… a long way down, that is.
Ten years is hard to judge in soap time — that’s about 2,500 hours in the lives of people who can take a month to get through a single day. On the other hand, as much as we complain that nothing ever changes on this show, check out what the canvas looked like in 2000:
(Back then, General Hospital was my mid-afternoon thesis break, down in the basement of my college dorm. It’s hard to believe — since the thought now gives me hives — but I actually looked forward to watching the entire episode every day. I know! Craziness!)
(Also, I really miss the old “Faces of the Heart” credits.)
So, yes, it’s been a busy decade in Port Charles. Let’s take stock, shall we? The death toll has risen while the ratings have dropped. Entire families have been invented and then slaughtered, old faces have returned as new characters, and old characters have returned with new faces (and accents… and personalities).
Ten years ago, Bobbie could still move the muscles in her face. Luke still liked his children (and he only had two). The Quartermaines were numerous, fabulously bitchy, and — this part is key — alive. Chloe… existed. And Alexis was childless, married to Jax, in love with Ned, working for Sonny, and an internet pin up girl:
Over the course of this decade, Carly Benson became Carly Benson Quartermaine Corinthos Corinthos Corinthos Alcazar Corinthos Jacks — and went through four different actresses to do it. Jason left, then came back… then left and came back. Then he got amnesia. Again. (It got better.) Sonny fathered five children, adopted a sixth, and retroactively conceived a seventh. He also got two half-siblings who both kind of sucked, two high school sweethearts who suck more and more as time goes by, and a Bipolar diagnosis.
Elizabeth went from artist to receptionist to waitress to cosmetics model to nurse, had two kids from two one night stands, five weddings, two husbands, and one almost relationship that spent ten years never really getting off the ground. Lucky went from dead to alive to GQ model to dunce to Jonathan Jackson again. His sister went from mute brunette to blond who never shuts up. Emily started off the decade as Amber Tamblyn, then: became Natalia Livingston, broke her back, had cancer, was raped, boned Sonny, was strangled to death, and became a ghost tumor. (It… was a bad ten years for her.)
Stavros, Anna, Robert, and Roy DeLuca all came back to life. AJ, Carly, Sonny, Elizabeth, Helena and Jerry all faked their deaths. (Then AJ died for real.) Genie Francis was fired while Tony Geary was given unlimited vacation time, because there’s no room on the canvas for Laura freaking Spencer, but Luke’s descent into surly, self-involved functional alcoholism never gets old.
Sweeps stunts became more and more elaborate. Both the hospital and the Port Charles Hotel burned and were rebuilt, practically every form of transportation there is found a way to explode, bad CGI replaced good writing, monkeys ran amuck, and the word “balls” got used an awful lot.
And yet, astonishingly, the show won a combined total of six Emmy awards for Writing and Best Drama during this decade. (Yes, it makes us a little crazy to think about that.)
Frankly, if we had to sum up the last ten years of General Hospital in just one sentence, it would be something like: Boring, offensive, completely divorced from reality, and… occasionally mildly entertaining.
But when have we ever been able to limit ourselves to just one sentence about anything? So here’s our Best and Worst of the decade:
BEST HAIR: Megan Ward, pre-bangs. When you have hair that perfect, why would you mess with it? Stop with the bangs, already, Megan!
WORST HAIR: Steve Burton, circa 2007. First, it was greasy. Then it was long. Then, it was long AND greasy… and kind of feathered. ::shudders::
BEST RECAST: Jonathan Jackson reclaiming the role he originated. (Sorry, is that a cheat answer? WELL, I DON’T CARE.)
BIGGEST WASTE OF A WELL-KNOWN ACTOR: Corbin Bernson.
BEST SCENERY CHEWER: Bruce Weitz as Anthony Zacchara. Seriously. The man is a national treasure.
WORST STRIPPER: Daisy, aka Courtney.
BEST DRUNK: Sam “boozy” McCall:
BEST BITCHFACE: Rebecca Herbst. Hands down.
MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER: Winifred Leeds. Who in their right mind looks at this show and thinks, “You know what would make this better? Two Spinellis!” ???
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN TWIN BROUGHT ON TO RETAIN A POPULAR ACTOR: Lorenzo Alcazar. Ted King was so fabulous, you guys. Why did the show treat him like crap?
