Is GH Trying to Activate Julexis Fans?
Once upon a time General Hospital fans watched one episode after another with no warning that a favorite character was about to die in an explosion, move to Australia, or accept an extended WSB mission that would lead to his becoming the head of the agency in 2017. Viewers believed, or were expected to, that creative storytelling dictated which characters would leave the canvas. Those days are over. Today fans cannot avoid news about the latest contract dispute plaguing their favorite actor and when faced with losing a beloved character they directly challenge network decisions; a pattern networks must be aware of. That’s why GH’s recent decision to allow William deVry’s contract negotiations to “breakdown” requires the Julexis Army to mobilize.
William deVry plays one half of the popular Julexis duo along with the formidable Nancy Lee Grahn, who will always be Julia Wainwright to me. Derek Wells née Julian Jerome slipped into PC four years ago and quickly took his place as a legacy character. Scribes revealed him to be Sam’s father and then reinforced his value by pairing him with her mother, Alexis Davis. Alexis found her soulmate and GH finally rewarded Grahn with a romantic partner worthy of her talent. Together the two represent one of the few couples on the show whose palpable chemistry charges a visible social media fan base.
In addition to his fictional wife, deVry also shares mad chemistry with Maura West who happens to play his half-sister Ava Jerome. TVSource Magazine’s Jenn Bishop flags this “inappropriate sibling chemistry” with the amusing #Jiblings (Jerome Siblings) hashtag. Ava just embarked on a post-fire recovery story that requires the compassionate presence of her sexy older brother. No, I’m not advocating for an incest story here, though that might spike the ratings, but I am arguing that onscreen chemistry between actors no matter their relationships is rare and should not be tossed aside. The fact that William deVry sparks with nearly every female he encounters onscreen attests to his irreplaceability.
Julian’s importance to GH goes beyond his relationships with Alexis and Ava. Besides daughter Sam, his other children include the underutilized Lucas and the adorable Leo who surely needs a corrupt, but loving father to ensure his rite of passage kidnap story. Did I mention that Julian Jerome is a mobster? I know, I know, you were unaware that Western New York is a hot-bed of mob activity and home to not one, but two crime families.
The Family Jerome tussles regularly with the Family Corinthos for control of the wider Buffalo-Lake Erie territory. According to hidden, but oft referred to network data viewers really love mob stories and tune in to see fathers and sometimes mothers sacrifice safety and logic for “the biznis.” Whatever its faults, such thinking brought us Julian Jerome and now that it has fans are hooked.
The Julexis Army has activated its troops with petitions and social media campaigns in an effort to save William deVry’s job and Alexis’s love life. Showrunners can’t be surprised at this reaction give that they reach out to fans through social media regularly hoping to cultivate such passion. ABC puts iPhone in actor’s hands and commands them to tweet. The result of this communication is a cross pollination that GH depends upon and cannot turn off at will. Julexis fans are exactly the type of dedicated loyal viewers that the show hopes to create. Showrunners want to know what viewers like and a whole lot of them like Julexis.
GH can hardly afford to lose viewers and depends upon stalwarts to remain vital. ABC has reportedly made room in its budget for the pricey return of Steve Burton (Original Jason) by firing a number of other actors, William deVry among them. Whether or not a connection exists between the hiring of one actor and the firing of another is immaterial. Without accurate information fans will draw their own conclusions and at the moment it looks an awful lot like deVry, not to mention Rebecca Budig’s fate, is wrapped with Burton’s.
Given the public nature of deVry’s contract negotiations fans have the opportunity to advocate for what they want. As television consumers, Julexis fans wield power in their relationship with ABC. They should continue to mobilize, demand to be heard, and not lose hope. Anyone who thinks networks aren’t paying attention to fan campaigns ought to give Netflix a call and ask them how things went after they cancelled Sense8.
To the Julexis Army, you must keep marching, because ABC is watching, and I need my #Jiblings fix.