For the Week of November 30, 2009
Dear readers, in the spirit of the season, we were asked to write a column on the topic of thankfulness. I am delighted to comply. I have a plethora of blessings to count in my life, but daytime drama is certainly among those blessings.
I am thankful that daytime drama educates me. For instance, when Stone was diagnosed with AIDS, I didn't know much about AIDS, or how people caught it. I didn't know the difference between HIV and AIDS, and thought both were death sentences. General Hospital informed and enlightened me about the facts of the disease, and, in addition, gave me extra compassion and understanding for people battling HIV and AIDS.
GH also educated me on breast cancer. Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994, and so was my mother. I was terrified when my mother told me she had breast cancer, but as I watched Monica go through the exact same things my mom was going through, and live to tell the tale, I had hope that my mom would be okay, too. My mother had one mastectomy in 1994, and a second one in January of last year. She is now 82. I learned that breast cancer was survivable from Monica Quartermaine and the GH scribes. I am thankful they were brave enough to tell that tale in a realistic way.
General Hospital has also informed about heart disease, bi-polar disorder, various addictions, mental illness, and even the health benefits of V8 Fusion, much to my dismay. I am thankful that I walk away smarter (most weeks) because I watched General Hospital and let them fill my brain with some handy facts on a topic I had never previously explored.
I am thankful that daytime drama has shown me examples of forgiveness. The characters in Port Charles have done some grievous things to one another, but still manage to salvage their relationships from time to time. That moves me. Jax didn't tell Carly that Claudia was responsible for Michael's shooting, and yet on Wednesday, the two of them kissed on Thanksgiving after a little meddling from some junior auto mechanics.
Was Jax wrong not to tell Carly? Yes. Did he have good reasons? Yes. Will they fight about it some more next week? Most likely. But GH has a good history of watching forgiveness unfold, following a character's journey from crushing despair to redemption.
We are all imperfect, all prone to making bad choices or acting on our feelings at the moment without considering the long term consequences of our actions. When our beloved soap characters do the same thing, and find a way to get on with their lives, it encourages us to do the same thing. You can fail and not let that failure define you.
You can wrong someone you love in horrible ways and still find forgiveness. You can have huge lapses in judgment, and make a choice to turn your life around and follow through with it. I am so thankful that GH makes a point of redeeming characters after they have done dreadful things.
Maxie is a prime example. Not that long ago, she was an irredeemable character in my mind. She drugged Lucky, fed his addiction by giving him pills, and slept with him when she knew he was married to Liz. But after Georgie died, Maxie didn't want to be that person anymore. She wanted to be better, and made the choice to move in that direction. Of course, she had a little lapse with Franco this week, but overall, Maxie makes me thankful for second chances, because she worked hard to earn hers. We went from loathing her to rooting for her, and I'm thankful the same thing happens in real life from time to time.
I am thankful for the ability to live vicariously through GH. Most likely, my husband and I will never be able to gas up our private jet and fly off to Paris for breakfast croissants. But Jax can, and it's fun to watch and daydream about such a life. I don't own my own island where I can always win at the casino I own, but Sonny does, and it's enjoyable to envision that scenario, too. daytime drama is the supreme escapism. For an hour every day, we as viewers can experience all sorts of lifestyles without ever spending a penny.
I am thankful that daytime drama stirs my emotions. There is no other form of entertainment that can pull my heartstrings like my soaps. Why? Because I'm invested in the characters, and I care what happens to them. I have watched General Hospital since I was in high school, and I'm now 48. That's 30+ solid years of viewing. If Luke Spencer cries, I cry. If he laughs, I laugh. This does not only apply to Luke, I just used him as my example because I love him best.
The Thanksgiving episode of General Hospital was designed to tug at my heart, and I let it. When Edward sang "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing," I had mascara down the side of my face. It reminded me of home, of my own grandfather who's not with me anymore, of my family far away. I couldn't be with my real family, but I was with my GH family, and they shared their traditions and laughter and heart with me.
I delighted in watching the matchmaking attempts of Alexis and Mac's offspring, the kindness of Spinelli to the guilty-as-sin Maxie, the look on Robin's face when Patrick's college girlfriend showed up for Thanksgiving, the antics of Michael and Morgan disabling all the Jacks family vehicles, and, of course, the traditional Quartermaine Pizza was back and I rejoiced.
I realize that soap characters are fictional, yet those pretend friends and family I've adopted in Port Charles will do in a pinch. The sort of things they show are the worst of things that happen in real families, just without the ultra clever dialogue and great hair.
I am thankful that daytime drama fans become instant friends. If I am at the mall, or the airport, or buying milk at Ralph's and I pick up a soap magazine, or someone hears me talking about soaps, BOOM! An instant friendship is born. It's like a secret club that only really hip, awesome people can join (which means all of you reading this column.)
Over the years that I have written the Two Scoops column, I have been wowed by how many people in how many countries watch General Hospital. At last count, I had readers in 17 countries, and we all have this wonderful show in common. Elizabeth Taylor watches GH. Princess Diana watched GH. Vincent Pastore watches GH. Prince watches GH. And, so do we!
Why does that matter, you ask? Because you can be young or old, rich or poor, famous or unknown, and General Hospital can still appeal to you. It touches people across lines of gender, race, religion, and income level.
I am thankful that General Hospital and its fans are so diverse. The fact that people from every part of the world are touched and moved and entertained by the same things proves to us that people are the same everywhere. We care about the same things. We root for the same things. We cry over the same things. That knowledge alone should bring understanding and peace to the world, don't you think?
I am thankful that each weekday, I get to spend time in this fictional world of wonder, where people are sometimes braver than I am, sometimes more stupid than I am, sometimes richer than I am, and occasionally exactly like I am. It helps me see everything more clearly and cry tears I've been holding back--and find ways to say things I couldn't voice until I heard a character say it.
Let non-soap viewers laugh at our shows if they will. They seriously don't know what they're missing. I am thankful most of all that because of GH I didn't miss out on knowing all of YOU. I am thankful for every email and tweet you send my way. You always brighten my day, I am thankful that this wonderful show brought all of you orbiting into my universe.
Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.
Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of soapcentral.com or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen, what has happened, and to take a look at the logistics of it all. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same view point.