General Hospital Year in Review: The Best of 2023

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It's that time of year when our columnists look back on the year. This week Liz Masters and Tamilu team up for a special Two Scoops edition of the Best of General Hospital 2023. Find out what they've picked as best of everything GH in 2023.

Happy holidays, dear readers. The year is drawing to a close, which means it's time for Soap Central's annual tradition of looking back at the year that was. This year, our columnists decided to try something a little different by teaming up and writing a special two-part review of the best and the worst. The challenge: each columnist had to pick a different winner in each category. In some cases, it was like fighting for custody of Bob Moss, the beloved bowl of moss in the Corinthos kitchen. After some long hours and quite a few cups of Corinthos Coffee, they were able to come up with a comprehensive look back at Port Charles '23. Without further ado, let's kick things off with Liz Masters and Tamilu's Best of General Hospital 2023.

Best medical drama: The good doctors at GH are the best, and this storyline emphasized that

Liz's pick: Gregory Chase is diagnosed with ALS
First, let me start by saying that I hate that Gregory has ALS. It is a devastating and relentless disease with only one outcome. It breaks my heart that we are going to eventually lose Gregory Harrison as Gregory Chase's ALS storyline reaches its inevitable tragic conclusion. That said, though, this storyline is actually one of the better ones currently on-screen because it offers a realistic glimpse into what it's like to be diagnosed with a terminal illness. I'm emotionally invested in this storyline, which is far more than I can say for most of the other medical storylines that we had this year. Even though I know it could never happen in real life, I keep hoping that Gregory was misdiagnosed or he finds a miracle treatment. Get busy, Finn!

Tamilu's pick: Amnesia...Both storylines
Ned's amnesia and the rebirth of Eddie Maine was a breath of fresh air so sweet I inhaled deeply. Watching Wally Kurth pull out his full rock star persona left me breathless, and I felt like a groupie. Medical science had no hope to offer, and Olivia refused the shock treatments Tracy recommended to try to jolt Ned's brain. When Lois finally arrived after much anticipation, Rena Sofer captivated me the way she did when she first showed up in Port Charles decades ago. Olivia eventually was revealed to be his "siren," but forgive me if I am still rooting for Lois to recapture Ned/Eddie's heart. Sure, that would lead to hair pulling and face scratching between the two Bensonhurst babes, but I love a good old-fashioned soap catfight.

In like manner, Esme's amnesia and her drastic transformation from villainess to single mom was shocking and unexpected, and it kept me guessing for months. We all waited and wondered if she really did not remember or if it was a scheme. Will she ever remember, or is she eternally a sweet, innocent mom now with not a streak of crazy in her? Just this week, she had her first memory. Is our little villainess on her way back? Will she be able to maintain the kindness and concern she picked up as "new and improved" Esme? Both of these amnesia storylines captivated me, and the medical team at GH was unable to reverse any of this, despite their best efforts.

Best storyline: These storylines were the cream of the crop

Liz's pick: Victor Cassadine (Charles Shaughnessy) vs. the world!
I'm a Cassadine fanatic, so this storyline was everything. There was even an appearance by the weather machine! Victor's deadly plot brought us back to the beginning of the Cassadines when his elder brother -- and Helena's husband -- tried to freeze the world. Even though Victor met a fate similar to his brothers when he was vanquished in Greenland, it had all the elements that I love about GH and the Cassadines: suspense, action, intrigue, a plot for world domination, and -- most importantly -- the good guys prevailed. My favorite part about this storyline was that it pulled in quite a few characters, so we had several subplots working together to keep us on the edge of our seats. James Patrick Stuart was absolute perfection as he stood up to his super villain father, and -- as much as I adored Charles Shaughnessy -- it was a fitting end for Victor to fall in Greenland. But is he truly dead? Cassadines are notoriously hard to kill, so we will have to stay tuned. However, given that WSB Director Brennan turned out to be bad, there's a good chance that he might have helped Victor fake his death.

