HomeTelevisionAlan's Soap Box: General Hospital Doesn't Care About Elizabeth Webber

Alan’s Soap Box: General Hospital Doesn’t Care About Elizabeth Webber

General Hospital does not care about Elizabeth Webber at all. No one audibly gasped reading that sentence. There were no glasses of red wine that dramatically dropped in slow motion while “O Fortuna” played. No one yelled “Barbara, come quick. This homosexual on the internet is claiming that the soap opera that is allegedly about a hospital doesn’t care about that pretty woman with the great hair! You know I’m bad with names, Barbara. Should we call 911?” It isn’t news to anyone who watches GH. It is just a sentiment you see on Twitter and message boards every day for years. Yet the fuckery keeps on happening.

Rebecca Herbst is a popular actress. She’s had chemistry with almost every man she’s been paired with. Rebecca is well-liked amongst her co-stars and has never caused any behind-the-scenes trouble that I’ve heard of, which is saying something when you know how many BTS feuds there have been in soap history. She’s playing a popular legacy character with three children. It is baffling that she’s treated like this. When you explore the poor treatment of Liz and her portrayer, you have to start with what the real flashpoint was.

The Original Sin

January 18, 2011 will forever be a day that will live in soap opera infamy. It was announced that Rebecca had been fired. To say that fans were shocked and enraged would be like saying that being stabbed is a bit alarming. It was a shit storm. What made it even worse was the plan to write Liz out: Luke, played by Anthony Geary, who was then considered the king of GH  for some ungodly reason, running over Liz’s son Jake and Jake dying. Little Josslyn got his kidney, and Liz was going to end up in the mental institution Shady Brook. The whole thing was a retread of the famous BJ’s heart, which has been ripped off to the point of it being comical. Soaps do it just because they want Daytime Emmy bait, so they torture viewers with months of “Oh, no! Not little Timmy! Why not take me God?! This cruel world is too much!” as actors squeeze out tears to varying success.

At least in all those stories the mother got to be a part of the whole Emmy bait gambit. GH was just going to shove Liz into the looney bin and go ahead with all the grieving without her. It was a cruel plan for the character and the fans. It meant a lot to Liason (Liz/Jason) fans that those characters had a child together. They had never given those two a proper chance to be a real couple, so Liason fans were thrilled when Liz walked up 15 flights of stairs during a blackout and got knocked up thanks to Jason’s super sperm and a malfunctioning condom. It was a giant middle finger to fans to have Jake getting turned into a speed bump just so they could get Anthony another Daytime Emmy he didn’t deserve.

Photo Credit: ABC/Todd Wawrychuk

Thankfully the backlash from the news of Rebecca’s firing was big enough to un-fire her a month later. A soap star has to be very popular for a show to release a statement that basically amounts to “We’re sorry! She’s staying. Can you please stop hitting us and taking our lunch money?” There’s only been a few quick un-firings in recent soap history: Daniel Goddard on The Young and the Restless when fans of his literally hired a plane to fly a message above the studio to get his job back (Daniel’s luck eventually ran out in 2019 when they fired him again and no planes saved him) and William deVry on GH a few years back. It is rare for it to happen. It didn’t even happen for legends like Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn who were off of Days of Our Lives for two years after they were fired.

Unfortunately for fans, it was too late to stop the dreaded “Let’s kill a kid to win an Emmy!” emotional manipulation train. The story continued as planned with only Liz’s exit removed. Liz felt like a day player in the death of her own son as it played out, likely because the show never intended for this to be her story. It wasn’t about her. It was about everyone else. This was the real start of the disrespect to the character and the actress. I know some of you would argue it started sooner in the 2000s, but Elizabeth had a point of view, story, and love interests during that decade. Liz fans would sacrifice a goat to get the kind of writing she had in 2003 now. And 2011 was just the beginning of the suffering.

