within certain guidelines that we have for ourselves, to help the story move forward [while also] making it romantic and making it entertaining."
While Passanante basically admits it can be difficult to learn the history, Altman seems genuinely surprised opening up a soap's memory vault might actually lead to buried story treasure. She tells Digest:
"It's interesting when you delve into a character's past. Sometimes you find that their past experiences do lend themselves to a new direction in storytelling, so that you are both honoring the past and the person that they've become, and blending the two. And that's kind of an exciting opportunity."
Praise the Soap Gods. She's finally a believer in Doug Marland's No. 2 Rule ("Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the back story of your characters.") and it only took two decades of writing for the genre to get here.
Okay, this isn't supposed to be a shade-fest, since I'm really proud of them, but seriously, ladies, why were you so previously averse to learning the histories of the soaps you are constantly being hired to helm? That should always, always, always be the first order of business.
Do you guys think Franco having to contend with Liz's rapist can bring his detractors around? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.