If there’s one defining moment in American soap operas, it’s Luke and Laura’s wedding on “General Hospital.” The nuptials of the super-couple (played by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis) was a major television event when it aired in November 1981, bringing in 30 million viewers to the ABC series and making the duo one of the most iconic couples in soap history.
But as famous and beloved as the couple is, their relationship started on an extremely ugly note. In an October 1979 episode, Luke raped her, and although the show initially played it as such, the event was later looked back on as a “seduction” due to the popularity of the pairing. Although the characters remained together for years, with their love story a major part of the series until Geary left the cast in 2015, the assault cast a large shadow over the rest of their storylines. And Francis, reflecting on the scene decades later, doesn’t think the storyline should be defended.
Francis, now 60, spoke about the rape scene during the “General Hospital” panel at the ABC Television Critics Association Winter Press Conference. Francis said she was 17 when filming the scene and didn’t understand the gravity of the event she was portraying. But looking back, she said the scene is “inappropriate” and refuses to defend it any longer.
“As a young kid at 17, I was told to play rape, and I played it, and I didn’t know what it was. At 60, I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore,” Francis said at the TCA panel. “The story was inappropriate, and I don’t condone it. It’s been a burden I’ve had to carry to try to justify that story, and so I’m not doing that anymore. When a woman says no, she should be listened to. If you play that scene, you don’t just have her saying no, you have her screaming ‘no.'”
Francis has had an on-off relationship with “General Hospital” since initially leaving the series in 1984, reappearing for a long stint in 1993 to 2002, followed by guest spots in 2006, 2008, and 2013. Since 2015, when she returned as part of Luke’s exit storyline, Francis has been one of the soap’s leads, with Laura becoming mayor of the fictional town of Port Charles and remarried psychiatrist Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom).
“General Hospital” airs weekdays on ABC. The series will have its 60th anniversary on April 1, with the celebration episodes beginning in late March and a special episode honoring late cast member Sonya Eddy, followed by the annual “Nurses Ball” storyline and the return of former cast member Jane Elliot. Showrunner Frank Valentini executive produces the series, while Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor serve as co-head writers.
Tony Maglio contributed reporting.