'General Hospital': Nancy Lee Grahn and Lexi Ainsworth Tackle Tough Family Issues
Not long ago, I made a rare foray into daytime drama with a set visit to ABC's "General Hospital," and this syndicated story, out in print this week, was the result. ...
On the long-running ABC daytime drama "
In real life, Ainsworth is a mostly home-schooled teen taking online college courses, and Grahn is the single mother of a tween daughter, Katherine.
Over the course of this year, the two have been playing out a storyline that's all too real for too many mothers and daughters. Kristina's charismatic boyfriend, Kiefer Bauer (Christian Alexander), while appealing and polite in front of adults, secretly beat his girlfriend.
(HCTV: Kiefer Bauer? Really? Was the writer a "24" fan?)
At first, fearing her mobster father's wrath, Kristina lied about the assault, saying it was (slightly) older man Ethan Lovett (Nathan Parsons). But after a second beating from Kiefer, the truth came out. In an episode that aired in early April, Alexis, who witnessed the second assault, struck and killed Kiefer with her car.
While that last bit may not happen to all families, the fears mothers have for their daughters are very real.
"What I've done," Grahn says, "naturally, is research teen violence, because it now interests me, and also because I have a just-turned-12-year-old. I ended up talking to a few different organizations. I was curious about it in a general way and curious how Alexis, being an intelligent, seemingly devoted mother - at least when I read my script, I'm devoted.
"But that being said, how can somebody like Alexis or any of you who are parents, how could this happen to you?"
While visiting an organization that deals with abusive teen relationships, Grahn ran into a "
Grahn recalls, "She goes, 'This could happen to somebody like you, and it does, in fact happen a lot more than any of us would think.' ... This does indeed happen, and parents don't see it. There's truth to it as well."
"I've gotten tweets," Ainsworth says, "from people who have shared their stories about being abused. It's scary that so many people can relate to this. I personally have never been in an abusive relationship. I don't know any of my friends that have."
Of course, being a mother, Grahn couldn't be entirely detached when seeing her TV daughter made up to look as if she had been beaten.
"You can't help but see your kid like that. I don't use my personal life in acting. I learned that you can't count on that all the time. Also, I don't want to imagine my daughter getting beaten up. But you can't help but have flashes of that, just thinking, 'What would you do?' "
And the TV mom wound up discussing the topic in her role of real-life mom.
"We had a conversation," Grahn says, "because (Katherine) saw me on the Internet, researching it, and said, 'What are you doing?' She has a general sense of what goes on (at 'General Hospital'), and this is an interesting topic of conversation right now, with what these kids are exposed to, with the media and violence on television and all that.
"What young women are accepting from boys or young men right now is unthinkable to me. I'm discussing this with other parents, and I'm saying, 'What happened, that girls are feeling that they need to be so highly sexualized, that they have to do so many things, that violence is cool, and arbitrary, random sex is cool. Where did this come from?'
"I honestly think it's raising a really interesting conversation for parents to start having with their kids."