Why General Hospital Is My Guilty Pleasure

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It was 3:45 PM. Why did I have to get out of school so late? I was going to miss the whole show.

I ran from the school bus stop to my house. I raced up the stairs and into my mother’s bedroom where she was sitting on top of her bed with a bag of Wise potato chips and a pink can of Tab, staring at the TV.

“Did it happen? Did Luke stop Mikkos Cassadine? Did he save the world? Did he find the Ice Princess?”

I was yelling these questions to her while she gave me that universal mother’s hand gesture, waving me away, while also shushing me.

“They are doing it now. Luke is going to save Port Charles. Sit down and watch the end,” she said.

I plopped down next to her and popped a chip in my mouth, just in time to see Luke Spencer, Laura Webber, and Robert Scorpio celebrate their success in finding the Ice Princess, thus saving Port Charles and the entire world from freezing to death.

That was 1981.  I was in junior high school. A friend had recently introduced me to General Hospital or GH, saying I just had to watch it. Within a week, I was hooked on the soap.

The eighties were the heyday of General Hospital. The Ice Princess, Luke and Laura’s wedding, Dr. Noah Drake (played by Rick Springfield), Blackie Parrish (played by John Stamos), Frisco and Felicia, Robert Scorpio and Anna Devane. The list of characters is endless. There was even a song – General Hospi-Tale. Google it if you don’t believe me.

My addiction to GH turned into a soap opera one and soon I knew every ABC daytime soap – Ryan’s Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, and The Edge of Night. I had friends who crossed over to other channels to watch Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, or The Young and the Restless. Not me – I was loyal to ABC all day long.

As time went on, my addiction would be better or worse depending on the storylines and how busy my own life seemed to be. There would be years when I didn’t watch at all, but then I would catch a glimpse of a scene, or a commercial for the show, and I would return to my couch, once again enthralled by the citizens of Port Charles.

I felt like I was in a relationship with Sonny Corinthos and Brenda Barrett, saw the damage Carly did when she came to town, fell in love with Lucky and Elizabeth, and cried through my favorite story of love and loss – Robin and Stone.

A few years back, my husband and I were out to dinner with friends, and Laura Wright, who played Carly Corinthos on GH, was sitting at the next table. I felt like I was sitting next to Julia Roberts. I summoned up the nerve to go over and talk to her. She was very nice.

It’s now 2018 and I am once again obsessively watching General Hospital. It was the return of Steve Burton, (Jason Morgan) that brought me back, although that is not what has made me stay.

What I love about it now, other than the storylines, is that it has become my hour of “alone time”. It’s my time to escape real life and not worry about anything other than if Sam will choose Jason or Drew. I allow myself to let go of my own stress and unwind a bit before I face the rest of my day. Some people have Netflix, I have General Hospital.

My teenage daughters do not understand my love for this type of television. Daytime soap operas seem to be antiquated.  When they come home and I am on the couch unable to move, I hear them say things like this:

“How can you watch this stuff?

“This is the worst acting I have ever seen”,

“What is this show even about?”

As I shush them and tell them to leave the room, I don’t necessarily disagree with them. After all, the show is unrealistic. How many evil twins can there possibly be?

Realistic or not, I will continue to watch General Hospital. It’s a guilty pleasure and a memory of my childhood all wrapped up into one hour of the day. I hope I will say the same thing fifty years from now.


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