Enter Frank and Ron

Executive producer Frank Valentini and then-head writer Ron Carlivati joined the show in 2012 and indisputably saved GH from certain cancellation. They had a fire under their ass after ABC canceled All My Children and One Life to Live for some sucky show with Tim Gunn that got canceled after three months and The Chew, which had some bloated guy in clogs cooking and having the most forced banter I’ve ever seen with Dr. Oz’s daughter and some Lex Luthor-looking man with a voice that sounded like he got punched in the throat on a daily basis. They immediately breathed life into the show with decisions like bringing Finola Hughes back on a permanent basis and adding OLTL characters like Todd, Starr, and McBain.

All head writers have favorites, but Ron has never been good at hiding who his favorites are. It is plain as day on every soap he’s been on who he enjoys writing for and which characters are just there because the executive producer won’t let them be shoved into a wood chipper. He struggles with a particular type of character: A heroine who has been on a show for over a decade. He’ll write for legendary characters like Victoria Buchanan or Dr. Marlena Evans, but if you are a heroine that isn’t of matriarch age, it is going to be struggle-bus writing. He had this problem with Elizabeth.

I think Ron thinks these types of characters are boring, so he either makes them crazy or just ignores them. Ron tends to prefer female characters who are crazy or bitches. He doesn’t see the value of a heroine who makes mistakes, but, at her core, is a good person. The type of characters who are the backbone of a show. In his first three years, Ron took the latter category of ignoring these characters and just used Elizabeth as a supporting character. He did have Liz date AJ, but that was a placeholder pairing. She was used like a babysitter for that drunkard.

During Ron’s tenure, Jake was resurrected in a convoluted story where Helena Cassadine absconded with that boy to torment Luke. Did it make a lick of sense? Not at all. They removed that boy’s organs. Was it done because they wanted to right the wrong of killing off Liz and Jason’s son? Nope. Ron did it to absolve Luke of running Jake over like a squirrel, so he resurrected him. Not even her son returning from the dead was about her.

Photo Credit: ABC/Todd Wawrychuk

Bang Maid

Frank likes to hire people. A lot of times it goes great. He’s brought on soap legends like Maura West and Cynthia Watros. He’s found great younger talents like Eden McCoy and Sydney Mikayla. Sometimes his propensity for casting like he’s shopping on Amazon at 2 A.M. can make things go awry. The casting war with GH and Y&R is the best example of that. It started when Frank’s predecessor Jill Farren Phelps went to Y&R and snatched Steve Burton from GH. Frank responded by hiring Emme Rylan and Michelle Stafford away from them. Then in 2014, Frank enticed Billy Miller away from the show that is allegedly about young people to replace Steve as Jason.

Billy’s entrance story as Jason was Jason escaping from a facility and then being run over by Ava. People in Port Charles really shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Anyway, Jason needed plastic surgery and when he woke up he was a decade younger and had a Cheshire grin and amnesia. Elizabeth took in this “stranger” because she has a kind heart and he had a bubble butt. People with bubble butts can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

On paper, the start of this story wasn’t so bad for Liz. You could do something really soapy with a woman falling for a man not knowing it is her ex. It was actually the biggest story Ron had given Liz during his tenure. The problem came when Liz learned the truth and kept quiet about it and then slept with him. That started a wildfire of discussions on Twitter of whether or not that is considered rape. I’m not going to go into whether it is rape or not, but it was just so unfortunate.

There were so many other ways the story could have been told. Liz could have found out and kept the relationship with Jason chaste. She could have found out after they had already banged that headboard into the wall many times. They could have just kept her in the dark and played Jason as torn between Liz and Sam when his identity was revealed. Instead, we got Liz keeping Sam’s man away from her and using him as a bang maid. Thanks, Ron?

Ron didn’t get to finish the story because he was fired after a cabal of GH actors allegedly joined together to oust him. His replacements were Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman who gave the story a really lame climax at a wedding. Liz got her standard-issue dragging from the whole town for lying and discussions persisted over whether or not it was rape. To this day people talk about it even after it was retconned that Billy’s Jason was really his twin brother Drew in 2018.

