Just the idea of redeeming Franco a few short years ago on General Hospital (GH) seemed preposterous. The character was both a serial killer and a rapist, but it turned out he wasn’t a rapist and a brain tumor caused all that serial killing.
So, everything was cool, right? No harm, no foul? Um, no way! For A LOT of fans. While the serial killing, sexual assaulting Franco had a whole different face than the one we see today, as he was played by movie actor James Franco, a recast doesn’t mean a character that heinous is now good.
But, heinous characters have been redeemed before and some are even beloved. (Please never forget what Jason and Sonny do for a living, no matter how much coffee they drink.) Why not Franco?
Well, that’s a question that’s divided fans since Roger Howarth took over the role in 2013 after a lawsuit between ABC and Prospect Park productions deemed that he could no longer play Todd Manning on GH.
ABC wasn’t about to let Howarth go and really could have given him any new character to play (like it did for Michael Easton and Kristen Alderson), but it chose Franco and the tumor story was born.
While over the last five years it’s sometimes seemed like we’ve been watching Todd with a new name, that’s no longer the case. Is it easy to forget what the James Franco version of Franco did to Sam and Michael? Heck no.
But, who we have now as a character in no way resembles that Franco and Howarth is so incredible in the role that sometimes you just have to pretend this is not the same character and go with it, because going with it just offers some really good soap opera.
Yes, the Jim Harvey (Greg Evigan) story was a bit disjointed and drawn out with him being a villain in two different storylines, but yesterday and today made ALL of it worth it. (OK, maybe not the part about Alexis losing her bid for mayor.)
Does the fact that Franco was molested excuse anything he did? Of course not. Nothing really does. But, hey, remember Sonny and Jason? What excuses their murderous selves? Career moves?
If we can accept mobsters as heroes and rapists as mayors (hello, Luke), then why can’t we just enjoy Howarth’s outstanding performance, take in the chemistry between him and Rebecca Herbst, and go with the flow? It might be about time to do that.
General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes.