The next item on our countdown is…General Hospital (ABC Network)
Dramatic television series can inspire, motivate, educate, and empower. However, they also have the ability to reach us on an emotional level. They do so by creating characters we enjoy watching, and rooting for, only to take them on journeys that make us reflect on our own lives and choices. While I’ve cried many a time during TV shows, there are five TV moments that not only had me sobbing like a baby but impressed me on a creative level.
#3 – ZANDER SMITH (General Hospital, portrayed the role from 2000-2004): I’m accustomed to characters dying on daytime dramas; after all, I’ve been watching them for over thirty years. Given the numerous and impactful deaths that occurred on General Hospital over its five decades on the air, Zander’s death may seem an odd choice for this list. Emotional storylines like B.J.’s death in 1994 and Stone’s a year later changed the canvas of the show. I cried along with the characters and applauded the artistic choices. As emotional as those deaths were for the other characters, the show, and the viewers, Zander’s death affected me for a much different reason.
Behind-the-scenes changes (i.e. head writers, executive producers, network reorganization) affect the daytime dramas too, sometimes more significantly and not always in ways that do justice to the show, the characters, or the gifted actors. The hard-working teams that bring daytime dramas to the screen five days a week have responsibilities that many of us can’t fathom. I respect the art form and those involved, and write this from a viewer’s perspective. To clean the slate, or erase storyline choices, interesting yet complex characters get used as scapegoats. Their actions become unstable and very quickly shift to dangerous. From my perspective, they were vilified in order to wrap a storyline and find a character on which to lay blame. Within a year’s time, General Hospital killed off three such characters: Stefan, A.J., and Zander.
Zander’s arrival may not have intended to prompt such passionate reaction from the viewers, but the on-screen chemistry and acting prowess of Amber Tamblyn (Emily) and Chad Brannon (Zander) created a relationship that we wanted to see develop. And that it most certainly did. When Amber left the show and Chad remain, this beloved on-screen twosome had a bittersweet goodbye that showcased the growth of each character and the beautiful love story that developed over time. Emily was recast some time later and the relationship changed. Zander quickly became the “not-as-popular” love interest for new Emily and his character started making choices that were unusual, confusing, and head-scratching. Ultimately, they wrote him into a corner, having him hold Emily hostage (a cyclical choice, as that’s how their storyline began) only then to be gunned down by the police. I knew it was coming, yet I sobbed uncontrollably. I cried over the death of a character I enjoyed watching, the frustration over storyline choices that did a disservice to the show, and for all the character development opportunities missed.