WORST PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN TWIN BROUGHT ON TO RETAIN A POPULAR ACTOR: Rebecca Shaw. Eyeliner. Beret. Lack of facial expressions. Ugh.
BEST FEMALE TEAM: Elizabeth and Sam. Is it wrong that I kind of wanted them to make out during this?
BEST MALE TEAM: Dante and Lucky. Smart cops. Plural. Pinch me, I’m obviously dreaming!
BEST CASTING FINDS: Michael, Kristina, Morgan, and Molly, newly SORASed. (Runners up: Scott Clifton as Dillon Quartermaine; Josh Duhan as Scott Baldwin’s son.)
BEST FUNERAL SMACKDOWN: Alexis eviscerates Sonny at her sister’s funeral:
(Runner up: Maxie rips into Felicia at Georgie’s Funeral.)
MOST ENRAGING DEATH: Georgie Jones is strangled in the park.
MOST SATISFYING DEATH: Courtney Matthews succumbs to the dreaded monkey virus. (She used to stare at that snow globe for hours!)
BEST SWEEPS STUNT: The Metro Court hostage crisis.
WORST SWEEPS STUNT: The Toxic Balls hospital crisis.
BEST NON-WEDDING: Spinelli and Maxie love each other enough to not get married.
WORST NON-WEDDING: Jax humiliates Brenda at the altar.
CLUMSIEST ATTEMPT TO CASH IN ON AN ACTRESS’ PRIMETIME SUCCESS: Dancing With My Doppleganger.
MOST AWKWARD ROMEO & JULIET RIP-OFF TO FACILITATE AN ACTRESS’ PREGNANCY: Elizabeth fakes her death so Rebecca Herbst can take maternity leave.
MOST EMBARRASSING CROSSDRESSING STORY: Dobson. Just — ugh.
MOST IRREDEEMABLE STORYLINE: Ric and the panic room. Seriously. There’s no coming back from that crap, writers, no matter how hard you tried.
WORST DREAM SEQUENCE: What if BJ had lived? (Well, apparently, she’d have had HORRENDOUS taste in wigs.)
SKEEVIEST AFFAIR: Ric and Sam sleep together while Alexis has cancer. (Runner up: Carly and Sonny in the back of his limo.)
WORST RETCON: AJ tried to have Jason killed after the accident. (Runner up: Scottie killed Rick Webber and let Laura take the blame.)
MOST POINTLESS RETCON: Skye’s a Quartermaine! Whoops — no, she isn’t!
MOST UNBELIEVABLE SECRET SUBTERRANEAN LAB: Helena’s “Endgame” lair buried several stories underneath the hospital.
MOST IRONIC DEFENSE OF SONNY AS A FATHER, IN RETROSPECT: Carly to AJ, pre-tumble down the stairs:
MOST CONTRIVED EXCUSE TO GET THE ENTIRE CAST TOGETHER: The Great Train Crash of ’05.
LEAST AMUSING “WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S” HOMAGE: Lucky, Nikolas, and Dead Ted.
MOST UNBELIEVABLE MONEY PROBLEMS: Lucky and Elizabeth, a cop and a nurse, don’t have health insurance and barely make a combined living wage.
BEST SECRET CHILD: Sam is Alexis’ daughter. They haven’t used the connection to even half its full potential, but I really like the mother/daughter chemistry between Nancy Lee Grahn and Kelly Monaco.
WORST SECRET CHILD: Ethan is Holly and Luke’s son. When you have to twist history that hard to make something work… it doesn’t work.
MOST UNDESERVED REWARD: Courtney gets a fortune for tying a dog to a railing during the hotel fire.
MOST HILARIOUS EXCUSE FOR AN OUT OF CHARACTER TATTOO: Nikolas’ secret pirate ancestry.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN INANIMATE OBJECT: Carly vs. The Rock. Classic.
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN INANIMATE OBJECT: Sam, Jax, and The Dead Man’s Hand playing cards.
DUMBEST GEOGRAPHICAL FLUB: Courtney miscarries her baby in the freezing waters off the coast of landlocked Bolivia.
MOST RESPECTFUL TREATMENT OF A RETURNING VET: Robin returns for Lila’s funeral.
LEAST RESPECTFUL TREATMENT OF A RETURNING VET: Holly withholds the monkey virus cure for profit; lies about Ethan’s paternity for kicks.
