First, they were sick of them, and now they’re putting out an S.O.S., as fans of ABC’s General Hospital launches their “Save Our Soaps” campaign as they continue lend out their voices over the direction daytime drama has been recently taken.
For instance, the killing of Stuart from All My Children, the mob-centered Port Charles on GH, and the recent baby switch that has been resolved on One Life to Live. Fans have been calling, posting comments on the message boards, sending emails, and so forth as a response to their disappointments in these current storylines, which is stated in this immediate press release:
“The common themes among the complaints center around character destruction, unbalanced storylines, promotion of excessive immoral and detrimental ideals and behaviors, underutilization of long-term characters in favor of bringing on new characters or bringing back old characters for short ‘stunt’ periods, and the complete void of any long-term romantic pairings and familial interactions. … The SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital Campaign is attempting to answer those questions by identifying the causes and voicing them to those in charge of making changes. … The fans involved in this campaign want General Hospital to be a success, and are thereby hoping that ABC/Disney will listen to its loyal customers and take steps to improve its product.”
Fans of popular GH pairings Jason & Elizabeth (Liason), Patrick & Robin (Scrubs), Carly & Jax (CarJax), and Sonny & Kate (Skate) are teaming up in an effort to get the word out to ABC Daytime President Brian Frons, GH head writer Robert Guza and executive producer Jill Farren Phelps; ABC/Disney executives Robert Iger, Anne Sweeney, and Zenia Mucha. They’ve recently send over 12,000 mailed postcards and faxed in the latest ratings to send TPTB a message: bring new life and love in the afternoon back into General Hospital:
“[We] want character-driven storylines, character growth and development, historical integrity and respect for the characters, balance of light and dark, emotive storylines among favorite characters, more focus on families, routable couples that provide positive moral examples, less sleaze, more romance, a sense of integrity in storytelling, and an overall enjoyable escape. … At a time when the country is experiencing one of its highest rates of unemployment and more people are at home looking for entertainment to provide them an escape, the expectation would be that soap opera ratings would reap some benefit from this increase in home audience. Sadly, the ratings for General Hospital in 2009 have not shown that to be the case, having surpassed the all-time low ratings’ numbers previously recorded. ‘What could be the cause? What is different?’ are some of the questions being asked.
“Other causes for the declining viewership are that the integrity of several characters is being sacrificed to showcase one or two actors/actresses or characters. Fan favorites are being placed on the backburner and/or dropped to recurring status while new, unproven characters are given significantly more airtime. As quoted by one fan, ‘New characters suddenly thrown onto the canvas often disrupt storylines because their very existence disrespects the rich history of the show.’ History is literally being rewritten to allow for the addition of these new characters.
General Hospital revitalized and reshaped the daytime genre in the 1980s with the worldwide popularity Luke & Laura, as the word “supercouple” was born; stories of mystery, international intrigue, and danger with Robert Scorpio and Anna Devane, while at the same provide unforgettable romance with Frisco & Felicia Jones as well as the popular triangles of Robert/Holly/Luke and Robert/Anna/Duke. Robert, Anna, Frisco, Luke & Laura, and even Duke were the protagonists wearing the white hat: protecting the people of Port Charles and the world against the evil Cassadines, mobsters, and injustice. Now, the “heroes” are the bad guys, and the “villains” are the PCPD, the FBI, and the DA — the good guys.
Some of the storylines that left fans outraged and outspoken have been the shooting of young Michael Corinthos that put him in a coma for a year, and little Jacob Martin being kidnapped twice. Fans want to see mob queen Claudia Zacchara brought to justice in Michael’s shooting. As for reformed conwoman turn private investigator Samantha McCall, she’s currently in a storyline this summer that may lead to a romantic reunion with Jason Morgan. However, Liason fans didn’t like the way Jake’s second kidnapping turned out last fall, with Sam kicking butt and taking action, while Elizabeth becomes the needy, distraught mother/victim rather than the strong, feisty heroine viewers have known since 1997:
“Strong, independent female characters are given little airtime and are often put down or attacked by other characters, while sleazy, manipulative female characters are showcased and held in high regard and rewarded for their repulsive behavior. Since women are the backbone of General Hospital’s viewership, many want to see women succeed, whether it is in their home, the oval office or in the corner office of corporate America. The constant degradation of strong, independent, and professional female characters, whether they are full-time heads of households, professional doctors, nurses or business executives, is wearing thin on female viewers. In general, there are few examples and no balance in the treatment of positive female role models on the show.
“In addition, lead male characters are being written inconsistently and without regard for their history. Throughout the past several months, one lead male character’s point view of his wife and their relationship, or lack of one, changes on a week to week basis, making it difficult, if not impossible to care about or even understand or follow the storyline. Another lead male is written to be the surrogate father for his nephew, showcasing his love of children, while at the same time totally ignoring his own son. As evidenced by the falling ratings, and fan-initiated black-outs, the cumulative effect of these many issues has caused many viewers to simply tune out.”
Contact Dana L. Meyer or Kecia K. Picard for more information at [email protected]
Check out this SoapTalk interview back in 2005 with Brooke Arata and Mariah Christensen, members of The Canvas, the website dedicated to all Jason & Elizabeth: