I’ve been watching soaps since the womb – I was raised on the classic ABC/Love in the Afternoon lineup, from “Ryan’s Hope,” straight on through to “General Hospital.” While “All My Children” (R.I.P.) was my favorite soap, my absolute, hands-down favorite soap heroine of all time is Anna Devane (Finola Hughes), superspy extraordinaire on “General Hospital.”
Anna was highly unusual as far as heroines went on the soaps. You had your sweethearts (Laura on “GH,” Dixie on “AMC”) vixens (Tina on “One Life to Live,” Ava on “Loving”) matriarchs (Maeve on “Ryan’s Hope,” Ruth on “AMC”) barracudas (Rae on “Ryan’s Hope,” Dorian on “One Life to Live”) and tough, but fair career gals (Jill on Ryan’s Hope,” Brooke on “AMC”). In other words, fairly stock soap characters.
But there was no one like Anna. She was beautiful, of course – pretty standard prerequisite for a soap heroine. And being a heroine, she was one of the good guys (eventually, but that’s another post for another day). It was more than that, though. She was smart, tough and fearless. She didn’t need the man to save her – hell, SHE would probably be the one to save the man! And look awesome doing it! Yet as bad-ass as she was, she defied stereotypes yet again by actually being – gasp! – a woman! Anna was not some sexless, alpha female who shunned intimacy and emotional attachments. She had a passionate marriage to the dashing Duke, a loving relationship with daughter, Robin and shared a playful rapport with ex-husband, Robert. AND she had girlfriends to gab and commiserate with.
My all-time favorite Anna scenes were when she trapped psycho beeyotch, Olivia St. John, in an elevator and forced her to confess to all her crimes. I remember being glued to my TV during those scenes, just DYING over how kick-ass the whole thing was. Who HASN’T wanted to put their mortal enemy in an elevator to shake them up? Am I alone here? Okay, never mind. At any rate, Finola Hughes gave an absolutely brilliant performance and even after all these years, I cheer like I’m back on the Spirit Squad when I see Anna wielding that blowtorch.
Awesome to infinity.
Alas, Anna left Port Charles and turned up in Pine Valley where she was totally wasted, but I still loved her. She made sporadic trips to GH over the years, but it was never the same. Fortunately, “Cartini” saw fit to bring Anna home where she belongs and she’s just as awesome as ever. She’s been appointed the police commissioner and is actually – gasp! – busting criminals! Solving crimes! Cleaning up corruption! That hasn’t happened in Port Charles since the 80’s. Because she's a tad vulnerable right now due to her daughter's "death," I’ll forgive that whole sleeping with Luke and ignoring the warning signs about Faux Duke stuff. Since the real Duke is alive, I’m putting my trust in Cartini that they’ll reunite them for real in due time. (As Robin said, “nothing gets past Anna Devane.” Faison’s day of reckoning is coming).
While I don’t write about female superspies or cops, I DO like to write about strong, capable, fearless women who don’t dissolve into hysterics in the face of a crisis. They tap into their smarts and exploit their ingenuity to kick over whatever obstacle they may be facing. They’re okay with getting an assist from a man when the need arises, but they are more than capable of standing on their own two feet. Kind of like Anna!
So here’s to Anna Devane, first inductee into my Bad-Ass Women Hall of Fame. She’s in good company, standing alongside Detective Olivia Benson and Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. And Wonder Woman. Of course. But to me, Anna will always be in a class all her own.