Current head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor seem to have learned from Ron, Jean, and Shelly’s mistakes in this story with Sonny’s amnesia story. Nina never slept with Sonny. They just kissed. Sonny and Nina’s time together is being played as significant when Jean and Shelly just moved “Jason” onto Sam like the year he spent with Liz meant nothing, which was just bad soap writing. I have my issues with Chris and Dan, but I love it when writers see a former boss stepping on a rake and don’t make the same mistake they did.

Photo Credit: ABC/Troy Harvey

The Wind Beneath Franco’s Wings

In 2013, a lawsuit from Prospect Park stopped GH from using the three characters they had brought over from OLTL the year before. The show had to scramble to find new roles for these actors. For Roger Howarth, they picked serial killer Franco, previously played by Dave Franco’s less talented brother. Roger’s Franco debuted with a circa 2006 gay porn twink dye job to poison relish. To say the show tried very hard to make him happen would be an understatement. They first tried to make him a Quartermaine, revealed he didn’t rape Sam or order Michael to be raped in prison, then they gave him a brain tumor in an attempt to make him palatable, paired him with Carly (who would never touch that man’s dong if written in-character) and then made him Scott’s son. Even with the full effort to normalize his presence on the canvas over a few years, a lot of GH fans still wanted Sam to kill him with a flamethrower and then twirl around to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” as he burned to death.

After Franco’s next romance with Nina was a bust, the show had to come up with a woman that he could put his penis in that wouldn’t have fans getting torches and pitchforks out. They chose Liz. I think she was the choice for a few reasons. 1. Rebecca could have chemistry with a Starburst wrapper. 2. Her fans were desperate for her to have a pairing after the bang maid debacle. They likely figured she was popular enough to make him palatable. Like slathering a pill with peanut butter to get your dog to eat it. 3. If it went badly, they didn’t care if it hurt Liz’s character.

The pairing of Friz (Franco/Liz) was very divisive among Liz fans. Some loved it to the point that they still have Friz avatars and usernames. Some loathed it to the point that they wanted Liz to bang literally any other man. If Liz talked to a man that wasn’t Franco during the years they were together, I guarantee there was a conversation on Twitter that day that amounted to “You know what would be fun? Liz sitting on that man’s face!” There is one thing that both Friz fans and haters can agree on and that is that every Friz story was about Franco.

The prime example is Liz’s rapist Tom returning to Port Charles. The rape was arguably the most sensitively handled and realistic portrayal of rape in daytime history and it was written by Michele Val Jean. How did Jean and Shelly handle revisiting such an important story? Well, they made it all about Franco. He locked Tom in a cage and then Tom ended up dead, but Franco didn’t kill him. It was total shit. There’s a word for making the brutal rape of a woman all about a sexual assaulter’s man-pain. Say it with me, readers: sexist! Not even her past trauma can be about Liz. She just was a prop in what should have been her story. That set the pattern for the next few years where every story would be about Franco, and she just existed to support him.

A Tale of Two Widows

Earlier this year, GH made the decision to kill off Franco. Half the fandom was twerking and the other half was devastated. What ensued with the story was total bullshit. Was Liz allowed to fully process her grief onscreen? No. They killed off Liz’s husband and they couldn’t give her enough material for a decent Emmy reel. This is the show that had poor Josslyn crying to Oscar’s rock for a damn year and no one liked Oscar. I’ve said over-griefing is a problem with GH, but I think two months of heavy grief would have been appropriate.

Meanwhile, we had to watch multiple scenes of Carly grieving Sonny, who wasn’t dead. Carly would cry about missing the coffee he made to the point where fans were yelling “Buy a Keurig, bitch!” It was a stark contrast. One character’s grief was shown to have value. The other character’s grief was brushed under the rug so they could start to move her onto the next man she’d exist just to support. This is because GH actually cares about Carly. GH just thinks of Liz as a hole.

Photo Credit: ABC/Troy Harvey

Mush Brain Is Dead. Again.

