Two Bad Stories Get Worse
The two soaps that are creatively struggling right now, “The Young & The Restless” and “General Hospital,” decided to add insult to injury this week. Last week, I lamented that Y&R bungled what should have been the brilliant reveal that Summer was the daughter of Jack (Peter Bergman), not Nick (Joshua Morrow). What should have been an umbrella storyline with consequences for half of the characters on the show was executed in a way that, other than hurt feelings, the only long-term result was that two characters who had just started dating could no longer be together. This week, it went from anti-climactic to character destroying.
Headwriter Josh Griffith undid all his great work rehabilitating the character of Sharon (Sharon Case), who became unlikable during the show’s previous regime, by revealing that Sharon switched the paternity test to falsely make it appear that Jack was Summer’s father. Summer is still a Newman. Sharon’s motivation is that she thinks she will be able to win Nick back by being his ally while the rest of the town blasts him for hiding the truth about Summer’s paternity for years. We know this because of the conversations she is hallucinating in which she is talking with her dead daughter, Cassie (Camryn Grimes).
This undoes all of the progress that we have seen Sharon make over the past three months as she was diagnosed as bipolar, which was a fairly plausible explanation for months of bizarre behavior. We saw her attend therapy and take medication. After working so hard to get well, and make amends for her misdeeds, she is now more unbalanced than ever. The only true hint that something was amiss with Sharon was her one-night stand with a stranger. However, given that several other characters have recently been shown having casual sex, it hardly stood out as abnormal. I have read some speculation that Sharon is off her medication, perhaps because Victor went through with his seemingly aborted scheme to tamper with it. While that would absolve Sharon of moral responsibility, it is hard to believe that, even if her mind is not working properly, she would hurt a teenage girl in an attempt to win back her ex. There is also the plausibility issue of yet another soap character with no scientific background, not only breaking into a secured area, but also figuring out how to change the results, which would be full of numbers and chemical names, not just the identity of the parent.
However, the worst part of the story is that it’s now meaningless. Nothing has changed. Summer is still a Newman. If she forges a close relationship with Jack, it’s only purpose will be to devastate him when the truth is revealed. Though Nick is still guilty of hiding the inconclusive paternity test from everyone for years, I suspect everyone will let him off the hook when Sharon’s duplicity is revealed. I just can’t shake the feeling that Y&R wants me to be thrilled that Summer and Kyle (Hartley Sawyer), alleged star-crossed lovers whose relationship consists of a couple of dinner dates, can be together after all. The writers seem to think they are the most interesting part of the story.
Case’s performance is the storyline’s saving grace. Just as she did when Sharon showed up at Victor’s funeral wearing white to announce that she married Tucker, she manages to find a sliver of emotional truth in the most unbelievable scenes. I don’t believe that Sharon would switch a paternity test, but I do believe she has never gotten over Nick and feels like all of her problems would be solved if they reunited.
Roger Howarth’s version of Franco has proven unpopular with “General Hospital” viewers. The show’s ratings hit a record low among adults 18-49 the week of July 4th, showing it’s more than just a few bloggers who are unhappy that the pretentious serial killer is back on the canvas. GH’s solution was to have Franco hallucinate that he is Jason (Steve Burton). This meant that Franco told Liz that he missed her and claimed that Sam was his wife while acting like himself, not stoic, unemotional Jason. Then he had a seizure and Silas (Michael Easton) examined him and discovered Franco had a large brain tumor which conveniently could absolve him of responsibility for every horrible thing that he did when the role was played by James Franco. Pressing the re-set button with Franco strikes me as a huge cop out. The show has already done everything it could to undo the numerous crimes he committed onscreen, from drugging and raping Sam (Kelly Monaco) to setting up Michael (Chad Duell) to be raped in prison. Boy, did Franco love rape. He also was a serial killer. But the new, tumor-free Franco is going to be a really nice guy who would never murder or sexually assault anybody. You know who was so riveting at playing an unrepentant rapist that he won a Daytime Emmy and became one of daytime’s most popular villains? Howarth. While I never wanted to see the character again, if GH is going to put Franco front and center, then I wish he would be written as Franco. Instead of playing him like the mostly reformed Todd of 2013, have him be the twisted Todd of the 1990s, who lashed out at anyone and everyone. That guy was riveting. It would give Howarth a chance to use his talents for more than wisecracking. GH could use a true love-to-hate villain like Faison used to be. In time, like Todd, he could have been redeemed through careful on-screen character development and a great love story. Instead, the show is doing everything it can to instantly turn a serial killer into a hero, a task that seems doomed to fail.