Deep Soap: Which Star Is Leaving ‘General Hospital’?

Nathans Parsons on "General Hospital." (ABC)

Nathans Parsons Leaving “General Hospital”

Sometimes, bad characters happen to good actors. That was true of Nathan Parsons who tried his best in the role of “General Hospital’s” Ethan. Soap Opera Digest reports that his character will be departing the show in early 2012. Ethan was introduced as Luke’s long lost illegitimate son. His existence meant that Luke had cheated on Laura while they were supposedly happily married off-camera, making the audience predisposed to dislike him. Over time, assisted by a more flattering haircut and a shortlived marriage of convenience that gave him a personality beyond wisecracking con man, he became far more enjoyable to watch, with many fans rooting that he would end up in a real romance with the somewhat younger Kristina. Alas, when Lexi Ainsworth was written off Ethan was reduced to talking to a painting of Laura and fixating on a mysterious woman in white who was wandering the halls of Wyndemere. Here’s hoping that Parsons soon finds another role worthy of his talents.

“One Life To Live’s” Delightful Fantasy Episode

Monday’s fantasy episode of Fraternity Row the soap within a soap on “One Life To Live,”was a hilarious group therapy session between the people who work on the show and those who watch it. It was at once a parody of the soap’s sillier storylines, a love letter to the soon to be extinct conventions of the genre and a fond farewell. The OLTL cast was clearly having the time of their lives playing the opposite of their usual characters: Erika Slezak was a maid, Florencia Lozano a bimbo cop, and Michael Easton a preppy in tennis whites. Roxie, who was dreaming the episode, got to play the Viki-style town matriarch.Roger Howarth played a walking mullet and it was glorious. His hairpiece deserves some sort of award consideration.

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I rank it slightly below my favorite OLTL fantasy episode, the little-remembered gem in which, Viki and Dorian (Robin Strasser), trapped somewhere for some reason, fantasized about each other’s lives. But it scores points for its willingness to poke fun at the show’s less than brilliant moments. There were many jokes about DNA tests, DID, and the Tale of  Two Todds. The episode addressed many audience complaints when Bree Williamson’s  character, part of a trio of vapid sorority girls, said of her DID, “It’s a non hereditary disease I inherited from my mother.”  It also spoofed the “we’re making it up as we go along” nature of the Tale of Two Todds, with numerous references to the Undisclosed Location, and  x as the Irene character screaming about “it” while admitting that she does not know what “it” is.  In Roxie’s vision of “Fraternity Row”, Vimal (whose name is M. Povich) requires people to take their shirts off to get inaccurate DNA tests, Sean and Todd are long lost twins — and everyone fell all over themselves saying that it was improbably because of their different heights and eye colors rather than acknowledge that they were different races.

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Given what fraternities have come to mean in the show’s history, it was daring to have Roxie fantasize about having sex with all three of the Ford, er Mazda, brothers who were shirtless frat bros in the Fraternity Row universe.  Maybe it was unintentional, but I flashed back to Marty in the KAD house. Yet, I found the concept of Roxie’s (Ilene Kristen) consensual cougar fourseome hilarious. This was the first time that I have liked these three characters. James (Nic Robuck) and Nate (Lenny Platt) have been blessedly backburnered for the past couple months, but if they were the gleefully stupid, horny Mazda brothers for the rest of the show’s run, I would not mind seeing them three days a week.

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I have always enjoyed OLTL’s ability to poke fun at itself and acknowledge its mistakes. Yes, the Todd-Irene storyline was obviously a hastily thrown together attempt to make sense of an inherently implausible scenario. Under the circumstances of a huge star coming back as the show was getting canceled, then seemingly saved, then having one of the two Todds leave the show, it probably could not have been Hamlet. As someone who spent her formative years watching “Santa Barbara,” I have always appreciated soaps that can do serious storylines without taking themselves overly seriously. OLTL, under the Carlivati/Valentini regime, has often been funnier than a lot of primetime sit-coms. It’s a soap that is unashamed of being a soap. Sometimes it goes too far in the direction of camp, but I’ll take that over the more- depressing-than-a-Lars-Von- Trier film festival GH. The entire Fraternity Row storyline has been, in my opinion, both a thank you to the fans and the writers way of working through their own emotions surrounding the show’s cancellation.

The best part for me, however, was the show’s final shots. After Roxie awakened from her dream, she and David (Tuc Watkins) walked off the Fraternity Row set into the actual OLTL studio hallway. In a long, silent shot the two of them held hands and walked on and on and on. It seemed like the actors were saying goodbye to the place where they had spent so many happy years. I admit it. I teared up. Like Roxie, I don’t want to say goodbye.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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