After Steve Burton’s refusal to get vaccinated, Jason was presumed again. Various characters got to react onscreen to his death. Carly has been doing her Grief Tour around town for weeks, even going to the footbridge that was Jason’s place with Robin, which felt a bit like a dog marking its territory. Britt has been going around acting like she’s a widow when she only experienced his girth exactly once. Drew, who only knew his twin brother for a year, got a reaction. Even freaking Willow got to react to it, and she barely knew him. Yet they had Elizabeth learn about his death offscreen.

Elizabeth has been close with Jason since Bill Clinton was president and this show thought it was wise for her to learn about it offscreen?! She has a son with him. Sure, Jason was a terrible father to his own kids and a great dad to kids that came out of Carly’s cooter, but it is absurd to exclude one of the people he actually gave a damn about from this. It was an insult to fans. I understand that the show had to scramble for this because Steve would rather be unemployed than be vaccinated, but if you can plan for a stunt where a bunch of debris fall on him, you can plan to write Liz into the reactions.

They did have Elizabeth contemplating killing the Rasputin of Port Charles, Peter, as revenge for the deaths of Franco and Jason. It was the most point of view she’s had in months, but it felt like too little, too late. Fans are never going to forget Elizabeth being excluded from scenes she should have been in.

Does Liz’s Mother Even Have a Face?

When Elizabeth arrived in 1997, she was revealed to be the daughter of Jeff Webber and Carolyn. Jeff was a doctor played by Richard Dean Anderson from 1976 to 1981. Carolyn was a woman he met and married after leaving the show. We’ve never seen her at all. Presumably, she has a face with eyes, lips, and ears. Perhaps even a nose. We might never know. She could look like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show for all we know because Carolyn has not set foot in Port Charles since Liz came to town. Jeff hasn’t returned either.

Liz has been married multiple times, had three children, had one child die and return from the dead, and these two didn’t show up. It is absurd to have a popular character be on for this long and not have their parents show up at all. Sharon on Y&R’s dad has never shown up, but at least they had her judgmental mother Doris around until about a decade ago. It is very unusual.

Here’s a list of characters currently on the canvas who have had a parent show up after they debuted: Sonny, Carly, TJ, Sam, Curtis, Nina, Finn, Chase, Willow, Brando, Valentin, Ava, Dante, Trina, and Britt. Freaking Brando has a mother on the canvas and not Elizabeth. That really says it all.

To Be a Liz Fan Is To Suffer

This whole column might feel like I’m preaching to the choir and my response to that is: So? It needs to be said and repeated until GH realizes Rebecca Herbst should be a lead on this show. She is too talented to be used to just prop up whatever mediocre man they want to make happen. This show places far too much value on the men, and it has been happening for decades. The women of General Hospital are the heavy hitters of the cast. People watch for Genie Francis, Finola Hughes, Nancy Lee Grahn, Maura West, Laura Wright, and Rebecca freaking Herbst.

Just because people at GH are more buddy-buddy with certain men doesn’t change the reality that soap viewers are primarily women. Do they want to see attractive men in stories and leading? Yes, but the women need to be given stories as well. Fans want to see Elizabeth go through her highs and lows with a point of view. If she has a relationship, she should be treated as an equal and not an accessory. We’ve been saying this for years and we’ll keep saying it. Do better.

Dispatches From Soap Land:

*Krista Allen is doing a good job as Taylor on The Bold and the Beautiful. The wig looks to be about the same quality as the wig I wore when I dressed up in drag as Sydney Bristow for Halloween in 2003, but wigs on B&B always look like someone murdered a bunch of rats and glued them together, so it wasn’t surprising.

*The Young and the Restless needs to write Billy off for a whole year. I used to say six months, but now I’m at the point where that character needs to be rested so we can forget how unlikable he is right now and maybe miss him. I’m tired of him starting shit and then acting like he’s the one being bullied.

*Rafe on Days of Our Lives is one of the worst soap characters to ever be created and I’m still mad at Dena Higley and Christopher Whitesell for creating him.

*I want to wish all my readers a happy holiday season. Well, except the ones who are just hate-reading this. I wish those people an adequate holiday season. May the mashed potatoes be slightly lumpy and your aunt give you a gift card to a store you don’t shop at.



  1. Thank you so
    Much Alan!! It was wonderful! You hit all the right points. 🙏🏻 Let us hope they write for this talented woman! 💜

  2. “sobs” I couldnt have said it better. I just dont even know what to say anymore, its just ridiculous. I would love for TPTB have an answer to this column. I just want to know WHY?? What makes someone like Willow more deserving of a story than Liz? What makes GLADYS more deserving? I mean, COME ON!!

    • Gladys is awful! Wth is with the Brando and sasha devastating news??? Why do it to them??
      Im about done with GH.

  3. I have spent the last thirty minutes lol and cursing also. Dude you are so right and so damned funny. There was not one word that you wrote about BH that wasn’t the truth. I have said this since 2009 but you are right it all started full bore when she was ‘fired’ and they have not let up since. She must have the thickest skin in soap opera history to withstand all this BS and go there to work every day, well every month. FV has a special place in hell reserved for him for this alone. ABC/Disney needs to fix this crap and yes DO BETTER.

  4. Oh My God – “People with bubble butts can always depend on the kindness of strangers.” This should be on a sign on the wall of every gay bar in the world. I am dying.

  5. Ok, this was SO spot on. I have loved Liz so much I copied one of her hair wedding looks for my own. I was fuming we didn’t get to see her react to Jason “dying” this time. And don’t get me started on how he just hopped on Sam after he was going to finally marry Liz. Rebecca Herbst is stellar, and her hair is MAGNIFICENT.

  6. Truth! Every point is 100% correct. I will never forgive GH for bringing back Tom Baker just to give Bob a story, and leaving Elizabeth out of it. That bell can never be unrung.

  7. This is the first time I’ve read you, Alan. Your writing is a joy to read. I agree with your observations, while chuckling or loling. Poor Elizabeth indeed. Thanks for your wit and wisdom. Perhaps GH will pay attention.

  8. They do it because they got mad they couldnt fire her like they wanted. So they’ve done nothing but give her crap storylines and tear her character down in the hope that Elizabeth will end up so hated that by the time they decide to fire Rebecca again the fans won’t care the second time around. It’s just too much of a coincidence that all of this started happening to Elizabeth after they tried to fire Rebecca and it didnt work.

  9. Rebecca deserves better from GH. They need to step up and give her a great storyline. Fans have waited too long. Enjoyed your article it made me laugh several times.

  10. 100% nailed it! Please please please write for Rebecca we fought for her to stay now we want to see her get the writing she deserves!!

  11. THANK U!!!!
    perfectly pointed out and stated in black and white,
    now if only GH’s IIC can comprehend along with reading…
    but a sincere thank you for this!!!

  12. I have been a fan of GH for … decades. I love Liz!!! Okay … sometimes I’m like Really GH? 😒 But, then, I realize that It’s not the actor’s entire fault that they suck. The writers, directors and producers have their responsibilities in an actor’s suckiness as well. I’m not saying that Rebecca/Liz sucks, it’s quite the opposite actually. And kudos to her for her perseverance on and off the screen. She needs a good, juicy, story-line that’s about her not being the used condom being cast aside after a quicky in the front seat, only to be found by the car’s new owner.

  13. I totally agree with you. She is the granddaughter of dr. Steve Hardy. That should count for something. I always loved the mentions of Audrey. I didn’t like it when Franco caged the rapist. However Franko.s love for her children would have allowed storylines aplenty. I know she and Finn won’t make it because Violets mother is coming back.

