TV Moments That Moved Me to Tears: ‘ONE LIFE TO LIVE’

Without further ado, the top TV Moment That Moved Me to Tears is…

This moment deserves a little photo creativity!
This moment deserves a little photo creativity!

#1 – MEGAN GORDON (One Life to Live, ABC Network):  When Megan died from the effects of lupus in 1992 it left an impression on me that’s lasted twenty-three years. I saw and appreciated what brave storytelling and brilliant acting could do.

BACKSTORY

Megan burst onto the scene, full of life, energy, and confidence. She quickly became one of my favorite characters, thanks in large part to her portrayer – Jessica Tuck. As sometimes occurs in the interesting world of the soap opera, Megan was revealed as the long-lost daughter to the show’s beloved matriarch – Viki Buchanan. This connected a popular character to an established one, only intensifying Megan’s role in the fictional town of “Llanview, Pennsylvania”.

Despite receiving a kidney from her mother, Megan’s body could no longer hold off the damage lupus had done. I remember so vividly the moment I first cried during this storyline: Megan’s sister, Sarah, sat at her bedside and tried to remain happy and positive. The two acknowledged the reality of the situation and said a tearful goodbye. From there, the tears continued as she said goodbye to her younger siblings, former flames, and newly-found mother. I thought about my own siblings, parents, and loved ones. How would I react in that situation? Reflecting upon those ideas made the storyline all the more impactful.

Her missing husband (held captive and found just in time) arrived to share some final tender moments with his ailing wife. Jake helped Megan to the hospital room window to show her their wedding tree he had transplanted the hospital lawn for her. Attached to the branches were heart-shaped paper ornaments, tied by ribbons, blowing in the wind.  She held one of the hearts that he gave to her in the hospital room and as Jake spoke about the future, with beautiful music swelling, the paper heart fell from her hand and her body went limp.

LASTING IMPRESSION

It was the first time I recall crying as a result of a fictional character’s death.  This storyline remains etched in my memory, and I have lasting respect for the writing team, directors, actors, and music supervisors who created so many moments of television excellence.  One Life to Live introduced us to memorable characters, educated us about social issues, and created a world that viewers wanted to visit Monday through Friday.

Though gone from the world of daytime dramas, OLTL will live on through the fans who loved it and the actors who graced the screen.

*DISCLAIMER: No endorsement by anyone associated with One Life to Live, its parent company, affiliates, or artists implied!*

TV Moments That Moved Me to Tears: ‘GENERAL HOSPITAL’

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. 

General Hospital

#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.

*DISCLAIMER: No endorsement by anyone associated with General Hospital, its parent company, affiliates, sponsors, or artists implied!*

General-ly Speaking: Why Claire Labine and Wendy Riche Inspire Me

Writers, executive producers, directors.  Individuals whose skills, talents, and artistry are frequently overlooked by the general public, yet without them our favorite films and television programs would never exist for us to adore.  Actors and actresses graced my screen, big and small, mesmerizing me with their talent.  Most of the time, I didn’t care one bit about who directed the episode or what an executive producer did.  I was only concerned with what was on my screen.  Twenty years ago, I started caring about those who worked behind the scenes.  My mind opened and my creativity flourished thanks to two exceptionally gifted women who helped bring my favorite daytime drama series to excellence.

In the early 1990’s, General Hospital excelled in not only the daytime drama medium but throughout all of television.  The writing was superb, the acting brilliant and the storylines heart wrenching and uplifting at the same time.  During this time, the teenage me was intrigued to learn more about those who worked behind the scenes.  Who wrote the storylines and dialogue?  Who was making the decisions that created such excellent television programming?

As head writer, Claire Labine took GH and its characters to emotional levels that left the viewers exploring their own lives.  If we didn’t care about the characters, then why should we care about what happened to them?  With Claire and her writing team, GH viewers knew that we’d be in for a combination of beautiful everyday moments between friends (“Lois” and “Brenda” or “Brenda” and “Robin”) or in-depth serious issues (“Maxie” gets “B.J.’s” heart / “Stone’s” death and “Robin’s” H.I.V. diagnosis).  When these characters cried, I cried.  When they examined their own prejudices, I re-examined by perspective on important issues.

During my Media and Society class in college, I had to pick someone or something that made a substantial impact on media.  I chose Ms. Wendy Riche, the Executive Producer of General Hospital at the time.  “How many of you know who {insert well-known primetime series mogul} is?”  All hands went up.  “Now, how many of you have heard of Wendy Riche.”  The latter question prompted only a few raised hands.  I proceeded to discuss the impact that GH had at the time, the ground-breaking issues and critical praise it received.  An excellent television program is deemed so, in my opinion, only if each part blends to create an exquisite piece of entertainment.  Each and every aspect of General Hospital excelled, allowing none to supersede another.  Writing, acting, editing, music selection, cinematography, etc…all played a part to bring about a finished work that deserved the critical and viewer appreciation it received.  Without an Executive Producer who values the medium and seeks to help it flourish, General Hospital would not have been the brilliant drama series it came to be.  And I attribute its brilliance to Wendy Riche – a woman I still hold a great deal of admiration and respect for twenty years later.

Both of these women showed me through their craft that high quality and artistic passion are not mutually exclusive.  I respect them for not only the work they created but the evident love of industry.  As a fan of all things entertainment and a writer of various genres, my artistic career would be one step closer to fulfillment with an opportunity to work with either Claire Labine or Wendy Riche.  Perhaps once my novel is complete, Claire will write the screenplay and Wendy will produce the film.  A girl can dream!!

*SIDENOTE:  I wrote one of my first fan letters to Ms. Riche in the mid-90’s and was elated to receive a postcard back.  I kept that card tacked upon on my inspiration board and thankfully it was part of the collection of items that were spared in my apartment fire earlier this year.*