SILLIEST PHYSICAL REPRESENTATION OF EMOTIONAL PAIN: Jason’s box of pain, containing pictures of all the children he’s given up, stored in the closet next to the guns… which are the reason he’s had to give the children up.
LEAST TRAGIC TEMPORARY PHYSICAL MALADY: Jason hurts his hands and loses the ability to shoot. Oh, the humanity!
MOST OFFENSIVE RESOLUTION OF A CUSTODY DISPUTE: Sonny hangs AJ on the meat hook until he gives up all rights to Michael.
MOST LUDICROUS COURT CASE: Scott Baldwin is appointed Laura’s legal guardian.
WORST KEPT SECRET IN TOWN: Wait a minute — you mean Jake is really Jason’s son? HOLY CRAP!
MOST DESERVED BEAT DOWN: Johnny defends Claudia from Sonny. I will never get tired of watching that.
MOST AWESOME SIBLING RELATIONSHIP: Stefan and Alexis. Man, I loved them.
BEST STEP-FAMILY RELATIONSHIP: Tracy and Lulu.
WORST CHARACTER ASSASSINATION: Stefan tries to kill Emily, sets Alexis up to be arrested.
LEAST AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING: Sonny shoots Carly in the head as she’s giving birth to Morgan.
BEST USE OF CHLOROFORM: Helena kicks Courtney off the docks. I knew there was a reason I loved that woman.
MOST UNBELIEVABLE INSTANT CELEBRITY: Sam “Everyday Hero” McCall.
BEST DRAMATIC USE OF A FARM IMPLEMENT: Carly has a mental break and tries to kill Emily with a scythe.
MOST HILARIOUSLY BAD CGI: Jason’s speedboat ride of DOOM during the Black and White Ball. Even after two years, it never fails to crack me up. Priceless.
STUPIDEST DOPPELGANGER PLOT: Noah and Eli Love.
BEST LONG TERM COUPLE: Patrick and Robin.
BIGGEST TEASE: Jason and Elizabeth. (I want a t-shirt that says “Ten Years and All I Got Was This Lousy Painting of the Wind.”)
MOST HORRIFYING USE OF THE WORD “BANG”: Emily, to Sonny. ‘Nuff said.
MOST PATHETIC FAILURE TO CARE FOR ONE’S OWN GIRLFRIEND: See Above.
WORST USE OF A MEDICAL ISSUE TO KEEP AN ACTOR AFTER THE CHARACTER DIED: Nikolas’ tumor.
MOST PROMISING INITIAL CHARACTER CHANGE, WHICH LATER TURNED TO CRAP: Kate, briefly making Sonny palatable for the first time in years.
WORST REACTION TO A SPOUSE’S SEXUAL ASSAULT: Carly accuses Jax of “cheating” on her after he’s raped. (Runner up: Nikolas cheats on Emily after she was raped by his doppelganger.)
BIGGEST LOSS: The end of the Nurses Ball.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: The second season of Night Shift honors history, respects veterans, and… is genuinely good! (Runner up: James Franco… wants to come on GH?)
BIGGEST WTF!? MOMENT: Undead Diego is the effing Text Message Killer?!?
Finally, we’d like to take a moment to remember the characters who gave their lives in the service of often cheap and violent drama over the course of the last ten years:
(for the record, I have no memory of this dude, but Wikipedia lists him as “Thug shot and killed by Jason Morgan in 2005,” so I think he’s relevant)
For those too lazy to count, that’s sixty-one characters* killed off in the past decade alone. Sixty-one. And that’s not even counting the six miscarriages this decade — a distressing number of which happened to the same people (for the record: Carly and Sonny, Elizabeth and Ric, Courtney and Jason, Elizabeth and Jax, Carly and Jax, Claudia and Sonny). Or all the mob thugs Jason’s offed who didn’t even rate names. It’s a wonder the PC mortician isn’t the busiest character on the show at this rate…
*Edited to include Raylene Crowell, who I forgot. Sorry, Aunt Raylene!
And that’s the last ten years in a nutshell! Coming soon: our wishlist for the coming year (or decade, assuming this show will still be around in another ten years, which — frankly — I kind of doubt).
Last but not least: the blog is a year old this week. There’s been a sharp learning curve, but we’ve had a blast doing it. We’d like to thank everyone who’s read and commented — regardless of the quality of the show, if the next year is as fun as this one has been, we’ll count it a success!