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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Exit of AJ Quartermaine

Recently TV Guide reporter Michael Logan announced that Sean Kanan was making the hop from General Hospital to The Bold and the Beautiful. Kanan sited his decision to leave was base on dissatisfaction with the story line given to his character AJ Quartermaine.

I was unhappy when I heard the news. I like Kanan in the role of AJ. I think he is handsome and a good actor. I was delighted when he returned to General Hospital and loved all the story potential. Unfortunately a lot of the story that I wanted for AJ was never told for whatever reason.

I had hoped that he would get back his son Michael who was taken from him years ago. I wanted him to find a Monica for his Alan. That never happened though I think given time it might have eventually.

A lot of AJ’s story was started then stopped. Being off our screens for three months didn’t help either. While it’s easy to point fingers, I understand that a lot of the time there is a reason things change too. I don’t think this situation has a bad guy.

Kanan states that his departure from General Hospital was a mutual decision. He was unhappy so the choice was made to write him out. Kanan contacted Bradley Bell and was offered a contract to return to his role of Deacon on The Bold and the Beautiful.

Though I am disappointed, there is a positive way to look at the situation. When was the last time a soap actor was able to do a soap hop like this? I applaud Kanan for making this kind of decision and calling it what it is, a career choice. He could have easily said he was leaving to spend more time with his family or that he was moving to Tennessee.

General Mobster?

I’m not worried about Kanan. He made a smart move in my opinion. The part of that saddens me the most is how this may affect the show. A story line that I care about is getting interrupted or may not play out now.

I am concerned that with the exit of AJ Quartermaine that General Hospital may morph into General Mobster again. While some will argue that Jason Morgan’s exit left a void in the canvas, I disagree. The ratings of the show went up after Jason was “killed off.” The departure of the character forced the show to become less dark and less mob focused. General Hospital was feeling balanced again.

Lately it has been feeling a little less balanced though. Huffington Post’s Ed Martin published an article entitled "General Hospital’s Amazing 50th Anniversary Celebration Ends With a Few Troubling Story Choices” the same day that Kanan’s exit was announced. I don’t agree with everything that Martin says in his article but I do agree that General Hospital needs to get over it’s obsession with Jason Morgan. The “criminal as a romantic lead” is what turned the show into a misogynistic mess.

General Hospital needs Jason Morgan back like an innocent victim needs a bullet hole in the chest. It is not this character’s departure that has negatively affected the show. Personally I think the exit of good guy Damon Spinelli hurt more. Spinelli was a nonviolent man. General Hospital is in desperate need of these kinds of leading men.

It has been revealed to the audience that Jason is in fact alive and on ice. Robin Scorpio Drake has left her family to save him. We know that Steve Burton isn’t returning to General Hospital right now as he just recently resigned a contract with The Young and the Restless. This means if Jason is going to be returning anytime soon, the character will need to be recast. A recast would be a good opportunity to bring the character back as Jason Quartermaine, the golden boy before the brain damage. The good guy.

AJ isn't a good guy. He’s a nice shade of grey. He is someone that has made a lot of mistakes and is now looking for atonement. He had been mostly redeemed when Kanan first took back the role. As opposed to being a killer, he is an alcoholic with a tendency to behave like an obnoxious frat boy.

I’m not sure how Kanan’s exit will be handled. Whether the character is killed off yet again or slips into a coma, Sonny needs to pay. There have been plenty of times that Sonny could have (and should have) faced the consequences for his immoral lifestyle and violent actions. If another opportunity for this to happen is missed, it will be one tease too many for the audience.

I like Maurice Benard. I get a kick out of him as a person and I understand his popularity. However Sonny Corinthos was never meant to be the hero of General Hospital. When former head writer Bob Guza reconstructed the show to revolve around Sonny (rumored to be an odd attempt to mirror the show after The Sopranos), a lot of the depth the character had was removed.

The Sonny I remember from the ‘90s was deeply flawed. Anyone who dared to love him paid a price for it. He had a troubled childhood and wanted a child of his own to give the love that he was never given. Unfortunately having a baby was never in the cards for Sonny. At this point, Sonny did not have surprise children popping up every other day so he stole Michael from AJ.

Sonny ruthlessly hung AJ on a meathook and taunted the recovering alcoholic with a bottle of booze for days until he signed away his parental rights. Yet in the decades that followed somehow Sonny ended up the hero of this story while AJ was the villain. Where were the repercussions for Sonny misdeeds? Where was the payoff for the audience?

The payoff was what I, as well as others, was looking forward to when AJ was resurrected in 2012. I think we can still get that payoff. In order to do that Michael needs to become a Quartermaine and turn his back on Sonny. Most importantly though, Michael’s anger towards Sonny needs to last.

I don’t know if General Hospital plans to recast AJ in the future. There are certainly a lot of talented actors that could play the role. I think killing off the character would be a waste so soon after bringing him back from the dead. I’ll be anxiously awaiting to see what happens.

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