Fun in the Afternoon: Best Family Moments

Remember when “family” was more than a euphemism for organized crime on this show? Those were the days…

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The Hardys

Tenillypo: Steve and Audry Hardy were a General Hospital institution. Although their heyday was well before my time — and Audrey was often kind of a pill — I always respected their place in the show’s history.

Their son, on the other hand…well, he kind of sucked. I included this clip anyway, because even though I never liked Tom, I think the scene really captures a portrait of their family life in Audry’s quiet grief and Tom’s rueful knowledge of his father’s habits. It’s the details and the subtlety that make it work.

The Baldwins

Tenillypo: Whatever happened to Gail and Lee Baldwin anyway? Did they just kind of disappear?

I love their glee over being grandparents, and the softer, gentler side of Scotty that always came out around his folks. I’ve mentioned before that I hate the way his character’s been butchered in recent years — one of the big differences is how isolated he’s become on the canvas. In the nineties, we had a Scott Baldwin with parents, friends and a child. A Scotty with layers.

Man, what I wouldn’t give for a SORASed Serena Baldwin to pop back into town…

The Jones Family

Tenillypo: It’s hard to watch this first scene now, knowing that the sweet baby girl in question will grow up to be brutally murdered before the age of twenty, her loving mother will be turned into a deadbeat who abandons her family, and her adorable sister will be reduced to a complete dingbat in a relationship with a socially stunted man-child who is incapable of brushing his hair or not referring to himself in the third person.

But I digress.

I love how precocious young Maxie is here (Robyn Richards owned that role as a child), and how casually close knit the entire extended family of Grandma Mariah and Uncle Tony are. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sniffle over the fact that Georgie’s dead some more…

Incandescentflower: As much as I enjoyed the entire Jones family, I think it’s important to recognize the relationship that Georgie and Maxie had as adults. They were classic adversarial siblings who ultimately loved one another and looked out for each other. This dynamic was enhanced by their “adopted” older sister, Robin.

In the second scene, the three women show affection and support toward one another, something that doesn’t happen enough between the female characters on this show. And it may be one of the only things worth remembering from the Black and White ball. I particularly like how Maxie’s mean girl comes out in defense of Robin.

Ultimately, this clip makes me miss Georgie and kind of miss old mean Maxie. I appreciate characters who are a bit snarky, although they often took it too far with this character. I like that Maxie has let go some of her survivor’s guilt over having BJ’s heart, but I wish some of that bite remained. Although what I wish even more is that Georgie wasn’t killed in the most stupid, needless plot ever. *sigh*

The Wards

Tenillypo: Okay, so the whole “let’s explain Kwanzaa to clueless white people” thing kind of screams “LOOK AT HOW DIVERSE AND MULTI-CULTURAL WE ARE!” But I’ll take even awkward and cheesy attempts at diversity over the writers not even pretending to try, which is what we have now.

The Wards were never written perfectly. Keesha was a goodie two-shoes snore of a character. Justice started off strong but got a little less awesome with every recast. His romances were always backburnered and mostly restricted to whoever the only African American woman in town was at the time — with the exception of Faith, of course, which was actually an intriguing relationship. So naturally, he was unceremoniously killed off before that story could really go anywhere. Typical.

But Rosalind Cash’s Mary Mae Ward was utterly fabulous. She had a larger than life presence and smokey voice that was simply divine. I loved her friendship with Laura and the different side she brought out in Edward.

There’s a palpable sense of community and history in this clip, which I think is one thing the Wards really succeeded at adding to the show. They made the town feel a little bit more real, and a little more interesting as a result.

The Spencers

Tenillypo: If you listen to Tony Geary, Luke spent most of the nineties henpecked, miserable and sleeping around. I…disagree. Strongly. Clips like these show a Luke who, yes, wasn’t perfectly domestic, but clearly adored his children, worshiped his wife, and was extremely comfortable in the life they’d all built together.

There’s so much goodness in the first clip, from Lucky’s overwhelming awe of his new sister to Luke’s frantic warning that he would be a mess of a parent without Laura (well he got that part right) to Laura and Bobbie’s friendship — which took so long to build after their rocky early rivalry. Laura’s voice breaking as she names Lulu after her mother never fails to make me tear up a little.

Ruby, Luke and Lucky teaming up to distract Bobbie from her problems in the second clip just makes me smile. Luke and Bobbie have always had one of my favorite sibling relationships. They protect and understand each other like nobody else. In contrast, the absence of her presence from his life in the last few years has left a noticeable hole — has anyone even bothered to tell Bobbie she’s got a new nephew?

The Cassadines

Tenillypo: Twisted, passionate, psychotic: the Cassadines were soap gold. Reinventing this family in the mid-90s was a stroke of genius. Those crazy, evil, gothic scenery chewers just made everything more fun. Especially Constance Towers’ command performance as grand matriarch of evil, Helena.

(I can almost believe that — much like her fictional counterpart — Towers has some sort of anti-aging technology buried in a secret underground lair somewhere, because the woman does not appear a day older now than she was in this clip.)

Here we’ve got a bit of everything that made the Cassadines so deliciously entertaining: Nik’s dramatic, windswept entrance on the horse; Helena lurking in the bushes making creepy, grandiose threats; Stefan viciously sparring with her — while his henchman sits perched on the parapet with a rifle trained at his mother’s heart. And even though she’s not actually in the scene, Alexis’ presence looms large.

The Quartermaines (Nineties)

(Part Two)

Tenillypo: The Quartermaines were the first family of Port Charles in the nineties. Their bickering was legendary — and sometimes vicious — but they always closed ranks when one of their own was threatened.

I love the Q rituals — Cook’s tyranny, Thanksgiving dinner always ruined, the “It’s Monica’s house!” “Alan gave it to her!” call and response. They’re silly but comforting. It breaks my heart to see the mansion so empty these days. This huge, vibrant clan has been systematically destroyed. And for what? No other family could ever take their place.

The first clip shows a quieter moment between Alan and Emily — I really loved the way the show took the time to really build Emily’s relationship with her new adopted family. It wasn’t an instant process at all, but scenes like this helped show why their eventual bond was so strong. The second is a typical Quartermaine Thanksgiving catastrophe: funny, chaotic, and totally ridiculous.

The Quartermaines (Post-2000)

Incandescentflower: Ah, the Q’s. You can’t have the best family moments on GH without them. Which is why it’s so puzzling that this family has become a shadow of what it once was.

The first scene I chose was the family’s reaction to Lila’s death in 2004. Really, this was the beginning of the end for the Quartermaines. Lila was the center of the family and after she died the branches of the family tree seemed to drop off, bit by bit. The emotion shown in this scene by Tracy, especially, is astounding. Unlike so many useless deaths on this show, this loss had real meaning to the characters and the viewers. And of course, these emotions were intensified by the fact that the character’s death immediately followed the death of Anne Lee , who had played Lila Morgan Quartermaine for 26 years. The clip still makes me cry when I watch it.

The second clip is a brief one of Tracy, Dillon and Ned after the Port Charles Hotel fire. I love this scene because despite the fact that Tracy is usually as prickly as a porcupine, she loves her children and shows it when it counts. That is basically the mantra of the Quartermaine family, even now. And I will always like that about them.

The Scorpios

Incandescentflower: It shouldn’t be a big surprise that I picked not one, not two, but three Scorpio moments for this post. If you couldn’t tell already, they are pretty much my favorite family.

I chose the first clip because I love how the Scorpios are portrayed as a family who can come together for their daughter. At this point, Robert and Anna were not a couple. Anna was with Duke and she was actually talking with Robin about setting Robert up with someone. The ease with which they gathered together as a family is refreshing. Included in the bunch is BJ, who was being taken care of by Anna and Duke due to Tony being incapacitated. I honestly don’t remember this story because I am about the same age as Robin is supposed to be. I know I watched this show when Anna and Duke were a couple, but I don’t remember the details. However, this scene rings true with or without nostalgia. Plus, Robin is super adorable, is she not?

The second clip is from 1995. At this point, Mac had taken over the role as father to Robin and did an amazing job at that. I love Mac because he chose to become the father figure for not only Robin, but Maxie and Georgie as well. He is a loyal, caring person who deserves recognition, not comically stupid story lines that have made up the majority of his scenes of late. Mac can often be overprotective and even angry, but in this scene, when Robin tells him that she has tested HIV positive, he is nothing but loving and supportive. When I think of Mac, I will always think of times like this and not the crazy stunts they have had him pull in recent years.

The third scene is from 2006 when Robert came back from the dead. This scene shows the fallout between him and Robin as a result of her thinking he was gone. I love the raw emotion in this scene. I had been so happy that they brought Robert and Anna back, but I was glad that the writers didn’t let the excitement of that event overshadow the consequences of it for the characters involved. I appreciated the realism in this confrontation. In many ways, Robin was an abandoned child due to her parents’ lifestyle choices. It was great to see them acknowledge that.

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A good soap should be built on family connections. Current GH seems to have forgotten that entirely.

The number one thing that sticks out at me in most of these clips is how truly multi-generational the show used to be. Almost every family had at least three generations on the canvas, and we actually got to see them interacting. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces…characters who were related actually acted like it. They saw each other during the course of the day to day, they supported each other in times of stress and celebration. They were a major part of each other’s lives.

Those kind of connections are few and far between these days, although the recent renaissance of siblings gives me slight hope that things could improve. Yeah, yeah, I know…I won’t hold my breath.

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