Tamilu's pick: Heather Webber (Alley Mills) and Ryan Chamberlain (Jon Lindstrom) had a fling? Yikes.
The return of a recast Heather Webber, with the wacky and wild version that Alley Mills brought to life as Esme's mom, was pure soapy zaniness and fun. Ryan Chamberlain finally died for real (we think). Alley Mills's Emmy win last week was well deserved. She was a hit in that role, and if Heather escapes again tomorrow to see Ace's first Santa photo, I'll be thrilled. The shocking reveal that two of our craziest GH villains of all time had a fling and conceived a child together was soapalicious enough, but when it was revealed that that child was Esme, it suddenly made all her crazy antics fall into place. Of course, she would drug a friend and make a sex tape of two others. That's the Heather in her. At least she didn't follow after dear old dad and end their lives. 2023 had a lot of fantastic twists and turns, but Alley Mills coming in as Heather and calling Ryan Chamberlain "Lover" stands out in my mind as a plot twist I did not see coming. After 40 years of soap viewing, that's not easy to do.

Best debut: First impressions are everything, and these left a lasting one

Liz's pick: The name is Brennan, Director John Brennan (Charles Mesure)
Wow, I did not see that coming. From the moment that Charles Mesure strolled into Kelly's as a customer in town for business, I sensed there was more to the mysterious Mr. Brennan. The silver fox was suave and charming, and he definitely made me -- and Carly -- take notice. Nothing against Cameron Mathison, but I saw more chemistry between Brennan and Carly in the few minutes they chatted at Kelly's than I did in the entirety of Carly and Drew's relationship. Learning that Mr. Brennan is the new director of the WSB -- and in cahoots with Pikeman -- only made him more intriguing. My interest has been piqued, and even though we saw him carted off to jail, I'm hoping for a big plot twist that brings him back.

Tamilu's pick: Molly Lansing-Davis (Kristen Vaganos)
The current Nu Molly is a breath of fresh air after a few recasts that just didn't fit. First of all, it was hard to see the role recast at all, as we have watched Haley Pullos grow up on GH, and I know we were all shocked and heartbroken by her personal issues and her accident. But to top that off with very un-Molly-like recasts added to the angst we felt. Add to that the recast of fan favorite Lexi Ainsworth as Kristina, and all of a sudden, the Davis girls were strangers, and every scene felt wonky. Kate Mansi stepped into Kristina's shoes and is doing a fantastic job, but I can't deny that I still miss Lexi. But I've always been that way. I am still not over when they switched Darrins on Bewitched. Kristen Vaganos stepped in after three Mollys that didn't wow us, and immediately, I thought, "Hey, she could be the one." Her rapport with Sam and Kristina feels like a family again, and I am hopeful that they will all continue to bond and grow together in 2024.

Best supporting character: The leads get all the glory, but these supporting characters definitely deserve recognition

Liz's pick: Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati)
Between her dry wit, one-liners, and determination to be a better version than her old self, there's nothing not to like about Liesl. She's come such a long way, and this was probably her most difficult year, between losing her daughter and giving the gift of life to Nina's newfound daughter. My father was German, and I grew up speaking German. I even lived in Germany for a time, so it's not easy to fool me. Kathleen Gati's German accent is spot-on. I would never have known that German wasn't her first language if I hadn't seen her in other projects and heard her talk minus the German accent. Liebe Oma, du bist einfach wunderbar.

Tamilu's pick: Aunt Stella (Vernee Watson)
Aunt Stella used to annoy me to no end. When she was meddling in Curtis and Jordan's relationship, I just wanted to pound her. But when Mike got Alzheimer's and Stella stepped in as his advocate, I fell in love with her. The compassion and kindness we saw from Stella made her angelic to me. This year as she has mentored Felicia in a new career and helped Curtis confront his paralysis, I have been thankful for her role on GH. In the past, we had Bobbie and Epiphany, who were nursing people's wounds, both physical and emotional. But their losses left a deep hole, and Stella has done a terrific job trying to care for the hurting people of GH and tend to her family's needs.

