January 20, 1995 marks the 1st appearance of one my absolute favorite characters, Emily Bowen, a youngster adopted by doctor-couple Monica and Alan Quartermaine after her biological mother died of cancer. Thanks to the (mostly) heartfelt and riveting writing of the character and the beautiful portrayals of Amber Tamblyn and Natalia Livingston, Emily was a joy to watch develop for many “General Hospital” fans, as she blossomed from a troubled orphan to a literal princess-and doctor-who was the calming glue of the often quarreling Quartermaine family. It seemed like there was never a dull moment in Emily’s storyline: she abused drugs, was in the center of a murder investigation and blackmailed, had a couple of boyfriends from the wrong side of the tracks, was paralyzed, kidnapped, beat breast cancer, dodged murder attempts, survived two train crashes and was sexually assaulted by someone physically identical to her husband.
Plots play a central role in seizing a viewer’s interest, but seductive, captivating and/or relatable characters are what propel a story. In my opinion, Emily Quartermaine is one of the most well-written female leads. A symptom of societal gender politics and stereotypes, most female soap figures are either warm-hearted pushovers or immoral and a bit icy. Every now and then, there’s an Anna Devane, who’s a powerful match of brawn and dogma. Emily had all the right ingredients. She was a happy medium between the extremes of a Robin Scorpio and a Carly Benson. Emily was kind and noble, but she’d sass you and get you together if she needed to-verbally or physically (Carly is a hard person to shut-down and Emily was doing it when she was barely legal). She was respected by most, but wasn’t self-righteous or boring (the girl had some edge). She loved with all her heart, but the men in her life never became her identity. She gave you a girl-next-door image, but she could turn on the sex.
Her super-couple love affair with Prince Nikolas Cassadine (Tyler Christopher) was equally well-composed. Their relationship started under unusual circumstances, (he was avoiding an arranged marriage and she was recovering from cancer and wedding vows made on her deathbed), but they were such a perfect fit, that all their other pairings are pale in comparison and are barely discussed, which is rare in soap-fan land. Even the infinitely-famous Luke and Laura had other pairings people debate over. Definitely princely, Nikolas was handsome, debonair, romantic, a pure spirit and a brute protector, ideal for the poised and smart heroine heiress. Unwaveringly dutiful to and enamored with each other, Emily and Nikolas (AKA “NEm”) were nothing short of a fairytale. It took her rape by Connor Bishop to pull them a part, and still, they eventually found their way back to each other. Emily’s familial and peer bonds were just as endearing and special (particularly those with brother Jason and friends Lucky & Elizabeth); a dynamic noticeably missing from GH today (I want to see more close friendships!).
Emily Quartermaine didn’t have to die, especially in the prime of her life. She had just become a doctor. She hadn’t had children yet--there’s no remnant of her memory on canvas. When she appeared in the April 2, 2013 50th anniversary episode with Alan (Stuart Damon) to visit Monica, it caused a raucous. “Lenalu22” of Tumblr best described my sentiments: “Emily. On my screen. I screamed. I cried.” I gagged more than Monica (that’s a good “gag,” I promise). Ugh, I so wish upon a star shooting across a rainbow-covered Disneyland sky that lands on a Michael Jackson glove in a garden of four-leafed clovers that Emily could be brought back somehow. Duke Lavery, AJ Quartermaine and Robin Scorpio-Drake ended up not dead, so she could. This is soap-opera; dreams do come true.