Hanging on

What do you do when you start to realize that a thing you love will cease to be a thing at all during your lifetime?

Last year, both All My Children and One Life to Live got canceled.  Today I learned that SOAPnet will end in late March.  I wasn’t a regular viewer of AMC or OLTL, and I don’t have cable so I don’t watch SOAPnet.  Even when I did have cable, I rarely watched it.  It was nice to know it was there, though, in case I needed it.  I bet this is how many people treat the soaps these days.  They don’t watch them, but if they’re sick or otherwise at home unexpectedly during the day, they’ll tune in for a bit.  I don’t begrudge people their choices.

The culture can’t support soap operas anymore.  Ironically, soaps have a diminished audience (a thing I dislike) because more women are working (a thing I like).  With all the alternatives available for entertainment and Americans’ increasingly busy schedules, the people watching soaps these days want to be watching soaps.  I’m not surprised that these people couldn’t sustain SOAPnet.  What I liked about it wasn’t its programming or content.  What I liked was that the mere fact of it meant that soap operas still existed, that the genre had a prominent enough presence in the TV landscape to warrant its own network.  Without that validation, I guess I’ll just have to write blog posts about Kate Howard and make my own validation.

That, after all, is the answer to my “what do you do” question.  I have some stuff to say about Kate and I might as well say it now.  At some point, I will have to find something to fill the space soaps occupy in my heart and mind, but that day isn’t today.

No one was more irked at the recasting of Kate Howard than I was.  I thought Megan Ward was a great addition to the General Hospital canvas.  She was fresh and the character was just different enough to add some spice but similar enough to last–or so I thought.  It turned out that the character didn’t really last.  After she and Sonny split up, TPTB couldn’t find anything for her to do and she faded into the background.  She was allegedly having a fling with Coleman but we rarely saw any of that since we rarely saw her at all.  Indeed, she was far more likely to be on the phone with Maxie than on screen.

When I read that the show was recasting Kate Howard, I was confused.  Megan Ward was perfect and she didn’t seem to have another job.  Why wouldn’t they let her continue if they wanted to revive the role?  I have no idea if Ward still wanted to be Kate Howard.  Maybe she is disillusioned with the way she had been treated.  She certainly has a right to be.  I wasn’t watching GH much when I read about the recast, and that news certainly didn’t reinvigorate my love.  What eventually led me back to the show fulltime was the death of All My Children.  You know how they say that death puts things in perspective and helps you see what is really important?  That’s what happened to me.

So I was a little beaten down by life when I came back to GH at the tail end of Suck Fest 2011.  This was the optimal frame of mind for me to be in in order for the transition to be as painless as possible.  I just wanted to watch my show; I didn’t care about the details.  I was glad that TPTB had recognized that the show needs Kate Howard.

And you know what? Kelly Sullivan is OK.

I still prefer Megan Ward, but I’ve gotten used to Kelly Sullivan.  Somehow, amid all the chaos of switching head writers (once or twice, I can’t be sure anymore), the Kate Howard character has remained the same.  She still wants to help Sonny, which is ever-so-slightly different from wanting to save him the way that Brenda, Carly, Alexis, et al do.  Sullivan has good chemistry (including making flirty eyes) with Maurice Benard, which is important, and her Kate Howard seems like she might be able to have a good relationship with Olivia, if female relationships are going to be allowed these days.

However, putting aside the few scenes she and Olivia have had so far, Kate still exists in the trap that the character fell into the last time around: Sonny, Sonny, Sonny.  Despite her magazine and her employee(s), Kate’s world is very much centered around Sonny.  No one else on the show has such limited interactions.  Even Dante-obsessed Lulu sees and talks about her family every now and then.  Also, it is worth mentioning that Lulu has the benefit of being an established character with a rich GH history whereas Kate is brand new by comparison.  TPTB will have to work harder to convince me that Kate has something other than Sonny to do.

So you can see that GH is setting me up for another disappointment.  What is even more tragic and pathetic is that it’s the exact same disappointment I already endured when Kate Howard dwindled and then disappeared altogether in 2009 and 2010.