Best rivalry: Is it even a soap opera if there isn't a rivalry? These are the best of the drama kings and queens

Liz's pick: Carly Spencer (Laura Wright) vs. Nina Reeves (Cynthia Watros)
The lines were drawn, and viewers were dug in almost from the start when Carly made the foolish decision to keep the truth about Nelle's parentage to herself instead of letting Nina know that dead Nelle was her long-lost daughter. Nina paid Carly back for that folly by keeping Sonny hidden in Nixon Falls -- and ultimately marrying him -- and buying Carly's half of the hotel. But wait, there's more. It turns out that Nelle had a twin who was as perfect as Nelle was rotten, so Carly decided to keep mum about that, too. Round and round it goes, providing viewers with lots of soapy drama and plenty of fodder for passionate debates about who is right and who is wrong in this clash of the banshees. Spoiler alert: they are both wrong. Currently, there's been an uneasy truce, but that's sure to be shattered when Carly learns that Nina was the one who anonymously reported her and Drew for insider trading. I. Can't. Wait. Love them or hate them, Carly and Nina's rivalry has everyone talking -- and watching.

Tamilu's pick: Gladys Corbin (Bonnie Burroughs) vs. Cody Bell (Josh Kelly)
This was a tough one. Like Liz, the Carly/Nina rivalry got me all riled up this year, but they aren't the only two people who butted heads. May I nominate the terrible human being known as Gladys Corbin and her run-ins with Cody Bell as a second-best rivalry? Cody was onto Gladys from the get-go, but they had a million run-ins before her deceit was finally exposed. Gladys swindled her grieving daughter-in-law Sasha (more on that in the "Worst" column) while Cody tried to expose Gladys to protect Sasha. But Gladys came up with a plan to keep everyone's eyes off of her and framed Cody for a crime he didn't commit. Cody's previous shady reputation worked against him. Cody sparred with Gladys on numerous occasions, trying to clear his name. When Cody finally enlisted Sam and Dante to help him catch Gladys and her evil partner Dr. Montague, Sonny had Gladys escorted out of town.

Best leading female character: We all have our favorites, but these ladies always bring home the gold

Liz's pick: Ava Jerome (Maura West)
I think we can all agree that Ava is a force to be reckoned with, and the same is true for Maura West. I will admit, Maura is one of my favorite actresses on the show because she's the whole package -- a powerful performer and stunningly beautiful, and she has chemistry with everyone and everything, including the bowl of moss in Carly's kitchen. Ava had quite an eventful year, thanks to Nikolas running amok on the dark side with Esme and fathering her child. After clubbing Nikolas with a bronze statue, Ava ended up on the wrong side of a blackmail scheme that forced her to turn to Sonny for help. Their uneasy alliance makes me smile. Even though Nikolas was revealed to be alive, Ava's troubles are far from over now that Austin has turned up dead, because his killer is stalking her and trying to frame her for the murder. Throughout it all, Maura has consistently delivered one stellar performance after another.

Tamilu's pick: Laura Collins (Genie Francis)
It has been and will always be Laura for me. 2023 was a nonstop year of chaos for Laura, yet she remained calm. Laura took in her grandson and his psycho ex-girlfriend plus newborn baby, which happened to be Laura's grandson from her presumed-dead missing son! She fought off a conniving deputy mayor who was working for Laura's archenemy. She traveled to a bunker in Greenland to save Spencer and confront Victor Cassadine, the man who has tormented her for decades. Laura also flew all over the world, looking for her missing son Nikolas. She visited her criminal brother Cyrus in Pentonville, who claimed he found the Lord in prison; she assisted spies Anna and Robert and mobster Sonny to try to find out who was targeting Anna and who shot Curtis. Laura counseled her violent and disturbed granddaughter Charlotte after Charlotte's spree of harassing Anna, and she somehow still had time for a few Port Charles mayoral duties, being a mother figure to Esme and grandmother to Ace, attending hospital board meetings, and being Kevin's wife. It's a lot. But Laura Vining-Webber-Baldwin-Spencer-Cassadine-Collins has been able to handle anything since she was 17, and I adore her.

Best leading male character: These fellas have what it takes to carry a storyline and steal a piece of our hearts

Liz's pick: Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart)
Have I mentioned how much I love the Cassadines? There was a time that I despised Valentin -- back when I thought he had killed Nikolas in cold blood -- but times have changed because Valentin has. James Patrick Stuart is an incredible actor, and I've been watching him since he played Will Cortlandt on All My Children. As Valentin, he's handsome, charming, debonair, and dangerous. He's exactly what a leading man should be. Although he's in constant battle with his dark side, his better angels usually prevail. My only complaint about Valentin is that he's blind to what's going on with Charlotte. He sees her as an innocent child rather than a troubled teen just a few short years away from adulthood.

