“Best Family Moments” won the poll and will be coming soon. In the meantime, I’m flying solo while my co-blogger deals with some computer problems. So we’re going to try something a little different this week.
I’m sure this will come as a huge surprise to anyone who’s been reading here a while, but I was really, really crazy about Sonny and Brenda back in the day. My continuing fondness for them is a little difficult to reconcile with my current deep and abiding hatred of Sonny, but somehow I make do.
If there’s a magical formula pretty much guaranteed to make me fall in love with a couple, it’s probably this:
banter + adventure + pining + chemistry
Sonny and Brenda had it all — they were tumultuous, passionate, and at times, co-dependent and unhealthy as hell. They were also (along with Jax) one of the greatest love triangles in soap history, and General Hospital’s last true Supercouple. In my deepest heart of hearts, I will always cherish the hope of them finding each other again some day when they’re old and gray.
And now, on with the retrospective!
THE EARLY, FLIRTY PERIOD
It took me a while to warm up to Sonny and Brenda as a couple — mostly because both characters carried the baggage of having been introduced as foils for my previous favorites, Karen and Jagger. Brenda’s bad girl sins were fairly easy to forgive, but Sonny had been an outright villain, and he was still full of self-righteous self pity at how badly he’d been wronged by Karen — you know, that teenage molestation victim he’d hooked on pills and turned into his personal stripper sex toy. ::eye roll::
Yeah. Needless to say, he needed some serious redemption.
Looking back now, what strikes me most is how much patience the writers had. This was not an instant romance. Sonny and Brenda were attracted and intrigued by each other from the start, but they didn’t leap into anything. They flirted. They bantered. They ran into each other all over town. They went on several dates, had a lot of “getting to know you” conversations. Brenda gave him her blood and nursed him back to health after he was shot, and even after that, they were still unsure and testing the waters. They didn’t actually sleep together until there had been several months of build up. It was — dare I say it — an actual, honest to God romance, with wooing and everything!
At the Car Dealership
THE CRAZY IN LOVE PERIOD
As their relationship heated up, everything got more serious. Sonny and Brenda were trying to build a life together, but they had very different ideas about what that meant. For Sonny, keeping Brenda ignorant of the seedier side of his business was the only way to keep her safe. For Brenda, being kept in the dark meant she was neither trusted nor respected, and it drove her to desperate lengths.
Mutual jealousy and obsession abounded on both sides. Meanwhile, they became partners at L&B, moved in together, and had lots of steamy sex.
Puerto Rico Escape
Sonny Opens Up About Deke
Suspicion and Lies
THE BREAK UP PERIOD
I mentioned I enjoyed pining, right?
At the time, the two years Sonny and Brenda spent apart were pure, delicious torture. In retrospect, the way the writers managed to keep it fresh for so long was really impressive. Every single time they were ready to get past one obstacle (Brenda’s betrayal, Sonny’s marriage of convenience to Lily) there was another one just waiting to takes its place (Lily’s pregnancy, Brenda’s marriage to Jax).
Some, okay, a lot of the stuff from this period really makes me cringe now. Brenda’s incessant groveling and begging for Sonny to take her back is uncomfortable, to say the least. (Even if the fifteen year old girl in me still eats it up with a spoon.)
The thing that saves it, as always, is their chemistry with each other, and the fact that even when he’s pushing her away, Sonny’s just as crazy about her as she is about him. The writers were also smart enough to switch it around and make Sonny the pursuer once Brenda took up with Jax, which was a welcome change of pace.
(I wasn’t able to find any clips of Sonny bringing Miranda to interrupt Jax and Brenda’s wedding, which seems weird. Or of Sonny and Brenda trapped in the catacombs before their rescuers showed up, which I distinctly remember being the greatest thing ever at the time. Hey, nothing says true love like dirty, disgusting, we’re-about-to-die cave sex! If any of you savvy YouTubers has a link to either of those, I’d love to see them again.)*
*[Thanks to a little birdie in the comments, we now have a link to download the catacombs scenes. As with anything on the internet, please download at your own risk.]
The Wire Aftermath
“I won’t see you go to prison.”
Sonny’s Deal With the Devil
Brenda’s Hit and Run
What Happens in Canada, Stays in Canada
“You’re my drug, Brenda.”
Brenda Comforts Sonny
Santa’s Little Helper
THE REUNION PERIOD
After all that torture, Sonny and Brenda’s reunion was fairly short lived because Maurice Bernard was leaving the show. But it still had one hell of a punch.
If I had my druthers, Sonny leaving Brenda at the altar — the most selfless act he’s ever made — would have been the end of the character: a natural and fitting conclusion for the relationship, and for the man who had fought his way to the top, only to discover the power and money he thought he wanted were the very things keeping him from the life and family that would have made him most happy.
Everything since has been a long, slow descent into selfishness and megalomaniacal douchebaggery. But that’s a post for another day.
Escape from the Cops
On the Run
This was such a mixed bag. On the one hand, we got stuff like the Amazing Grace montage and Brenda and Jason’s Las Vegas wedding hijinks. On the other hand, the writers really threw Jax under the bus, the Alcazar/Sonny/Roy DiLucca mob shenanigans never really made much sense to me, and Frons’ hard on for Courtney meant the end of Liz and Jason’s brief romance and the beginning of the era of the Drab Four. All in all, it was a mess.
I am grateful that at least Sonny and Brenda’s legacy was handled with more respect than Brenda and Jax’s — I was never a fan of that couple, but even I think it was character assassination to have Jax leave Brenda at all, much less in such a cruel manner (especially since he, of all people, knew what it had done to her the last time she was left at the altar by a man she trusted).
Sonny and Brenda’s final good bye was affectionate and bittersweet. Brenda finally forgave him for leaving her all those years ago, Sonny admitted he would always love her, and we all got one last smoldering kiss. It wasn’t perfect, but with Vanessa Marcil leaving once again and the writers not about to break up the Sonny and Carly show, it was probably the best that could have been hoped for.
Crazy Love Reprise
Stranded in the Jungle
I honestly don’t think GH has the patience to write couples like this anymore. The only long term pairing they’ve really stuck with recently has been Patrick and Robin, but the writing for them is all over the place, and they tend to disappear off onto the backburner for months at a time when Guza’s attention wanders.
Sonny/Carly/Jax is also fairly long-running, although it’s always felt like a pale imitation of the original Triangle to End All Triangles. Most of the current couples form insta-connections, face a series of whirlwind, implausible obstacles, declare themselves to be the loves of one another’s lives, and then — after an anti-climactic breakup — never appear to speak or think of each other ever again. Why should we care about relationships that will go nowhere and barely be remembered in a year’s time?
The obstacles Sonny and Brenda faced flowed organically from the story and the differences in their individual characters. Their love for each other was undiminished by numerous misunderstandings, break ups, betrayals, marriages to other people, and even death. I have no doubt that were Brenda to return to the show today, none of the other members of Sonny’s harem would stand a chance.
(If anyone can get Sonny not to suck again, it’s Brenda. And man, would I love to see Claudia’s reaction to that.)
That kind of all-consuming passion can’t be forced or faked. That kind of connection, where two characters know one another inside and out, has to be carefully built over time — something the current writers seem to have forgotten.
Thank God for YouTube!