  14. You were right on the money with every word you wrote!!! Liz deserves so much more!

  15. 1) Like it or not, Friz was a lot more popular than it was hated.
    2) Free Liz they said. What could go wrong they said.
    You wanted Liz free? There you go. She’s free to be on the back burner again. What did you expect was going to happen when Friz ended? You thought it was funny when you spoiled that Franco would die. Do you think Becky was happy when she learned Franco was getting killed off? Most Liz fans knew exactly what would happen. She’d be sidelined from her own stories and shoved at another actor to sell another pairing again. BTW, Michael is Becky’s 13th leading man in 24 years… that’s not normal for a character that is supposed to be the girl next door. All Becky has been doing for the last 20 years is:
    1. Sell a new couple;
    2. GH destroys the couple;
    3. Becky’s leading man is given to the new shiny toy (Courtney, Sam, Britt, etc)
    4. Becky is on the back burner until TIIC figure out what to do with her.

    With Franco, she was in a solid, popular and successful couple. A husband who put her first. An actor Becky loved working with. Elizabeth’s kids were out of the attic. The whole Webber Baldwin family was full of love. For once, there was an opportunity to tell different stories from selling a couple. I’m tired of people blaming Franco for the lack of focus on Liz. This isn’t new. Liz was used as an obstacle for Drewson and Sam. Liz was used to prop Sabrina. Liz was used for cat fights with BLQ and Britt. Jake’s death wasn’t even about Liz. So stop blaming Franco. At this point, the only thing I want is for Liz to be pair with Austin. As Rebecca Budig said, Roger and Becky have amazing chemistry.

  16. Great article. I am one of those Liz fans who has complained for years how this character has been treated and portrayed on GH. She has always been one of my favorites. She is beautiful and a wonderful actress. Her chemistry with the men is awesome. I am happy someone finally gives Liz her just due, because the writers treat her like an after thought. Team Liz.

  17. So well said and I never really thought about it that way. I do appreciate and love Liz/RH and she deserves so much better. My faves on the show used to be MB and SB, but they are/were overused and stories recycled. Overall, I have only watched GH off and on this past decade. One of the stories that brought me back was Liz and Franco. I loved the pairing and I used to be a Liason fan. I hated the way that played out. I am only watching/reading bits and pieces online of the show and I do not care for any of it. Anyway, great read! Thank you!

  18. 😭😭😭 Liz should have been notified before Sam! Or at least together. Have been a fan of Elizabeth since day 1. General Hospital has always pushed her to the side. I’m starting to wanna watch GH anymore. #teamluz

  19. Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking for decades (well kind of, you are much better). Liz is from a pillar family. Why on Earth would GH disrespect the things holding their building up? When they fired the great Anna Lee (Lila Q) I felt personally disrespected. That character was my fav from childhood, all generations loved her. They did to Liz what they did to Audrey, made her the secondary character in “her” story. When they fired Genie I was done until someone finally noticed they are tearing their own building down section by section. I’m still watching because I’ve been attached to these great characters for 40 decades. Thank you Alan for taking the time to express your frustration! The one thing GH gets right a lot is hiring talented people. I hate Carly but LW is top notch, I always loved Hating Nurse Bobby & Tracy, while cheering for Brenda, Robin, Monica, Liz, (both)Emily’s. This is just a few of the great soap actors/characters. I’m pleading with all the Soaps left to make it better so we can complain about our stories for decades to come.

  20. I was so very happy to read your thoughts on Rebecca and her treatment by GH. I have always loved Rebecca’s portrayal of Liz and love the character. I agree with you, Rebecca has not been given the respect she deserves. She is a good actress and needs a story where she can put her talents to work. It seems only certain actresses get the juicy bits of writing and I wonder why is that? Are they the actresses the Producer and writers of GH deem deserving to have a shot at an emmy ? On that note, why is Peter still alive? Why is Wes Ramsey stiil on the screen. In my opinion, he is not such a great actor that the powers that be would want to keep him. Perhaps it is Laura Wright’s personal relationship with Wes that is keeping him on the show. I don’t know what the writers are thinking but perhaps they should give their head a shake and loosen up those stagnant thoughts.

  21. Excellent post!! They didn’t even give Liz any grieving time when she was raped or when Lucky was presumed dead.

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