Fun in the Afternoon: Best Friendships

Soap couples come and go, but friendship is forever — at least, it used to be, back when the show was good.

On present day General Hospital, real friendships are few and far between, but back in the day, the whole canvas was a mess of interconnected, platonic relationships. These people liked each other — they really, really liked each other!

And the show was much richer for it. These are a few of our favorites:

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Luke and Sonny

Tenillypo: Sonny and Luke may have started out as reluctant allies, but they quickly grew into close friends. It’s not hard to see why — despite the fact that Sonny was an up and coming gangster and Luke a fugitive family man at the time they met, both of them grew up rough and fell in with organized crime at an early age. They shared a similar code of honor among thieves and respect for family connections. And they were both more than willing to take risks when they had to.

On present-day GH, their connection has mostly been dropped, although we still get hints of their former relationship every now and then. Given the way both characters have degenerated into boorish, childish asses in recent years, it’s probably for the best.

Watching this scene now is pretty bittersweet — and not just because it provides a glimpse back at a happier time for Luke and Lucky. There’s a sense of respect and camaraderie between Luke and Sonny that’s been missing for a very long time.

Alexis and Diane

Incandescentflower: When Diane first came to town and she and Alexis started their competition, I thought “here we go again, two women who will become mortal enemies and bring out the worst in each other.” When the Litigator of the Year award came up, I rolled my eyes thinking this was another excuse for them to fight.

But something wonderful happened: hijinks and friendship ensued instead of obnoxious bickering. Ever since then, Alexis and Diane have been my favorite current female friendship. Unfortunately, we don’t see them together too often anymore. That is something I would love to see remedied.

Mac and Kevin / Lucy and Felicia

Tenillypo: This foursome had some big obstacles to overcome. Kevin’s psychotic identical twin had made Mac and Felicia’s lives hell, and Lucy was a handful on her best days. But somehow, they all managed to worm their way into each other’s hearts. When the going got rough, they always went the extra mile for each other — often with some sort of ridiculous disguise as a bonus!

I think one of the things I like about these four is that they subverted gender stereotypes as often as they supported them. Mac and Kevin could definitely be “men’s men” but they were also secure enough in themselves to dress in drag when the need arose. Moreover, they frequently talked about their feelings and gossiped about their romantic troubles with one another.

(And check out the six pack on Mac! I had no idea!)

Felicia and Lucy had a much pricklier relationship — they were the Odd Couple of their day. But they had similarly adventurous spirits and good hearts, and that meant they were never dull.

(Special thanks to mjrjedzl, who suggested the second clip above. I had vague memories of the cross-dressing/fake psychic story, but I had forgotten the specifics of the leg shaving bit.)

Sonny and Jason

Incandescentflower: When Tenillypo and I first met, circa 1997, we used to joke that the real love story on General Hospital was between Sonny and Jason. And there was a time when their devoted friendship was touching and affecting.

This clip is a conversation between Sonny and Jason after Lily’s death. In this scene, we hear many things coming out of Jason and Sonny’s mouths that now have become cliché, but at the time they had huge emotional impact.  I do miss the days when my heart felt warmed instead of sickened by their relationship.

Brenda and Robin / Brenda and Lois

Tenillypo: Two of my favorite female friendships! There must be something about Brenda…she had a way of making surrogate families out of the people in her life. Lois and Robin were closer to her than her actual blood relations were.

I love the first group of clips above because they showcase just how long and well Brenda and Robin have known each other — from their easy reminiscing about high school days to the way they wordlessly followed one another’s lead when dealing with the talent agent. Brenda may have been older and technically a mentor figure, but Robin gave as much as she took; there was a lot of balance in their relationship. The two of them went through some of the most difficult times of their life together, and they always had each other’s backs.

Lois came into Brenda’s life a little later, but their bond was no less strong. One of the things I always loved about them was that they were business partners as well as friends, and they talked about work as often as they did about the men in their lives. They supported each other, but they also weren’t afraid to call each other on their crap. Sonny and Lois went way back, but she never hesitated to give either him or Brenda hell if she didn’t think they were treating each other right; Brenda frequently acted as intermediary and devil’s advocate for Ned and Lois’ roller coaster of a marriage.

I miss vibrant, loving female relationships like this — who on the show today comes even close other than Diane and Alexis?

The Four Musketeers

Emily/Elizabeth/Lucky/Nikolas

Incandescentflower: When I was thinking about this post, of course the Four Musketeers came to mind — even though their more recent incarnation makes me want to yak. But as I dove into YouTube, I was able to find clips with Amber Tamblyn as Emily and Jonathan Jackson as Lucky, and that made all the difference.

These clips are delightful. I especially appreciate that they do teenage-type things, like have sleepovers. I miss the playful innocence that these characters had, which was demonstrated in everything they did. It is even shown in the second clip when the group, trying to help Emily out, breaks in to a modeling studio. They listen to music, dress up and dance. These characters always seemed to go on capers together and have one another’s back. They were just plain fun.

These scenes really make me miss the combination of these four actors together — I think they had something special.

Jax and Alexis

Tenillypo: Alexis is many things — smart, classy, funny, neurotic, loyal as hell, and a stone fox, to boot. She’s also a fabulous friend. How else to explain the many wonderful platonic relationships she’s had over the years? Stefan, Sonny, Luke…hell, she even made me briefly tolerate Zander, and that’s saying something. More recently, she’s been terrific with Kate and Diane.

But there’s one friendship in Alexis’ life which has surpassed them all, and that’s the one she shares with Jasper Jacks.

Three things in particular stand out about Jax and Alexis’ relationship for me: 1) they’re very physical with each other, often casually kissing and snuggling; 2) they’re fiercely loyal and protective — Jax has taken on Helena for Alexis and Alexis has taken Jax’s side against even members of her own family; and 3) they’re constantly making each other laugh, even in the midst of their darkest moments.

It’s that last bit that really makes their friendship special, I think. These are two people who just really enjoy each other’s company, and it shines through all their interactions. Jax and Alexis have saved each other’s lives and fortunes, been there for each other through thick and thin, been witness to one another’s best and the worst qualities. They are each the other’s most enduring relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

It was impossible for me to pick just one clip to encompass their entire relationship, so I compromised on two which showcase the affection, tenderness, and genuine good humor that I love most about them.

(And yes, maybe using a fanvid is cheating. Your point?)

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What can today’s GH do better?

1) The best friendships don’t exist in a vacuum. Back in the day, couples were friends with couples, which led to some complex group dynamics. Brenda and Lois may have been BFF, but Ned and Brenda, and Sonny and Lois had great connections too. Ned and Jax’s relationship was only slightly less meaningful than Alexis and Jax’s. Sonny loved Robin and Brenda loved Stone. Alan, Tony, Monica and Bobbie were all interconnected. And even though it was before my time, I know that the adventurers and WSB agents from the 70s and 80s were the same.

2) Show, don’t tell. I don’t need to hear that people are best friends; I want to see it in the way they do things together, come to each other for comfort and support, laugh at each other’s jokes, and tell each other when they’re going down the wrong path.

3) Friendships should be built over the long haul, not pulled up every now and again as a plot point of the week. These are the connections that give a good soap it’s life blood, they’re what make these people feel real.

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