Tamilu's pick: Me, also Valentin. But it's Mac and Cody.
I'm kind of in love with Valentin. But for a second choice, I would love to highlight Mac and Cody -- the father and son who don't know they are father and son. Cody's become a true leading man and hero this year, in my humble opinion, saving Sasha multiple times up to and including having himself committed to a mental institution to catch Dr. Montague drugging her. Mac is Cody's father and doesn't know it, but he still was a father to Cody on many occasions. Mac has a soft spot for Cody because he is Dominique's child, and I can hardly wait until Mac discovers that he has a son. This revelation has been put on hold due to John J York's real life health issues, but I am praying for a full recovery soon. I want to see those two hug. Felicia is starting to catch on because Cody is being overly helpful to Maxie and her kids, and Felicia's detective brain is starting to put the pieces together. Also, since Cody is Mac's son, that also means Robert is his uncle. That should be fun.

Best Couple: Romance is the bread and butter of soaps, and these romances are a cut above

Liz's pick: Vanna -- Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes)
I hate that this stuff with Charlotte has torn Valentin and Anna apart, but I'm a hopeless romantic who believes that true love will always find a way. Vanna go together like peas and carrots. They have a similar background in the spy business, they've both done things that they regret, they have a similar moral compass, and Valentin has been deeply in love with Anna since their baby spies days in the WSB's training academy. They complement each other, have loads of chemistry, and look darn good together. I hate how GH writers like to take a perfectly good couple, blow them up, and then try to put them back together. Have none of them ever heard of Humpty Dumpty? Sometimes, they take things too far. I don't think that's the case here, since Valentin acknowledges that he bears a large part of the blame for what happened to Charlotte, but it's going to take Charlotte healing from whatever Victor did to her before Valentin and Anna can rebuild the trust that was broken.

Tamilu's pick: SPRINA. That jump! Spencer Cassadine (Nicholas Chavez) and Trina Robinson (Tabyana Ali)
Readers, those scenes in Greenland where Spencer was lost and feared dead...and then Trina spotted him and ran through the tundra and leaped into his arms? I screamed "Yes" at the TV. It took my breath away. And I am an old woman and not prone to having my breath taken away quite so often anymore. Spencer and Trina have captivated the soap world since they were first flirting with each other the night they met. Tabyana Ali and Alexander Chavez are electric together on-screen. We sit day to day like starving peasants waiting for crumbs, a single kiss, glance, or heartfelt word between them. When the replacement writers were there, I cursed them daily for not giving me Sprina. When Spencer was going to parenting classes with Esme, I was so afraid they were going to break Sprina up that I was mumbling cuss words under my breath. Thankfully, I was wrong. I can hardly wait to see what 2024 will bring to our favorite young lovebirds. I'll be glued to my set anytime they are on-screen.

Best plot twist: Cliffhangers returned in a big way, and these moments captured everyone's attention

Liz's pick: Victor Cassadine's poisoned pen letter to Charlotte
The plot twist that I didn't see coming was Charlotte being revealed to be Anna's stalker who had spray-painted "Murderer" on Anna's door and trashed her hotel suite. Discovering that Charlotte did it because Victor had sent his granddaughter a letter filled with lies and ominous warnings was quite the shock, because Victor had been dead for months at that point. Did no one tell Charlotte about Grandpa Victor's plot to wipe out humanity except for a select few -- which didn't include Charlotte? I still think there's something fishy with those tarot cards that he gifted to Charlotte. Why did he tell her that they would be a powerful tool in taking down Anna? I'm also a bit surprised that Valentin let Charlotte keep Helena's necklace with the Cassadine crest, knowing that Helena was the queen of evil.

Tamilu's pick: Nikolas Cassadine is alive and hiding out in Pautauk
For months, Ava was under the thumb of creepy, lollipop-licking Mason Gatlin, who claimed to have Nikolas' dead body. But here's the thing: Nikolas was not dead. The day the reveal happened and Nikolas was just sitting on Austin's couch, awake and definitely alive, we gasped. We knew he was alive but assumed he was hooked up to machines and unconscious. We were so wrong. That's the day we also knew for sure that Austin wasn't the man we hoped he was, either. He knew Nikolas was alive and well and still participated in the blackmail of Ava. He claimed he wanted to be good, but since the writers saw fit to kill him off before he had the chance to redeem himself, we will never know. But I can't get started on that, because I could write five paragraphs about how GH wasted Roger Howarth's talents over the years. He's an incredibly gifted actor that they squandered on nonsense for months and months. It's upsetting. Austin and Mason blackmailed and manipulated Ava over a dead body that never existed.

Best return: There's nothing better than a visit from an old friend

Liz's pick: Nikolas Cassadine is awake!
I was so excited when it was revealed that Nikolas is no longer in a coma. I have no idea what the writers plan to do with Nikolas, but I'm ready for him to return to our screens full-time. Is Adam Huss the new Nikolas or just a warm body to fill the role until they find the right fit? I have no idea, but Nikolas is a legacy character who has plenty more story to tell. Unfortunately, shortly after Nikolas was seen galivanting in Europe, we learned that Tyler Christopher had passed away, so whoever is chosen to play Nikolas will have big shoes to fill.

Tamilu's pick: Tracy Q coming home
Jane Elliott is a soap GODDESS. From the day I started watching until today, I have never fast-forwarded through any scene with Jane Elliot in it. She is always "Must See TV." Tracy has her fingers in many pies, advising Ned about ELQ, gaining control of Deception for BLQ, casually blurting out the truth about Gregory's ALS, meddling in Brook Lynn's love life and grilling Chase, rolling her eyes at Olivia and Lois, and her fight to get her son Ned back by any means necessary -- even shock therapy -- when Eddie Maine showed up. I know Jane Elliott probably wants to be retired. I get it, I am retired, and it's freaking awesome. But very selfishly, I hope she never retires and that she plays Tracy until she's 99. Seeing her on my screen, especially in a year where we have lost so many beloved legacy characters, was comforting to me and also delighted and thrilled me. Jane Elliot is hilarious and can make me howl but also has the ability to leave me sobbing. She is a true soap diva, and I love her.

Quick takes: A few honorable mentions

Best prop

Liz's pick: Ace. He's seemingly always propped on Esme's hip to remind us that she's a single mom.

Tamilu's pick: Ava's martini. It made me laugh many times this year when something particularly scary or upsetting happened, and Ava reached for that martini glass and decanter. They would show Ava screaming at Mason and then slamming a cocktail to replenish her courage. Bottoms up, Ava.

Best dressed

Liz's pick: Ava Jerome and Sonny Corinthos. They have style, they have grace.

Tamilu's pick: Joss and Trina -- these two college girls have flair. No matter where they are, casually lounging in their dorm room, lying by the pool at the Metro Court, or all dolled up at the Nurses Ball, they are always dressed perfectly for the occasion. But oddly enough, none of the people who work at Crimson or Deception in the fashion industry were particularly fashionable, and in many cases, they were slightly frumpy. It must always be casual Friday. Notable exception; Lucy Coe.

Best use of a set

Liz's pick: Has anyone else noticed how similar the Port Charles Grill and Café Cherie look?

Tamilu's pick: Greenland! The fact that the crew of GH created an arctic tundra out of Styrofoam amazed and delighted me.

All the kids of GH

We both want to give a special shout-out to the actors and actresses who play Avery Jerome- Corinthos (Ava and Grace Scarola), Donna Corinthos (Scarlet Spears), Violet Finn (Jophielle Love), Scout Cain (Cosette Abinante), Danny Morgan (Asher Antonyzyn), James West (Gary James Fuller), Aiden Webber (Enzo De Angelis), Leo Quartermaine (Easton Rocket), Charlotte Cassadine (Scarlett Fernandez), Jake Webber (Hudson West), Georgie Spinelli (Lily Fisher), Wiley Corinthos (Viron Weaver), baby Ace Prince-Cassadine (Jay and Joey Clay), and baby Amelia Corinthos (Siobhan). Mark Teschner definitely deserved his Daytime Emmy award this year for the casting of kids because they all brought us joy.

Well, that's the end of this special collaborative look back at the Best of General Hospital 2023. Liz Masters and Tamilu will be back again next week for a look back at all the things in 2023 that didn't work. That's right: it's two heaping scoops of the Worst of General Hospital 2023. We hope to see you there!

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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