Commentary GH

Why General Hospital Is Already The Most Offensive Soap Of 2023

GH has outdone itself with offensive stories this year.

general hospital willow, gregory, sasha.Willow, Gregory, and Sasha.

General Hospital started off the year with one of the best hours of soap opera we’ve seen in ages — and then proceeded to do almost nothing but shock and offend at nearly every turn for the next nine months.

A Year Of Pure Ewww On General Hospital

Each of the four soaps on the air has its own identity. Days of our Lives is the quirky, over-the-top, ridiculous soap that can still bring us lots of laughter and heartwarming tears. The Young and the Restless is the corporate war soap that combines bedroom and boardroom shenanigans with both relatable and larger-than-life characters. The Bold and the Beautiful is the fashion soap full of waffling men, and forever triangles with everyone weirdly interested in everyone else’s love lives.

And General Hospital is…well…the hospital soap. It has never shied away from medical and social issues, but in the past, the show did these issues justice. In 2023, it’s done anything but. Now, when the audience gasps, it’s often not from shock but, instead, from horror. Let’s take a look at some of GH’s greatest offenders this year (so far).

Weeping Willow’s Cancer Miracle

Soap Hub has not been shy about pointing out how absolutely galling it was for GH to first present us with a cancer story starring a pregnant woman the very month that Roe v. Wade was overturned in the United States. Willow (Katelyn MacMullen) learned she had cancer soon after learning she was pregnant, and rather than take the chance to tell a compelling pro-choice story illustrating what a hard choice women often have to make for life-of-the-mother reasons, we got a pro-life story that didn’t even become about sacrifice because Willow is now living her best life with very little effort.

While this story started in 2022, it became especially offensive in 2023 when the woman who refused cancer treatment through much of her pregnancy still tried to refuse to do what was right when she was advised to deliver a few weeks before her due date. When she finally relented, she even had a near-death come-to-the-light moment she recovered from, and then went on to get a bone marrow transplant while on death’s door and then recovered in almost no time.

During her entire ordeal, Willow didn’t lose a hair on her head, barely ever looked sick, managed to walk down the aisle and get married, and then came back from stage 4 cancer. All Willow’s tale told viewers in the end was that you, too, can refuse to have your cancer treated and then get a clean bill of health within a year.

Poor Sasha’s Endless Torture Porn

We thought 2021 and 2022 were cruel to Sasha (Sofia Mattsson), but GH decided to outdo even itself in 2023. As if your baby dying at Christmas, having a mental breakdown, and losing your husband just as you are being placed under legal guardianship was bad enough, GH decided that Sasha’s guardian would steal her money and then steal her mental health in 2023.

Watching Gladys (Bonnie Burroughs) gaslight Sasha for months as she slowly pilfered her money to pay off gambling debts was bad enough, but then watching her enlist Sasha’s sadistic court-appointed psychiatrist to help was beyond offensive. Seeing it play out has been downright painful and nauseating. Why do we have to see a woman be gratuitously tortured and drugged for no reason whatsoever? (Do we even know Dr. Montague’s motives?)

We should all be able to trust our mental healthcare providers, but GH apparently doesn’t think so. It’s also sent out a dangerous message about mental health medications. The story has featured false information about anti-depressants as a whole, as well as how they typically react when combined with anti-anxiety drugs.

To cap this mess off, GH is now making light of people with suicidal ideations, as Cody (Josh Kelly) uses it as an excuse to get committed to Ferncliff to rescue Sasha. It also wants us to believe that people can just commit people to hospitals for the criminally insane when they haven’t committed a crime.

General Hospital: Secret Medical Maladies

Not only did Willow refuse cancer treatment for months, but she also refused to tell people she had cancer, including the father of her unborn child. Michael (Chad Duell) had no idea his fiancée had cancer until she progressed from stage 1 to stage 4. She then decided that nobody else got to know because she didn’t want people feeling pity and looking at her strangely. Yes, in the year 2023, Willow Tait decided she would whisper her cancer, now a euphemism for believing that cancer is something to be ashamed of.

Not to be outdone by Willow, Gregory Chase (Gregory Harrison) is whispering his ALS. Unlike cancer, this disease has no cure, and death comes slowly in a brutal and agonizing way. It is a very real disease that took the life of legendary soap actor Michael Zaslow in the 1990s. When Zaslow was diagnosed, he was open and honest about his condition and even performed from a wheelchair on One Life to Live. He didn’t hide his ALS and wasn’t ashamed of it. Well, 25 years later, Gregory is, as it took him all of 2023 so far to tell one son, and he still hasn’t had the guts to tell his other son. We can just hope GH doesn’t fumble the rest of what could be a compelling tale.

Esme’s Ridiculous Non-Redemption

During that first episode of the year that made us believe we were entering a new and glorious GH era, we learned that Esme (Avery Kristen Pohl) had amnesia and thought, “Wonderful, we can see Esme be redeemed after she’d been written into a corner.” However, amnesia wasn’t the only element needed to redeem her. Even with knowing what the “old Esme” did, the new Esme has shown no remorse for her actions, has apologized to nobody, and shrugs everything off because she can’t remember, so it didn’t really happen.

Well, “it” happened. Esme really did record Joss (Eden McCoy) and Cam (William Lipton) having sex for the first time after drugging Trina (Tabyana Ali). She really did set up Trina to take the fall for this sex crime. And her victims really have basically just let it go. Heck, we have Mayor Laura (Genie Francis) treating her like a daughter and calling her sweetheart, and Trina herself trying to be as polite to her as possible. Positioning this sex offender as a spoiler in the popular Spencer (Nicholas Alexander Chavez) and Trina romance has also not done the character or misguided redemption arc any favors.

General Hospital White Collar Crime Is Not A Crime

Finally, we have Carly (Laura Wright) and Drew (Cameron Mathison), two people who committed insider trading. Granted, Drew didn’t think Carly would go buy up Aurora stock to drive up the price when he told her that Aurora was merging with ELQ, but he is the one who gave her insider information, and she is the one who used it. It didn’t occur to her she had committed an actual crime, but she had committed an actual crime. Now, GH wants us to believe the person who anonymously turned them in is the bad guy in this scenario. Offensive yes, but not as offensive as Carly’s latest whine fest.

Drew fell on his sword for her and entered into a plea deal to only serve six months in a minimum security facility, but the judge decided he needed three years in Pentonville. Carly is now convinced the judge must be biased against white-collar criminals because he used federal guidelines when sentencing Drew. How dare he! White-collar criminals deserve special treatment in Carly’s mind because they are not REAL criminals, right? They should not have to be sentenced like other people are sentenced because it was a little white-collar crime in which she lost all her money anyway, so no harm, no foul, right?

GH could have nixed half of these stories or just told them the right way, but instead, it chose to just spit plots out in a tone-deaf manner while refusing to just read the room.

General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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